Emeritus Professor Donald Anthony Low AO (1927-2015)


Prof A Low

We regret to announce the death of Anthony Low, one of the ANU’s most distinguished Africanists, in Canberra.

Appropriately for the first President of the African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific, Anthony Low announced his retirement from African Studies at the 2012 AFSAAP conference at Burgmann College, ANU. He had thus spent over 60 years in the field of African Studies.

Born in India in1927, the son of Canon Donald Low and Winifred Low, he was educated at Haileybury historical connections with the East India Company. He went up to Oxford in and Imperial Service College, a school with 1944 gaining his BA in 1948 and his MA in 1952. His D. Phil. on ‘The British and Uganda 1862-1900’ was awarded in 1957.

His illustrious academic career began in 1951 as a Lecturer at Makerere College, University of East Africa. He was also Uganda correspondent for The Times.

While undertaking archival research in Zanzibar he met Isobel Smail who was nursing in the Protectorate and was proficient in Swahili. They were married in Zanzibar Cathedral in 1952, celebrating their 60th anniversary in 2012.

Anthony had three stints at The Australian National University.

He moved from Uganda to the ANU in 1959, staying until 1964 when he became Professor of History at Sussex.

He returned to the ANU in 1973, and was Vice-Chancellor from 1975 to 1982. Coincidentally another Africanist, Sam Richardson, was head of C the Canberra College of Education (now the University of Canberra) around the same time.
From 1983 to 1994 he was Smuts Professor of the History of the British Commonwealth at the University of Cambridge.

On his return to Canberra he became Vice-President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1996, an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2005, and Emeritus Professor at the ANU in 2010.
His key publications on Africa include:
Buganda and British Overrule (with R.C. Pratt). Oxford University Press, 1960.
Buganda in Modern History. University of California Press, 1969.
The Mind of Buganda . University of California Press, 1969.
The Egalitarian Movement: Asia and Africa 1950-1980. Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Keith Hancock: The Legacies of an Historian. Melbourne University Press, 2001.
The Fabrication of Empire: the British and Uganda Kingdoms, 1890-1902 Cambridge University Press, 2009.

The publication of the latter (reviewed in the AFSAAP Journal) was marked by a launch at University House, ANU, to which the members of the ANU’s African Students Association were invited. Younger scholars should note that this last book was published when he was over 80.


Anthony was the first President of AFSAAP, serving from 1979-1982.

His final AFSAAP talk was entitled ‘Origins of Social Science Research in Uganda’ which turned into a lively discussion on the past and future of Africa Universities.


Lucas, David, 2013, ‘Anthony Low retires’. The Australasian Review of African Studies, 34(2);7-8.
Personal communication from Anthony Low.
Who’s Who 2013. A & C Black, 2012.


*this is an amended version of ‘Anthony Low retires’  published in The Australasian Review of African Studies in 2013*


Attached is Robin Jeffrey’s Eulogy.
Attached is Matthew Neuhaus Harare’s Eulogy.
Attached is Adam Low’s Eulogy.