Patrick Duncan

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Biographical information


Took part in the Defiance Campaign, national organiser of the Liberal Party and member of the PAC

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A controversial White champion of African rights, Patrick Duncan played a conspicuous role in opposition politics for over a decade, attracting notice from the beginning of his political career because of his famous father, a former governor-general of South Africa. He was born in Johannesburg in 1918 and was educated in England, at Winchester and Oxford. He served in the British colonial service in Basutoland from 1941 to 1952, during which time he became fluent in Sesotho. In 1952 he resigned his post and lead the first batch of white resisters in the Defiance Campaign. Unable to join the African National Congress (ANC), in 1955 he joined the new Liberal Party, of which he later became national organizer.

Among Liberals he was known as an emotional anticommunist, and this inclination showed through strongly inContact, the fortnightly paper that he edited and published in Cape Town in support of the Liberal Party. In 1960 contact survived efforts by the government to suppress it, but in 1961 and 1962 Duncan was served with banning orders. He moved secretly to Basutoland in May 1962. In March 1963 he resigned from the Liberal Party on the grounds that he no longer accepted its defense of nonviolence. Shortly thereafter he was accepted as a member of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). After being declared a prohibited immigrant in Basutoland in June 1963, Duncan moved to Algeria, where he published a PAC newssheet in French. He wrote articles for British and American periodicals and a book. South Africa's Rule of Violence (1964). He died in 1967.

• Gerhart G.M and Karis T. (ed)(1977). From Protest to challenge: A documentary History of African Politics in South Africa: 1882-1964, Vol.4. Political Profiles 1882

Last updated : 07-Jun-2016

This article was produced by South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011