The Anti-Apartheid Movement Abroad 1906 - 1990

1906
The African National Congress (ANC) sends a delegation to the UK in response to the implementation of new land laws in the Orange Free State, which had stripped black residents of their legally bought land.
1919
The ANC sends another delegation to the UK in the wake of World War I.
1921
 The Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) forms. It is initially made up of mostly white radical socialists and workers.
1925
 The CPSA becomes a majority black organization, although it remains a pan-racial organization.
1927
A delegation from the ANC attends the inaugural Congress of the League Against Imperialism, held in Brussels in 1927, where ANC members met many anti-colonial fighters from all across the world.  Delegates, including Josiah Tshangana Gumede and J. A. La Guma then travelled to Germany and the USSR.
1928
The CPSA formally calls for black majority rule in South Africa. 
1931
E. S Sachs is expelled from the CPSA.
1943
Trevor Huddlestone is first sent to South Africa from Britain. He would later become a leading public anti-apartheid activist in the UK.
1949
Vella Pillay moves from South Africa to London, to further his studies. Previous to this he had become involved with Marxist student movements and through his work with the Transvaal Indian Congress he was introduced to members of the South African Communist Party.
June 26, 1950
The South African government passes the Suppression of Communism Act, banning the CPSA. Communism was broadly defined in the law, thus allowing for abuse by the government to crack down on anti-apartheid movement and activists. This marks the beginning of the banning of anti-apartheid groups such as the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PACA).
June, 1952
The Defiance Campaign begins. This was a nonviolent resistance action, which involved breaking unjust apartheid laws, such as the permit laws, which banned people from moving around freely, undertaken by the ANC and other members of the Congress Alliance.
July, 1952
Walter Sisulu, an ANC activist, illegally leaves South Africa with others to visit countries such as China, Romania and the USSR.
1952
Michael Scot, a prominent UK based anti-apartheid activist wrote a letter to the New Statesmen urging people to help raise funds for anti-apartheid activities. This begins the UK based fund raising campaign that would become very successful.
1952
Following the letter written by Michael Scott, E. S Sachs starts a fund raising campaign, known as fund for African democracy. It aimed to promote legal bodies in South Africa and not the illegal ANC or SACP.
1953
CPSA is illegally restarted and renamed the South African Communist Party (SACP).  Amongst its founders were Moses Kotane and Joe Slovo as well as Yusuf Dadoo. Dadoo is elected Chairman of the Central Committee.
1956
The Fund for African Democracy finally closes, after achieving little in the way of fund raising and receiving lukewarm reception in the UK.
1956
In response to the arrest of 156 activists in South Africa, during the Treason Trials, the UK based Treason Trial Defense fund was set up. Initially started in South Africa by Alex Hepple, they appealed to sympathizers and other activists in the UK, including Trevor Huddleston.
1957
The Treason Trial received widespread support, leading to mass dontations for the Treason Trial Defense Fund, which raises 12,000 pounds by April. It was supported by the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) and the British Labor Party (B South Africa to London LP).
1957
Mac Maharaj, prominent communist and anti-Apartheid activist arrives in London, planning to study at the London School for Economics (LSE).Here he became immersed in communist party circles and forms a hub of anti-apartheid activists. He helps to re-form the party in the wake of the 1950’s banning.
1957
Dr. Freddy Reddy arrives in London. After visiting Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, and hearing socialists speak, he becomes radicalized. He met Mac Maharaj, and eventually moved to Zambia to help provide psychiatric help to those cadres stationed there.
1960
the banned SACP starts writing a journal called the African Communist, and contacts those in London to help assist. The British Communist Party (BCP) provides a mailing address and helps to distribute it both in London and internationally
March 22, 1960
The South African Police shoot and kill 69 protestors in Sharpeville, after firing indiscriminately into a crowd. This event, which resulted in both a huge international uproar as well as from within South Africa, led to the banning of the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)
28 March, 1960
Oliver Tambo is sent out of South Africa by the ANC illegally. He is instructed to continue work whilst out of the country and to help create internationals support and structures for the ANC in exile.
14 July, 1960
The SACP announces publically that it has been active underground since the CPSA was banned in 1950.
1960
Yusuf Dadoo leaves South Africa on orders of the SACP, against his own wishes. He moves to London which he uses as a base to continue garnering support in the rest of the world.
16 December, 1961
The SACP and the ANC decide to start an armed wing, known as Umkhonto we Sizwe, or ‘Spear of the Nation’ (which is commonly abbreviated to MK).
March, 1961
Mac Maharaj leaves London and the UK to travel to the German democratic republic, the Soviet puppet state. Here he is trained in both printing and sabotage.
16 December 1961
first action undertaken by Umkhonto we Sizw (Spear of the Nation). Formed in 1961 by the ANC and SACP, this was to be armed wing of the ANC. After this first action, it was quickly classified as a terrorist organization by the South African government.
1962
Nelson Mandela travels through Europe and Africa, leaving South Africa illegally. In this, he is aided somewhat by SACP members who have established ties with other parts of the world due to their international communist connections. It is during this time that he visits Oliver Tambo’s House in Muswell Hill.
1962
SACP holds a National Conference.  Here they adopt a new program called the Road to South African Freedom. This declared the first aim of struggle was a national democratic revolution.
January 1963
The SA regime places a blanket ban on all named and banned individuals. In response the ANC sends more cadres abroad to set up external operations to help the ANC back in South Africa.
March, 1963
Ruth First moves to London with the family after facing increasing pressure and persecution back in South Africa. She becomes one of the prominent communists to move there. She re-locates herself to North London, specifically Camden town.
September, 1963
Reginald September is ordered to leave South Africa by the underground SACP leadership. He went first to Tanzania, and then London, serving as a chief representative of the ANC in Europe.
25 April, 1969
The ANC formally adopts the policy of non-racialism, extending membership rights to everyone, after the third consultative congress held in Morogoro, Tanzania.
1970-72
Ronnie Kasrils run propaganda activities out of London, sending in foreign activists into South Africa, including cities of Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London. Their aim is spread propaganda during the period of rebuilding. Up to 25 activists are sent into South Africa.
1970
After 5 years of reorganization, the SACP formally moves its headquarters to London. Previous to this, many key members had been based there, such as Mac Maharaj, Joe Slovo and Yusuf Dadoo.
1971-72
within this period Ronnie Kasrils was active in planning for Operation Chelsea. The operation planned to land guerrillas on the South African coast. After a long planning process, that involved mapping the South African coast Stephan is cancelled, and the cadres are sent in via land, where they were picked up by South African Security Services.
June 25, 1975
Mozambique becomes independent from Portugal. Becomes one of the frontline states in which the ANC begins concentrating men and materials to fight against the apartheid regime. The South African government decides to fund an insurgency to destabilize the country.
1977
Mozambique experiences civil war. The South African government, in an attempt to destabilize the government of the newly independent state, funds a rebel group known as the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO). This causes serious problems for the government of Mozambique, the Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO).
1977
Ronnie Kasrils is moved from London to Angola to further his work closer to South Africa.
1978
Tim Jenkins sentenced to 12 years in jail for distributing pamphlets. He escapes in 1979 and fled to the UK. He is to prove instrumental in setting up and running the London aspect of Operation Vula, including the research involving modems and encryption.
1 June, 1980
MK bomb the SASOL complex. This causes an estimated R66 Million in damages, and was the largest bomb so far.
June, 1980
Alfred Nzo, during a speech in London, publically attacked Buthelezi, confirming the rupture between Inkatha and the ANC.
March 14, 1982
A bomb which had been smuggled into the UK by the South African government was detonated in the ANC headquarters in London, in an attempt to scare the British government and show them the problems in having what the South African government termed a terrorist organization living in the country. It fortunately killed no one, and was the last attempt to target the ANC in such an overt way in the UK.
16th March, 1982
An agreement is signed between South Africa and Mozambique, called the Nkomati accord. South Africa promised to stop interfering with Mozambique sovereignty, and Mozambique promised to expel ANC members. Neither state held up the agreement.
August 17, 1982
Whilst working in Mozambique, prominent anti-apartheid activist Ruth Slovo was killed by the South African security forces with a letter bomb. They later claimed they were trying to kill Joe Slovo, another prominent anti-apartheid activist who was prominent in the banned South African communist party.
1983
Yusuf Dadoo dies in London. He is buried in the Highgate Cemetery, In North London. His grave, fittingly, rests a few feet away from Karl Marx’s.
July 30, 1986
the 65th anniversary of the formation of the SACP takes place in London. This is led by Joe Slovo, who was made national Chairman in 1984.
1989
Nelson Mandela becomes involved in discussions with the South African government about the future of the nation and his possible release. Despite the South African government assuming they were renegotiating with him as an individual, the effectiveness of Operation Vula meant they were in fact negotiating with the ANC as a whole.
August, 1989
Oliver Tambo, following a stroke, is flown back to London to seek medical attention.
26 July 1990
Mac Maharaj is arrested in relation to Operation Vula. The South African Government alleged that Vula was a plot to seize power if the ANC failed in their negotiations with the government. He is later freed.
29 July, 1990
ANC and the SACP re-launch as legal entities following their unbanning by the South African Government.

Last updated : 24-Jun-2019

This article was produced by South African History Online on 05-Jun-2012

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