Press Release: The Legacy of Empire Conference

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Personal witnesses from the last days of Empire will give their views on this period at a conference, ‘The Legacy of Empire,’ which takes place on Monday, 20 May at the University of London’s Institute of Commonwealth Studies.  The Conference, organised jointly by the Overseas Service Pensioners’ Association (OSPA) and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, will hear from high-profile speakers who can recall the closing years of British colonial rule and can judge what its effects and consequences were for the people in those countries. 

“They will be describing the impact of colonial rule on their countries and people,” says Jeremy Mathews, OSPA’s Chairman. “They had direct personal experience of those times. They can separate the myth from reality. For many colonial countries, this is the Golden Jubilee decade since independence – a good time in which to assess the results of the years of colonial rule on countries which then became members of the Commonwealth of Nations.”

The Conference will be held in The Chancellor’s Hall, Senate House, from 10.30am-7.00pm.  It will be opened by the Director of the Institute, Professor Philip Murphy, and by the President of OSPA, Lord Goodlad who, as Alastair Goodlad, was Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1992-95), Government Chief Whip (1995-97), and High Commissioner to Australia (2000-05).

The Conference will be divided into five sessions. Session One – Assessing the Legacy – will be chaired by Professor Philip Murphy.  It will include the Conservative MP, Dr Kwasi Kwarteng, the author of a recent book on the subject, and Dr Joseph Ayee, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Speakers during the second session – Managing the Legacy: the view from India and Africa – include the Indian author, journalist and editor, Surendra Nihal Singh; Dr Martin Aliker, former senior adviser to the President of Uganda; and Mark Chona, former special assistant for political affairs under the founding President of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda. The session will be chaired by Professor Keith Somerville of the University of Kent.

Session Three – Managing the Legacy: the view from the Mediterranean and the Caribbean – involves Professor Henry Frendo of the universities of Malta and Oxford, and Sir Ronald Sanders, former senior Caribbean diplomat and ambassador. The session will be chaired by Professor Robert Holland of King’s College, London, and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

The fourth session considers the view from the UK, with former Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington and Lord Boateng, former Financial Secretary to the Treasury and High Commissioner to South Africa from 2005-2009. The session will be chaired by Professor Lord Hennessy, University of London.

A final round table discussion, chaired by Professor Peter Marshall, former Emeritus Professor of Imperial History at King’s College, London, includes Dr Harshan Kumarasingham, University of Wellington, New Zealand, and Anson Chan, former Chief Secretary and Head of Hong Kong’s Civil Service.

The Conference will be attended by Lord Luce, former Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1981-82) and Minister for the Arts, Privy Council Office (1985-90). Vice-President of OSPA, he was a District Officer in Kenya from 1960-62, three years before independence, and the Governor of Gibraltar 1997-2000.

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Notes to editors

The Institute of Commonwealth Studies of the University of London is the only postgraduate academic institution in the United Kingdom devoted to the study of the Commonwealth. It is a national and international centre for policy-relevant research, research facilitation and teaching.

The Overseas Service Pensioners’ Association represents former members of Her Majesty’s Overseas Civil Service (HMOCS) who served on expatriate terms in administering and developing the colonial territories during the last century. HMOCS came to an end with the Hong Kong handover in 1997.

Click here to see the event programme and registration information.