Raised in the close knit community of Dowerville, Port Elizabeth (P.E.), Frank was the youngest of three sons and the third of the six surviving children of a municipal painter, Fred Landman and a washerwoman, Lena Landman nee Fortune. In later life Frank recalled that the family were so ashamed of their meagre possessions that when they moved by donkey cart to Dowerville from Vliepos, they did this at night to avoid attention.
As a child Frank would help his mother by delivering bundles of clean washing to her clients. Although he started school late, aged 9, because he was hardworking and industrious, he won municipal scholarships to attend Paterson High School - a first for his family - and then to train as a teacher at Dower Memorial College, Uitenhage, in 1940. Landman initially taught at small mission primary schools at Cyperfontein and Adendorp and then at the Henry Kayser School in PE. On completing a degree with UNISA in 1950, he taught Anchorat South End High School, where he was Deputy Principal until September 1963.
In South Africa
Frank was always an activist working in community groups, for example the Rate Payers Association in Korsten.
Frank joined the Teachers’ League of South Africa as soon as he qualified, attending his first TLSA conference in Cape Town with Ofie Salie in 1941. In 1943 Frank was among the radicals who agitated for TLSA to align with the politics[i] of the Anti-CAD[ii] . From 1944 onwards Frank organised around the Ten Point Programme and the Anti-CAD: "Nothing less than full political rights, nothing less than the Ten Point Programme". While he took great interest in South End, Schauderville, Korsten, Neave township, Central PE and East London, Frank was intent on “penetrating New Brighton” in what was regarded as the “second largest” “extremely active” area in Cape Province[iii] .
Frank first met Olive Rosenberg at a Spartacus Club social in Cape Town in 1941 after attending a TLSA conference. They were introduced by his friend and fellow teacher, Ofie Salie. In 1945, the friendship was rekindled when Frank met Olive for a second time at another movement social. From here their romance blossomed and the couple married in 1946.
Frank actively contributed to local struggles, sharing platforms at meetings called by trade unions both locally and nationally, in support of the Defiance Campaign, ANC ‘stay-at-home’ calls as well as local bus and workers’ strikes. He also supported a call for demonstrations on Labour Day and a boycott of ‘coloured’ elections[iv] . He worked with Frances Baard, Govan Mbeki, Florence (Maroyi) Matomela, and Vuysile Mini, among others, as well as with Dennis Brutus and Joe Newton in the South African Sports Association[v] . He campaigned for a robust principled stand on anti-apartheid education policies in the Anti-CAD[vi] . As a member of the SA Coloured Peoples’ Congress, he supported its active and non-racial militancy and intention to build a mass movement in the aftermath of the Defiance Campaign[vii] , unlike the stance of the NEUM or TLSA[viii] .
Frank continued as a member of the TLSA, speaking about the political and social implications of apartheid education[ix] until both he and Olive resigned over its failure to support the National Convention Movement in 1961. As Deputy Chairman of the P.E. Planning Committee of the National Convention Movement, Frank worked with, among others, Dr Masala Pather Secretary, Dennis Brutus and Omar Cassem, Treasurer and Ofie Salie among others, to mobilise support in Port Elizabeth and neighbouring towns by convening and addressing public meetings, building the NCM and establishing links with civic and other groups. At a large P.E. meeting in July 1961 Frank argued for national consultation on a new constitution to recognise the rights of all South Africans. He said he was “honoured to witness the end of Cape Colouredism” and called for “representation on a regional rather than racial group basis” at the National Convention[x] .
The Landman family home was one among many around the country to be raided by the police either at dawn[xi] or on other occasions at night during 1961.Fortunately, tip-offs allowed time for him or other family members to move or dispose of leaflets. On Monday 16thOctober 1961, while he was teaching poetry at SEHS, he was called out to speak with the Special Branch[xii] . Thereafter he resumed his class as though nothing had happened and did not tell the family about this incident until that evening when he was served with a Banning Order under the Suppression of Communism Act,1950 effective from 9 October 1961.The terms of his banning order allowed him to teach his classes, address assemblies and meet with colleagues “assembled to deal with the affairs of the school”. On legal advice, he avoided gatherings of three people or more in any other setting, including encounters in the street or visits to and from family and friends. After he was silenced, he wrote for the Evening Post under the nom de plume (Libertas[xiii] ).
Warned that he would suffer when the Coloured Affairs Department took over Coloured Education in 1964, and in preparation for being forced to move out of Fairview by the Group Areas Act, Frank decided to resign his post in September 1963 in order to secure his pension. After 3 months, Frank found a post in Uitenhage and applied for permission from the Special Branch to teach in a different school. This request was refused, primarily because he refused to make a statement that could be used as evidence in the Rivonia trial. The Education Department also rejected his application to his old, still vacant, post at South End High. Within days of the Special Branch advising him to “trap” [leave the country], an exit permit dated 7January 1964 was issued. This was valid for six months after which time if he and the family were still in the country, they would be imprisoned[xiv] . The only option was to sail on the Empress of Britain from Cape Town on 18 February 1964. His family, who were already in London, contacted Labour Party M.P.’s so that an application for political asylum on arrival at Liverpool on 28 February 1964. The family were registered as aliens who were obliged to register with the police.
In exile from 28 February 1964
Soon after arriving in London, Frank began to teach. By 1965, he and his wife Olive were hosting SA Coloured Peoples’ Congress London Committee meetings (CPC, London) at their home, reporting to the leadership in Cape Town[xv] and Tanzania. Frank worked actively to support the ANC as the leading organisation within in the Congress Alliance, working with Reg September, Thami Mhlambiso and Raymond Kunene, among others. Frank spoke about the nature of apartheid, or education under apartheid. He also spoke in support of the boycott against South African goods, at meetings held by the local Labour Party,[xvi] the Anti-Apartheid Movement[xvii] , student unions and to a delegation from the South African Embassy in Southend. As an activist Frank found being exiled away from his people very challenging[xviii] . The focus of his work in London was to maximise the contribution other South African nationals and exiles could make to support the ANC. Around April 1965, Frank helped to form a non-partisan non-racial subcommittee comprising Cosmo Pieterse and Kenny Jordaan, to develop a concept and then compile circulation lists and send invitations to try to involve fellow South Africans, amongst others Count Petersen[xix] , Ronald Segal[xx] , Ismail Mohammed[xxi] , Arthur Maimane[xxii] c/o AAM, and Lewis Nkosi[xxiii] c/o The Observer, in non-partisan political, cultural and social activities that led to the formation of the South African Cultural Club, chaired by Nomaliso Martin.[xxiv] Frank created a list of “leading members” of South African communities, taking the precaution not to “duplicate activities”. Events overtook a plan to start a newsletter as a “serious theoretical organ by Coloured Peoples’ Congress (CPC)” yet “newsy and topical”. Meanwhile Frank taught full-time while studying part-time for a post-graduate diploma in education at the Birkbeck University of London.
In summer 1965, Frank was recruited by the Crown Agents to teach in Zambia ,securing UK residency with the assistance of William Hamling MP and David Ennals MP. Although their plane tickets arrived, the family were not able to take the journey as the Zambian authorities cancelled in order to ‘investigate’ him. It later transpired that BOSS had persuaded the authorities that he was a security risk. Undeterred, Frank continued his political activism.
In October 1965[xxv] a rift developed between Frank and his friends and comrades when Barney Desai walked out of a meeting of the London Committee of the SACPC, followed by Kenneth Jordaan, Benny Bunsee and Ebrahim Desai. Desai’s stated reason for leaving was to protest against the presence of some people, namely Kenny Parker, Mrs Moodaley, Mrs Hetty September, Mrs Maud Phillips and Mrs Olive Landman. He was unwilling to accept chairman Mr E Ramsdale’s assurances that protocol had been followed, supported by correspondence with Reggie September, General Secretary, in Dar-es-Salaam, and confirmation of membership. Desai demanded a vote, but left during voting. The London CPC Committee told CPC Cape Town that Desai and Marney had evaded meeting September. The CPC head office attributed Desai’s statements in Scandinavia to the arrests of the remaining CPC members still at liberty in Cape Town. Desai subsequently issued a statement asserting that the CPC had merged with PAC. This statement still enjoys a higher profile than its repudiation by the CPC in a press release that the London CPC Committee disseminated[xxvi] .
Frank remained active in the ANC before and after this rift with his friends and comrades. He contributed to a review of Carstens’ book on a ‘coloured reserve’ for Sechaba[xxvii] . In his draft he identified himself as a descendent of the Gonaqua and politico. He became a convenor of the ANC’s Education Commission, drafting the terms of reference, which were, in brief, to provide material for propaganda by the movement, critique SA education in particular and education more generally.[xxviii] Frank was one of very few people profiled as coloured to attend the Morogoro Consultative Conference in Tanzania, between 25 April and 1 May 1969, along with Reggie September and Raymond Mhlaba[xxix] . All three of them contracted malaria on their return. Frank was ‘greatly impressed’ by the ‘fine body of men’ of the ‘MK contingent’ he had met. His main political task was a ‘study and analysis of the Coloured Persons Representative Council elections in 1969[xxx] , for which he reported to September as Chairman and Mhlambiso as Secretary of the new London branch of the external mission that ‘uncle JB (Marks)’ had addressed. After Morogoro, the Education Commission was replaced by an Education Sub-committee of the London Branch of the ANC with a mandate in the short term to provide and seek educational support for exiles and refugees and also contribute to educational aspects of policy, distribution of scholarships and quality of courses.[xxxi] When Frank made a case about political strategy and tactics in exile, he drew on his abiding view about the true significance of the Coloured Convention meeting at Kalbaskraal, that this “in no uncertain terms rejected separate status and demanded a non-racial, democratic South Africa”
A1968 draft leaflet in Afrikaans warned about Tom Swartz and explained how the common interests of all races were served by the armed struggle after the Wankie Campaign, called on youth to rise up for freedom[xxxii] is an example of propaganda typed by Frank, which together with his notes on meetings attended from 1968 onwards show that he was involved in efforts to smuggle propaganda back home.
On gaining British citizenship, Frank and Olive went to Zambia. In the summer of 1971 Frank taught in Lundazi for 6 months and was joined midway into his stay by Olive. From January 1972, he was promoted to Head Teacher at Mongu.
After his return to London in 1976, Frank taught as a temporary teacher for several more years. At this time he was largely politically inactive although he maintained a lively interest in politics and liberation struggles especially at home.
Political education for People’s National Party, Jamaica
While visiting his eldest daughter and family in Jamaica in 1986, Frank seized an opportunity to become politically active again. The Vernon Arnett School in the People’s National Party under Michael Manley undertook a programme of political education to which Frank contributed by speaking to groups of workers in the north of Jamaica about national liberation movements in general, but with special reference to South Africa. A key message he conveyed was that while it was necessary to struggle for and achieve ‘one man one vote’, success was limited as this did not advance economic and social standards, a point he summarised with the slogan ‘one man one goat’. Frank made such an impact on his audiences that even decades later, Jamaican workers still asked for him to contribute.
Because de Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC on 2 February 1990 and Mandela was released on 11 February, 1990, Frank assumed that his own banning order had also been revoked, so he joined his wife Olive in a visit South Africa on 24 February, 1990. Olive had been held up in Johannesburg and she contacted Rev Allan Hendrickse, who was then in the “coloured” House of Representatives, for help to ensure that Frank could enter the country without difficulty. Sadly, after his arrival Frank died of a heart attack on 20 March 1990 in his home town in Port Elizabeth[xxxiii] .
Post-apartheid, Frank is memorialised through the naming of a street after himself, namely Frank Landman Avenue in Port Elizabeth. Furthermore, the Frank family are featured in exhibits at the South End Museum. Frank is remembered fondly by former comrades and colleagues for his commitment to non-racialism and international solidarity as well as his contribution to the struggle. Former students recall a good teacher. Frank is also notable for being a rugby coach for the last non-racial team in PE. In keeping with his belief in the importance of education, the Frank family established The Frank A. Landman Educational Trust,[xxxiv] which supports vocational and technical students in Port Elizabeth.
[i]The South African Coloured People’s Congress, a draft pamphlet on the aims and policy of the SACPC (incomplete. Typescript, ND.) pdf ↵
[ii] Rassool Yousef (2000) District Six Lest we forget, p 135. See also Allison Drew (1997) Radical Tradition vol. 2; and van der Ross, R (1986) The Rise and Decline of ApartheidA study of political movements among the Coloured people of South Africa, 1880-1984, in chapter 11, fordetails of the events leading up to the splitin TLSA and the subsequent formation of TEPA, not attached ↵
[iii] Minutes of the Anti-CAD 5th Conference held in Woodstock on Friday 5th January, 1954 pdf ↵
[iv] New Age Sep 7 1961 FAL pictured to D Brutus’ right on platform of a meeting held in PE City Hall Sep 6 to mobilise support for a boycott of coloured elections, jpeg ↵
[v]In Debates of Parliament: Hansard, Volume 9, Issues 13-15, p 6270, South Africa. Parliament, Government Printer, 1993 - South Africa, txt ↵
[vi]Anti-CAD Fifth Conference, 1954 pdf; Paper on Educational Changes c 1961, pdf ↵
[vii]The South African Coloured People’s Congress, a draft pamphlet pdf IBID ↵
[viii] Govan Mbeki’s in New Age 6 July 1961 p 8: TLSA out of touch with turmoil. Not copied ↵
[ix] Anti-CAD Fifth Conference 1954 IBID; Paper on Educational Changes, IBID ↵
[x] New Age July 27 1961, jpeg ↵
[xi] New Age May 11 1961, p 3,pdf. ↵
[xii] Verbal account by Gunvant Govindjee educationalist and former student. ↵
[xiii] “Do English care about language heritage? Non-whites eager to learn” Evening Post November 18th 1961, jpeg. ↵
[xiv] Exit Permit, pdf; Evening Post Feb 1964 as jpeg & pdf ↵
[xv] See FAL/3/1965, FAL/18/1965 Statement by the London Committee of the SA CPC pdf; FAL /19/1965 account of a meeting of London CPC 9/10/1965, pdf; FAL /20/1966 Resolution adopted by National Committee, Dec 1965 received in London Jan 1966 re Barney Desai and Cardiff Marney, pdf; [See also, Adrianna Lissoni PhD (2008); NB Desai was a leader in PAC until his death (see obit. on Ace Mgxashe by Bennie Bunsee, 24 7 2013]. ↵
[xvi]FAL to Labour Party Eltham Ward pdf ↵
[xvii]FAL to AAM pdf ↵
[xviii]“No activist can hope to play a full or fully satisfying role in a political movement 6000 miles away because fundamentally the activist is an agitator. In exile, he is robbed of the mass he hopes to guide and direct in exile the agitator must be transformed into a propagandist, fully aware that fighting talk is out: reasoned presentation of his case is in.” anon, ND, pdf ↵
[xix]Count Petersen in 1980 became Secretary of Education and Manpower Development, PAC. Accessed 16 2 2014 http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=rZCPAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA146&lpg=PA146&dq=Peterson+PAC+Secretary+for+Education+and+Manpower+Development&source=bl&ots=DAQ7sKB153&sig=gZvbm9Odlr69D9drscei-m-xxZk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=4DwBU7vrDuqM7Qbo4IGYDA&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Peterson%20PAC%20Secretary%20for%20Education%20and%20Manpower%20Development&f=false ↵
[xx] Ronald Segal 1932 – 2008 went into exile in 1960 with Oliver Tambo, founded Penguin Africa, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/feb/26/culture.obituaries accessed 2/3/2014 ↵
[xxi] Presumably Ismail J Mohamed whose address in Tulse Hill was given; NEUM member who studied in London in 1961 but returned to RSA http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/ismail-jacob-mohamed accessed 16 2 2014 ↵
[xxii] A journalist at Drum, BBC and foreign correspondent for Reuters, and subsequently novelist 1923-2005. http://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/jul/15/guardianobituaries.media accessed 16.2.2014. Olive recalls that his wife was known as Terry (Teresa). ↵
[xxiii] Editor of New African in London and writer ↵
[xxiv]Note of a meeting dated 7 November 1961, pdf; [see also Adriana Lissoni (2008)The South African liberation movements in exile, c. 1945-1970]. ↵
[xxv]FAL /19/1965 account of a meeting of London CPC 9/10/1965, pdf ↵
[xxvi]FAL /20/1966 Resolution adopted by National Committee, Dec 1965 received in London Jan 1966 re Barney Desai and Cardiff Marney, pdf; SA CPC letter to Reg, Olive, Frank, Hetty Dec 1965, pdf; Statement by the London Committee of the SA CPC pdf ↵
[xxvii]Review of The Social Structure of a Cape Coloured Reserve by W P Carstens 1968, Sechaba p 16 v2 (8) 1968, pdf ↵
[xxviii] FAL Report on Prelim meeting on Education Commission and proforma letter to establish it for ANC, Pdf; ↵
[xxix]FAL to James in Zambia (no surname), ND presumably autumn 1969 ↵
[xxx] Landman papers include a typescript not copied. ↵
[xxxi] FAL to James in Zambia (no surname), ND presumably autumn 1969; ↵
[xxxii] FAL paper, “Tom Swart voorsitter van die kleuringraad ….”pdf ↵
[xxxiii] Evening Post, March 1990, jpeg ↵
[xxxiv]Charity number 1007929 ↵