Yasmin Alibhai Brown

Yasmin Alibhai Brown-1Yasmin Alibhai Brown

Exotic England

“England,” she says, “is uniquely susceptible to Eastern civilisations,” In this talk Yasmin tells the hidden stories of forgotten individuals.

England is a small country, but its inhabitants have always been unusually curious about the rest of the world. From Warren Hastings, first Governor-General of Bengal, who opposed missionary activities in India, proclaiming his love for that country as being greater than that for England, to the MP Rory Stewart, who acknowledges the English are “excited by civilisations of excess, sumptuousness and high emotion…”

Her talk engagingly discusses the two-way traffic of foreign influence: the British travellers who headed off across the globe; and the waves of immigrants who settled here. Yasmin is perfectly qualified to talk about the combination of England and the East. Born in Uganda, she moved to Britain in 1972 and married, first, a fellow Ugandan Asian, and, secondly, an Englishman. In 2004, her son married a Cheshire girl in a Unitarian church in Wilmslow.

Englishmen, Alibhai-Brown reminds us, love going abroad: “They who went out to anglicise the world did so, but in the process were mystified and transformed.”


Tales of My Upbringing – Love, Migration and Food

Yasmin tells the personal story of her family and the food and recipes they’ve shared together,white_2099_small-1

This talk tells the history of Indian migration to the UK via East Africa. Her family was part of the mass exodus from India to East Africa during the height of British imperial expansion, fleeing famine and lured by the prospect of prosperity under the empire.

In 1972, expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin, they moved to the UK, where Yasmin has made her home with an Englishman. The food she cooks now combines the traditions and tastes of her family’s hybrid history.

This talks gives the audience something more than history to go away with. Imagine, Shepherd’s Pie is much enhanced by sprinkling in some chilli, Victoria sponge can be enlivened by saffron and lime, and the addition of ketchup to a curry can be life-changing


Who do we think we are?  Looking at Britain as it is now!

More than half a century ago there was large-scale migration of ‘foreign’ communities to the UK. This brought with it the excitement of new foods and music, ideas and art, and different social functions and a different sense of history.

But indigenous Britons are still grappling with the implications of how that immigration decades ago has brought about an altered British society – and Britons. Yasmin has interviewed many different people and this talk asks the difficult questions and suggests ways of interpretiindexng the massive transformations and realities of Britain today.

In her talk she has the refreshing habit of dropping in unpalatable home truths about certain factions of the political left. “Feminists” she tells us, “need to stop regarding theirs as the only valid issue in the world”.

Of anti-racist initiatives we hear that “far too many inept and furious people got into racism awareness and anti-racist training … and did more damage than if they had left the issue untouched”