Dr Snuki Zikalala, President of the ANC Veterans’ league, has sent the following message to June’s daughter Monica:

National Education Union London Recruits teachers' pack

The National Education Union is producing a teachers' pack about the London Recruits. At the union's conference in Bournemouth this weekend, a fringe meeting was held to promote the project in advance of publication of the pack. Here is a report from Steve Marsling.

 On Sunday we handed out some 500 flyers for the Recruits event, and on Monday morning handed out some 500 Morning Stars to delegates, which contained an eight page insert on the NEU Conference with an article on the Recruits written by myself. The meeting had 3 speakers: Mary Chamberlain, Chitra Karve, Chair of ACTSA, and Steve Marsling, Coordinator of the teachers' pack. The meeting also had a zoom message from Ronnie Kasrils.  Gordon Main gave a short introduction and then showed 12 minutes of the film. Gordon told the meeting that the filming had finished and that the whole production would be completed by the end of June, ready for a first showing in July.

 The meeting was attended by just under 70 people, including the NEU President, Daniel Kebede, who gave a short address thanking both the international department and the Recruits. The meeting was a great success, the audience enthusiastic. I brought along six Recruit books and sold the lot. We are invited to a second launch of the pack at the NEU International Solidarity meeting on Saturday 2nd July at the Hilton Hotel in Bloomsbury London. More details to follow.

Outstanding struggle veteran Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, died on 6 December 2021.

Pete Smith sent us this tribute to the outstanding struggle veteran Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, who died on 6 December 2021.

It was a great honour to work with him in Swaziland during late 1985 and early 1986, sharing two safe houses with him. I will never forget arriving home from teaching to find him studying Kim Il-sung. Ebie had a clear understanding of Marxism in helping me to further understand the struggle of his people and was an outstanding internationalist. I am not surprised that he initiated the joint statement in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn having had the whip withdrawn by Sir Keir Starmer.

 I first met him by accident. I was staying with June and Michael Stephen and arrived back early from teaching to see him smiling in talking to June and Michael around the dining table. They had just smuggled him in from South Africa in their Combi. Even then I did not know that I would spend the rest of my time in Swaziland working with him and Ronnie Kasrils never told me of his intention that should happen in sending me to Swaziland.

The last time I met him was in 1994 as his guest, him being an M.P., over tea and cakes in the Parliament canteen in Cape Town. He had, still having his familiar smile, already recognised the potential of corruption then and was of the firm opinion, as Ronnie Kasrils puts it, that it had to be challenged from inside.

He certainly deserves the epitaph quoting from the book How the Steel Was Tempered by Nikolai Ostrovsky:

“Man's dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying, he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world──the fight for the Liberation of Mankind”

London Recruits: how a story of anti-apartheid activism can serve teachers today.


This article first appeared in 2021 Volume 63 Number 2 of The Journal: Forum for Promoting Comprehensive Education published by Lawrence and Wishart FORUM 0963-8253 - Lawrence Wishart (lwbooks.co.uk)

This year sees the release of London Recruits, a film chronicling the anti-apartheid activism of young men and women volunteers who travelled from the UK to South Africa in the 1970s. The recruits were invaluable to the campaigning work of the African National Congress and the wider international anti-apartheid movement because as white tourists, which is all the South African authorities saw them as, they were free to travel unmonitored in ways impossible for black citizens. To coincide with the release of the film, an education pack, comprising the testimonies of the recruits as well as other source material has been compiled for use in schools. It was funded by the National Education Union and coordinated by Steve Marsling, a former recruit, who writes the first section of this article.

Read more: London Recruits: how a story of anti-apartheid activism can serve teachers today.

Death of an anti-apartheid fighter

I am sad to report the death, on 3 September, of Marie-José Moumbaris. She was 70 and died of a stroke in her home in Normandy. She was one of the African National Congress’s “London Recruits” and campaigned for a better world until her death.
This courageous French woman was arrested with her newly-wedded husband Alex Moumbaris in 1972 while helping fighters of MK (the armed wing of South Africa’s liberation movement) to enter apartheid South Africa by land after the failure of a landing by sea in the ill-fated yacht Aventura. After the intervention of the French ambassador, she was released after four months in solitary confinement and deported to France. She was pregnant and there was a campaign building up in France for her release. Her captors had treated her very roughly but she showed tremendous courage, went on hunger strike for a period and withstood enormous police pressure to reveal all she knew. She pretended not to understand a word of English nor the French of the interpreter who was  brought in for her interrogation.
Ms Moumbaris campaigned against apartheid and featured in international demonstrations demanding the release of her husband Alex and his comrades until his escape from Pretoria prison in 1979 along with Tim Jenkin and Steve Lee.

At one point she was made president of the BIAA – the Bureau d’Information sur l’Afrique Australe – until she discovered that it was being used as a cover for Okhela, an anti-ANC conspiracy. She immediately closed the BIAA and went to London to warn the ANC and SACP.

She was active with Alex to the end, jointly producing Editions Démocrite, an online, anti-imperialist, communist journal they brought out on their joint pensions.

May her life inspire us!

Ken Keable, Editor, London Recruits - the secret war against apartheid. 

This interesting report by the BBC, about the truck used for the "Secret Safari" arms smuggling operation, somehow manages to avoid mentioning that the drivers and tour guides were all white non-South Africans, mostly British people, acting in solidarity with the ANC.

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