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Mr Martin Plaut

Visiting Senior Fellow, Department of War Studies


Martin Plaut is a journalist and academic who has worked on Africa since the 1980’s and specialises in the Horn of Africa and southern Africa.

Born and educated in South Africa, he worked for the Labour Party as Africa and Middle East Secretary before joining the BBC World Service in 1984. He reported from many parts of Africa and was appointed Africa editor, BBC World Service News in 2003, a position he retained until retiring in October 2013. He joined the Institute of Commonwealth Studies as Senior Research Fellow. He is a member of the Royal Institute of African Affairs, Chatham House and has advised the British and United States governments.


  • B Soc. Sce., University of Cape Town
  • BA Hons. University of Witwatersrand
  • MA, University of Warwick


Research Interests

  • The politics of the Horn of Africa in general and Eritrea in particular
  • The history and political economy of Africa and southern Africa in particular
  • Questions of development




  • Dr Abdullah Abdurahman: South Africa’s first elected black politician, Jacana Media, 2020
  • Understanding South Africa, Hurst, 2019 (with Carien du Plessis)
  • Robert Mugabe, Ohio University Press, April 2018 (with Sue Onslow)
  • Understanding Eritrea: Inside Africa’s most repressive state, Hurst, October, 2016
  • Promise and Despair: The first struggle for a non-racial South Africa, 1899 – 1914, Jacana Media, 2016

Research articles

  • The iron forts of the Zoutpansberg, Bulletin of the National Library of South Africa, Vol. 74, No. 1, June 2020, pp. 3 - 8
  • Race and Imperialism in the British Empire: A Lateral View, South African Historical Journal, 2020, (With David Killingray)
  • Media Freedom in South Africa, The Round Table, 19 March 2018, 
  • The Ethiopian famine: war, weapons and aid, The RUSI Journal, January 2018
  • Reporting Conflict in Africa, Media, War and Conflict, Vol 10, Issue 1, 2017
  • F.Z.S. Peregrino, A Significant but Duplicitous Figure in the Black Atlantic World (with David Killingray), South African Historical Journal, August 2016
  • South Africa: How the ANC wins elections, Review of African Political Economy, Volume 41, Issue 142, October 2014, pages 634-644
  • Gandhi's Decisive South African 1913 Campaign: A Personal Perspective from the Letters of Betty Molteno (with Catherine Corder) South African Historical Journal, Volume 66, Issue 1, January 2014, pages 22-54

Media articles