The international movement of solidarity with the struggle for freedom in South Africa was arguably the biggest social movement the world has seen. Virtually every country in the world has a history of anti-apartheid activity, in diverse forms. In many countries, anti-apartheid activities were linked (formally or informally) with local struggles against oppression of many kinds. Most anti-apartheid movements (AAMs) did not restrict their activities to South Africa, but supported liberation movements in Southern Africa more broadly. Besides individual countries, a range of regional and international organisations added their voices to the struggles against apartheid.
What follows is an overview of some of the extant archival records of this extraordinary history. It is a first step towards a more comprehensive picture; it is at this point but a marker.
Since our aim was to create an overview on archival records of anti-apartheid activities, we have included only those organisations for which we managed to locate archival records in the time that was available for this project.
As a consequence, unfortunately, many countries and their organisations are not included in this overview and as a result a very Western European/American/Australian view of this history emerges. Since our study relied largely on available internet resources, this problem was aggravated.
We have also limited our overview to organisations and their activities in relation to South Africa only. Therefore, organisations working exclusively for Namibia, Mozambique, Angola, etc., have not been included.
The material has been organised by country with a division between AAMs and other organisations with anti-apartheid activities. Within the AAMs we sometimes use the distinction between all-round organisations and specialist organisations; referring to those who were active in all areas of solidarity and those who concentrated on a particular field. General organisations are those who had much broader aims than solely anti-apartheid but engaged in solidarity work as well.
We have mainly referred to the home page of the institutions holding archival records to avoid the frustration of links not working.
Finally, we have included a downloadable alphabetical list of organisations we have come across and which were active in the international movement against apartheid. Organisations reflected in bold are described in the main sections.
We’d like to acknowledge in particular the usefulness to this project of resources held by the American Activist Archive, Netherlands Institute on Southern Africa and the Nordic Documentation on the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa.
We welcome suggestions, additions and corrections to this overview from readers. Please contact us on email@example.com.
The photo used in the header image is courtesy of Nick Hider.