Posted by: alison-cullingford | June 11, 2010

Collections of the Month: Anti Apartheid Action

Detail from End Conscription Campaign poster

Detail from End Conscription Campaign poster

In honour of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa,  opposition to the apartheid regime from the 1960s to the 1980s as revealed in the Commonweal Archives.

The archives of journal Peace News tell stories of protest in South Africa and in the UK.  There is an impressive collection of high quality photographs documenting UK protests in the mid-1980s: a non-stop picket of South Africa House in London, a demonstration at a Tesco branch, and many marches and other events.  Other relevant files include a small collection of photographs of South Africa news stories in the 1960s,  interesting 1980s ephemera from the South African End Conscription Campaign, and a file about the campaign to Stop the Seventy Tour.  This campaign, chaired by Peter Hain, opposed the tour of the UK in 1970 by the white South African cricket team.

Operation Namibia logo

Operation Namibia logo

The archive of Operation Namibia offers tremendous detail about one particular campaign.  Operation Namibia aimed to highlight South African activity in Namibia using nonviolent techniques: sending a ship full of useful books to draw attention to the country’s plight.   The ship, Golden Harvest, encountered many delays on her journey, compounded by lack of funds.  The project eventually ended with Golden Harvest having reached Gabon, because of mounting financial difficulties, major rifts among the crew, and the death of a crew member from malaria.  Another ship, Fri, reached Namibia but was refused access.  The archive contains letters from the crews, details of project meetings, and photographs.

The Laredo South African Archive is not one of the Commonweal Archives, but shows the impact opposition had on the life and career of a white South African.  John Laredo was a sociologist who was imprisoned for his involvement with the African National Congress.  On release from prison in 1969, he moved to the UK where he became a lecturer at the University of Bradford.

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