Forward to Freedom tells the story of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement and its campaigns to support the people of South Africa in their fight against apartheid. The AAM also campaigned for freedom for Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Angola, and against South Africa’s attacks on its neighbours.
On this website you can find out how hundreds of thousands of people all over Britain took part in anti-apartheid activities. You can watch demonstrations and concerts, and hear from some of those involved. We hope you will find it interesting and look forward to hearing from you.
The website is part of a wider education project set up by the AAM Archives Committee that includes a pop-up exhibition and learning resources. It has been funded by the Barry Amiel & Norman Melburn Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and organised in partnership with Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA).
The AAM archive is held at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford and is open to researchers on application for a Bodleian reader’s card. The archive of Wales AAM is at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwth and that of the Scottish AA Committee at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Bristol Action for Southern Africa supporters held their annual sponsored walk in the Mendips on Saturday 15 June – the 34th walk since anti-apartheid supporters first walked to raise funds for the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom School in 1980. You can watch their video blog here
The South African Deputy High Commissioner, Bongiwe Qwabe, unveiled a plaque commemorating Nelson Mandela's honorary membership of UNISON at the union’s London headquarters on Thursday 3 July 2014.
Read this handwritten letter from Nelson Mandela to the British public expressing thanks for their ‘overwhelming generosity’.
The letter was written on the day Mandela attended the 16 April 1990 Wembley concert held to celebrate his release from prison on 11 February.
Browse an archive of photos and documents
Former activists tell their stories
A significant part of this project was to record the experiences of former activists in Britain.
Jerry Dammers formed the Specials in Coventry in 1977. An anti-apartheid activist from his school days he helped start Artists Against Apartheid in the UK to campaign and help enforce the cultural boycott. He wrote the song, Free Nelson Mandela, which became an international hit and helped raise awareness of the plight of Mandela and political prisoners in South Africa.
Learn about the history of the Anti-Apartheid Movement through the decades
In 1964 Marlon Brando asked film directors, actors and producers to forbid the screening of their films before segregated audiences in South Africa on a visit to London. In this photograph he is at a press conference with the Anti-Apartheid Movement’s Hon. Secretary Abdul Minty.
The Rolling Stones broke off negotiations for a South African tour and the Beatles announced they opposed apartheid.