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Statement (jointly With Chief A. J. Luthuli And Peter Brown) Appealing To The British People To Boycott South Africa, December 195969
In May, 1960, the Union of South Africa will be 50 years old. The Government is preparing to celebrate this jubilee with great enthusiasm, but most South Africans see no cause for celebration. During this 50 years Non-White South Africans have almost completely lost their right to be represented in Parliament, their right to take any job for which they are fitted, their right to hold land in freehold; their school education is now to be of a specific kind, the open universities of Cape Town and Witwatersrand are to be closed to them, they cannot move about freely within the country of their birth. At the same time these White South Africans who believed in these rights and freedoms have seen them destroyed one by one.
What has been the response of Non-White South Africans to these attacks on them? They have sent deputations and submitted petitions to the authorities and they have tried to influence the course of events through their meagre Parliamentary representation. When these approaches were unsuccessful they turned to passive resistance and then boycott. They have consistently forsworn violence and pledged themselves to non-violence. But with trade unions frowned upon, strikes illegal and their buying power limited, Non-White South Africans face real problems in mounting sufficiently effective internal pressures to be able to influence the South African Government. They look for assistance abroad and particularly to the people of Britain, by whose Parliament the original Act of Union was approved.
Next year it is proposed to conduct a limited boycott of South African produce in Britain for a period of one month.70 The boycott is a protest against apartheid, the removal of political rights, the colour bar in industry, the extension of passes to African women and the low wages paid to Non-White workers. In the towns and cities of South Africa over half the African families live below the breadline.
It has been argued that Non-White people will be the first to be hit by external boycotts. This may be so, but every organisation which commands any important Non-White support in South Africa is in favour of them. The alternative to the use of these weapons is the continuation of the status quo and a bleak prospect of unending discrimination. Economic boycott is one way in which the world at large can bring home to the South African authorities that they must either mend their ways or suffer for them.
This appeal is therefore directed to the people of Great Britain to strike a blow for freedom and justice in South Africa and for those whom the State would keep in continuing subjection in the Union. If this boycott makes the South African authorities realise that the world outside will actively oppose apartheid it will have struck that blow for freedom and justice in our country.
(sd.) Albert J. Luthuli
President-General, African National Congress
(sd) G. M. Naicker
President, South African Indian Congress
(sd) Peter Brown
National Chairman, Liberal Party of South Africa
From: Press release of the Boycott Movement, London, January 7, 1960
The Boycott Movement, founded in London on June 26, 1959, planned a month-long boycott in March 1960.