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Cultural boycott

int32t. Peter Ahrends transcript

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).

This is a complete transcript of an interview carried out as part of the Forward to Freedom AAM history project in 2013.

 
int32a. Peter Ahrends interview clip

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.

 
pic8211. Picket of Shirley Bassey concert, Cardiff

Wales AAM supporters asked Shirley Bassey to speak out against apartheid when she appeared at St David’s Hall, Cardiff in November 1982. The year before, she performed in Sun City, South Africa, breaking the cultural boycott. Shirley Bassey grew up in Cardiff’s multiracial Butetown area.

 
pic8301. ‘Leo’s on the List’

Tyneside AA Group picketed a concert by singer-songwriter Leo Sayer in Newcastle City Hall in May 1983. Sayer had played in Sun City, South Africa, in contravention of the cultural boycott. In 1983 the UN Special Committee against Apartheid set up a register of performers who had played in South Africa. Newcastle City Council tried to cancel the concert, but was forced to let it go ahead after consulting legal opinion. In the picture is Namibian student Gotthard Garoeb.

 
pic8418. Sheffield AA supporters at the Crucible Theatre

Over 500 people picketed the opening night of Funny Girl, starring Marti Caine, at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield in 1984. They were protesting against Marti Caine’s 14-month contract at Sun City and her outspoken defence of South Africa. Local Equity members signed a petition supporting the protest. The Crucible later agreed with Sheffield Council that it would not employ actors who appeared on the UN Register of performers who had appeared in South Africa.

 
pic8504. Actors against apartheid

Members of the actors’ union Equity called for the resignation of Equity President Derek Bond after he performed for whites-only audiences in South Africa. Bond campaigned to reverse Equity’s support for the cultural boycott. Equity members picketed the first night of a play at Theatre Royal, Nottingham, in which Bond played a starring role.

 
pic8609. Performers Against Racism

Lenny Henry and David Yip were among the 200 entertainers at the launch of Performers Against Racism on 26 January 1986. They pledged to boycott all links with apartheid South Africa. The launch was triggered by a referendum in the actors union Equity seeking to relax the cultural boycott. Performers against Racism called for the boycott to be extended to films and video as well as radio and television.

 
pic8610. Artists against Apartheid

Big Audio Dynamite, Hugh Masekela, Maxi Priest, Madness and Jerry Dammers with AAM President Trevor Huddleston.

 
pic8711. Royal Shakespeare Company against Apartheid

Members of the Royal Shakespeare Company joined protests against the invitation to the South African Embassy to take part in the annual Shakespeare birthday celebrations at Stratford in April 1987. Fifty countries pulled out after the organisers refused to withdraw the invitation to South Africa.

 
pic8713. Demonstration at Paul Simon concert

Controversy surrounded singer Paul Simon’s 1986 visit to South Africa to record the ‘Graceland’ album. The AAM argued that the visit broke the cultural boycott of South Africa. The UN Special Committee against Apartheid put Paul Simon on its register of artists who had performed in South Africa. This picture shows anti-apartheid supporters outside a concert given by Paul Simon at the Royal Albert Hall on 7 March 1987.

 
pic8714. Demonstration at Paul Simon concert

Controversy surrounded singer Paul Simon’s 1986 visit to South Africa to record the ‘Graceland’ album. The AAM argued that the visit broke the cultural boycott of South Africa. The UN Special Committee against Apartheid put Paul Simon on its register of artists who had performed in South Africa. The photograph shows musician Jerry Dammers outside the Royal Albert Hall with a letter from Artists Against Apartheid. The letter asked Paul Simon to apologise for his visit and give a pledge that he would not repeat his visit.

 
80s45. ‘Support the cultural boycott!’

Controversy surrounded singer Paul Simon’s visit to South Africa to record the album Graceland, released in 1986. The AAM and Artists Against Apartheid condemned it as a breach of the cultural boycott. The UN Special Committee Against Apartheid placed Paul Simon on its register of artists who had broken the boycott. Paul Simon defended himself on the grounds that the album showcased the talents of black South African musicians. This leaflet advertised a protest outside a concert by Paul Simon at the Royal Albert Hall in April 1987.

 
int19a. Louis Mahoney interview clip

Louis Mahoney grew up in The Gambia and came to study medicine in Britain in the late 50's.He changed after a few years to train as an Actor. He has appeared in numerous theatre,film and television productions.In the 1970s and 80s he represented African-Asian members on the Council of Equity, the Actors union,becoming Vice President 1994-96.He founded Performers Against Racism to defend Equity policy on South Africa.

In this clip Louis talks about his involvement in setting up Performers Against Racism and his support of the cultural boycott of South Africa.

 
cul01. Equity referendum, 1976

The 1976 annual general meeting of the actors union Equity called for an extension of the union’s boycott of South Africa. It asked Equity’s Council to ban the sale of all filmed or taped material and to instruct all Equity members not to work there. This leaflet asked members to support the new policy in a referendum held to ratify the resolution. Members voted to support the union’s existing policy of banning sales of television programmes to South Africa and asking members to refuse to perform if they were prevented from appearing before multi-racial audiences. But the new proposals were narrowly defeated. Members also voted against a ban on performing in Zimbabwe. Performers Against Racism was set up to persuade actors to support the new policies; it worked closely with the AAM.

 
 
 
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