About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Defiance Campaign

In 1952, with a new spirit of defiance simmering in the ANC,* the campaign was spearheaded by the more militant young men of the ANCYL.* The leadership decided to adopt a Programme of Action – mass resistance tactics such as boycotts, strikes and civil disobedience in what came to be known as the Defiance Campaign. The plan was to overburden the government's law-enforcement machinery by contravening discriminatory laws, inviting arrest. Also significant in this new activism was the formation in 1954 of the ANC-dominated Congress Alliance,* which united anti-apartheid resistance. The South African Indian Congress*(SAIC), the Congress of Democrats,* the Coloured Peoples Congress and (later) SACTU* joined the ANC in the liberation struggle. One of the Alliance's first actions was to organize the successful Congress of the People at Kliptown in 1955, where the Freedom Charter*, demanding a South Africa with equal rights for all, was adopted. Many of the most prominent Alliance leaders were charged with high treason in 1956.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.