Arthur William Blaxall

Names: Blaxall, Arthur William

Born: 1891, Britain

In summary: Clergyman, political activist, teacher and pacifist 

Arthur William Blaxall was born in 1891 in Britain. He was a clergyman who was convicted of aiding the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) in the early 1960s.

 He came to South Africa in 1923 to work with the deaf and in the 1930s headed the Athlone School for Coloured blind children near Stellenbosch. In 1939 he opened the first workshop for blind Africans in South Africa — Ezenzeleni, in Roodepoort—where he served as superintendent until 1950.

He became a pacifist, chairman of the South African branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, and secretary of the South African Christian Council. Over the years he developed "an ever deepening sense of solidarity," in his own words, with the African, Coloured, and Indian struggle against apartheid. Trusted as a friend, he received money in the early 1960s from exiled ANC and PAC leaders and passed it on to former political prisoners and their families who were in need. This led to his arrest in April 1963 and conviction under the Suppression of Communism Act.

Already in his 70s and the subject of wide publicity, he spent a night and a day in prison before being paroled with the rest of his sentence suspended. He left soon afterwards for Britain, where he died in 1970. His autobiography, Suspended Sentence, was published in 1965.

 

 

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