Fourah Bay College

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Fourah Bay College (FBC) is a university located in Freetown, Sierra Leone and was a unit of the tripartite University of Sierra Leone system from the late 1960s to 2005.

In 1876, the college became affiliated with the University of Durham and prepared students towards Durham degrees, in 1966, it became a constituent college of the university only to end the relationship a year later. Founded in 1827, for a century, it was the only institution in West Africa offering higher level courses until the establishment of Achimota College in Ghana. However, its journey was a tortuous one, with limited funding and students and a civil war sometimes hampering smooth operation.

Currently the college has faculties of Pure and Applied Science, Economic and Social Sciences, Law, Post Graduate Studies and Engineering. Its library has over 200,000 volumes of books.


Fourah bay was founded in 1827 becoming the first university college in West Africa. On January 28, 1960, the college was presented a University charter becoming the University College of Sierra Leone.

The history of the college dates back to 1816 when the Church Missionary Society established a Church institute in the village of Leicester close to Freetown. Three years later the institute was converted to a seminary. The seminary's major goal and later that of FBC was to train African evangelists and teachers based on the belief that future Christian missions in West Africa had to include African leadership. The college opened its doors in 1827 to a class of six students who were taught in a house. Among the six was Samuel Crowther, a future leader of the Niger Mission.

During the Victorian era, the college was supported by C.M.S. with sums sometimes totaling 700 pounds per annum. During the period, the college witnessed an influx of expatriate teachers from Africa, England, Germany and the United States some of whom contributed to translations of African languages to promote Christianity and improve the flow of communication between the missionaries and Africans. By the 1840s, the college had drawn increased entrants and a new building was erected between Fourah Bay and Destruction Bay, Sierra Leone. In the 1870s, the College expanded its curriculum to include liberal arts and later in 1876, it became affiliated with the University of Durham. The new developments led to increased reputation of its graduates who later filled administrative and commercial posts in the West African colonial system. In 1925 with help from Obadiah Johnson and John Randle, the college was able to hire the services of a science teacher and laid the foundation of a science program. During World War 2, the college building was used by the military and lectures were transfered to the town of Mbang, forty miles from Freetown. In 1952, the Sierra Leanean government assumed financial responsibility for the college and an autonomous council was set up to govern the affairs of Fourah Bay. By 1960s, the college had the following faculties, Arts, Economics, Theology, Pure Science, Applied Science and Extra mural activities.

External links


  • F. J. TAYLOR, E. DOWNING. Fourah Bay College: University College of Sierra Leone, Nature 185, 26 Mar 1960.