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South Africa. “ You are either alive and proud or you are dead . . . And your method of death can be a politicizing thing.” --Steve Biko. [From Radio Interview, Munich, just before arrest 1977]. Cold War and South Africa. If Congo ‘theatre’ of Cold War, South Africa ‘script writer’: - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • South Africa You are either alive and proud or you are dead . . . And your method of death can be a politicizing thing.--Steve Biko[From Radio Interview, Munich, just before arrest 1977]

  • Cold War and South Africa If Congo theatre of Cold War, South Africa script writer:Central Southern African player giving voice to threat of CommunismHad ear of America, western world participated in targeting of Lumumba argued domino theory in context of Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Rhodesia

  • Cold War and South Africa Argument: - Black freedom fighting parties in South Africa essentially communist - System of Apartheid : - keeping lid communist revolution SA -keeping southern Africa safe from communists (like Lumumba), socialists (like FRELIMO in Mozambique) - preventing domino effect by which all southern Africa would fall

  • Cold War and South Africa Argument Effective: - West continued to support fascist, brutal Portuguese regimes in fear of alternative [see Mozambique April 7] - backed off of protecting Lumumba - backed Mobutu who promised them Katanga (and he succeeded) - invested in, supported South Africa during years Apartheid constructed

  • Cold War and South Africa Question often asked: why would West, especially America support building of racist, segregationist regime just as it was beginning to deconstruct its own? - because NOT a question of race for west but rather victory in Cold War - South Africa seen as bulwark in war west could not afford to lose - South Africa used existence of Cold War to implement Apartheid legislation

  • Cold War and South Africa Key Race legislation Race Relations Act, Mixed Marriages Act, Group Areas Act BUT Key implementation legislation: Suppression of Communism Act, 19501950s, 1960s single most important legislation for arrests, imprisonment, banning, house arrest [see Additional Readings for full act]

  • Cold War and South AfricaTo declare the Communist Party of South Africa to be an unlawful organization; to make provision for declaring other organizations promoting communistic activities to be unlawful and for prohibiting certain periodical or other publications; to prohibit certain communistic activities; and to make provision for other incidental matters.(Afrikaans Text signed by the Officer Administering the Government. Assented to 26th June, 1950.)

  • Cold War and South AfricaCommunistic defined among other things as: [that] which aims at bringing about any political, industrial, social or economic change within the Union by the promotion of disturbance or disorder, by unlawful acts or omissions or by the threat of such acts or omissions or by means which include the promotion of disturbance or disorder, or such acts or omissions or threat;

  • Cold War and South Africa South African Government declared the Peoples Congress 1955 as meeting of communists, seized all literature as being communist literature, arrested leaders as communists and declared the famous Freedom Charter to be a Communist Document! [see Freedom Charter in Additional Readings]

  • Cold War and South Africa Critical Headings:- The People Shall Share in the Country's Wealth!- The Land Shall be Shared Among Those Who Work It!- All Shall be Equal Before the Law!- There Shall be Work and Security!- There Shall be Houses, Security and Comfort!

  • Cold War and South Africa156 people tried for treason: - led to famous Treason Trial - lasted 4 years: all acquitted - attracted international attention - gave future leaders opportunity to unite and strategize - Nelson Mandela among accused - lead defense attorney - among charges: ANC a communist organization, advocating for creation of communist state

  • Cold War and South Africa Nelson Mandela and Rivonia Trial: - after underground, self-exile, returned and was arrested with others at Rivonia - charges against Mandela infused with references to his communism and role of foreign, communist influences [see Statement from the dock in Additional Readings]: - state charging that peoples struggle orchestrated, provoked by foreign communists (reference back to Communist Party and articles of SuppressionAct)

  • Cold War and South Africa Nelson Mandela and Rivonia Trial: - state repeating accusation that ANC and Communists had same aims, policies (Mandela noted that had been dismissed at the Treason Trial) - points to important differences between means of achieving shared goals while underscoring importance of having support - co-operation does not mean each partner is the same or shares all values

  • Cold War and South Africa Nelson Mandela and Rivonia Trial: - Umkhonto We Sizwe, military arm ANC - state claiming it was created by communists; Mandela argued it was created by ANC, then supported by SACP Mandela went on to defend acceptance of communist support, acknowledging difficulty for whites to understand:

  • Cold War and South Africa- in fight against colonialism, cannot let theoretical arguments divide - only SACP supported African workers, Africans for decades - colonial experience taught many Africans western democracies do not support their freedom - international support: Communist block more supportive of African-Asian independence movements

  • Cold War and South Africa- goes on to question whether there is a particular role for communist party at this moment (as distinct from communists as individuals who share ANC goals) - notes his own personal support for democratic, parliamentary system and for capitalism - finishes by saying that suggesting struggle of black people in SA for real freedom is only an extension of Communism is insult

  • Cold War and South AfricaOur fight is against real, and not imaginary, hardships, or to use the language of the State Prosecutor, 'so-called hardships'. Basically, we fight against two features which are the hallmarks of African life in South Africa and which are entrenched by legislation which we seek to have repealed. These are poverty and lack of human dignity, and we do not need communists or so-called 'agitators' to teach us about these things.[from statement from the dock, Nelson Mandela]

  • Prison at Robbin IslandNelson Mandela spent 25 years here, 1964-1989

  • Cold War and South Africa Impact: - application of Suppression of Communism Act used to undermine leadership of all resistance movements - contributed to 1958 split from ANC of Pan African Congress (PAC): divided over role of non-black Africans but many whites in movement were communists (eg Joe Slovo) - real objection of many to communism not colour

  • Cold War and South Africa Impact: - once convicted, led to many being put under house arrest (eg Helen Joseph) or banned - sample banning order (1966): Ian Robertson - effective control of geographical movement as well as association - renders most overt political activity impossible - prohibits basic civil rights [see Banning Ian Robertson in Additional Readings]

  • Cold War and South Africa Act Condemned from outset: - it is against every concept of the rule of law and the principles of democracy [The Guardien, Cape Town, May 1952] - reference to fact that Suppression of Communism Act used to remove leaders from all organizations threatening to government - lead-up to Defiance Campaign 1952:

  • Cold War and South AfricaThe Non-European people are pledged through the decisions of the conferences of the African National Congress and the South African Indian Congress and the countrywide demonstrations of April 6th to implement the plan for the Defiance of Unjust Laws. The joint meeting of the executives of the ANC and the SAIC which meets at Port Elizabeth on May 31, is called upon to meet the new situation fairly and squarely.

  • Images of Oppression: 1950s-70s

  • Cold War and South AfricaDid anyone object? - Sharpeville! - 1961 South Africa repeated in own way UDI (Rhodesia): withdrew from CommonwealthBritain ambivalent (not everyone agreed, although public protest to support withdrawal high) ultimately Canada took lead in accepting decision as appropriate [ see South Africa Out of Commonwealth in Additional Readings short video clip]

  • Cold War and South Africa

    Video You Have Struck a Rock [excerpt]

  • Post-ScriptWith no internal base left, many departed to continue struggle from outside the country.Government took up rhetoric of Independent Africa, promoted policy of Grand Apartheid or separate development.New president, Verwoerd argued that Apartheid would bring equal rights to all each in their own part of the country.

  • Post-ScriptPolicy of separate development kept best land and all minerals in hands of Afrikaners- 1966 Verwoerd assassinated. - Previous minister of justice, Vorster continued policies.- 1974 homelands presented with plan for independence.- All except Transkei refused.

  • Post-Script (1979)

  • 1970s1974: coup in Portugal which led to the ending of colonial rule in Mozambique 1975- Collapse of Portuguese colonialism gave new hope to Black African youth- Led to the rise of Steve Biko and Black Consciousness

  • Steve Biko and Black ConsciousnessI think basically Black Consciousness refers itself to the black man and to his situation, and I think the black man is subject to two forces in this country. He is first of all oppressed by an external world through institutionalized machinery, through laws that restrict him from doing certain things, through heavy work conditions, through poor education, these are all external to him and secondly, and this we regard as the most important, the Black man in himself has developed a certain state of alienation, he rejects himself, precisely bec