Last year saw the publication of a rather expensive academic book, Youth Activism and Solidarity: the Non-Stop Picket against Apartheid. The supporters of the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group [City Group] had maintained a Non-Stop Picket outside the South African Embassy in Trafalgar Square calling for the release of Nelson Mandela. City AA drew upon a wider geographical support that those who resided in the City, although affiliated as a local group of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, City AA, as it became known, had been founded by Norma Kitson in April 1982. The accompanying blog https://nonstopagainstapartheid.wordpress.com/ provides a commentary on the personalities and struggles around the campaign that was strongly influenced by the Revolutionary Communist Group (formed in 1974, having been part of the “Revolutionary Opposition” faction of the International Socialists (IS), (forerunners of the Socialist Workers Party).
In February 1985 City Group was de-recognised as a local branch of the national Anti-Apartheid Movement. The prolonged picket outside the South African Embassy in Trafalgar Square, a protest not supported by the AAM.
In justifying City Group’s expulsion, the AAM’s executive committee circulated a report quoting a letter from the then Chief Representative of the ANC in London, Solly Smith, which stated:
we are aware of the activities of these people and if they are not brought to a stop a lot of damage will be done in the field of solidarity work in this country. (The Anti-Apartheid Movement and City AA: a statement by the AAM executive committee, 1 December 1985).
In 1993, the ANC revealed that Solly Smith had confessed, prior to his death, that he had been a spy for South African Military Intelligence inside the London ANC.
RCG produced a pamphlet South Africa – Britain out of Apartheid; Apartheid out of Britain that gives some details of the City AA activism at the time. http://www.revolutionarycommunist.org/images/pdf/rcg_south_africa_pamphlet_lq.pdf
Personally pleasingly was that sharing the book’s dedication was Zolile Hamilton Keke, the Chief Representative in the UK of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) in the mid-1980s. In London he was a hard-working representative in a very difficult and hostile terrain where the British Anti-Apartheid Movement was a sworn enemy of the PAC. Those were hard and financially precarious years in exile, but he would travel throughout London to speak at meetings on the freedom struggle. When City Group launched its Non-Stop Picket of the South African embassy, in April 1986, Keke was there at the rally to speak on behalf of the PAC.
He was a militant of Poqo (pure/ alone) the armed wing of the PAC, Prisoner 325/64 on Robben Island , subject to a banning order on release in 1973 when he began recruiting youths to join the PAC in exile. A defiant Keke was a defendant in the secret Bethal treason trial after the Soweto Uprising by school students in 1976. In 1981 Keke went into exile as representative for the Pan Africanist Congress. In Britain the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) in practice only support the African National Congress, freezing out the representatives of the PAC and the black consciousness movement AZAPO, In 1992 he returned to South Africa with his family and he never gave up the fight for the liberation of his homeland.
As the authors state, “Zolile Keke helped educate a generation of British solidarity activists that it was not enough to achieve a ‘democratic South Africa’, Azania had to be fully decolonized.”
A tribute to Zolile Hamilton Keke [October 31 1945 – February 6 2013] by fellow fighter for freedom, Motsoko Pheko, who worked with him in London exile can be found at http://www.pambazuka.org/resources/zolile-hamilton-keke-tribute.