Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement

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Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement

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The Welsh Committee of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) was established in 1981 and adopted the name 'The Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement' (WAAM). Local groups and branches supporting the AAM had been active in Wales prior to this, based in cities such as Cardiff, Newport and Swansea, but they realised that they could achieve a greater level of support if they operated as a national movement in Wales, with a clear Welsh identity.

The newly-formed Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement's aims and objectives were to inform the peope of Wales and elsewhere about apartheid; to campaign for international action to help bring the system of apartheid to an end; to co-operate with and support Southern African organisations campaigning against apartheid; to promote the exchange of information and ideas between anti-apartheid groups and to co-ordinate activities; and to further the work of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Wales in general. Its chief officers included an Honorary President, Vice-President, Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer. The National and Executive Committees were the main management committees of WAAM, with the formation of several other committees and sub-committees - such as the Trade Union Committee, and Sport and Health Sub-committees - to work on specific issues.

WAAM's campaigning work covered a wide range of areas including sports, cultural and consumer boycotts, and campaigns against investment in South Africa by British and international companies and banks, against nuclear and military collaboration, loans to South Africa and oil sanctions. WAAM also supported international campaigns for the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners and detainees, organised mainly through SATIS (Southern Africa: the Imprisoned Society). In addition, the organisation was actively involved in promoting independence for countries in the wider Southern Africa region, particularly Namibia, Zimbabwe, and the former Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique.

WAAM was supported by a network of local anti-apartheid groups, individual members, student groups and affiliated organisations such as trade unions and constituency political parties. Anti-apartheid momentum in Wales increased steadily during the 1980s, due in no small part to the tireless efforts of a core group of dedicated officers including Christopher Short, Mick Antoniw and Hanef (Hanif) Bhamjee. Hanef Bhamjee (Secretary 1981-1994) is widely considered to be a key motivating figure in WAAM. He was born in South Africa and was involved with the South African Youth Congress from a young age. He came to Britain in 1965 to avoid detention when that involvement posed a threat to his safety, and was living in Wales by the early 1970s. He was one of the founding members of the Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement and served as Secretary throughout its existence. Hanef Bhamjee also served as Secretary of the Wales Anti-Racist Alliance and Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) Wales, the successor body to WAAM. In 2003 he was awarded the OBE for services to race relations, the charity and voluntary sector, and for founding the Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement.

WAAM was dissolved in1994 following the first democratic elections in South Africa and its assets were transferred to ACTSA Wales, which continues to campaign and work for peace and democracy in Southern Africa.

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