Oreoluwa Green: West Africa’s First Female Pharmacist

Oreoluwa Green was the first female Pharmacist in West Africa. She was born in Lagos in 1885 and was educated at the CMS Girls Seminary, St Mary’s Convent School in Lagos and private tuition under Reverend W.B Euba, where she excelled in Mathematics, Greek, Latin and Geometry.

Image of Oreoluwa Green
Miss Oreoluwa Green, West Africa’s First Female Pharmacist/Ed Keazor.

Green was fluent in English, French and Latin, and was also a gifted actress, who famously played the part of Portia in a production of William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” in Lagos in June and July 1911.

She then travelled to London in 1912, for further education and obtained a First Class Certificate in the Theory of Music from the London College of Music, Certificate of Central Midwives Board, Honours Certificate from the Clapham School of Midwifery and Clapham Maternity Hospital.

Green was also the first West African woman to obtain a practical pharmaceutical qualification when she acquired the Apothecaries Certificate of the Pharmaceutical Society of London and in 1916 acquired her Certificate of Westminster College of Chemistry, Pharmacy and Botany when she successfully passed her qualifying examinations as a Licensed Druggist.

She worked as a Dispenser at the Soho Eye and Ear Hospital in London, before returning to Lagos, Nigeria in 1917, where she first worked as a Midwife at the hospital of Dr. Richard Akinwande Savage (1874–1935), father of Major Richard Gabriel Akinwande Savage Jnr. (1903–1993), a medical doctor, soldier, and first person of West African heritage to receive a British Army commission and Dr. Agnes Yewande Savage (1906–1964), the first West African woman to train and qualify in orthodox medicine and to receive a university degree in Medicine, graduating with First Class honours from the University of Edinburgh in 1929 at the age of 23.

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In a bid to contribute more to Lagos and its people, Green later set up her own establishment and practiced as a Nurse and Pharmacist at 71, Campbell Street, Lagos.

Nurse Green, as she was fondly called, was a highly accomplished, well-read and cultured lady who did not hesitate to express the outstanding talents she was endowed with.

Sources

Adedapo Adeniran (2010), Case for Peaceful and Friendly Dissolution of Nigeria, pages 39–40.

Ed Keazor (2013), The 100 Greatest Nigerians we never knew, Pt 1, page 75.

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