Over 150 women attended an AAM conference on Women Under Apartheid on 24 April 1976. Speakers included Dulcie September and Joyce Sikakane from South Africa, Ethel de Keyser from the AAM, representatives of the NUS and the trade union AUEW (TASS), and Methodist Pauline Webb.
‘Freedom for Nelson Mandela’ in Hyde Park, London on 17 July 1988. Thousands of demonstrators marched through central London to a rally attended by 250,000 people. The rally was the climax of the AAM’s ‘Nelson Mandela: Freedom at 70’ campaign and the biggest ever anti-apartheid demonstration in Britain.
From its formation in 1980 the AAM Women’s Committee stressed the role of South African women in opposing apartheid. This recruitment leaflet quotes the song sung by women on the Federation of South African Women’s anti-pass demonstration at the government buildings in Pretoria in 1956.
Caroline Motsoaledi was the wife of Andrew Motsoaledi, one of the accused in the Rivonia trial. She was held in detention and released without charge. This leaflet highlighted the situation of South African women who were arrested for questioning about their husband’s activities. Children were often left alone and uncared for when their parents were arrested.
The Sharpeville Six were sentenced to death in December 1985 because they were present at a protest where black collaborators were killed. One of the six was a woman, Theresa Ramashamola. After huge international protests the death sentences were commuted in July 1988.
Programme for a conference on women organised by AAM women members and the North West Regional Council of the TUC in Liverpool.
Women from the ANC Women’s Section and AAM Women’s Committee demonstrated in support of Theresa Ramashamola on 9 March, to mark International Women’s Day. Theresa was one of the Sharpeville Six, who were sentenced to death in December 1985 because they were present at a protest where black collaborators were killed. After huge international protests the death sentences were commuted in July 1988.
Women on Merseyside set up a group to campaign for women in South Africa and Namibia in 1981, affiliated to the AAM and the SWAPO Women’s Solidarity Campaign. The group collected material aid for Namibian women refugees and material support for the ANC. In the 1980s women in many local AA groups set up women’s sub-committees or elected a women’s officer.
The Consultation on Racism held in Notting Hill, London, 19–24 May 1969 led to the setting up of the WCC’s Programme to Combat Racism (PCR). The consultation concluded that force could be used to combat racism in situations where non-violent political strategies had failed. The PCR gave grants for humanitarian use to the Southern African liberation movements and other anti-apartheid organisations, including the AAM. In the centre of the photograph are the Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey and Trevor Huddleston.
Anti-apartheid supporters picketed around 250 branches of Barclays Bank all over Britain on 1 March 1978. The pickets were part of a March month of action against apartheid held to launch the UN International Anti-Apartheid Year. British-owned Barclays Bank was the biggest high street bank in South Africa. After a 16-year campaign by the AAM, Barclays withdrew from South Africa in 1986.
A north London community bookshop hosted a photo exhibition and collection box for the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College in the summer of 1982. Left to right: ANC representative Ruth Mompati, Jim Corrigall of Haringey AA Group, local councillor Pat Tonge, Dave Palmer of Reading Matters bookshop and local councillor Ernie Large.
In the late 1970s after the Soweto uprising and the growth of independent trade unions in South Africa, there was a big increase in the number of British trade unions affiliated to the AAM. The main theme of this 1979 conference for British trade unionists was the campaign for sanctions against South Africa.
Lawyers Against Apartheid was formed in December 1986 and held its inaugural meeting in April 1987. The group campaigned against the abuse of the laws by the apartheid regime. It gave advice to anti-apartheid activists who fell foul of the law in Britain. Left to right: Van Meevan, Martin Mabdetson (ANC), Lord Gifford, Bience Gavanas (SWAPO), Adrienne Barnett (Chair, Lawyers Against Apartheid).
Ron Todd was the General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, 1985–92, and Chair of the TUC International Committee. He visited South Africa on a trade union mission in 1986, and was a strong supporter of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the independent trade union movement in South Africa.
In this clip he talks about his visit with Norman Willis to Alexandra township, Johannesburg, in 1986.
Victoria Brittain reported on Southern Africa for the Guardian newspaper in the 1980s. She worked closely with the Anti-Apartheid Movement, interviewing activists from the United Democratic Front and the Southern African liberation movements. She has also written extensively on Angola. Her books from the period include: Hidden Lives, Hidden Deaths, South Aftica’s Crippling of a Continent; Death of Dignity, Angola’s Civil War; and Children of Resistance (edited with Abdul Minty).
This is a complete transcript of an interview carried out in 2000 by Håkan Thörn.
Chris Child became involved in the campaign to make Barclays Bank withdraw from South Africa when he was a student at Durham University. He was an Anti-Apartheid Movement staff member from 1976 to 1982, initially as Trade Union Secretary and later as Deputy Executive Secretary. He was responsible for the AAM’s work with trade unions, the disinvestment campaign, Namibia and liaising with local AA groups.
In this clip Chris Child describes how the AAM tried to change the unions' policy of engagement with South Africa to one of isolating apartheid.
Lela Kogbara was a member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement’s Black Solidarity and Executive Committees, and an activist in South London AA Group. She was the Chair of Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) from 1994 to 2012, and still serves on its Executive Committee.
In this clip Lela Kogbara describes the aims of the Black Solidarity Committee.
David Haslam is a Methodist minister who attended the seminal Fourth Assembly of the World Council of Churches held in Sweden in 1968. He was one of the founders of End Loans to Southern Africa (ELTSA) in 1974 and later helped set up the EMBARGO campaign against oil shipments to South Africa. In the early 1970s he served on the National Executive Committee of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.
This is a complete transcript of an interview carried out as part of the ‘Forward to Freedom’ AAM history project in 2013.
Simon Korner was Secretary and then Chair of Hackney AA Group from about 1986 to 1994. The group organised a weekly stall outside Sainsbury’s in Dalston and a regular picket of the local Shell garage in Clapton. It put on major fundraising shows at the Hackney Empire, featuring artists like Jack Dee, Eddie Izzard and the Pogues. Simon was a member of the London Anti-Apartheid Committee, and organised political dayschools and a mass picket of Shell HQ.
In this clip he describes the Hackney Turkish community’s support for anti-apartheid campaigns.
Peter Ahrends was born in Berlin in 1933. His family fled the Nazis and arrived in South Africa in 1937. He left at the age of 18 to study architecture in London. Peter became chair of UK Architects Against Apartheid, an affiliate of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. He campaigned for a cultural and academic boycott of South Africa and called for the de-recognition of the Institute of South African Architects by the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects).
In this clip Peter describes his memory of witnessing racism in South Africa as a child.