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pic7602. Dulcie September at AAM Women’s Conference

Over 150 women attended an AAM conference on Women Under Apartheid on 24 April 1976. Speakers included Dulcie September and Joyce Sikakane from South Africa, Ethel de Keyser from the AAM, representatives of the NUS and the trade union AUEW (TASS), and Methodist Pauline Webb.

pic8002. Escape from Pretoria Prison

In 1979 political prisoners Tim Jenkin, Alex Moumbaris and Stephen Lee escaped from Pretoria Central Prison. This photograph shows the three with ANC representative Francis Meli at a press conference in London on 22 January 1980.

po001. Boycott South African Goods, March 1st to 31st

Poster for the March Month of Boycott, 1960. During the month Boycott Movement supporters all over Britain picketed shops and distributed leaflets asking shoppers not to buy South African goods. The boycott was supported by the Labour and Liberal Parties and the TUC. It was launched at a 15,000-strong rally in Trafalgar Square on 28 February.

po002. March Against Apartheid, 3 November 1963

 The AAM launched an Anti-Apartheid Month in November 1963 with a march led by its president, Labour MP Barbara Castle. Speakers in Trafalgar Square included Vanessa Redgrave, Humphrey Berkeley, Woodrow Wyatt, Rev. Nicholas Stacey and Robert Resha of the ANC. The rally coincided with a UN Security Council debate on South Africa. Anti-apartheid meetings were held all over Britain during the month, most of them organised by university anti-racialist societies and addressed by recently arrived South African refugees like Joe Slovo.

Mandela Concert at Wembley 1988


The Nelson Mandela 70th birthday tribute concert was staged at Wembley Stadium, London on 11 June 1988. It called for freedom for Nelson Mandela, imprisoned since 1962. The concert was broadcast to over 60 countries, and made Mandela a household name in Britain and all over the world. After the concert 77 per cent of people in Britain knew who Mandela was and 70 per cent of them thought he should be released.

This is a collection of clips from the concert. Artists included Sting, Tracey Chapmen, Hugh Masekala, Peter Gabriel, Jerry Dammers, Whitney Houston, Miriam Makeba, Stevie Wonder, Simple Minds and Dire Straits.

AAM Hyde Park Rally 1988

‘Freedom for Nelson Mandela’ in Hyde Park, London on 17 July 1988. Thousands of demonstrators marched through central London to a rally attended by 250,000 people. The rally was the climax of the AAM’s ‘Nelson Mandela: Freedom at 70’ campaign and the biggest ever anti-apartheid demonstration in Britain.

vid011. ‘Free Nelson Mandela’


The Special AKA perform 'Free Nelson Mandela', the song written by Jerry Dammers that became an international hit. It was played in South Africa at football matches as a protest against the regime.

See Jerry's interview for more information about how he came to write it and its influence.

vid012. Julian Bahula's Jazz Afrika - Mandela

Julian Bahula’s Jazz Afrika, ‘Mandela’, written for the Festival of African Sounds at Alexandra Palace, north London, held on 17 July 1983 to celebrate Nelson Mandela‘s 65th birthday. Taken from ‘African Sounds for Mandela’, TS Afrika Records, 1983.

Jerry Dammers cites this as the inspiration for his hit song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’.

Watch the video here:

60s09. Message from Nelson Mandela

In 1961 Nelson Mandela went into hiding and then left South Africa secretly to meet leaders of independent African countries. He returned to South Africa in July 1962. Shortly afterwards he was arrested and charged with incitement to strike. The Anti-Apartheid Movement organised protests and messages of support. In this telegram he thanks the AAM and says his message is intended as ‘a very firm, warm and hearty handshake from us’.

wom01. Women’s membership leaflet

From its formation in 1980 the AAM Women’s Committee stressed the role of South African women in opposing apartheid. This recruitment leaflet quotes the song sung by women on the Federation of South African Women’s anti-pass demonstration at the government buildings in Pretoria in 1956.

wom12. Caroline Motsoaledi

Caroline Motsoaledi was the wife of Andrew Motsoaledi, one of the accused in the Rivonia trial. She was held in detention and released without charge. This leaflet highlighted the situation of South African women who were arrested for questioning about their husband’s activities. Children were often left alone and uncared for when their parents were arrested.

wom14. Stop Apartheid Executions

The Sharpeville Six were sentenced to death in December 1985 because they were present at a protest where black collaborators were killed. One of the six was a woman, Theresa Ramashamola. After huge international protests the death sentences were commuted in July 1988.

wom17. ‘Women and Southern Africa’ conference

Programme for a conference on women organised by AAM women members and the North West Regional Council of the TUC in Liverpool.

wom19. Save Theresa Ramashamola!

Women from the ANC Women’s Section and AAM Women’s Committee demonstrated in support of Theresa Ramashamola on 9 March, to mark International Women’s Day. Theresa was one of the Sharpeville Six, who were sentenced to death in December 1985 because they were present at a protest where black collaborators were killed. After huge international protests the death sentences were commuted in July 1988.

wom21. Merseyside Women against Apartheid

Women on Merseyside set up a group to campaign for women in South Africa and Namibia in 1981, affiliated to the AAM and the SWAPO Women’s Solidarity Campaign. The group collected material aid for Namibian women refugees and material support for the ANC. In the 1980s women in many local AA groups set up women’s sub-committees or elected a women’s officer.

pic5001. Protest outside South Africa House, London

Anti-apartheid protest against apartheid laws introduced by South Africa’s first National Party Prime Minister, D F Malan.

pic6004. Boycott Movement rally, 28 February 1960

Trevor Huddleston speaking at the rally in Trafalgar Square to launch the March Month of Boycott Action. Right to left: ANC leader Tennyson Makiwane, Labour Party Leader Hugh Gaitskell and Liberal MP Jeremy Thorpe. During the month, local councils all over Britain banned South African goods and supporters distributed leaflets to shoppers calling for a boycott. The month was organised by the Boycott Movement, set up in 1959.

pic6403. Protesters at Wimbledon, 1964

AAM supporters protest at a match played by a white South African tennis player at Wimbledon. On the right is Dorothy Robinson, Anti-Apartheid Movement Secretary in the early 1960s. Also in the photograph is AAM founder member Rosalynde Ainslie.

6901. World Council of Churches Consultation on Racism, May 1969

The Consultation on Racism held in Notting Hill, London, 19–24 May 1969 led to the setting up of the WCC’s Programme to Combat Racism (PCR). The consultation concluded that force could be used to combat racism in situations where non-violent political strategies had failed. The PCR gave grants for humanitarian use to the Southern African liberation movements and other anti-apartheid organisations, including the AAM. In the centre of the photograph are the Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey and Trevor Huddleston.

pic7002. Sharpeville Re-enactment, 1970

On the tenth anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre the AAM staged a re-enactment in Trafalgar Square. Around 3,000 people watched as actors dressed as South African police took aim and people in the crowd fell to the ground. The event was organised by the AAM and the United Nations Students Association (UNSA).

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