Anti-Apartheid Movement

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Alternate Names: Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), AAM Archives Committee, Boycott Movement
Duration: 1960 - 1994 (Boycott Movement 1959 - Summer 1960)
Location: London, United Kingdom


The Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) was founded in 1960 to campaign for the eradication of apartheid. AAM grew out of the Boycott Movement which began in 1959. AAM, sometimes referred to as the British Anti-Apartheid Movement, operated in Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). AAM did not cover Northern Ireland which was covered by the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement. AAM resolved to work for the total isolation of the apartheid system in South Africa and to support those struggling against the apartheid system. AAM grew out of the Boycott Movement when members saw the need for a more permanent organization. The AAM drew its support from a country-wide network of local anti-apartheid groups, some of which had previously been local boycott committees, from individual members and from affiliated organizations such as trades union councils and constituency political parties. Professional and special interest groups arose which worked with the AAM as did Local Authorities Against Apartheid to co-ordinate local authority action. The AAM co-operated with similar anti-apartheid groups which existed in many countries around the world, exchanging information and meeting at international conferences. During the 1980s groups in Europe formed the Liaison Group of National AAMs in the European Community in order to lobby the European Parliament and Council of Ministers. The AAM's campaigning work covered a wide range of areas. The consumer boycott remained a constant element but other economic campaigns became equally prominent, particularly ones concerning investment in South Africa by British and international companies and banks. In the area of economic campaigns the AAM collaborated closely with End Loans to Southern Africa (ELTSA) for which see the ELTSA archive at the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House (MSS Afr. s. 2350). The efforts to isolate apartheid South Africa were pursued through lobbying for boycotts of sporting, cultural and academic contacts and for the cessation of military and nuclear links. Campaigning on behalf of political prisoners was an important area of work, organized during the 1960s through the World Campaign for the Release of South African Political Prisoners and later through SATIS (Southern Africa: the Imprisoned Society). Campaigning on behalf of Nelson Mandela began at the Rivonia trial and was reinvigorated from the time of his 60th birthday in 1978 until his release in February 1990. The AAM's work did not focus solely on South Africa but also on the Southern African region in which South Africa had so much influence. It supported the struggles for freedom in Namibia, Zimbabwe and the former Portuguese colonies of Angola, Mozambique and, in West Africa, Guinea-Bissau. In this the AAM co-operated with African liberation movements, particularly the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa and the South West African Peoples' Organization (SWAPO) of Namibia. A significant number of the Ministers and senior officials in South Africa's first non-racial government, including figures such as Kadar Asmal, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Mac Maharaj, Pallo Jordan, Aziz Pahad and Abdul Minty participated in AAM activities and several held senior positions in the organization. Likewise many prominent figures in British political life were active in the AAM. For example, amongst those who held the office of AAM President were Barbara Castle, David Steel and Trevor Huddleston, whereas Neil Kinnock, Joan Lestor and Frank Dobson are amongst those who served on its Executive Committee. Following the first democratic elections in South Africa in April 1994 an extraordinary general meeting of the AAM decided to dissolve the Movement and create a successor organization to promote peace and development in the Southern African region. Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) was launched in October 1994. The AAM Archives Committee has created website Forward to Freedom that tells the story of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement and its campaigns. The ACTSA website has a history of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

Organizational Archive


Title: Anti-Apartheid Movement
Time Span: 1956 - 1998
Description: Archive of the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) and predecessor material including the Boycott Movement. The final meeting of the AAM Executive Committee decided to establish an AAM Archives Committee to support the cataloging of the Movement's archives. The arrangement of the archive reflects in part the structural organization of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and in part the areas in which it campaigned. There are sections for the papers of the governing bodies, committees, local groups and the work of the AAM headquarters and for the various campaign areas, lobbying of the British government and international organizations and co-operation with anti-apartheid groups around the world. Further sections contain posters, photographs, audio-visual material, exhibition material, artwork and objects. Also contained within the overall archive is material relating to organizations which worked closely with the AAM, some of which the AAM serviced. These include the Liaison Group of AAMs in the EU, Southern Africa the Imprisoned Society, the Bishop Ambrose Reeves Trust, and the Namibia Support Committee.
Housed At: University of Oxford, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies
Location: Rhodes House, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RG, United Kingdom
Catalog/Finding Aid: view
Phone: +44 (0) 1865 270908
Reference Email: rhodes.house.library@bodley.ox.ac.uk
Related Website: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/