After the Sharpeville massacre on 21 March 1960 the Boycott Movement renamed itself the Anti-Apartheid Committee. Its draft programme proposed a ‘Shun Verwoerd’s South Africa’ campaign that took the radical step of moving from an individual boycott of South African goods to UN economic sanctions and the total isolation of South Africa.
After the Sharpeville massacre on 21 March 1960 the apartheid government banned the African National Congress and Pan Africanist Congress and detained hundreds of anti-apartheid activists. This leaflet asked people in Britain to protest and boycott South African goods.
Leaflet published soon after the Sharpeville massacre calling for a continuation of the boycott of South African goods. The reverse side reprints the list of South African goods on the leaflet distributed during the March Month of Boycott Action.
After its March Month of Boycott Action the AAM launched a Penny Pledge Campaign to raise funds and keep the boycott going. It asked supporters to donate one penny and sign a pledge not to buy South African goods.
Thousands of demonstrators marched through central London on 27 March 1960 to protest against the massacre of 69 unarmed demonstrators at Sharpeville on 21 March. The march was organised by the Boycott Movement, together with the Movement for Colonial Freedom and the Committee of African Organisations. It was followed by a rally in Trafalgar Square, organised by the Labour Party. In the days following the shootings, there were scuffles with police outside South Africa House as crowds gathered to protest.
Oliver Tambo and Trevor Huddleston in London in 1960.
Labour MP Barbara Castle speaking at a rally in Trafalgar Square on the first anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre. This was the first of many such events organised by the AAM to commemorate the victims of the Sharpeville shootings.
In 1961 South Africa was forced to withdraw the Commonwealth because of its racial policies. The AAM held a 72-hour non-stop vigil outside the Commonwealth conference at Marlborough House. It organised a rota of people prominent in British public life, who wore black sashes marking the Sharpeville and Langa massacres.
In March 1961 South Africa was forced to withdraw from the Commonwealth because of its racial policies, but the British government continued to grant it Commonwealth trade preferences. This leaflet asked AAM supporters to press the government to end arms sales and all trade concessions to South Africa.
This leaflet was distributed by anti-apartheid supporters in Leeds. It highlights the key AAM issues in 1961: arms sales and trade with South Africa, South West Africa (Namibia) and apartheid sports teams.
Leaflet publicising a rally in Trafalgar Square on 3 June 1962.
After South Africa left the Commonwealth in 1961 the British government passed a ‘standstill Bill’ postponing the removal of Commonwealth trade preferences. In March 1962 the AAM organised a lobby of Parliament against the renewal of the Bill. This memo briefed lobbyists and listed the Conservative MPs most likely to oppose the Bill.
Leaflet advertising a conference on the alliance between South Africa, the Central African Federation and Portugal. This was a central theme in AAM campaigns until the Portuguese colonies won their independence in 1975. The conference was attended by around 300 people. It was organised by the AAM, Movement for Colonial Freedom and the Council for Freedom in Portugal and its Colonies, the precursor of the Committee for Freedom in Mozambique, Angola and Guinea Bissau.
In 1961 Nelson Mandela went into hiding and then left South Africa secretly to meet leaders of independent African countries. He returned to South Africa in July 1962. Shortly afterwards he was arrested and charged with incitement to strike. The Anti-Apartheid Movement organised protests and messages of support. In this telegram he thanks the AAM and says his message is intended as ‘a very firm, warm and hearty handshake from us’.
This leaflet stressed Britain’s complicity in the apartheid government’s repression of black South Africans. Thousands were distributed during the AAM’s boycott campaign in October 1962.
Leaflet publicising a meeting calling on the British government to support UN sanctions against South Africa in October 1962.
In July 1962 the Anti-Apartheid Movement adopted a constitution which set up a democratic structure under which policy was decided by individual members and affiliated organisations. This leaflet sets out its three aims. The constitution was largely unchanged until 1988, when a new category of local members was set up and the annual meeting became a delegate conference.
In the early 1960s the white minority governments of Southern Africa entered into an informal alliance as the rest of Africa gained its independence. Western companies made big profits from mining in South Africa, Rhodesia and Katanga (southern Congo). This pamphlet, by AAM founder member Rosalynde Ainslie, showed how Britain supported white minority rule. It was launched at a press conference in London in 1962 by Irish writer and diplomat Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Part of the crowd at a rally in Trafalgar Square against British arms sales to South Africa on 17 March 1963. The main speaker was the Labour Party’s new leader Harold Wilson. He told the Conservative government ‘Act now and stop this bloody traffic in the weapons of oppression’. Also on the platform were African National Congress General Secretary Duma Nokwe and Labour MP Barbara Castle, President of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.
Thousands of people marched through central London to protest against British arms sales to South Africa on 17 March 1963. The main speaker at a rally in Trafalgar Square was the Labour Party’s new leader Harold Wilson. He told the Conservative government ‘Act now and stop this bloody traffic in the weapons of oppression’. When Labour came to power in October 1964 it announced a limited embargo, but fulfilled a contract for 18 Buccaneer bomber aircraft and continued to sell spare parts to the South African Defence Force.