Paul Mmegha Mbaeyi was the first ever Nigerian Rhodes scholar, a distinction that has only gained significance and importance with time.

The son of Chief P.O. Mbaeyi, Mbaeyi arrived at St. John’s on a Rhodes Scholarship and matriculated in 1962 having previously studied at University College Ibadan. He was a member of the Essay Society and the OU Africa Society. Graduating with a BA in 1965, and a D.Phil. in 1967, Dr. Mbaeyi had an accomplished academic career as a Lecturer in History at Ibadan University, and then Visiting lecturer at Kent in 1971-2. Mbaeyi’s monograph, British Military and Naval Forces in West African History 1807-1874 (New York, London, Lagos: NOK Publishers, 1978), a “study of British military and naval forces in West Africa in the precolonial century”, argued for a new perspective on the history of European imperialism in West Africa, based on military history and the experience of West Africans in confronting armed Europeans gunboats before the age of imperialism.[i] 

Mbaeyi went on to carve for himself an eminent second career on the Board of Directors of Bendel Newspapers Corporation, and  of Imo Broadcasting Services in Owerri.[ii] We hope to find out more about Mbaeyi and would welcome further information from family, friends and contemporaries at St. John’s. 

[i] Graham W. Irwin, “Review of British Military and Naval Forces in West African History 1807-1874 by Paul Mmegha Mbaeyi”, The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1981), pp. 182-184, 182-3. Stable URL:; Accessed: 04-12-2020 13:47 UTC .


Paul Mmegha Mbaeyi