In October, we explored some of the Old Oakhamians who were born outside of the UK. This month, we move on from the 19th into the 20th century and explore some of the first non-British pupils at Oakham School.
A group who can claim to be the first foreign nationals to attend Oakham School were four Belgian refugees: Gustave Jolyt, Francis Mallart, Auguste Malvaux, and Marcel Roseberg. These four boys were fleeing the atrocities of World War One which were ravaging the Belgian countryside.
A second individual who can claim to be one of the first foreign students at Oakham is Radu Nicolas Tabacovici. Born in Romania in 1915, we have no evidence as to why he came to be educated at Oakham. He returned to his native country after completing his studies only to be imprisoned by the Nazis. Radu escaped to Paris where he lived until his death in 1987.
The very first black Oakhamian was Brahim Kalopo Sulu Gambari. Brahim was born in Nigeria and he studied at Oakham between 1961 – 62. Whilst at Oakham, he was a boarder at Deanscroft and achieved his Athletics colours, being placed in the Youths’ division in the Leicestershire and Rutland AA Championships 1961. He left fairly soon after arriving, choosing to take his A Levels at the City of Westminster College. In his later career, Gambari studied law and practiced as a solicitor at the Supreme Court of Nigeria. In January 1983, Brahim became the Judge of the Court of Appeal and in 1995 was elected as the 11th Emir of Iloring in Kwara Stata (becoming the Chairman of the Council of Chiefs for Kwara State).
Brahim Kalopo Sulu Gambari.
Haruhiko David Takeno attended Oakham at a similar time to Brahim and is the first recorded Old Oakhamian of a Far Eastern background. Takeno was born in Tokyo, Japan and came to Oakham in 1961 – 63. He too boarded in Deanscroft and was praised for being a violin prodigy. Whilst at Oakham, Takeno performed in many concerts including the Winter term concert 1961 (playing the first movement from the violin concerto in D by Mozart) and the Winter 1962 end of term concert. He also led the orchestra in 1962 and 1963. In the Summer 1962 concert, Takendo’s performance of Chopin’s Prelude in A on the piano was “outstanding” even though he had studied the instrument for less than a year.
An article written by Takendo in the Winter term 1962 Oakhamian Magazine.
Takendo was a member of the school’s swimming team, and gained the certificate A in the CCF. Haruhiko became the founder of the Tokyo String Quartet as well as members of the Yehudi Menuhin and English Chamber Orchestras.
Haruhiko David Takeno.
In the records, the first pupil that we have recorded as being from a middle eastern background is Hussain Akhtar Zaidi. Hussain was born in Pakistan and came to Oakham between 1963 and 65. He had sailed from the USA with his siblings to England in 1960. During his time at school, Zaidi was a boarder at Deanscroft and played in the Hockey XI’s (64 and 65). The Spring term Oakhamian magazine describes his “superb sense of ball control which blinds weak opposition”. In Summer 1965, Hussain represented Oakham at the Public Schools Hockey Festival. He gained his 1st XI hockey colours in 1965. Hussain also played badminton for the school’s Colts and 1st team in 1963 – 1965.
Hussain Akhtar Zaidi in the 1st XI Hockey team 1965. Hussein is sitting on the far left.
Do you have any memories of these pupils or of diversity during your time at Oakham School? Get in touch, we would love to hear your stories.