#DidYouKnow Dr. Agnes Yewande Savage Was Nigeria’s First Female Doctor?

By Duchess Magazine

#DidYouKnow Dr. Agnes Yewande Savage Was Nigeria's First Female Doctor?

By paving way for other Nigerian and African women in the medical field, Dr. Agnes undoubtedly left one of the greatest legacies behind.

Dr. Savage, a pioneer in the medical field not only makes history as the first doctor in Nigeria but also the first woman of West African heritage to qualify as a doctor.

Born 21 February 1906 in Edinburgh, Scotland to Richard Akinwande Savage Sr, a Nigerian medical doctor, newspaper publisher and a 1900 Edinburgh graduate of Sierra Leone Creole descent and Maggie S. Bowie, a working-class Scotswoman, she showed remarkable talent even as a child, scooping countless awards.

In 1924 she followed her father’s footsteps by studying Medicine at Edinburgh University. Agnes once again excelled. By 1930 Agnes had gone to join her father in West Africa, serving as a junior medical officer in then Gold Coast, now Ghana. While there she encountered racism from the Colonial Office who refused to acknowledge her as a European trained doctor due to the color of her skin. She continued fighting for well deserved recognition, it however was not until 1945 that as a black woman Agnes was offered the same terms of service, salary and retirement as her white colleagues.

Fighting racism took a toll. She became physically and psychologically exhausted, was invalided from the service, and officially retired in 1947. She returned from Africa to live in Hertfordshire with her friend Esther Appleyard who had been Chief Education Officer of the Gold Coast and their Alsatian, Simon.

Agnes died following a stroke in 1964 at the tragically early age of 56.

Her indelible legacy lives on.


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