This is my amateur video of the reaction of delegates to the Congress of the South African Communist Party last week to their unanimous decision to reconfigure their relationship with the ANC. The singing and dancing lasted at least 15 minutes. My impression, as a guest at the congress, is that they are disgusted with the corruption in the ANC and are fed up with having to defend the indefensible because of being in government as part of the ANC.
The South African Communist Party, at its congress in Boksburg, has today (14 July 2017) honoured the London Recruits with its Special Recognition Award. Ken Keable went to the congress, as a guest, to accept the award on behalf of all the Recruits and was introduced by Ronnie Kasrils. Here is the text of his speech.
Comrade chair, distinguished guests, comrades!
I am very proud to receive this award on behalf of all the London Recruits. It is a great honour for us all.
I am pleased to be accompanied on this platform by two other Recruits: comrade Ian Beddowes, who worked undercover in three of the frontline states and now lives in Johannesburg where he works on the staff of the SACP; and comrade Bob Newland, who set off leaflet bombs in Johannesburg in 1971 and spent eight dangerous weeks in South Africa in 1972, preparing for the arrival of a detachment of MK fighters by sea in a ship which, unfortunately, had to abort the mission because of engine trouble.
I was born in NW London in 1956. My dad was in the Young Communist League (YCL) and Communist Party (CP) in the 1930s and 1940s and was an obvious influence in my formative years. My mother’s parents lived with us in a semi-detached house in Harrow. My mum’s grandfather was Scottish, and had three brothers. His eldest brother stayed on the family farm, my grandfather and his other two brothers set off for World War 1. My grandfather was the lucky one, he was gassed on the Somme and discharged in October 1916…his brothers did not come home. My mum was born 2 weeks before the end of the war – her unique name reflects both being a winsome lass and my grandad’s survival – she was christened Winnsom. Although my dad was a communist, I think my grandfather was the real rebel. He was a chauffeur, working for a variety of rich masters, but refused to let his wife or daughter (my mother) be employed in service as chamber maids or similar. This led to frequently falling out with butlers and housekeepers. As a result, my grandfather walked out of numerous jobs and my mother went to over a dozen schools.
I went to a top grammar school in Harrow, although didn’t really apply myself. When I was about 15 I became involved in the school council, and through that, Harrow Youth Council. I rapidly became exposed to broader political issues including CND and Anti-Apartheid.
Bevis Miller (on mission with the late Graham Brown)
My first direct contact with the African National Congress (ANC) came via my mother, Gwen Miller. As the Daily Worker and then the Morning Star Bazaar Organiser (1961 -1972) she had been contacted by Reg September, the ANC representative in the UK. He was interested in fundraising for the ANC in London and had approached her for advice. Their contact grew into a romance and several years later they were married in August 1989, and I was proud to be one of their witnesses along with Dr Yusuf Dadoo. Thus Reg became my stepfather.
Here, just discovered, is a remarkable photo of Danny Schechter attending the funeral of the ANC President, Chief Albert Luthuli, in 1967. He was supposed to be keeping a low profile, just having distributed his ANC leaflets in Durban, but he could not resist attending the funeral. As a white man, he must have stood out a mile but was probably protected by the presence of foreign diplomats and journalists. He describes the episode brilliantly in his chapter of our book.