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Papers of Colin Legum

Identifier: Coll-693

Scope and Contents

This collection comprises the papers of Colin Legum, an Anti-Apartheid activist and political exile, and later newpaper political correspondent. It includes correspondence files, committee minutes, freelance articles, files in legal document wallets labelled alphabetically, office filing, published periodicals, journals, research files, press cuttings, notes, publications, and newspapers relating to the post-colonial history of many countries mostly in Africa, but also in the Middle East and in the Indian Continent. See the list of subjects for more details.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1950s-1970s


Language of Materials

Bulk: English and French.

Physical Description

Mostly in good condition, but the material is still in its original boxes, some of which will need to be cleaned or replaced before consultation.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is still awaiting processing, and only one-third of its contents have been listed. Some material is subject to Data Protection legislation and will need to be screened before consultation. We are committed to providing access to this collection if we can, but please be aware that it may take longer than usual due to the challenges mentioned above. Please contact the repository in advance for more details.

Biographical / Historical

Colin Legum (1919-2003) was a distinguished South African-born journalist and author known for his significant contributions to the field of journalism and his active involvement in the struggle for social justice. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Legum's career spanned several decades and took him to various corners of the world.

Legum's early years were marked by his engagement in anti-apartheid activism, which was gaining momentum during his lifetime. He relocated to the United Kingdom in the 1940s, where he continued his commitment to reporting on issues related to apartheid and colonialism in South Africa.

He made a name for himself as a journalist and commentator, working for esteemed publications such as The Observer and The Guardian, where he covered African affairs, decolonization, and international politics. His reporting was instrumental in shedding light on the struggles and aspirations of African nations during a pivotal period in history.

Colin Legum also authored several books, notably Pan-Africanism: A Short Political Guide and Crisis in Kenya: Land and Freedom. His writings contributed to the global discourse on African politics and liberation movements.

Throughout his career, Legum remained dedicated to the ideals of justice and equality, advocating for the end of apartheid and supporting the rights of oppressed communities. His efforts as a journalist and author left a lasting impact on the understanding of African politics and the quest for social justice. He died on 8 June 2003.


156 linear metres (approx. 800 boxes)

Other Finding Aids

A handlist describing approximatively a third of the material (280 boxes) is available on request.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Library in 1988. Accession no. E.1988.25.

Physical Description

Mostly in good condition, but the material is still in its original boxes, some of which will need to be cleaned or replaced before consultation.

Processing Information

Top-level description created by Aline Brodin in October 2023. Box-list created by Lorraine McLoughlin and Aline Brodin in 2018-2020.

Papers of Colin Legum, 1950s-1970s
In Progress
Aline Brodin
October 2023
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379