Local AA groups

As grassroots support for anti-apartheid campaigns grew from the early 1980s, local AA groups formed regional committees to co-ordinate activities. This conference, in south-west England in February 1981, discussed trade and investment in South Africa, solidarity with the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) in Namibia and campaigning in British trade unions.

Women on Merseyside set up a group to campaign for women in South Africa and Namibia in 1981, affiliated to the AAM and the SWAPO Women’s Solidarity Campaign. The group collected material aid for Namibian women refugees and material support for the ANC. In the 1980s women in many local AA groups set up women’s sub-committees or elected a women’s officer.

Southampton anti-apartheid supporters asked shoppers to boycott South African goods outside Safeways on 25 April 1981. The action was part of a national consumer boycott day, with action at 40 shopping centres throughout the country. Activists also collected signatures for a national sanctions petition launched on 21 March as part of the AAM’s ‘Isolate Apartheid South Africa – Sanctions Now!’ campaign. Seventy thousand people signed the petition.

This banner saying ‘No Shell-BP Oil for Apartheid’ was suspended from a footbridge in Southampton in June 1981. The action was part of a national Month of Boycott of Shell and BP organised by the AAM. Southampton AA Group members picketed local Shell and BP garages throughout the month. 

Poster publicising a meeting organised by Hackney AA Group and Hackney CND on 21 July 1981.

Leaflet publicising a Festival on Merseyside, north-west England, in January 1982, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the African National Congress.

Like other local AAM branches, Bristol AA Group held local meetings and demonstrations highlighting national anti-apartheid campaigns. This 1982 newsletter publicised a meeting on South African political prisoners, an international week of action on companies trading with Namibia and support for workers sacked by the British confectionery company Rowntree-Mackintosh’s South African subsidiary.

In 1982, the AAM and British trade unionists campaigned for support for striking South African workers at Wilson-Rowntrees, a subsidiary of the British confectionery maker Rowntree- Mackintosh. Southampton AA Group distributed this leaflet asking supporters to protest to the company’s managing director about the treatment of its black workers.