Sechaba: Official Organ of the ANC

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One of my favourite places in Edinburgh to pick up books was always a place called Word Power (now called Lighthouse). It used to have a great box full of second-hand radical pamphlets. Many of them were cast off by the owner Elaine and Tarlochan Gata Aura (member of the Bradford 12). A few years ago, I picked up a big pile of Sechaba, the official paper of the African National Congress of South Africa. It was published in London and was a place to promote and publicise solidarity actions around the world and discuss the future of South Africa.

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It was also, unashamedly, communist. When the chairman of the South African Communist Party and member of the ANC Dr Yusuf Dadoo died he featured on their front cover. He was buried in Highgate Cemetery near Marx and a portrait of Marx stood one side of the stage when his funeral speeches were being given.

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They were also committed to the equality of sexes as well as races.

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As well as communist, Sechaba was a self-consciously internationalist magazine. The back page of the magazine carried a list of all the places that the magazine was available, including 5 Ahmed Hishmat Street in Zamalek, presumably the address of the African Society at the time.FullSizeRender (30)african society

One front cover showed Alfred Nzo meeting Fidel Castro.FullSizeRender (31)

Readers sent in letters to support the cause. One reader from Israel wrote in to condemn his governments support for the Apartheid regime and show his solidarity. FullSizeRender (32)

They showed schoolgirls in the USSR signing solidarity petitions for Nelson Mandela.

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There were also notices from places like Aberdeen and Stoke-on-Trent

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As well as solidarity movements they also told of the arguments they had with their opponents. There is one particularly good anecdote of a trip to Frankfurt Book Fair. They had been invited to attend in the Africa tent but when they saw that a white South African publisher (Raven press) was there, they protested. The other African participants supported them and they all united against the Raven Press.

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And, of course, as with any revolutionary magazines of that time, the art work was fantastic.

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