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History > 20th, early 21st century > South Africa


Pro-apartheid vs. Anti-apartheid activists





Helen Suzman in Johannesburg

in November 2007


Photograph: Alexander Joe

Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

January 1, 2009


Helen Suzman, Anti-Apartheid Leader, Dies at 91


January 2, 2009
















Eugene de Kock



death-squad leader

widely known as Prime Evil

because of his abuses

of black activists

during the apartheid era































Johnny Clegg    1953-2019


















Nadine Gordimer    1923-2014


South African writer

whose literary ambitions

led her into the heart

of apartheid to create

a body of fiction

that brought her

a Nobel Prize in 1991




Ms. Gordimer

did not originally

choose apartheid

as her subject

as a young writer,

she said,

but she found

it impossible

to dig deeply

into South African life

without striking



And once

the Afrikaner nationalists

came to power in 1948,

the scaffolds

of the apartheid system

began to rise around her

and could not be ignored.










































Ellen Kuzwayo






Playwright Athol Fugard: a man of obstinacy and courage        3 June 2012

A new documentary charts

the struggle of Afrikaans playwright Athol Fugard

against the violence of apartheid.






Julius Malema






Thabo Mbeki


Thabo Mbeki succeeded Nelson Mandela

as South African president
























Eugene de Kock


policeman nicknamed “Prime Evil,”

who had led a covert counterterrorism unit dedicated

to the torture and killing of anti-apartheid activists








Dirk Coetzee    1945-2013


Dirk Coetzee (...)

led a South African police hit squad

that killed antiapartheid activists,

(... he) eventually confessed to his crimes

as his country began shifting away

from official racial segregation








Magnus Malan / Magnus Andre De Merindol    1930-2011


South African general

and defense minister

who in the 1980s

helped devise and carry out

his nation’s last-ditch strategy

to preserve its system

of rigid racial segregation,

including ordering raids

into surrounding countries








Eugene Ney Terre'Blanche,

white supremacist leader    1941-2010

































Pieter Willem Botha / P W Botha, politician    1916-2006


Former leader of South Africa,

committed to state terrorism and murder

to stop majority rule
























Arthur Chaskalson    1931-2012


Justice Chaskalson (...)

helped write that Constitution

and create the court

that would be its safeguard.


He had earlier been

part of the team

of defense lawyers

that saved Mr. Mandela

and other antiapartheid activists

from the death penalty

at the infamous Rivonia trial

in 1963-64.


Mr. Mandela,

convicted of sabotage

and other crimes,

spent 27 years in prison

before being released in 1990.











Alf Kumalo    1930-2012


one of South Africa’s

leading documentary photographers.


He had no formal training with a camera

and began using one in the 1950s

only because the newspaper he worked for

as court reporter was so small

that he was expected to take the photographs

for his own articles.


But he was soon captivated

by the power of still photography,

and after meeting

and photographing Nelson Mandela,

then a trial lawyer,

in courtrooms and elsewhere,

Mr. Kumalo headed off in a new direction,

to become one

of the indispensable chroniclers

of the cruelties of apartheid

and South Africa’s eventual emergence

as a multiracial democracy.











Basil Lewis D'Oliveira, cricketer / batsman    1931-2011


Basil D’Oliveira,

who was classified

as colored under South African apartheid,

wanted only to play

at the highest levels of his sport, cricket.


His struggle to do that in a country

of government-enforced racial segregation

became a powerful symbol

in the ultimately successful fight

against apartheid.
















Arthur Goldreich    1929-2011


Arthur Goldreich

lead the armed struggle

against apartheid in South Africa

and once posed as the operator

of a farm where Nelson Mandela,

masquerading as his houseboy,

plotted revolt











Nico Smith    1929-2010


white Minister who fought apartheid

white minister who defied

his racist upbringing in South Africa

by living in a black township

and leading a congregation there

while organizing protests

against apartheid












Helen Suzman    1917-2009



who single-handedly carried

the anti-racism banner

in South Africa's apartheid parliament











David Hepburn Craighead    1918-2008


actuary and anti-apartheid campaigner


South African anti-apartheid campaigner

forced into exile

by the Afrikaner nationalist government

in the 1960s.


As an actuary,

he later left his mark on the City of London

by devising the "Craighead curve",

a statistical tool used

to estimate insurance claims.











Zenzile Miriam Makeba    1932-2008


singer, songwriter and activist















Michael Denis Alastair Terry    1947-2008


anti-apartheid campaigner and teacher 










Adelaide Frances Tambo    1929-2007


human rights campaigner


Adelaide Tambo,

(...) widow

of the former ANC president

Oliver Tambo


One of the best known figures

in South Africa's liberation struggle,

she worked as a nurse for much of her life.


"Ma Tambo", as she was known,

was born Adelaide Tshukudu

outside the town of Vereeniging,

south of Johannesburg.


Her introduction to politics

was brutal;

at the age of 10,

she witnessed

her 82-year-old grandfather

being publicly whipped

until he collapsed

in the town square.


As she was to recount later in life:

"His brutal and humiliating treatment

at the hands of the police

was the trigger, the deciding factor."













Ben Bousquet, political activist    1939-2006


Ben Bousquet (...)

was a migrant from St Lucia,

who became a Labour party local councillor

and parliamentary candidate

in London's North Kensington,

as well as an internationally renowned campaigner

against South African apartheid.













Raymond Mhlaba    1920-2005

anti-apartheid campaigner


Raymond Mhlaba (...)

dedicated his formidable talents

to the struggle against apartheid.


A member of the Rivonia group

with Nelson Mandela,

he was sentenced to life imprisonment,

but emerged to take office in 1994

after South Africa's

first democratic elections.


His kindly manner

brought him the nickname "Oom Ray"

- Uncle Ray in Afrikaans.











Allan Hendrickse    1927-2005

politician and minister


Allan Hendrickse (...)

is best known for a swim he took.


In 1987,


then a minister in PW Botha's cabinet,

swam at a beach reserved for whites

in a protest against

the Separate Amenities Act,

which allegedly meant

separate facilities for each race,

but in practice kept most of them

exclusively for the use of whites.


PW Botha was incensed

by this act of defiance

- Hendrickse was of mixed race -

and delivered a tirade

against him on television.



promptly backed down and apologised.


This act of half-hearted rebellion

was typical of Hendrickse,

who spent his political career

in and out of bed

with the ruling National Party.


But, to be fair,

he was also leader

of a group of disparate people

thrust together by what they were not

- neither white nor black -

and who were themselves deeply ambivalent

about which side they were on.


The three million-odd "coloureds"

were deemed better

than black Africans

but not quite as good as whites

under apartheid racial hierarchy.











Abdullah Mohammed Omar    1934-2004

lawyer and government minister


The human rights lawyer

Dullah Omar (...)

was an anti-apartheid activist

and former political prisoner

who went on to serve

in every South African government

since his country's

first democratic election

in 1994.











Christiaan Frederick Beyers Naudé    1915-2004

Afrikaner cleric who turned on apartheid














Walter Max Ulyate Sisulu    1912-2003


It is impossible for anyone

who has not shared the experience

to fathom the psychological suffering of those born

into the no-man's land of "coloured" status

in apartheid South Africa.


But, whatever the hardship

his mixed parentage brought

to the life of Walter Sisulu, (...)

South Africa can give thanks

to the white foreman of black road workers

who came to the Encobo area of the Transkei

early in the last century and fathered

one of the undoubted heroes

of the liberation struggle.

















Archbishop Desmond Tutu


becomes the first black leader

of the South African Anglican Church        7 September 1986










Oliver Reginald Tambo    1917-1993


The quiet man

of the South African liberation movement,

who toiled in the shadow

of his charismatic comrade Nelson Mandela











Chris Hani    1942-1993


Mr. Hani was revered for his bravery

in fighting against the apartheid government

and for his internal dissent

within the liberation movement.


In 1990,

after Nelson Mandela

was released from prison,

Mr. Hani questioned the decision

to suspend the armed struggle

in favor of a negotiated

political settlement.


He worried that the men

who had upheld

a racist system for decades

could not be trusted

to simply hand over power.


Mr. Hani was gunned down

in the driveway of his home

in front of his 10-year-old daughter

on April 10, 1993.


White supremacists Clive Derby Lewis

and Janus Waluz admitted to killing him.

Their intention was to destabilize

the country’s transition to democracy

— and they very nearly succeeded.











Neil Aggett    1953-1982


Neil Aggett,

a young South African doctor,

was the only white anti-apartheid activist

to die in detention.









Moses Mauane Kotane    1905-1978


Kotane was general secretary

of the South African Communist party (SACP)

and a member of the ANC’s

national executive committee,

and is credited

with aligning the two organisations.


Born in poverty in 1905,

he started life as a herdboy

and only began school

when he was 15, leaving at 17.


He found work

as a photographer’s assistant,

domestic servant,

miner and bakery worker.


In 1928

he joined the ANC

and a year later the SACP,

which sent him to study

in Moscow.

















Steve Biko    1946-1977

murdered anti-apartheid leader        FR, UK


























biko-inquiry-south-africa-apartheid - Originally published on 3 December 1977
















Behind the Scenes

with the President & The First Lady

at Robben Island    2 July 2013





White House > On Board:

Behind the Scenes with the President & The First Lady at Robben Island

Video    2 July 2013


Go behind the scenes with President Barack Obama

and First Lady Michelle Obama as they visit Robben Island.


From the 1960s through the 1990s,

this Island housed a maximum security prison.


Many of the prisoners there

were activists who worked to bring down Apartheid,

the South African government's

policies that discriminated against people of color

including Nelson Mandela

and current South African President Jacob Zuma.


Narrated by the First Lady, Michelle Obama.

 June 30, 2013


















Basil D’Oliveira,

a Symbol for Cricket

and for Equality,

Dies at 80


November 26, 2011
The New York Times


Just as Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson pursued their athletic dreams and developed superlative skills before altering history, Basil D’Oliveira, who was classified as colored under South African apartheid, wanted only to play at the highest levels of his sport, cricket. His struggle to do that in a country of government-enforced racial segregation became a powerful symbol in the ultimately successful fight against apartheid.

D’Oliveira had to move far from South Africa before his experience could shine a light on its system of racial injustice. Unable to perform there in competition commensurate with his skills, he moved to England, became a British citizen and joined England’s national cricket team. He rose to international prominence when, in 1968, South Africa canceled a much-anticipated visit by the English team because it wanted to include him in the contests, against whites.

Because of its refusal, South Africa, long a cricket power, did not play another international cricket match until 1994. Nelson Mandela, who led the fight against apartheid, called the D’Oliveira episode decisive in his movement’s eventual triumph.

D’Oliveira, who had Parkinson’s disease, died at 80 on Nov. 19 in England, according to the governing organization Cricket South Africa. Because he may have lied about his age, he may have been as many as three or four years older. Cricket South Africa gave no other details.

D’Oliveira was an accomplished player for England, participating in 44 major international competitions, or test matches. A powerful, focused batsman, he scored 19,490 runs in the top English cricket league and 1,859 in test matches. The numbers are considered impressive, but experts reckon that he could have doubled them had he immigrated to England sooner.

Paul Yule, who made a 2006 documentary about the D’Oliveira episode, “Not Cricket,” said in an interview on D’Oliveira’s Web site that his significance came from his role in “a pivotal point in 20th-century politics,” not from his sporting skills, though they were indisputable.

“Here was a man who didn’t look particularly dark-skinned,” Yule said, “but the inequality of the South African system meant you were classified either white or nonwhite, and since he was classified as nonwhite, he could play no part in the national sporting life of his country.”

D’Oliveira, who was of Indian-Portuguese heritage was easily classified as colored. Many other nonwhite cricketers were subjected to what was called the pencil test to determine which segregated league they would play in. A pencil was placed in a player’s hair, and if the pencil fell out, the player was called colored and placed in the colored league. If it stayed put, he was judged black and placed in the black league.

South Africa was ostracized in global sports beginning in the 1950s with table tennis. By 1964 antiapartheid organizers had succeeded in getting the country barred from that year’s Olympics, and in 1970 the International Olympic Committee expelled the country from the Olympic movement.

The country’s absence from international sports rankled South Africans; by 1977 they ranked it in a poll as one of the three most damaging consequences of apartheid.

South Africa had been selecting exclusively white cricket teams for test matches since 1889. As the game blossomed in places like the Caribbean, India and Pakistan, South Africa found itself playing only all-white teams from England, Australia and New Zealand. Peter Osborne, in the 2004 book “Basil D’Oliveira, Cricket and Conspiracy: The Untold Story,” said the cricket authorities justified this by saying that cricket was a sport for whites, and that if blacks or coloreds did take it up, they “played at an abysmally low level.”

Basil Lewis D’Oliveira, a tailor’s son, disproved this by excelling on the cricket fields around Cape Town, where he was most often said to have been born on Oct. 4, 1931. He went on to become a star performer on nonwhite teams, in one year captaining a black team on a trip to Kenya.

But he was well into his 30s when he realized he had no hope of taking part in top competition in South Africa. A vaunted West Indian team was scheduled to tour the country in matches against a team composed of blacks and coloreds, of which D’Oliveira was captain, but when antiapartheid forces protested that such a high-profile sports event might give credibility to the regime, the trip was canceled.

Deciding to leave the country, D’Oliveira wrote to John Arlott, a prominent cricket commentator in England, asking for help. Arlott got him a contract with a minor league team in the Lancashire League.

At first D’Oliveira was lonely and poverty-stricken. Having lived so long under apartheid, he found himself searching in vain for playing-field entrances and facilities for nonwhites. After a slow start, his play picked up, and his wife and son, who survive him, joined him. He eventually earned a spot on England’s national team.

When he sought to join the squad for the trip to South Africa, however, the sport’s governing body in England, the Marylebone Cricket Club, turned him down. Its officials said he had been passed over for athletic reasons, an assertion British newspapers called outlandish. It later emerged that the president of South Africa, John Vorster, had threatened to cancel the event if D’Oliveira was part of the team.

Still, when another player was injured, the cricket club had a change of heart and named D’Oliveira to replace him. D’Oliveira said the South African government offered him a sizable bribe and a coaching job in South Africa if he would withdraw. When he refused, it terminated the competition rather than accept him.

Queen Elizabeth made D’Oliveira an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1969 and promoted him to a commander in 2005. In 2000 he was named one of the 10 South African cricketers of the century, despite not having played for South Africa. The trophy for the test series between England and South Africa is named for him.

D’Oliveira played in the top division of English cricket into his late 40s. Most cricketers retire in their early 30s. He just wished that he could have hit the big stage sooner, say in his 20s, he said in 1980.

“I was some player then,” he said. “I was over the hill when I came to England.”

Basil D’Oliveira, a Symbol for Cricket and for Equality, Dies at 80,






April 28 1994


Vote of the century opens era of hope


From The Guardian archive


April 28 1994

The Guardian


As dawn broke over Zone 9 of Meadowlands, Soweto, yesterday, the Mwale family was preparing for power.

First there was water to boil, since the rumour had spread that the rightwing AWB might poison Meadowlands' main tank. Esther Mwale said "most people with sense" in Zone 9 were boiling water. Then, there was the huge pot of mealies to cook. Finally, there were the ID documents to find. No one could say the Mwales were not ready for democracy.

As they set off at 7am, joining a stream of hundreds on the main road, it seemed that all of Zone 9 had the same idea — first watch Nelson Mandela cast his vote in Durban on the television and then get down to the polling station at Maponyane school quickly to beat the rush.

The clientele of Johannes' shebeen had discussed this the night before. At the beginning of the evening, Jacob's solution to avoiding Tuesday's chaos was to get there early. A few beers later, the prospect of waking up at 5am and queuing for two hours looked unattractive.

Johannes said he was voting ANC "for his children". But nobody else was prepared to say. The talk was of logistics, not politics. Nevertheless, the sight of a white woman, who had cast her vote abroad, saying tearfully on television, "I'm just scared about the future", aroused fierce emotion.

"What are you scared of? That a black man will run the country," shouted Mzimasi, slightly blowing his cover.

If Mzimasi was right about the woman's fears, the sight at Maponyane school yesterday morning would have confirmed them. Long queues of black people were waiting to have a say in their country's future. Many had dressed up for the occasion as if they were going to church.

People queued for about two hours before they could vote. There was a keen sense of relief. "It was easy. Just like they have been telling us on the television. I feel good now it's over," said Esther.

By the time the Mwales had finished voting, the queue was twice as long. On the way home we saw Jacob, looking the worse for wear and being ribbed by friends at the bus stop. He had woken up late but was insisting he would make it to the polling booths.

At the shebeen, Johannes had devised a plan to make sure Jacob kept his promise. No beer would be served to people without the white, fluorescent strip on their hand, which proved they had voted. With a smile, he said: "How can there be a free and fair election if drunk people are going to vote?"


Gary Younge

    From The Guardian archive > April 28 1994 >
    Vote of the century opens era of hope, G,
    Republished 28.4.2007, p. 34,






April 27 1994


The day apartheid died


From The Guardian archive


April 27 1994

The Guardian


South Africans defied organisational chaos, personal hardship and long queues to throng polling stations yesterday for the historic all-race election that crowned their long march towards democracy.

While the authorities were under pressure last night to extend the three-day poll after serious problems in the first day of voting, the momentum for freedom looked unstoppable, with a new nation coming into effect at midnight when the old flag was lowered and the new constitution took effect.

'Today is a day like no other before it … today marks the dawn of our freedom,' said Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress leader who is expected to become the country's first black president. Mr Mandela spent 27 of his 75 years in jail for fighting apartheid.

'Years of imprisonment could not stamp out our determination to be free. Years of intimidation and violence could not stop us and we will not be stopped now,' he said.

President F. W. de Klerk, whose decision in 1990 to abandon apartheid opened the way to the new South Africa, said: 'I wanted this election to take place … that is what I have been working for.'

Around the country, the infirm, elderly and sick defied a rightwing bomb ing campaign and problems at polling stations in an extraordinary demonstration of hunger for the franchise.

The poll commission vice-chairman, Dikgang Moseneke, said [it] had hopelessly underestimated the problems of running free and fair elections, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal.

Problems with polling resulted largely from delays in the delivery of indelible ink to mark voters' hands, ballot papers and even polling stations.

A member of the Inkatha central committee, Joe Matthews, said: 'In quite a large number of polling stations the administration didn't turn up and the stations were closed. Then we started getting reports that the IFP sticker wasn't there. It affects other parties too, because if the sticker's not there it's a spoilt paper.'

President De Klerk promised action to smooth the next days of voting. 'We dare not deprive any South African of the right to vote,' he said. The Transkei leader, Major General Bantu Holomisa, an ANC candidate, joined in appeals for an extension to the election, reporting that 602 polling stations in the homeland had no voting equipment.

But the ballot went on. In hospitals, patients clutching their saline drip bags queued to vote. Nurses were seen holding patients upright.

Friday Mavuso, aged 45, crippled by a police bullet when he was 22, added: 'I have said all my life we shall overcome, and we have.'

David Beresford

    From The Guardian archive > April 27 1994 >
    The day apartheid died, G, Republished 27.4.2007, p. 34,






April 17 1970


*Why I'm off the air


From The Guardian Archive


April 17 1970

The Guardian


I shall not broadcast on the matches of the South African cricket tour of England arranged for 1970. The B.B.C. has accepted my decision with understanding and an undertaking that my standing with them will not be affected.

This action has not been dictated by mass influences. Apartheid is detestable to me, and I would always oppose it. On the other hand, I am not satisfied that the cricket tour is the aspect which should have been selected as the major target. It would have seemed to me more justifiable, and more effective, to mount a trade embargo or to picket South Africa House. Surely the Nationalist South African Ambassador is a thousand times more guilty of the inhuman crime of apartheid than Graeme Pollock who, throughout the English summer of 1969, played cricket for the International Cavaliers XI with eight or nine West Indians and, before he went home said: "What great chaps — there couldn't have been a better bunch to play with."

Jack Plimsoll, the manager of this touring team, was an intimate friend of mine on the South African tour of England in 1947, before the election of the first — Malan — Nationalist Government and the introduction of apartheid. Every South African [player] of my acquaintance has already played with, and against, non-white cricketers. Only a multi-racial match before the Vorster (Verwoerd) Government banned such fixtures for ever, provided the expert assessment of Basil D'Oliveira's ability which enabled me to persuade Middleton to give him a contract to play in England. Not all South Africans are pro-apartheid

Crucially, though, a successful tour would offer comfort and confirmation to a completely evil regime. The Cricket Council has failed fairly to represent those British people — especially cricketers — who genuinely abominate apartheid. The council might have determined — and been granted — terms which would have demonstrated its declared disapproval of apartheid. It did not do so. To persist with the tour seems to me a social, political and cricketing error. It is my limitation and advantage that I can only broadcast as I feel. Commentary on any game is pleasure; it can only be satisfactorily broadcast in terms of shared enjoyment. This series cannot, to my mind, be enjoyable. It seems unfair for me to broadcast about the tour in a manner uncritical of its major issues, while retaining the right to be critical of them in this newspaper.

It is my hope to write and talk about cricket in which the minor issue of a game is not overshadowed by the major issue of principle.

John Arlott

From The Guardian Archive > April 17 1970 > Why I'm off the air,
G, Republished 17.4.2007,
p. 34,










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