Pioneering International Keelites

Keele has a proud roll call of distinguished alumni from many nationalities and origins. International Keelites have always made a huge impact...

Dick Blackett
(1969), AU President (1967-1968) and professor of Black American History at Vanderbilt University wrote in response to watching the “First Decade”, commemorating the origins of Keele University:kohp_Princess Margaret with Dick Blackett et al “Many thanks for sending a copy of the video of the first settlers! A great piece of work. I was surprised to see a black woman’s face in some of the stills. Who is she? When I first arrived I was told I was not the first Trinidadian to attend Keele, and that in fact there was a woman who had blazed the trail for West Indians. Could that be the person in the photos?  It would be great to develop short biographies on the pioneers of color. It is a history of which Keele should be proud.” 


Photo: Dick Blackett (in specs) meets the Chancellor Princess Margaret

Internatiional students have always formed an important part of the student body at Keele. In the early days, international students who came to Keele may have been a small minority but they made a big impact. These are memories of Keelites from the pioneering 1950s and 1960s. 

Margaret (“Mo”) Maillard (1955) 

Mo Maillard was the second UNCS Students' Union Union Lady President for 1954-1955.
"Margaret Maillard appeared as "Marguerite Jacques de la Caribée", the distinguished (but entirely phony) visiting dignitary to open the Summer Fete, held in the grounds of Keele Hall in June 1955 and particularly aimed at improving links with Keele village.  She was duly delivered in a smart car and escorted by properly Fancy dress cycle ride d cc1956 dressed members of the diplomatic corps.  She declared the fete open with the kind of dignity one used to expect on such occasions. My memories are somewhat misty, but I think this Fete preceded the one, for which I chaired the planning committee, in June 1956.  The platform party on that occasion included Professor John Blake, then Acting Principal, the Rev. Thomas Brookes, then Vicar of Keele, Bill Hanna and Angela Parsliffe, President and Vice-President respectively of the Students' Union." John Sutton (1958)
“As for 'Mo' Maillard, I remember her as a  very popular lady with a great sense of humour.” Peter Brookes (1959)
"Margaret Maillard was one of three who arrived in October 1951: herself, Basdeo Beddoes and Yvonne Legall." Anna Swiatecka (1954)
"Margaret Maillard was one of two West Indian girls who came to Keele in the same year - before 1954, but not in 1950.   I have an idea that her Christian name was Yvonne". Pam Lloyd-Owen (Harris) (1954)

Yvonne Legall (1951)

Yvonne stayed only a year, and went on to Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford to study classics.  She subsequently married Neville – whose surname I forget - who was from Barbados and became something in the Government, being eventually knighted for his services.  One or two of their three sons also came to England (but not Keele) to study. Anna Swiatecka (1954)

Basdeo Beddoes (1954)

Basdeo was already married when he came, and his son was born after he left home.  Before the Christmas vacation the Philosophy students gathered in the Gallie house and somewhat inebriated on Menna Gallie’s elderberry wine thought it would be an excellent idea if Winston Churchill, about to go on an official trip to the Bahamas (n.b. our lack of geography), would take Basdeo with him so he could go home and see his son. We – or rather Patrick Wilson on our behalf - therefore sent a long and complicated telegram via the phone with this suggestion.  Next day there was a huge headline in the papers saying the trip was cancelled. Subsequently there was a polite answer from some government body, saying we should write to someone else.  But by then we were all sober and didn’t pursue the idea.  Menna hoped that Bryce, who had been at some meeting while we were doing the phoning, wouldn’t question their unusually high telephone bill.  He never did, and I think remained unaware of it till much later. Anna Swiatecka (1954)

Usman Shah Abdullah al-Afridi (1954)

kohp_Alf and 1954 Graduands Photo: Alf with other 1954 graduates (Note: "Good Luck Lads" graffiti beyond)

"Alf was the well known dark face of the original Pioneers. Shah Abdullah al Afridi was from Afghanistan and was believed to be a princeling of the region. He regularly told us (the truth) that the Afridis had never been conquered by the British and had, indeed, inflicted more than one severe defeat upon the Queen's soldiers of the late 19th century. The Porters took him to the police rifle range where the accuracy of his shooting greatly impressed them. He pointed out that an Afridi boy received a rifle for his 7th birthday and really had to practise. The last I heard of him was that he had some post in the United Nations." Bill Lighton (1954 )
“Usman Shah Afridi was a 1950 pioneer and he lived (and regularly entertained a very attractive lady )in the next hut to mine. He looked very afghan-warrior-ish and was most charming.” Michael Daly (1955)Afridi OStJ Edwards R Robson D Harvey 1954

"Usman Shah Afridi was at Keele 1950-54. This is a photo of him on Graduation day 1954. Also in the picture are Ormond St.J Edwards, Rosamund Robson (Lady President of the Athletic Union) and yours truly." David Harvey (1954)

Tomas “Tom” Ashibende (1957)

“My father was Tom Ashibende. He was at Keele in the late fifties. Tomas Ashibende was born in Kenya, not knowingly the son of a Chief. He married my mother Hazel Ashibende, they had three children, Timothy, Susan and Jeremy. Tomas returned to Kenya in 1962. While in England he got his degree and taught at a couple of schools including one in Kidsgrove. I have met people who remember him playing football in the snow without shoes or socks. He was a good athlete and apparently had a trial for Port Vale FC.  Due to the uprisings in Kenya the family was not reunited until 1986 when my father returned to England, he stayed for one year. England had changed very much since he was last here. It was amusing to see him greet every black person he saw just as he would have in 1962. Tomas died in 1989. He has a wife and family in Kenya. I am sure they will be happy that Tom is remembered at Keele." Jem Ashibende.
“I remember Tom Ashibende, a tall, athletic Kenyan in the 1954 intake. He studied Politics and I recall an occasion when Professor Sammy Finer was lecturing on something to do with the size of political groups.  He asked Tom how many were in his tribe.  Tom replied, "We are many", and try though he did Sammy was unable to extract anything better from him to define "many". He was a very friendly and sociable man, always smiling". John Sutton (1958)
kohp_TomAshibende 1957 "I don't have any specific tales of Tom Ashibende.  But I do remember him from the late fifties, tall and energetic, always with a great smile on his face.  I'm sorry to hear of his passing.  I send my high opinion of him at Keele, and my sympathy with his passing, to his children." Tony Powell (1959).
“I recall a tall, thin, smiling African guy called Tom Ashebendi, who was a runner and a member of the Christian Union, I believe.” Peter Brookes (1959)“I have a feeling Tom was in or nearly in the Olympic Games as a runner. He had long legs!” Ticker Hayhurst (1960)

Photo: Tom Ashibende at 1957 Rag Parade by Ticker Hayhurst

"I was a good friend of Tom Ashibende. We played in the same soccer team and in the athletics squad. Tom was a hurdler. My last memory of him was in late 1957 when I returned to visit friends I bumped into him at the bus stop on my way to the campus. He greeted me like a brother picking me up and gave me a great hug much to the amazement of the queue of people. In 1957 there were few people of colour on our streets!” Derek A Evans (1957)

Dirim Asinobi (Nwakuchu) (1957)

"Dirim Nwachuku, from Ghana I believe, was in the Geography class of 1958. We did a field study in the Lake District and not unsurprisingly it rained quite a lot. On the day of our study of Watendlath, we were left to find our way back to the study centre in Stonethwaite, not a great distance. We were soaked - before the days of breathable waterpoofs! Dirim was very despondent and sat on a rock and declared that she was waiting for the bus! It took some very persuasive arguments (mostly as I recall from Janice Ratcliffe) to convince her that there would never ever be a bus, and so we squelched back with her to keep her spirits up. I believe that she had a successful political career on her return after graduation."  Norman Bertram (1958)

Sera Lugumba (1958?)

“In my hut in 1957-58 were Sera Lugumba from Uganda and Tom Ashibende from Kenya.” David Winter (1962)

Achmed Dualeh (1957?)

“From East Africa (British Somalia) was Achmed Dualeh. He was always dressed like an English gentleman, including waistcoat. He probably felt the cold. He was much older than us. In tutorials in Constitutional History we would encourage Achmed to introduce facts from his own country's constitution because Dr. H. didn't encourage debate or discussion. We had to accept the gospel according to Dr.H... I believe Achmed became a diplomat.” Derek A Evans (1957)

Thalia Balaglou (1957)

“Does anyone remember Thalia Balaglou (1957), I think she came from the Middle East, Iraq or Iran?” Derek A Evans (1957)
"I was friendly with Thalia who, I’m almost sure, came from Iran. She was very glamorous and had a friendship with a very good-looking American student who drove round the campus in a new red MG sports car." George Broadhead (1957)
Thalia is known to have married and was last known to be residing in Iraq.

Paul Omadura Adeniyi "Omo" Dada (1959)

“I remember a Kenyan - I believe - called “Omo" Dada who was at Keele 1955-59 period, and of course Tom Ashibende. Mau Maillard, of course, was very well known and liked”.  Tony Powell (1959)
“I remember Omo Dada from West Africa, probably from Nigeria or Sierra Leone. He also was a member of the athletics squad. At the time there was a washing powder named OMO ("Nothing washes Whiter")” Derek A Evans (1957)

Ivan Findlay (1959)

“Ivan Findlay was from Sierra Leone.” Tony Scrase (1960). 
Dr Ivan Findlay went on to be a marine biologist at the University of Sierra Leone.

Zulfikar Ghose (1959)

"The magazine we all read then was ' Cum Grano' with, especially, poems by Zulfikar Ghose who became a published writer." Alex Wotherspoon (1962)“Prof Meic Stephens, in correspondence, said that he thought that Zulfikar Ghose had died.  I have no direct evidence of this, but M is normally very well-informed” John Idris Jones (1961)
“During my time at Keele, 1954-58, Zulfikar Ghose was a student. I remember seeing one of his poems in a school English textbook much later.” Brenda Klafkowski (Gentle) (1958)
“He was writing poetry during his Keele days - in fact there are some in the Cum Grano mags which were on display when we were there for Pioneers weekend. There were very obtuse verses - couldn't understand them at all but perhaps I have no soul or is it no depth of understanding?” Dot Bell (Pitman) (1959)
“Zulfie, from Pakistan, was a very friendly and literary spirit - he wrote for Cum Grano while at Keele. I found one of his later novels in a library book-sale. The last I heard, a couple of years ago, he was Professor of English at an American university.” Tony Powell (1959)
Zulfikar Ghose was born in 1935 in Sialkot and moved to Bombay in 1942. After the partition of British India he migrated to England when he was seventeen and then to the USA in 1969. He taught at The University of Texas at Austin. He has written poetry and prose (fiction and non-fiction) equally. The Loss of India, Jets from Orange, The Violent West, A Memory of Asia and Selected Poems are some of his poetry books. He has written short stories, novels, biographies and five books of literary criticism. Though he lived in England for most of his life and later in the United States, his writing evoke a strong feeling of nostalgia for the land of his origin. Pieces of his writings betray a strong nostalgia for one’s roots and the fact that one can never get the land of his birth, his moorings, out of his system. He worked as the cricket correspondent of The Observer, and worked as a book reviewer for The Times Literary Supplement. 

Feisal al-Mazidi (1959)

kohp_Feisal al-Mazidi “Feisal rocketed to fame and fortune on leaving Keele (he had a white Jaguar car while he was there) becoming a minister in the Kuwait government and then a director of Gulf Oil. He was, I believe, the first Kuwaiti graduate from a British university." Patrick Campbell (1957)

Photo: Feisal al-Mazidi on sedan chair - here he impersonates Colonel - later President - Nasser of Egypt in the 1957 Rag Parade.

“Feisal Mazeedi of Kuwait was in our years 1955-59. There were two men in our year who had cars - Don Pacey, an Argentinian who had something like an MG sports with a top that could be open to the elements, and Feisal who had a Jag. He had terrible eyesight and successfully managed a write-off at least one car. There may have been  more. He returned to Kuwait as a high up in the government.  The thing my husband and I remember was that in 1961 he was back in this country and staying in the Dorchester on Mayfair.  There was a great party and an open invitation for Keelites to go along to.  My invite came at 11 pm and I may have been in bed but couldn't miss that opportunity – I had never been in anywhere as grand as the Dorchester in those days. Off we went and the party raged on until the early hours. I remember Roger Hands being there as well as a guy who was in Romeo and Juliet with Bernie Lloyd at Keele and who subsequently appeared on “Crossroads” as a postman. The other coloured lad in our year was Omo Dada, a Nigerian, I think”. Dot Bell (Pitman) (1959)

Ahmad A Al-Duaij (1962)

Ahmad Al-Duaij was a student from Kuwait who studied History, Economics and Politics.

Lakumbi “Kumbi” Akiwumi (1963)

“The third "Halette" singing on the famous 1960s Keele Rag records was a young black woman, "Kumbi" from Sierra Leone” Jill & Tony Budd (1963)
“From the years 1959-1963 I remember vividly Kumbi from Sierra Leone - a good friend of Mary Mainwaring (Hankins) and Tiger Yawnghwe - then known as Hso Hkan Hpa - a Burmese Shan prince. I remember some of us, including John and Mary Mainwaring, having coffee at times in Tiger's room. I also recall from my first year at Keele that there was an Iraqi student there, whose face I can see in my memory's eye, but have no recollection of his name. He enjoyed political argument, and, for some reason, I got the impression he was "hiding out" at Keele because of his home-based activities” Jennifer Waterman (1963)
"Kumbi  was a great fan of "The Archers".  She married and returned to Sierra Leone, and about a year later her husband was killed in a traffic accident.  I heard that she had seemed to be more seriously injured and was taken to hospital, but her husband had apparently suffered internal injuries that weren't recognized until too late.  I haven't heard any news of her since then" John Mainwaring (1963)
“Kumbi did Maths and something else with myself, Sheilah Cresswell and John Mainwaring, among others.”  John Newby (1963 & 1965)

Jonathan James (1961)

kohp_JonJames RagFancyDressWinners Students’ Union President 1959-60. A West Indian, he came to UCNS after studying at Ruskin College 2009.
“He went to be a tutor at Ruskin where he designed the Development Studies course and ran it for many years. He retired years ago and died not long afterwards." Prof Audrey Mullender Principal, Ruskin College

Photo left: Jon James and winners of the Rag Fancy Dress contest

Ahmad Ali al-Duaj (1962)

“Ahmed Duaij was chair of the Union External Relations Committee (1960/61). Didn't he go to the UN with the Kuwaiti delegation? Abdul (can't remember surname) fitted out his room in Unit 1 of the Hawthorns even grander than Ahmed D. Both had cars of course, which were oblivious of the weather on the Keele village drive!” John Samuel (1964)

Hso-Khan-Pha (“Tiger”) Yawnghwe (1963)

"When I was at the Doon School in India I was known as Winston Thaike - Thaike being the last part of my father's given name of Sao (Prince) Shwe Thaike combined with an English name that I picked out of a hat! I was known as Hso Hkan Hpa now spelt Hso-khan-pha and have added the surname of Yawnghwe – my name means Tiger. After graduating from Keele I went to work on a farm in Denmark and then I went to work as a geologist in the Ivory Coast for two years, I transferred to Manitoba, and then to exploration drilling in Ontario and Quebec.  In 1969 I was a senior exploration geologist and played a major part in discovery of the Lynn Lake Mine ore deposit. In March 2005 I was selected by the Representatives of the Se-Viengs or Counties of the Shan States to head the Interim Shan Government as President: and on 17 April 2005 I declared the independence of the Shan States in secession against the national government of Burma"  Tiger Yawnghwe (1963)
“I recall that Hso Hkan Hpa had a very sharp kukri knife. I think he lived in H block”. John Newby (1963)
In addition to his career in exploration geology Tiger has been active in Burmese human rights issues and sought nomination for the Liberal Party to become a Member of the Canadian parliament.

Roy Lawrence (1964?)

“Roy was from British Guyana and he said he could bowl leg-breaks (very badly) but he did have long spikes on his boots to scar the pitch for Jim Shaw bowling better leg breaks from the other end!” John Samuel (1964)

Cyril Rodgers-Wright (1964?)

“From Sierra Leone – he dropped out academically, but fancied himself as a snooker player.” John Samuel (1964)

Oluyemisi "Olu" Sofekun (1964)

"My room mate in Sneyd House in our fresher year of 1960 was Oluyemisi Sofekun. a Nigerian Yoruba.   Olu and I both graduated in 1964 and she was one of my bridesmaids, three weeks later, followed by her own wedding just a week or two late, to a fellow Yoruba who was doing his PhD in a branch of civil engineering in Scotland I know that she went into educational administration in Lagos, probably in the 1970s. Olu's cousin was also at Keele, one year ahead of her - in the Keele photo for 1960/1961 Olu is standing in the back row, and her cousin is sitting near the middle of the second row. Gill Cox (Drury) (1964)
Olu retired from the Nigerian civil service as Deputy Director (Budget) in the Federal Ministry of Health in January 1993. She served on the governing board of Kemo Secondary School, Sagamu, and was secretary of Lagos University Women's Society for many years She is involved with church activities and has two grandchildren (2001)

Jonathan Chileshe (1965)

“A Zimbabwean? Goalkeeper for the third soccer XI with a kick like a mule.  He scored for Keele from the penalty spot on one occasion.” John Samuel (1964)
“Jonathan (or Jay) Chileshe was a very popular Zambian - or more accurately 'Northern Rhodesian' in the early 1960s -- undergraduate between 1961 and 1965. He had an eminent career but now, in his middle seventies, expends a good deal of his still considerable energy on golf, which he learned at Keele, and cultivating the maize and soya beans he grows on his small farm outside Lusaka. I spend time with Jay and his delightful wife, Sally, most years, either during their trips to the UK or mine to Zambia. They are a charming couple and most amusing company. His son Chanda Chileshe - now a top lawyer - graduated from Keele in the seventies.” Roy Dyche (1965)
“I think (by an amazing Keele coincidence) that I may have taught him at Munali Secondary School, Lusaka in 1960-1.  Munali was the only government boys’ school doing A levels at the time and it was my first job after graduation.  I should explain that I had joined HM Colonial Service in order to escape teaching only to arrive in Northern Rhodesia (as it was) just at the moment when the only secondary school teacher in the country with a biology degree was going on 6 month leave. On the basis of my Keele biology subsid I was drafted in to hold the fort.  Fortunately I was able to each History as well before going off onto the bush a year later!” Brian Vale (1960)
Amongst other accomplishments, he was with UNO for 24 years. He has written books on Africa & Development Economics. Later Chairman of the National Economic Advisory Council of Zambia; Chairman of Zambia's University Teaching Hospital Board.

George Fraser (1968)

"George Fraser was originally from British Guyana, and a mature student, maybe even 40.  Thanks to George I can always remember Guyanan Independence Day, 26 May 1966, which is also my 21st birthday George must have come up in 1964 I think and stayed in Unit 1 at the 'Thorns (re-named as Block 1 in 1966/67 by the administrators who disliked "Unit" because it reminded them of being in the army).  He was friendly with Theo "Chips" Waddington amongst others. He'd worked for the Post Office in London when he came to the UK, and left his wife Bhanu and his family there during FY.  Later she moved up to Hanley and he moved out to join her.  She was a great cook.  In his first year she sent up a small box of curried venison, just moist cubes of meat.  One of the tastiest things we'd ever eaten.  They had a baby they called Jethro while George was at Keele, and before Sue and I graduated in 1967". Andrew Kennedy (1967) and Sue Kennedy (Bond) (1967)

Abdool Gany “George” Salemohamed (1968)

“Another good footballer was George Salemohammed who was a Mauritian international, very tricky dribbler of the football, but diminutive in stature.” John Samuel (1964)

Dick Blackett (1969)

Basketball Team c 1969 "In cricket 1967 was a good year. We got to the UAU quarter-finals, thanks to Dick Blackett, Colin Chant, John Moyes and Steve Curry with the bat, a hair-raising Pete de Mestre with the ball, and Rob Johns as captain. There was also legendary status for Chris Reiss, a very big hitter, and Jim Rushton, a spin bowler, who graduated in the late 50s or early 60s" John Meager (1968)
Dick was President of the Athletic Union 1967-1968 and he still visits friends in the School of American Studies frequently at Keele. He became Professor of History at the University of Houston in 1996 and in 2004 Andrew Jackson Professor of History at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee. He received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Keele in 2011. His first wife Anne Matthews and his daughter Leila Blackett also attended Keele.

Photo right: Keele's "internationally recruited" Basketball team 1966-1967 Back row L to R Dave Campbell from Jamaica, Dick Blackett from Trinidad, unknown; Front row L to R Pete Waldock (Captain) from UK and Mike Vitello from New Jersey, USA. Another team member was Ralph Bunche II on exchange to Keele from Reed College, USA -  son of the Nobel prize winner and whose own son, Ralph Bunche III - graduated from Keele in 2000.

Kaye Larbi (1969)

“I was at Keele 1965-69, plus 1970 as a graduate trainee in the Library and I am black.  I was a friend of Dick Blackett's. There were only a few black students in those days mainly from West Africa and, as a consequence, we all knew one another, frequently being brought together under Martin Dent's auspices.” Kaye Larbi (1969)

Sam Nolutshungu (1969)

Sam was the first South African Scholar at Keele. He died 12 Aug 1997.aged 52 while he was Professor of Political Science and African Politics at the University of Rochester, New York. Professor Nolutshungu was an internationally acclaimed expert on South African politics. As a university student, Sam Nolutshungu left his homeland because of apartheid policies and went into exile in England, where he stayed to earn his doctorate and become a university faculty member. In a newspaper article he told a reporter: "There is a great sense of satisfaction in seeing the ideas we espoused then becoming the foundation for the new South Africa." Before his arrival in Rochester, Professor Nolutshungu served on the faculty of the University of Manchester, England, where he was Tutor to the Honours School of Politics and Modern History. He also held positions on the faculties of the University of Lancaster, the University of Ibadan, York University in Toronto, and Dartmouth College, and he was a visiting research fellow at Yale University. In December 1996, Professor Nolutshungu was selected to be the next Vice-Chancellor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, considered by many to be the pre-eminent Unviersity in that country. He was the first black African to be offered the post but he was diagnosed with a terminal illness very soon afterwards and was unable to take up the post.
“I remember Sam Nolotshungu was the first Keele student I ever met.  He was among those who had evidently volunteered to help meet and greet new 'freshers' on arrival in 1968, and showed me where to find the room I had been allocated in the later infamous Lindsay 'F' block.  As a Scot who had spent childhood years in what later became Zimbabwe, I found it encouraging - and very much typical of Keele - to encounter Sam on my first day on campus.” Brian Stewart (1972)
"Sam Nolutshungu was President of the University Debates Union in 1967-68. Like his predecessor Alex Ryan he was a great debater and formidable figure both on the floor and in the Chair: the two often sparred to the great entertainment and amusement of others." Bill Proctor (1968)
“...and there was also the incomparable Sam Nolutshungu.“ John Walder (1970)

Read More about Sam and the South African Scholarships

Cy Asika (1970?)

“I remember from my time at Keele (65-70) the following people of African origin: a Prince Paul from somewhere in West Africa who, among other things, was keen on Advokaat; Cy Asika from Nigeria and there was Hamdan from Sudan and a chap called James who wore glasses and sported a line in brown cord jackets.“ John Walder (1970)
“Regarding Cy, the last time I saw him was on graduation day when he and his family and myself and mine (amongst others) were at The Sneyd Arms enjoying a wind down before heading for our homes.  He was so full of life and plans at the time but probably returning to Biafra which was not a safe place to be at that time.  The lack of any information about him from anyone, and nothing on the net makes me wonder if he was a victim of the wars and troubles there”. Connie Robertson (1970)
“There must be lots of stories about the extrovert larger-than-life Cy Asika from Nigeria.  He was Entertainments member on Union Committee in 1969, and so responsible for the wheeling and dealing that brought so many famous (or about-to-be-famous) rock bands of the era to Keele.  Clear signs of entrepreneurial flair even then…” Brian Stewart (1972)
"I can't remember which year it was (1968/9 or 1969/70 I think), but the Union's Entertainment Officer was a guy called Cy Asika, who was either a brilliant booker of groups or happened to be in the right place at the right time as  during that period we had a succession of bands who went on to become household names" Peter Ball (1972)
"I have always understood that the pictures of the "nude sunbathing incident on the lawn" were taken by Cy Asika, a Nigerian student, who then drove down to London and sold them to the News of the World. He was far more entrepreneurial than me." Rob Hirons (1973)

Royal Ball 1968 Royal Ball 1968: God' Smart (1969) was the President of the Union. By tradition, the Union President had the first dance with the Chancellor, HRH Princess Margaret. However, God' couldn't or wouldn't dance. The papers got hold of the story and it was then announced that God's place would be taken by Cy' Asika (1970), chairman of the Entertainments committee. Cy' was originally from Nigeria and a superb dancer. ‚ÄčThis picture (right) shows the Princess's first introduction to her new dance partner. On the left is God' Smart. On the right, Cy' Asika and just next to Cy' and almost hidden, Jackie Nahoum (1970). The guy with his arm outstretched was me (chairman of the Publicity committee - and virtually the only member!) The lady next to me I don't recall, but she was Tim Patrickson's (1970) partner - who can be seen with the bow-tie and beard." Bob Procter (1970)

Frank Akenzua (1969)

"Frank Akenzua married Adrienne Kellond-Jones (1970) and their daughter Omosede Akenzua (2002) also graduated from Keele. Frank Akenzua, who, when I asked him what his dad did, came out with the brilliant line "He's a king" (in fact, if I recall correctly, the Obi of Benin);  there was Hamdan from Sudan and a chap called James who wore glasses and sported a line in brown cord jackets."  John Walder (1970)
"Regarding Cy, the last time I saw him was on graduation day when he and his family and myself and mine (amongst others) were at The Sneyd Arms enjoying a wind down before heading for our homes.  He was so full of life and plans at the time but probably returning to Biafra which was not a safe place to be at that time.  The lack of any information about him from anyone, and nothing on the net makes me wonder if he was a victim of the wars and troubles there".  Connie Robertson (1970)

Guillaume Oyono-Mbia (1969) 

 “If I am not mistaken Guillaume Mbia came to Keele in 1966 and while there won a BBC prize for his play. Was he from Senegal or Ivory Coast?” Dick Blackett (1969).
“I am pretty sure that he was from Cameroon. He was a very pleasant and modest guy when I knew him all those years ago” Kaye Larbi (1969)
“Guillaume Oyono Mbia is from Cameroun.  He did indeed write plays and put one on in the Student Union ballroom with the title Three Suitors, One Husband.  I knew him quite well and used to practice my French on him as he was very friendly with my wife, Janey Owen (1969) who came to Keele from Kenya, via Switzerland, and spoke passable French.  They both attended all the overseas student dos mostly chez Professor Ingram.  We knew he had returned to Cameroun and entered the government and quite recently had news of him.” John Walder (1970)
We have unconfirmed information that he became a dramatist and lived in Cameroon - but died around 1991.

Mohammed Hamdan (1970)

“Great to have news of Hamdan. I remember that he was always smiling and that he would sit in the Student’s Union drumming on the arm of his chair.  When asked he told me that he was memorizing his law cases to the rhythms he tapped out!” Connie Robertson (1970)
“Hamdan Visited Keele in May 2009 with his son - he has 21 children and 25 grandchildren. Director of Educational Institute in Darfur province, Sudan. He appreciated Keele and loves Britain - Keele offered him reduced tuition in order to study here – even when rates were raised, Keele kept them unchanged for him - and he always appreciated this all his life. He says he gave Princess Margaret a longbow when he graduated and got the biggest cheer of all graduands on the day” John Easom (1981)

Pari Pourhomayoun (1970?)

“I remember Pari Pourhomayoun from my era who was from Iran.  I heard some news of her much later that she had married and her husband had taken their child or children away and back to Iran". Connie Robertson (1970)
"We have often wondered about Pari.  She was such a cultured person that we feared the worst in view of all that has happened in Iran over the years)”
John Walder (1970)
I have been in touch with Pari Pourhamayoun recently. She now lives in Germany and her daughter Ruya lives in New York.  Phil Davies (1971)

Ramin Taraz (1972?)

"Ramin Taraz was, I think, from Iran (or maybe he was an Afghan exile).  Virtually a permanent fixture at the pinball machine in the Union along with one or two others like Rod Nurse (1971).  Best known perhaps for being among the first people - at least on campus - to wear the classic embroidered and hairy Afghan sheepskin coat.  Those coats were malodorous at the best of times, and certainly you could smell Ramin's coat (he seemed to wear it permanently) long before you saw him!" Brian Stewart (1972)
“There was also a chap called, I think, Ramin who came from Iran.  I didn't know him personally, but he enjoyed a certain reputation....” John Walder (1970)
"It was time the next generation took over editing “Cygnet” and the print run which came with editing. Disposing of ownership was much harder as nobody could see much point in selling advertising and incurring personal debt with the printers. Someone mischievously suggested I might accept £100 and the new editors proposed a game of poker. Ramin Taraz put up his hi-fi system against “Cygnet”. I would like to say I contrived to lose. Ramin was a very likeable and gifted card player. Witnessed by a small crowd of his friends he won embarrassingly quickly. The following day he and his friends refused to accept their winnings - they had discovered the funding problem." John Walker (1970)

Geoffrey Ndhlala (1973)

"Geoffrey was from Rhodesia and came to Keele in 1969 . A very good friend. Had to go home for a domestic emergency in '72 or '73 ish. I corresponded with him for a while and then lost touch." David Butcher (1972)

They Also Served…

kohp_1959  Chas Syms T Hayhurst  Okio Kamaze Dirim Asinobi (1957), Emmanuel Bangbade (1964), Tom Embanga-Foster (1964?): No information held and there are many more pioneering International Keelites to be discovered. Please send in your memories to Keele Alumni HQ.
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Photo right : Okio Kazume of Japan with Chas Syms and Ticker Hayhurst 1959

The Last Words

It is interesting that between 1950 and 1961 two of the twenty-two Students' Union Presidents and Vice-President equivalents were from the Caribbean – it is possible that they were the only two Caribbean Keele students during that time.

The last word goes to
Dick Blackett (1969) who instigated this discussion: “The list grows and it is an impressive one. Glad to hear about Frank Akenzua. Frank, Sam Nolutshungu and I were in a number of tutorials together. It is interesting that Frank’s and Adrienne’s daughter attended Keele. So did my first, Leila Blackett (1994). There’s some infection in the water!”

From Another Angle

“’Ed’ was a vivid white - he was (he said) a senator's nephew from Alabama and was attached to the USAAF at Burtonwood. He was doing a research in Economics and spent most of his time living on campus. He told gruesome tales of the Saturday night entertainment in Alabama, which was to go to town and "crack a few skulls". We thought it was just to impress the Limeys - now I'm not so sure. Despite this he became a real buddy of Alf and they regularly played poker together and opened a bottle or two of whisky. Some believed that he was really a CIA (or some such) plant to keep an eye (in the Cold War) upon this hotbed of communist learning. Lord Lindsay was, of course, a Socialist peer.” Bill Lighton (1954)

Did you enjoy this? Why not read more stories from the Keele Oral History Project?