Posted by: helenrobertsbradford | October 12, 2009

From Aldermaston to Accra and Bikini Atoll

I discovered last week that in late 1959, during the Direct Action Committee’s campaign against French nuclear testing in the Sahara, the film Aldermaston March (1959) was taken to Ghana to bring the cause of nuclear disarmament to a wider audience.

One of the files in the DAC archive contains a letter dated 27 September 1959 from Philip Willcox, in Tsito-Awudome in the Volta region of Ghana.  He gives advice on some of the practicalities of the plan to stage a protest entry into the nuclear test area.  He also suggests:

“People, in Ghana anyway, have no conception of the nuclear weapon and its results – this is almost certainly true for all of [West Africa] – and because of this any protest so far has lacked real conviction.  The power of cinema here is limitless; if you could bring films here and they could be placed in the right hands the issue could be made clearer and more urgent to the people – perhaps a mass march from border to border north to Algeria might conceivably be done.”

Michael Randle, about to depart for Accra, replied that they would try to obtain Aldermaston March and a Japanese film, Daigo Fukuryu-Maru (Lucky Dragon 5).  This second film documents what happened to the crew of a tuna fishing boat after they witnessed an American hydrogen bomb test at the Bikini Atoll on 1 March 1954.  The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum preserves the fishing boat and hosts an online exhibition.


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