The ANC Underground in South Africa
According to the conventional wisdom, the ANC after its banning in 1960 by the apartheid government and the imprisonment of its leaders largely disappeared off the face of South Africa until public support for it revived in the wake of the Soweto Uprising of 1976.
This title takes issue with that view. Drawing on substantial oral testimony, Raymond Suttner, an academic and former ANC underground worker, develops a convincing case that internally based activists, working independently of the exile organisation, were able to reconstitute networks within South Africa after the ANC had been declared illegal. He discusses the salient characteristics of their underground work and presents a fascinating investigation of the various kinds of ‘heroic masculinity’ that helped invigorate the ANC’s clandestine life.
Interesting too is his discussion of the way in which the organisation itself supplied a surrogate focus for suppressed personal emotions. In a final chapter, he explores the content of the hegemony that the ANC had established by the late 1970s, which enabled it to become the prime political beneficiary of the Soweto Uprising of black students.