Martin Plaut on Dr Abdurahman and anti-racism in South Africa

22oct2:00 pm3:30 pmMartin Plaut on Dr Abdurahman and anti-racism in South AfricaA book discussionOnline- Zoom2:00 pm - 3:30 pm OrganiserUNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts (RILA), University of GlasgowEvent TypeWebinar & Talks

Event Details

Registration is free, but places are limited. Please visit to book your free place.

Speakers: Martin Plaut (former Chief Correspondent, BBC World Service, Africa, Senior Research Fellow at Institute for Commonwealth Studies), Prof Alison Phipps (UofG), Tawona Sitholé (UofG) and student representatives.




As President of the African Political (later People’s) Organisation (1905-1940) Abdullah Abdurahman was a leading political voice among South Africa’s ‘coloured’ community and a tireless campaigner against segregation. Though civil, social and political equality was not achieved in his lifetime, he made an important contribution to the case against white supremacism, and for improvements in education, the welfare of the Cape poor, and public health. A medical graduate of Glasgow University (MB CM 1893) he ran a successful multi-racial practice in Cape Town.


This conversation marks this important figure in the history of University of Glasgow and also the launch of a new book on Dr Abdurahman by Martin Plaut, a journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa, and former Africa Editor for BBC World Service News.




Martin Plaut


Born in South Africa in May 1950, Martin Plaut received his first degree in Social Science from the University of Cape Town, and an Honours degree in Industrial Relations from the University of the Witwatersrand, before going on to do an MA at the University of Warwick. In 1978 he worked for a year as an Industrial Relations officer with Mobil Oil before joining the British Labour Party as secretary on Africa and the Middle East.


In 1984 he joined the BBC, working primarily on Africa. He has reported from many parts of the continent but specialises in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa. He is formerly editor for BBC World Service News. Martin Plaut has advised the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the US State Department. For two years he was an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, leading their Africa research programme and continues to be an active member.


His previous publications include: Power! Black workers, their unions and the struggle for freedom in South Africa (Spokesman Press, 1984, with Denis MacShane and David Ward); South Africa: Out of the Laager? Fabian Society (1991); War in the Horn Royal Institute of International Affairs (1999, with Patrick Gilkes); Unfinished Business: Ethiopia and Eritrea at War (Red Sea Press, 2005); Ethiopia and Eritrea: Allergic to persuasion (Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2007, with Sally Healy); Fighting for Britain: African soldiers in the Second World War (2010, James Currey, by David Killingray, with Martin Plaut); The Hamster of Hampstead Heath (2007, self-published).




Alison Phipps


Alison Phipps holds the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow where she is also Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, and Co-Convener of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNET). She is Co-Chair of the AHRC GCRF Advisory board and recipient of a number of GCRF grants as both PI and Co I working in Zimbabwe, Gaza, Ghana, Uganda and with refugees in the UK. Most recently she was appointed Co-Director and Co-I for the £20 million UKRI GCRF South South Migration Inequality and Development Hub.


Alison chairs the New Scots Core Group for Refugee Integration in partnership with Scottish Government, COSLA and Scottish Refugee Council; She Co-Chairs AHRC GCRF Advisory Board and she is an Ambassador for the Scottish Refugee Council


She is author of numerous academic books and articles and a regular international keynote speaker and broadcaster, including most recently, Decolonising Multilingualism: Struggles to Decreate, with Multilingual Matters. Her first collection of poetry, Through Wood was published in 2009, with a further collection – The Warriors who do not Fight was published in 2018, with co-author Tawona Sitholé.


In 2018 she was awarded the De Carle Visiting Professorship at Otago University, 2017 she was appointed Adjunct Professor of Hospitality and Tourism at Auckland University of Technology. In 2016 she was appointed ‘Thinker in Residence’ at the EU Hawke Centre at University of South Australia. She was the Inaugural Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand in 2013, and is Adjunct Professor of Tourism. In 2011 she was voted ‘Best College Teacher’ by the student body and received the Universities ‘Teaching Excellence Award’ for a Career Distinguished by Excellence. In 2012 she received an OBE for Services to Education and Intercultural and Interreligious Relations in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. In 2019 she was awarded the Minerva medal by the Royal Society of Philosophy. She is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.


Tawona Sitholé


Tawona Sitholé is Artist in Residence with the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts, at the University of Glasgow, School of Education. He is a poet, playwright, mbira musician, educator and facilitator. His ancestral family name, Ganyamatope, is a reminder of his heritage, which inspires him to make connections with other people through creativity, and the natural outlook to learn. As co-founder of Seeds of Thought arts group, Tawona’s work involves supporting and facilitating access to the creative arts. Tawona is Poet in Residence for GRAMNet and works in a variety of settings and institutions. As he continues to write, teach and perform, mostly he appreciates his work for the many inspiring people it allows him to meet. 



(Thursday) 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm