Dr Onyeka Nubia

Visiting Research Fellow

Department of English, History and Creative Writing


Dr Onyeka Nubia is a pioneering and internationally recognised historian, writer and presenter who is reinventing our perceptions of the Renaissance, British history, Black Studies and intersectionalism. Onyeka is the leading historian on the status and origins of Africans in pre-colonial England from antiquity to 1603. He has developed entirely new strands of British history which includes Africans in Ancient and Medieval England. Onyeka is also an expert on diversity in Tudor, Stuart, Georgian and Edwardian England/Britain.

He has helped academia and the general public to an entirely new perspective on otherness, colonialism, imperialism and the Black British contribution to World Wars I and II. Onyeka began his research on contemporary British history, and is an authority on: anti-colonial movements and Pan Africanism. Onyeka is a Visiting Research Fellow at Edge Hill and Huddersfield universities and the Director of Studies at Narrative Eye. He is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards. He has written over forty articles on Englishness, Britishness and historical method and they have appeared in the most popular UK historical magazines and periodicals including History Today and BBC History Magazine.

Onyeka is an internationally renowned speaker and has been a keynote presenter at venues such as the Houses of Parliament, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland. He has also been a keynote presenter at universities throughout the UK and the USA, including SOAS University London, Vanderbilt University (USA), Georgia State and Clarke Atlanta Universities (USA). Onyeka has been a consultant and presenter for television programmes including the BBC’s History Cold Case Episode 1, Series 1 the “Ipswich Man” and Channel 4’s “Skeletons of the Mary Rose;” and “Crossrail Discovery: London’s Lost Graveyard.”


Over the last thirty years, Onyeka’s research has re-contextualized popular perceptions of British ethnicity. This includes the study of ancient, medieval and early modern English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish societies. Based on research of over 250,000 documents he has proved that these societies were more diverse than hitherto postulated. In addition, for the first time, Onyeka has been able to trace Africans present in early modern Europe to their living descendants. And through rigorous investigations he decolonizes the mythos of England as envisaged by Shakespeare and Milton to create a new English narrative. He adopts this same approach with Tolkien’s legendarium and Arthurian epics.

In the 1980s and 1990s Onyeka’s research interests were focused on post-colonial concepts such as ‘the abnegation and alienation of self,’ and ‘how Black self-hate became a fashionable fetish.’ He is now also interested in exploring ‘Black agency in revolt.’ He was a pioneer in movements to mainstream the history of people of African descent such as Mary Seacole, Olaudah Equiano and Walter Tull. These movements led to greater inclusiveness in the National Curriculum. During the same decade he became a leading advocate for people of African descent to write their own history.

From 1988-2007 Onyeka had been the pioneer of an intersectional approach that blends his research interests in African-American Studies with Mediterranean, Black Atlantian, English and Colonial American histories. He has facilitated lectures and seminars on Black British history for graduates and undergraduates in history, public history, historical method, study skills, writing academically, historical interpretation, in universities throughout Britain and the USA, 2003-2017.

Onyeka has conducted intensive research into the intersectionalism of adult literacy, urbanity and ethnicity. As   Director of Studies for ‘Mother Tongue’:  creative writing programmes, he coordinated research in Barnet, Barking, Brent, Camden, Greenwich, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Waltham Forest 2001-2007.

At Edge Hill, Onyeka will develop research on Black British history for public utility in the 21st century. He will collaborate on grant applications to the AHRC and smaller grants and assist at the Royal Historical Society’s visit to Edgehill in April 2020. Onyeka will also advise the Department of English, History and Creative Writing on diversifying its student recruitment, especially working with external organisations.


Selected Publications


Onyeka (ed.), Black History Matters (London: Hachette Books, 2019).

Onyeka, England’s Other Countrymen (London: ZED Books, 2019)

Onyeka, ‘Blackamoores’ have their own names in early modern England,’ in Hakim Adi (ed.) Black British History: New Perspectives (Blackness in Britain) (London: ZED Books, 2018)

Onyeka, Shabina Aslam, Milton Brown, Mandeep Samra, Elizabeth Pente, Natalie Pinnock-Hamilton and Paul Ward, ‘Who Controls the Past Controls the Future: Black History and Community Development,’ in Sarah Banks, Angie Hart, Kate Pahl and Paul Ward (eds), Co-producing Research: A Community Development Approach (Policy Press, Bristol, 2019) (Bristol: Policy Press, 2018).

Onyeka, Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England Their Presence Status and Origins (London: Narrative Eye, 2013, 2014).

Onyeka, Sekai Hunte, The Battle of the Somme: The Missing Pages of World War I (London: Narrative Eye, 2016).

Academic Articles (selected)

Onyeka, ‘Africans in Early Modern England;’ ‘Henrie Anthonie Jetto,’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, March, 2019.

Onyeka, Louis Walcott, ‘There is some corner of a foreign field that will be forever Africa: Africans in World War I and the Battle of the Somme’ (London: Black History Month Magazine, 2016).

Onyeka, Runnymede Trust: GCSE National Curriculum, Supplementary Materials for Schools, OCR, GCSE modules, paper and electronic on ‘Our Migration Story: the Making of Modern Britain,’ London, 26 May-16 September 2016. They include course materials for students and teachers from the medieval, early modern and modern period. Winner of the Guardian University Award, https://www.runnymedetrust.org/blog/runnymedes-online-resource-wins-guardian-university-award

Onyeka, ‘Artisans, servants, musicians and Kings: Africans in Tudor England’ in, Commonwealth Year Book, Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth of Nations, 2015, pp. 75-78.

Onyeka, ‘Port Towns, Diversity and Tudor England,’ Port Towns, 22 July 2014, http://porttowns.port.ac.uk/port-towns-diversity-tudor-england-2/

Onyeka, ‘The Missing Tudors: black people in 16th-century England,’ BBC History Magazine Extra, 24 January 2014, http://www.historyextra.com/feature/missing-tudors-black-people-16th-century-england

Onyeka, ‘The Black Equestrians Africans in Georgian Britain,’ History Today, Volume 64, Issue 7, July 2014, http://www.historytoday.com/onyeka/black-equestrians#sthash.E8iWMY82.dpuf

Onyeka, ‘The Missing Tudors: black people in 16th-century England,’ BBC History Magazine, July 2012.

Onyeka, ‘What’s in a Name: Africans in Tudor England,’ History Today, Volume 62, Issue 10, October 2012, http://www.historytoday.com/onyeka/tudor-africans-whats-name#sthash.G2xe8vO4.dpuf

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