Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement movement remembered at new exhibition in Dublin
10,000 people involved in long campaign
Members of the Ubuhle Besintu Theatre group, at the opening of The Irish Campaign Against Apartheid in South Africa Exhibition, at City Hall, Dublin on Monday. Photograph: Eric Luke
An estimated 10,000 Irish people were involved in the former anti-apartheid campaign, South African ambassador to Ireland Azwindini Jeremiah Dingaan Ndou said last night.
“Among the groups who joined in the campaigns were the famous Dunnes Stores strikers, the trade unions, students, artists and performers who gave up lucrative opportunities to perform in South Africa, ’’ he added. “The list is endless.’’
Mr Ndou was speaking at the official opening of an exhibition of photographs and text at City Hall in Dublin, marking the activities of the Irish Anti- Apartheid Movement, which was founded in 1964. The exhibition will remain open to the public until Friday.
He said the exhibition recalled some of the key events of the work of the movement and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the “the work of thousands of Irish people who were involved in our struggle against apartheid”.
Mr Ndou said it represented a small overview of the sheer volume and work that went into realising a dream by Irish people for South Africa.
He said that behind the scenes the movement’s work continued with people working in their homes at at work parties, quietly stuffing envelopes and sticking stamps. They also painted placards or stood protesting in cold weather, campaigned outside embassies and sport grounds and handed out leaflets or waved collection tins with numb hands.
“The campaign was helped by thousands of letters written to politicians and the press, by press statements issued and, in the days before fax machines, often delivered by someone on a bicycle, by committee meetings attended, by talks given to students and by information packs sent out by messengers,” he added.
He said that this was South Africa week and was an opportunity to showcase some of the wonderful opportunities and experiences the country had to offer. These included films, trade and economic fairs and a fashion show displaying a stunning fusion of Irish and South African designs created specially by Irish and South African emerging designers.
Last night’s launch included the singing of the Irish and South African national anthems and a performance by singer Christy Moore, a prominent anti-apartheid campaigner over the years.