History of LSE and Africa

LSE has from its very foundation in 1895 been deeply involved with Africa and African issues. 

For many South Africans, LSE also meant the opportunity for learning that apartheid denied them in their own country.

Established four years before the outbreak of the Boer War in South Africa, LSE was rapidly caught up in the debates of the time, with many staff and students taking a strongly anti-colonial line. Years of continued engagement with African students, scholars and organisations throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first century would culminate in the establishment of the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa in 2021, strengthening LSE’s long-term commitment to placing Africa at the heart of understandings and debates on global issues.

Discover the rich history of LSE's engagement with Africa:

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Video thumbnail of Kofi Annan speaking at LSE, 2002

In June 2021, the LSE Firoz Lalji Centre became the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa, marking an exciting new phase in LSE's engagement with Africa. As part of the launch, the FLIA looks back on the important steps which have led to this achievement. 

Nelson Mandela at LSE - Africa and its Position in the World, 2000 

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Nelson Mandela speaking at the LSE, 2000.

LSE, as part of the University of London, was in the vanguard of the great army of men and women across the world who responded to the call to isolate the apartheid regime. They insisted that human rights are the rights of all people everywhere. I feel greatly honoured to have an honorary degree from the University of London. Today brings an opportunity to thank LSE in person and with all humility for the part it played in that tribute to the South African people for their achievement in turning from conflict to the peaceful pursuit of a better life for all.

For many South Africans, LSE also meant the opportunity for learning that apartheid denied them in their own country. Those who were students are now working in all sectors of our society, leaders of a nation, leading a bright and common future. We continue to draw upon you for training and knowledge in fields that are critical to the development of our country. May your practical solidarity and our partnership long continue. Your invitation to me to reflect with you on the challenges facing Africa speaks of your continuing commitment to our shared goals and I thank you most sincerely.

- Nelson Mandela

Timeline of engagement 

View the video explainer here.