In the late 1980s Bristol AA Group held an annual Festival against Apartheid. The 1989 Festival had an ambitious two-week programme featuring music from Southern Africa, an exhibition of Zimbabwean artworks and a children’s day with workshops on gumboot dancing, circus skills and drama.
By the 1980s South Africa was heavily dependent on loans from US and British banks. After the apartheid government declared a moratorium on the repayment of its foreign loans in 1985, the AAM and End Loans to Southern Africa (ELTSA) stepped up their campaign to stop the banks rescheduling South Africa’s debt.
In December 1988 agreement was reached on a process leading to Namibian independence. Elections were scheduled for 7–11 November. AAM President Trevor Huddleston launched a British appeal for support for the South West Africa People’s Organisation’s (SWAPO) election campaign in the House of Commons in April 1989.
Poster advertising a meeting at the Hackney Empire Theatre, London on 4 February 1990, organised by the Parliamentary Black Caucus and the AAM.
The AAM converted its ‘Boycott Bandwagon’ into a ‘Freedom Bus’ after the release of Nelson Mandela in February 1990. The bus toured Britain in the summers of 1990 and 1991 asking people to campaign for support for genuine democracy in the negotiations for a new constitution in South Africa. The bus was destroyed by arsonists in February 1992 and reduced to a burnt-out shell.
Poster celebrating Nelson Mandela’s release and calling for the release of all other South African political prisoners. Mandela visited Britain in April 1990 and spoke at a concert held in Wembley Stadium, London.
Poster featuring a photograph of Nelson Mandela with Ron Todd, General Secretary of the British Transport and General Workers Union, during Mandela’s visit to Britain in April 1990.
This poster reproduced an press advertisement calling on the 1989 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to impose further sanctions on South Africa. In 1986 the Commonwealth imposed limited sanctions, constrained by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to agree to more wide-ranging measures. The Southern Africa Coalition was a broad coalition of British organisations, including churches, trade unions, overseas development organisations and the AAM, launched on 1 September 1989 to pressure the British government ot impose targeted sanctions against South Africa.
The AAM campaigned to stop the 1990 rebel cricket tour of South Africa, led by Mike Gatting, picketing over 40 county cricket matches involving members of the team. This poster advertises a demonstration at the NatWest Final held at Lords cricket ground on 2 September 1989. The tour was cut short by protests inside South Africa and made a big financial loss.
Poster publicising a march and rally from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square on 25 March 1990. The AAM campaigned throughout the 1980s to pressure Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher into dropping her opposition to sanctions against South Africa. Thatcher declared her intention to lift UK voluntary bans on new investment and tourism promotion on 10 February 1990, the day before Nelson Mandela’s release.
In 1990 violence between Inkatha Freedom Party and ANC supporters in KwaZulu spread to the townships around Johannesburg and there were unprovoked attacks on workers travelling on trains from Soweto to Johannesburg. A third force, linked to the South African Defence Force, fomented the killings. The AAM insisted it was the responsibility of the South African government to end the violence. Supporters leafleted commuters at central London stations asking them to protest against the killings.
Poster advertising a concert by South African musician and political activist Mbuli Mzwakwe at Lambeth Town Hall, south London on 7 December 1990. Concerts featuring music from Southern Africa played a big part in attracting support in Britain for the Southern African liberation struggle in the 1980s and early 1990s. This concert was one of many such events sponsored by the London Borough of Lambeth.
The South African government failed to honour the agreement it signed with the ANC in August 1990 to release all political prisoners, and at least 284 were still in prison in June 1991. The AAM campaigned to ensure that the prisoners were not forgotten and for freedom for all political prisoners.
From 1989 the AAM held an annual sponsored Freedom Run and free concert in Brockwell Park, south London. The event raised funds for the AAM and publicised anti-apartheid campaigns. This poster advertised the 1991 event, ‘A Sun-Day Fun-Day. It was sponsored by the London Borough of Lambeth.
From 1990 negotiations for a new South African constitution were threatened by violence and repression and the media made much of ‘black-on-black’ violence. The AAM recognised that the responsibility for the violence rested ultimately with the apartheid regime and launched a campaign on the theme ‘Tell de Klerk: Stop the Violence and Repression’.
Poster advertising a conference in London on 3 April 1993 on the role that the British black community could play in helping to transform education in Southern Africa.
In October 1992 the civil war in Angola resumed when UNITA President Jonas Savimbi refused to accept the result of the UN-brokered elections, won by MPLA. The Angolan Emergency Campaign was set up by the AAM and the Mozambique Angola Committee to inform people in Britain of the situation in Angola.
The AAM launched its ‘Peace, Freedom and the Vote’ campaign in June 1993. It called for international pressure on the de Klerk government to drop its demand for permanent power sharing and for a white veto on constitutional change. It insisted that the transitional executive council should have a supervisory, rather than advisory, role in the run-up to the elections, and that the new constitution should be agreed by an elected assembly, rather than by a multi-party negotiating body. The campaign culminated in the AAM’s last major rally in Trafalgar Square on 20 June.
In the run-up to South Africa’s first one person one vote election, the AAM called for a full complement of election observers from Britain and the international community, and asked British local authorities and other organisations to support voter education workshops in South Africa.
Altogether nine British cities presented Nelson Mandela with the freedom of the city. In October 1993 Mandela visited Glasgow to meet representatives from each of the nine local councils. AAM President Trevor Huddleston presented him with a special scroll commemorating the awards.