Gregory Building renamed in honour of Silas Modiri Molema

Following consultation with colleagues in the relevant Schools, the University’s Senior Management Group has re-named the Gregory Building, the Molema Building. The decision was taken in recognition of the fact that the views propounded by Professor John Walter Gregory (1864-1932) on race and racial segregation which are completely at odds with the University’s values. 

The University has chosen to recognise Dr Molema because of his contribution to South Africa through his medical, academic and political work, as well as his close ties to the University of Glasgow. The decision to name a building after Dr Molema is supported by his daughter, Warada, and by his family.

Silas Modiri Molema was a prominent South African medical practitioner and political figure. Born in 1891 in Mahikeng, South Africa, he was educated at Lovedale Institution and worked as a teacher until 1914 when he moved to Europe. Dr Molema received his medical degree from the University of Glasgow in 1919.

Before returning to South Africa, Dr Molema wrote an acclaimed book titled The Bantu, Past and Present. Though the book was about black South Africans in general, the primary focus was the history of the Batswana people. On his return to South Africa, he distinguished himself as a medical practitioner of exceptional ability with a large practice serving South Africans of all ethnic groups. Dr Molema was also an authoritative writer and speaker on public health issues.  

From the 1940s, Dr Molema was involved with the African National Congress (ANC) and became its National Secretary in December 1949. He also served on the African Advisory Council, the Joint Advisory Council and the Constitutional Committee that set the Bechuanaland Protectorate on its road to independence as the Republic of Botswana. Dr Molema died in Mahikeng in 1965.

The naming of University buildings is considered by the Building Naming Committee, with recommendations then agreed with the University’s Senior Management Group. This committee was set up specifically by the University to examine the naming of existing buildings and those being built under our campus development programme.  Other recent naming decisions include the Mary Stewart building, the James McCune Smith Learning Hub and the Clarice Pears building.  We will announce the name of the Advanced Research Centre soon.

David Duncan

Chief Operating Officer and University Secretary


First published: 17 September 2021