Political organisation and community protest: The African National Congress in the Rand Townships, 1955-1957

Lodge, Tom
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This paper will examine three instances of African protest: the attempts to resist the removals in the Johannesburg western areas, the opposition to Bantu Education and the Alexandra bus boycott of 1957. It was hoped that analyses of these movements would throw some light on the relationship of organised nationalist opposition to the less formal resistance that sprung from economic pressures rather than clearly perceived political aspirations. To have examined in detail protest in which the ANC was not obviously involved, might have provided: a more useful focus but unfortunately information on the kind of ‘informal’ protest described below is difficult to obtain from the more obvious sources which for reasons of time the research for this paper had to be limited. However an examination of the three campaigns does provide some insight into the relationship between the ANC and local interests and the extent to which it succeeded in channeling and expressing popular grievances. This may help to correct distortions which have resulted from a tendency to analyze African political opposition purely from the perspective of the nationalist movement, considering it in isolation from the general socio-economic context of black politics. The history of the ANC in the 1950s heeds to be written from a local level: how did branches operate, how were they viewed in the local community, what particular interests did they represent, was there anything socially distinct about their membership, how were the local communities structured?
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented March 1978
African National Congress, Government, Resistance to. South Africa