Colin Legum was born in Kestell, Orange Free State, South Africa, on 3rd July, 1919. As he young man he became concerned about the injustice of the treatment of the local black population.
In 1934, aged 15, Legum found work as an office boy at Johannesburg's newly established Sunday Express. Three years later he became the newspaper's political correspondent. He also joined the South African Labour Party and edited its journal, Forward. In 1942 he was elected to Johannesburg City Council.
An opponent of apartheid, Legum moved to Britain. In 1951 Legum joined the Sunday Observer. He served as the newspaper's diplomatic editor and its Commonwealth correspondent.
In 1964 Colin and Margaret Legum published South Africa: Crisis for the West. In the book they argued for economic sanctions against the South African government in order to bring down the apartheid system. In 1968 he became editor of the annual Africa Contemporary Record. Legum was the author of over 20 books including Congo Disaster (1960), Pan-Africanism: A Brief History (1962), and Africa: A Handbook of the Continent (1962).
In 1991 Legum returned to South Africa. He continued to work as a journalist, author and visiting lecturer. In 1999 he published Africa Since Independence.
Colin Legum died on 8th July, 2003.