Calling all former activists

If you were previously an anti-apartheid activist we would like to hear from you. Email your story to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


Borrow an exhibition

A pop-up exhibition ‘Forward to Freedom: The history of the Anti-Apartheid Movement’ is available on loan. If you want to borrow it or can suggest a venue where it can be displayed contact us by email
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
(22 lightweight A2 boards)

Introduction low res

Video Mandela Concert at Wembley 1988


Video Anti-Apartheid Movement Hyde Park Rally 1988


Video Fruits of Fear campaigns film

Video Have You Heard From Johannesburg


These video interviews are taken from the award winning film series ‘Have You Heard from Johannesburg?’, a Clarity Films production, produced and directed by Connie Field.

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Forward to Freedom

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. Please send your feedback and questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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.

Follow us on Twitter: @aamarchives

News, events and features

  • ‘One Humanity One Justice’, The Showroom, Sheffield, 23 April

    Gala showing of ‘One Humanity One Justice’, a new film about the Nelson Mandela Wembley concerts in 1988 and 1990 at The Showroom, Paternoster Row, Sheffield on Thursday 23 April. The film mixes footage from the concerts with interviews with the artists and anti-apartheid activists, including Annie Lennox, Jesse Jackson, Peter Gabriel, Whitney Houston and Mac Maharaj.

    The film will be followed by Q&A with Richard Caborn, Paul Blomfield MP, Suresh Kamath from the AAM Archives Committee and the film’s producer Tony Hollingsworth.

    Doors open 5.30pm. Tickets £7/£5.50 concessions from 0114 275 7727 or online

  • Map Your Bristol

    Bottoms Up‘Map your Bristol’ is an innovative project illustrating Bristol’s rich history of community action. You can pinpoint sites of anti-apartheid action and read about the campaigns. See where activists threw nails on the pitch to stop the rugby game between Western Counties and the all-white South African Springboks in 1969. View the many shops picketed by anti-apartheid campaigners asking shoppers to boycott South African goods. See the Shell Petrol Station where Bristol AA Group organised a 24-hour picket in protest against Shell’s involvement in South Africa. Visit ‘Map your Bristol’ here

  • New on the website …

    Witness seminars

     ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ – Rivonia trialists Rusty Bernstein and Ahmed Kathrada share their memories of Mandela. Mandela’s biographer Anthony Sampson recalls how for 20 years he was almost forgotten. Tony Hollingsworth tells the behind the scenes story of the 1988 Mandela Tribute concert. Mike Terry and Alan Brooks reflect on the ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ campaign. Read the full transcript of the seminar recorded in 1999 here ‘The Churches and the Anti-Apartheid Movement‘ – Baldwin Sjollema and Pauline Webb talk about the World Council of Churches groundbreaking decision to support the Southern African liberation movements in 1968. Rob Skinner and Kevin Ward recall the ‘turbulent priests’ Trevor Huddleston, Ambrose Reeves and Michael Scott. Jim Wilkie and Brian Brown  explain the British churches ambivalent attitude towards sanctions against South Africa and how this changed in the 1980s. Read the full transcript here


Browse an archive of photos and documents

selection of posters


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.

You can hear him talk about writing the song


 Learn about the history of the Anti-Apartheid Movement through the decades

pic6404In 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.

Read more about this history starting with the Boycott Movement in 1959, through the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust logoBODLEIAN-LIBRARIES-logoACTSA logoHeritage Lottery Fund logo