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
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. Records for many local AA Groups, such as Bristol, Birmingham and Edinburgh, are held at local record offices – see ‘Other Links’.
Follow us on Twitter: @aamarchives
News and Events
Strike!, Tracey Ryan's brilliant play about the Dublin shopworkers who refused to sell South African fruit in 1984 will run at the Southwark Playhouse, 13 April–6 May. Plans are ongoing for a nationwide tour. Tickets for the May Day performance on 1 May are available at a reduced price of £16 for ACTSA supporters – voucher ACTSA16 and on other nights for £20 – voucher ACTSA20. Booking https://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/productions/strike/
A new education resource from the London Recruits tells the story of some of the young people who went to South Africa undercover to support the anti-apartheid freedom struggle. It also presents an illustrated history of the above-ground Anti-Apartheid Movement with activities and thought-provoking questions for school students. The pack was sponsored by the National Education Union. You can access it here.
The project to set up a new Centre of Memory Learning in the former ANC London office at 28 Penton Street, Islington has taken a big step forward with the award of a £250,000 Heritage Lottery Fund development grant. The Centre will showcase anti-apartheid campaigning to stimulate action against injustice, racism and inequality. For news of events and commissions go to https://antiapartheidlegacy.org.uk
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
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.
Read more about this history starting with the Boycott Movement in 1959, through the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.