‘Humpty Dumpty’, Ahmed Kathrada, and the death of a conscience…

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

It may not have felt like it at the time, but on 28th March this year we all lost something special. No, I don’t mean our wallets or our smart phones. What we lost was something even more important – a bit of global conscience. What do I mean? It was the day South African veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle Ahmed Kathrada died, aged 86.

Ahmed Kathrada may not be a name you’re very familiar with. Yet even as a youth this man had stood shoulder to shoulder with Nelson Mandela and other great anti-apartheid leaders right from the beginning of the campaign against the consolidating apartheid state in the 1940s. He was also with Mandela throughout his long incarceration.

Ahmed Kathrada

Ahmed Kathrada in 2016. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Meeting Daisy Makiwane…

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

Previously we pored over correspondence revealing how Tennyson Makiwane got to the UK in 1959. Bringing an authentic Black South African voice to early UK anti-apartheid proceedings, he was crucial to the success of the Boycott Movement of 1959 to 1960. Tennyson Makiwane was a public figure, appearing before crowds and rallying support for his cause. But what about his sister Daisy?

Like countless individuals before and after (especially women), Daisy Makiwane has all but slipped into the uncharted shadows of history. Although we now know she was a significant player in transmitting the funds for Tennyson to travel to the UK, we have to admit that little survives concerning Daisy herself.

But hold on there! Take a look at this flyer…
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The Manchester Connection and Anti-Apartheid Activism

 In her third guest post based on her fascinating PhD research into British student activism, Sarah Webster looks at Manchester student involvement in anti-apartheid campaigning.

Anti-apartheid activism at UoM offers an insight into how student activism has changed across the twentieth century. Tactical choices by anti-apartheid activists demonstrate that protest becomes a more acceptable method for expressing student discontent and dissent, particularly after the sixties.

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

Students protesting outside the University of Manchester. Source: University of Manchester archives

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Tennyson Makiwane comes to London – but how?

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

The Roving Reader has been out and about exploring other archives in Manchester. This week she’s been to the People’s History Museum and discovered tantalising new evidence of how one of the most significant participants in the early UK anti-apartheid movement came to Britain.

This post was going to be about the discovery of a touching migrant story. African woman lives in 1950s London and begs clergyman for money to bring brother to UK. Clergyman phones contact to get funds and cheque is sent off. Thank you note penned, good act done, brother home and happy. Not all migrant stories end so well, but it symbolises tales of separation repeated thousands of times in a world of war and economic deprivation…

True, this story features a clergyman, a sister, a brother and a benefactor. But when I say that these are Canon John Collins, Miss D Makiwane, Tennyson Makiwane and the Secretary of a UK Labour Party-linked fellowship, some of you out there might start jumping around shouting “Whoopee! Now we know who paid for Tennyson’s travel ticket!

Photograph of three letters

Correspondence from the British Asian Overseas Fellowship collection at the Labour History Archive and Study Centre. Courtesy of People’s History Museum, Manchester

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