Speaker Series: Christina Lamb
At the start of term, we hosted an inspiring event with the Sunday Times Chief Foreign Correspondent and best-selling author.
The South Hampstead Speaker Series invites high-profile guests to shine a light on a diverse range of topics; after two years of talks via Zoom, it was wonderful to welcome a ‘real life’ audience back to Waterlow Hall, for a thought-provoking evening with the award-winning journalist, Christina Lamb OBE.
In conversation with Mrs Bingham, she described how she became a war correspondent by accident. After studying PPE at Oxford, she began her journalistic career in Afghanistan covering its war against the Soviet Union, heading to Kandahar on the back of a motorbike with a group of mujahideen. Within two years she was named Young Journalist of the Year. She has since won more than a dozen major reporting awards and written ten books, including I am Malala and the more recent Our Bodies, Their Battlefield – a brutal expose of sexual violence in modern conflict.
With tremendous equanimity, she shared her experiences of reporting from global conflict zones, highlighting why she prefers to tell the underreported stories of women, instead of focusing on the ‘bang, bang’ fighting of war.
Over the past three decades, she has ventured to the depths of the Amazon, had tea with General Pinochet and was even on Benazir Bhutto’s bus when it was blown up in 2007. As well as touching on the horrors of modern conflict in Afghanistan and Ukraine, she also shared some uplifting stories: from her friendship with Malala, to anecdotes as a London parent – whether juggling her son’s school bake sale with a visit from a key contact from Pakistan, or dealing with a call from Foxtons whilst on the frontline in Iraq. When asked about the skills required for those interested in pursuing a career in journalism, she suggested: “Determination is probably the most important quality… And listening – everyone has a story.”
The audience, captivated by her humanity, asked plenty of questions, before clamouring to buy signed copies of her books. Christina later tweeted: “Thanks for having me at your amazing school – wonderful thought-provoking questions from your pupils.”
A recording of the evening is available here.
The Speaker Series has been running since 2017 and is generously funded by donors from our community, including the Friends of South Hampstead; Christina asked for her fee to be donated to Too Young to Wed, which supports child brides, and Laila Haidari’s initiative, helping Afghan girls to be educated. Other recent guests of the Speaker Series have included the ex-Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney; anthropologist, Professor Alice Roberts; comedian, David Baddiel; and endurance sailor, Pip Hare.