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Meet Sir Samuel Layinka Ayodeji Manuwa, The Black Man Who Invented An Excision Knife To Treat Tropical Ulcers!

Samuel Layinka Ayodeji Manuwa, KT, CMG, OBE (1903–1976) The man who invented an excision knife to treat tropical ulcers. was a pioneering Nigerian surgeon, Inspector General of Medical Services and former Chief Medical Adviser to the Federal Government of Nigeria. He was the first Nigerian to pass the FRCS . and he graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1934. In 1966, he was elected president of the World Federation for Mental Health. During his lifetime he served as a Nigerian aristocrat, holding the chieftaincy titles of the Obadugba of the Ondo clan, the Olowa Luwagboye of the Ijebu clan and the Iyasere of the Iteba Lineage, all of the south-western region of the country.

As Inspector General of Medical Services, he contributed immensely to the establishment of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, the first medical school in Nigeria, he later became a pro-chancellor and chairman of the governing council at the University of Ibadan. Throughout his career, he sought and worked for the improvement of basic heath services in the rural areas of Nigeria.

Life and education

Oloye Sir Samuel Manuwa was born to the family of Reverend Benjamin Manuwa. He attended the Church Missionary School, Lagos and King’s College, Lagos for secondary education, completing his studies in 1921. He then proceeded to study at the University of Edinburgh where he received a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Medicine in 1926. He graduated with a several awards: the Robert Wilson Memorial Prize in Chemistry and the Welcome Prize in Medicine. He later went to study in Liverpool thereafter and completed a course on Tropical Medicine. He became a medical doctor in 1934.


Original title reads, “Presentation of insignia of orders of chivalry and medals at Government House; ceremony held in the drawing room. Samuel Layinka Ayodeji Manuwa hears the Governor General read order naming him commander in the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.” [Elisofon field notes, August 1959-December 1959. This photograph was taken when Eliot Elisofon was on assignment for Life magazine and traveled to Africa from August 18, 1959 to December 20, 1959.


He returned to Nigeria in 1927 after finishing his studies on tropical medicine and joined the colonial medial services as a medical officer. He subsequently became a surgeon specialist and senior specialist in the service, where he gained acclaim as a skilled surgeon. Though, he received various offers for administrative positions early on, he continued his surgical work for over 18 years. While practicing as a surgeon, he invented an excision knife to treat tropical ulcers.

In 1948, he lifted his embargo on administrative positions when he became the deputy director of medical services. In 1951, he was made the first Nigerian director of medical services and subsequently the Inspector General of medical services. He became fully involved with the Nigerian public service in 1954, when he was appointed the Chief Medical Adviser to the federal government of Nigeria. He later went on to become a member of the Privy Council of the Federation of Nigeria, President of the Association of Surgeons and Physicians in West Africa and the first Nigerian Commissioner of the Federal Public Service Commission.

Sir Samuel Layinka Ayodeji Manuwa, (1903–1976) The man who invented an excision knife to treat tropical ulcers

As Inspector General of Medical Services, he worked assiduously for the establishment of a University Teaching Hospital in the country. The result was the creation of UCH, Ibadan,the first bigest hospital in Africa.


Written by How Africa

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