Nelson Mandela and the Anti-Apartheid Movement.
Nelson Mandela’s death has received the coverage it merits.
He was truly a great man.
What should be underlined is that it was not just a great Man but a movement that overthrew Apartheid.
We should recall how the brave activists of the ANC brought down the racist South African system.
How they were backed by supporters across the world.
In this country the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) played its part.
The Daily Mirror describes the AAM’s role,
Home to the South African Embassy, the Square had been the focal point of the UK Anti-Apartheid Movement for just over three decades.
Originally known as the Boycott Movement, the British anti-apartheid campaign began on June 26 1959 – three years before Mandela was imprisoned – when a group of South African exiles and their British supporters met in London’s Holborn Hall.
Backed by trade unionists, Labour Party branches, British Communist and Liberal activists, women’s groups, the National Union of Students, and the TUC, the meeting called for a boycott of fruit, cigarettes and other goods imported from South Africa.
Led by Oliver Tambo, the ANC President and great friend of Nelson Mandela, who lived in Haringey after fleeing to the UK in the 1960s, other key public figures included Labour politicians Barbara Castle, Peter Hain and Frank Dobson as well as playwright Harold Pinter, actor Vanessa Redgrave and archbishop Trevor Huddleston.
The UK was South Africa’s largest investor, and at that time the ANC were still committed to peaceful means.
Eight months after the Boycott Movement was founded, the Sharpeville massacre where 69 protestors against apartheid were shot dead by South African police, changed the stance of the boycotters.
Now, the group renamed itself the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) and began active support for all those fighting apartheid.
Meanwhile, the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was among those who opposed sanctions, but to no avail.
Mass demonstrations forced the cancellation of the 1970 Springboks cricket tour of the UK, and South Africa was expelled from nearly every international sporting federation.
Haringey was also the home of many of many anti-apartheid activists, including a large group of Oliver Tambo’s fellow exiles. This was a major issue in the area, taken up by progressive organisations, from the Woodcraft Folk, the local political parties of the left, notably the Communist Party, the trade unions, to a group of courageous people who helped support and arm the ANC from the UK.
A dignified response to the event is given by Shiraz Socialist.