Davidson was born in 1924 in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone.  His family belonged to the Creole minority who were an educated and elite ex-slave community. He attended primary school in Nigeria and in 1946 graduated with first class honours from Christ's College.  He earned his PhD in 1958 and then proceeded to study for a medical degree at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, Univeristy of London's medical school.  Following the completion of his studies, he lectured at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.

Davidson was the first black African to graduate with First Class Honours from the University of Cambridge and he was also the first black African elected as a Fellow of a Cambridge college.  He significantly contributed to medical science when he was the first to analyse the breakdown of insulin in the human body, a discovery which was a breakthrough for the treatment of diabetes.

Beginning in 1960, Davidson was the first native principal of the prestigious Fourah Bay College in Freetown as well as a member of the Public Service Commission.  He continued his administrative career at the university level in Sierra Leone as first the chairman (1964-69) then as Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sierra Leone (1966-69).

In 1969 he became the Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, which he served as until 1971.  In that year, he became the High Commissioner to the United Kingdon, which ended in 1972.  He then became the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations under Austrian Kurt Waldheim, which he served as until 1982.  While serving as Under-Secretary-General, he also served as head of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.

Davidson lived in Thornton Road, Cambridge for many years frequently visiting Christ's and was made a disintinguished Honorary Fellow, meanwhile serving from 1987 until retiring in 1991 as a visiting professor of International Studies at the University of California (1987-88) and the University of South Carolina (1990-91). He retired in 1991 at the age of 67 to Cambridge, where he died three years later at the age of 70.

Published work:

  • Africa, A Subjective View, 1964
  • Two African Tales, 1965
  • The Truly Married Woman, and Other Stories, 1965
  • Creative Women, 1982