Custom Search 1

1st black female professor at King's College delivers inaugural lecture

MAKING HISTORY: Professor Funmi Olonisakin

PROFESSOR FUNMI Olonisakin has made history as the first black woman to deliver an inaugural lecture at King's College London.

"Not before now has a black woman grown and risen through the ranks at King's to become a professor and to give an inaugural lecture for the first time in its esteemed history,' she told a packed auditorium at the university.

According to, the lecture is usually given by 'newly-promoted or appointed professors to inform colleagues in the university and the general public, about their research career so far; and update colleagues on their current and future research directions'.

In her lecture, Prof Olonisakin spent time discussing the UN, pointing out her 'experience as a staff member of the United Nations… transformed my worldview'.

"First, Africa's footprint on the UN Security Council's agenda was hugely disproportionate to the continent's representation in the places where decisions about the destiny of Africans were being made," she said.

"Second, the voice of young people was glaringly absent - notwithstanding my own privileged position - particularly African youth (most especially women), who were rarely found among the JPOs [Junior Professional Officers] and interns.

"Again, power dynamics were at play such that only wealthier member states who provided voluntary contributions and other support to the relevant UN offices had Junior Professional Officers in the Secretariat," Prof Olonisakin told her audience.

Born to Nigerian parents in South London, Prof Olonisakin spent her early years in Nigeria where she obtained a BSc in political science at Obafemi Awolowo University in 1984. She received an MA in War Studies (1990) in London.

At King's she is currently Professor of Security, Leadership and Development at the African Leadership Centre (ALC) in the School of Global Affairs, and Vice-President/Vice-Principal (International).

She established and acted as the founding director of the ALC in 2010, which aims to build the next generation of African scholars and analysts generating cutting edge knowledge for conflict, security and development in Africa.

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.