Secrecy, Solidarity, and Survival:

Political Tactics and Glasnost in the

Early History and Historiography of the ANC

by Dr. Peter Limb
University of Western Australia


(Paper to Biennial Conference of the South African Historical Society, 11-14 July 1999
Theme A. "Exposing secrets: secrets of the liberation struggle")



The history of the ANC involves a measure of secrets and lies, both by the state against Congress and by the movement to survive or to bolster individual careers. This paper surveys the political tactics employed by ANC figures in the first two decades of its existence. Tactical secrecy was an obvious response to state repression under apartheid, but it was also used selectively in earlier years. A contrast is made between the secretive nature of aspects of early ANC activities and the tendency to openness in ANC policy. At times, local branches were compelled to resort to secret tactics in the face of repression. This was particularly the case as it related to Congress relations with black workers. Congress exaggerated its support and at times was led by people who used secrecy and deception of members to secure their individual power. Yet, Congress also was remarkably open about its own weakness, and the tendency towards openness was strengthened by the role of the black press.

Secrecy and lying are commonplace in the history of political organisations. Their significance in early ANC history lies in the constant neglect or distortion of ANC policies by government and by white writers. White South African varieties of nationalism denigrated black nations, ignoring and vilifying the ANC. On the other hand, Congress did not denigrate competing nations but rather sought unity and equality for blacks within an inclusive state. There is little evidence of any co-ordinated ANC campaign of historical falsification of white history. Whilst its leaders castigated white domination and exaggerated ANC membership to maximise support, Africans did not have to lie about their predicament; the historical injustice of African dispossession simply could not be denied or forgotten. However, the well-justified conquest of the moral high ground by the ANC does not allow the historian to neglect cases of "not telling" in ANC history.

After the ANC was outlawed in 1960, the apartheid regime predicted all kinds of wicked things if Congress ever assumed power. Since 1994, there have been instances of minor corruption and charges of tendencies towards domination. Tom Lodge, in seeking to explain such trends suggests that pre-1990 inner-party democracy in the ANC was at best intermittent.1 However, relatively speaking, the ANC in government largely has not succumbed to excessive secrecy and authoritarianism. It accommodated rivals, instituted an impartial truth commission and, albeit reluctantly, was obliged to accept its criticism. Is the source of this tolerance simply to be found in an historic compromise, in the need for unity, or perhaps in the remarkable person of Nelson Mandela? The justifiable praising of Mandela often appears to place the source of ethics in the ANC as being based in the individual. Sometimes it is traced to the influence of liberalism or African tradition. Rarely is the history of the internal life of the ANC fully considered in this context. Partly this is due to persistence of stereotypes of the ANC and its history. Martin Meredith, in his recent biography of Mandela, depicts early ANC leaders as "mostly conservative" moderates, in contrast to its leaders in exile whom he paints (in rather one-dimensional terms) as a "secretive ... clique ... acting as a secretive, autocratic organisation."2

I suggest the reality was more complex. Moreover, I question whether the ANC in its earlier decades was unable to democratically deal with "secrets and lies" within its ranks. On the contrary, I suggest historians should more closely examine the simultaneous nurturing of another, more ethical tradition within Congress, one of openness (or glasnost) and self-criticism. Close analysis of early ANC history can aid the understanding of its contemporary nature. It can also produce a more realistic portrait of the movement's own "secrets and lies" and how it handled them.


Secrets, Lies, and Truth in History

Great popular and academic interest has been aroused in the secrets and lies of post-1960 South African history by the proceedings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). To take one example, Belinda Bozzoli has probed the potential of the TRC to uncover the largely hidden role of black youth in recent history.3 The revealing of truth and the pursuit of justice permeates many recent memoirs, such as those of Mandela or George Bizos.4 Efforts also have been made to uncover what was not officially said about ANC life in exile, in MK camps, or in township politics of the 1980s.5

Yet, lies and deceit existed before 1960 and will recur long after memories of the TRC have faded. Little is written on the wider theme of "not telling" across the span of South African, or in the case of liberation movements, ANC history and I address this lacuna below. Before discussing specific instances of "secrets and lies" in ANC history, it is useful to clarify the concepts of secrecy, truth, and lies and situate these in history.
Secrecy, the habitual withholding of information, has a long history. Through the ages, those in power bolstered their rule with secret dossiers on enemies, secret diplomatic treaties, and secret police. The apartheid regime employed secret tactics, but the pre-1948 state also kept secrets on, and from, South Africans. Conversely, openness and the exposure of state secrets helped anti-apartheid forces.

Truth is a core question in philosophy. From ancient Greece to modern times, philosophers have proposed various definitions of truth.6 Truth also has its history. Controversial German philosopher Martin Heidegger in 1937 raised the question of the essence of truth, not as a matter of logic in which it often is defined as the correctness of a representation of a thing, but as the basis of the beginning of the history of truth.7 Historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto observes that whilst belief in "the truth" is increasingly rejected today, an understanding of the social history of the striving for truth and of changing conceptions of truth over time is vital to test the rival claims of those who claim either to know the truth or that it can never be known.8

The spectrum of "not telling" in history ranges from conscious falsification to the half-truths of exaggeration or failure to disclose facts, to gentler forms of deceit. Lies, defined as intentionally false statements or deception, are detested. Nobody will own up to telling them. Lying is viewed as an ethical issue yet also has a social aspect. It has even been argued that lies are a normal part of social and political life and assist in social cohesion and mental health by relieving stress through the social niceties of "white lies."9 However, politics tied to sectional interests lends itself to deliberate misinformation aimed at bolstering such interests. For instance, in South Africa after 1960, the government prohibited disclosure of information on the ANC. Congress for its part was reluctant to reveal records on MK camps. In public discourse, a distinction is made between good and bad lies. Heroes are forgiven "white lies." Nelson Mandela used purely tactical deception to evade police in the early 60s. Posterity is less kind on those who use deception to hurt. Winnie Mandela was charged with deliberately lying to cover up crimes. Notions of "secrets and lies" also are relative. Activists wrote Nelson Mandela's post-1990 speeches and in the 70s Thabo Mbeki was a scriptwriter for ANC leaders,10 yet such ghost-writing can be viewed not only as keeping genuine authorship secret but also as an instance of valid collaboration between author and scribe rooted in African oral traditions.11

The twentieth century has many instances of "not telling," from the deliberate lies of the Dreyfus Affair to the falsification of the Holocaust and cover-ups of Stalin's purges to the nonsensical pronouncements of Ronald Reagan. South African history has its own pantheon of lies, from the fiction of self-government without the masses in 1910 to the refusal of Smuts, Vorster, and P. W. Botha to tell the truth in national or international forums. The continuity of lying goes further back in time. The "myth of the empty land," like Terra nullius in Australia, was a lie propagated by invaders, whilst colonial maps had cartographic lies imprinted on them wherever colonists wanted to grab land.12

Historians seek to uncover secrets because reading hidden documents better enables them to verify "facts" and remove the plaque of misinformation which individuals and organisations leave behind them. The treatment of "secrets and lies" by historians is often linked to questions of historical relativism and objectivity.13 Any work of history widely accused of subjectivity or falsehood stands little chance of intellectual survival; save under institutional domination (such as apartheid) in which propaganda masquerades as history. Apartheid narratives can validly be portrayed as conscious falsification. On the other hand, postmodernists claim that specific truths are merely examples of the sharing of a sense of truth in language.14 The language of authors undoubtedly influence their views, but I do not accept that all questions of history can be answered by reference to the language of historical actors, for this leaves other secrets untold, or by meta-narratives of absolute truth, belief in which can lead to further lies.15 Moreover, the revealing of truths by historians may involve not just objective detachment but also the acceptance of another ethical duty, that of giving voice to the subaltern.16 In confronting such issues, historians must grapple with complex hermeneutical questions such as what is not told in archival documents and how memory, ideology, and organisation influence the telling of lies.

Memory influences the nature of history in complex ways.17 It plays an essential role in reproducing notions of the past in societies, notably those emphasising oral tradition as a medium of discourse. Memory influenced the formation of the ANC and aided its survival. Memories of the Bambata Revolt and the whites-only Union were fresh in the minds of ANC founders in 1912. Congress was largely omitted from, or demonised, in state-sanctioned histories published in South Africa from 1948 to 1990 but it proved impossible to expunge memories of the movement. The symbolic presence and legitimacy of the ANC among blacks persisted through memories, word of mouth, and the press, and contributed to its eventual electoral victory, a process aided by its ideas and structures.

Ideology and structures can influence people to adopt lies or truths. Ideas of liberty rooted in liberalism, of national unity based on African nationalism, and of solidarity born of the common experience of oppression and exploitation propelled many blacks to believe in the validity of ANC policies. This belief was justified to a high degree by their experience of historical injustice and hence seen to be true. Apartheid, the Great Lie of whites, justified Bantustan poverty, forced removals, and execution of political prisoners, but also resonated with the desires of whites to maintain their hegemony, and appeared to them justified by the ANC's resort to armed struggle and collaboration with communists. Bantustan structures encouraged the spread of misinformation about the ANC. TRC meetings encouraged people to come to terms with "collective forgetting of the dark side of events."18 The loose and decentralised ANC organisational framework facilitated individual corruption, but also allowed transparency and self-criticism.

Nationalism, partly through the elaboration of symbols and rituals19 that often privilege certain persons over others, can tell the story of a nation such that stories of other nations are distorted. White South African varieties of nationalism denigrated black nations, ignoring and vilifying the ANC. On the other hand, Congress did not denigrate competing nations but rather sought unity and equality within an inclusive state. There is little evidence of any co-ordinated ANC campaign of historical falsification of white history. Whilst its leaders castigated white domination and exaggerated ANC membership to maximise support, Africans did not have to lie about their predicament; the historical injustice of African dispossession simply could not be denied or forgotten. However, the well-justified conquest of the moral high ground by the ANC does not allow the historian to neglect cases of "not telling" in ANC history. The focus of my paper on "secrets" does not detract from the ethical righteousness of ANC struggles against racism and national oppression. Indeed, the misdemeanours of ANC leaders are "white lies" by any comparison with the deeds of apartheid rulers. Rather, I seek to cast light on the political life and long term trends of the organisation to reveal aspects of early ANC history and assist those trying to understand the contemporary ANC.

The Early ANC and some of its Secrets

Congress was founded in 1912. Journalist F. Z. Peregrino saw the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) as "nothing less than a Native Parliament .... [T]he real voice of the people."20 In keeping with such ambitious claims, it sought to develop nation-wide contacts and attract support from diverse social strata. It combined demands for equality of opportunity, a national(ist) call to unity and, often less acknowledged by historians, a denunciation of exploitation. However, its organisational and financial weaknesses mixed with general black poverty and the continuing divisions of class, ethnicity, and region among Africans retarded its effective penetration of communities.

These problems have inclined historians, including those associated with Congress, to view the early ANC as an effete petit-bourgeois elite construct caught in a quagmire of moderation inspired by liberalism and detached from the people21; a body with little obvious need for the secret tactics of revolutionaries. Certainly, ANC founders were "ministers, teachers, clerks, interpreters .... They were not trade unionists, nor were they socially radical."22 Yet there were no African trade unions in 1912 and black conservatives such as J. T. Jabavu attacked Congress for its "radicalism" and "revolutionary" ideas.23 They did so because ANC leaders, despite their top hats, were an elite without power and obliged to turn to other social forces. Nationalism rarely emerges without the involvement of both elites and masses.24 Career-paths blocked by discrimination, wage earners such as "teachers, clerks, interpreters" and some workers turned to ANC politics. The eighty delegates to its 1914 conference included several "kicked out of Government service to make room for [whites]."25 The cohabitation of different social strata is occluded by class-reductionist26 characterisations of Congress that leave no room for appreciation of it as a movement in its totality with all the ramifications of branches, members and supporters. However, conceptions of Congress are changing. Recent studies suggest that its ties with subaltern social strata were more substantial at local levels and the date of such contacts is gradually being pushed back.27 André Odendaal argues that the early Congress sought to represent "all classes" and was closer to communities than historians assume.28

The character of Congress influenced its inner workings and tactics. The tension between "telling" and "not telling" in the ANC took the form of a contradiction between secretive and open tendencies the origins of which can here only be sketched. Sources of openness include African traditions of public discussion, involvement in ANC campaigns of dispossessed people with little interest in the sort of lying engaged in by ruling classes, the holding of regular open congresses, the influence of democratic ideas, and the role of the black press. Sources of secrecy and lying in the ANC include the ambition and selfish interests of individuals, political expediency, and opportunism.

Secrecy and lies are common in the political history of any country. Their primary significance in South African history lies not in the exposure of this or that secret. Rather it exists in the general denial of black rights by the South African State and the justification of this denial by historical falsification and neglect or distortion of liberation movement history by many white writers. Professional South African historians, then entirely white, tended to marginalise black organisations.29 The white-owned press rarely portrayed Congress truthfully. A cartoon from the Sunday Times (figure 1) of 1918 crudely depicts an all-black Johannesburg Council in 1930 squabbling over the deployment of white labour. A black Treasurer misappropriates funds whilst an Abantu-Batho reporter scrutinises documents and another councillor reads the Internationalist.30 In contrast, the pro-ANC black press helped build Congress legitimacy among Africans and at the same time encouraged the development of a climate of openness inside the movement.

I sketch below selected events from the first two decades of ANC history to show the varied tactics of radicals and moderates and how this influenced their attitudes to secrecy. It could be argued that the radical examples cited are mere isolated flashes in an otherwise dreary history of moderation. This view has some validity, especially if applied to national ANC leaders but when extended to provincial levels and to members and supporters it does not take account of the continuity of ANC protests.31


Figure 1. Sunday Times (Johannesburg) 21 July 1918.

Tactical secrecy was an obvious counter to state repression after the onset of apartheid. However, it also was used selectively in earlier years. Across the breadth of ANC history, members were harassed, put under police surveillance, and had their meetings obstructed. Technically the ANC was legal before 1960 but rarely permitted to operate in a genuinely free manner. The ruthless crushing of the 1946 mine strike and the calculated intimidation of the Treason Trial clearly point to a hostile state that required opponents to adopt appropriate tactical responses but the repressive milieu goes back further. ANC efforts to mobilise the people were harshly repressed also in its early days, whether in sporadic attempts to organise black workers (such as among mine workers between 1918 and 1946, farm labourers in the Cape in 1929-33, or urban workers in Cape Town in the late twenties and thirties) or in more regular protests against the pass laws. Some ANC members thus had good reason to keep secrets from the state.


"When Your Leaders Are Arrested You Must Be Leaders Yourself"


Congress occupied an uneasy place in white South Africa. ANC delegations were met at high levels and mayors opened its congresses but even under the most moderate leaders, there was plenty to protest about. Congress combined constitutional tactics with more sporadic, if at times vigorous, campaigns of direct action. The latter invariably drew the hostility of whites or conservative blacks. The ensuing repression inclined members to consider more secret tactics and in the face of police surveillance of members and brutality against demonstrators, the arrest of radical leaders (for instance in 1918-19 and 1930-31) and the prohibition of some ANC meetings, sections of Congress appear almost para-legal. Thus, following the growth of mass support for Congress after it articulated protests against the 1913 Natives' Land Act, the state used an already-declared martial law declaration to stop its 1914 convention.32 In 1919, the Queenstown Congress Women's League told ANC agitator James Ngojo that local chiefs had been bribed to not attend ANC meetings. A meeting held in honour of SANNC President S. M. Makgatho was forced by conservatives to be held in a "white people's hall" to discourage attendance.33

In its first two decades, Congress did not accept a "tactical swing to violence" and "on the tactical issue of strike action ... was divided and hesitant."34 Yet, it did organise mass meetings against the Land Act, supported striking workers in 1918 and 1920, and co-ordinated passive resistance against pass laws. Many of these protests fizzled out as leaders put their faith in Imperial petitions or later were co-opted into moderate structures such as the Native Conferences or Joint Councils. However, deference to authority did not stop ANC leaders, in meetings with state officials, from raising thorny issues such as land rights, job discrimination, and the need to extend compensation to mine labourers and protect migrant labourers.35 Neither did it prevent local branches turning to more audacious tactics, a tendency aided by the highly decentralised ANC structure.
Tactical flexibility and diversity in Congress became apparent in World War I. Despite a SANNC pledge of wartime loyalty,36 some activists refused to stop campaigning for back rights. The more radical Transvaal Native Congress (TNC) sought to expose secret war policies. In 1916, a mass meeting under its auspices viewed "with a deep sense of horror" government's failure to publicise statistics on black war involvement and demanded fair compensation for dependants of war labourers.37 In the Natal Congress, Chief Stephen Mini adroitly combined professions of loyalty with complete rejection of a proposed Native Affairs Bill, whilst Josiah Gumede argued that black rights were more important than Empire loyalty.38

Pages from Gumede's life illustrate how some ANC leaders employed secrecy and openness in politics. In 1907, he was arrested for secretly leaving Natal without a pass.39 In 1916, he chose to keep to himself profits from transactions concluded under the same Land Act he opposed.40 In 1925 he demanded an open conference elected by the people, leading the state to privately view his rise to power in the Natal ANC as proof it had "fallen into the hands of extremists."41 In 1927, he attended an anti-imperialist conference in Brussels and visited the Soviet Union, manoeuvres involving great secrecy for an African living in a state paranoid about black contact with communists. Like later ANC leaders, he argued for black unity and for unity with communists to oppose white rule.42 He crossed discretely into Lesotho to meet with the radical Lekhotla la Bafo.43 He was open to the point of audacity. Impressed by leftist attitudes to the national question, he publicly proclaimed his alliance with communists. In the early 30s, Gumede exposed government falsehoods as editor of Abantu-Batho (see below).

Perhaps the most secretive episodes in early ANC history were in 1918-1920 when TNC radicalism and black worker militancy constituted a real challenge to state authority. The events are described elsewhere,44 but it is germane to revisit them to gauge the range of tactics, which involved considerable audacity and secrecy in the face of state repression. TNC radicals began to appreciate the need for clandestine communications as closer ties developed with the International Socialist League (ISL). The few Africans associated with the ISL were TNC activists: Levi Mvabaza; T.W. Thibedi; Daniel Letanka (TNC chair, 1916); Jeremiah Dunjwa (TNC secretary, 1919); Herbert Msane; and Horatio Bud-M'belle.45 The first TNC-ISL meeting took place in 1916 over the Land Act. In 1917, came joint protests, meetings at the Labour Council,46 and discussions on labour, out of which emerged the Industrial Workers of Africa, in which Bud-M'belle and Msane were prominent.47 Secrecy became vital when spies infiltrated the IWA. Just getting to meetings required discretion. Alfred Cetyiwe, a worker active in both groups, told an IWA meeting that "we are treated by sjambok and gaol, that is why you see this hall is not full."48

TNC activists began to challenge the system. They revealed the secrets of settler capitalism to their compatriots. Msane urged workers not to be content with striking for higher wages but to enrol comrades into the IWA on a class basis.49 Hamilton Kraai, a warehouse employee, explained exploitation by detailing the gold production process and unequal roles of white and black employees. He broadened his critique by arguing that not just employers but clerics were "press[ing] us under the capitalist class." Black workers already lived in Hell, so "we better unite comrades and abolish the capitalist classes that we can be safe in burning in the other hell."50 In June 1918, a secret committee of the IWA, ISL and TNC planned a general strike. Mvabaza urged strict secrecy.51

Another form of political secrecy occurred: behind-the-scenes decision-making. At mass meetings in June, Letanka declared "we shall form [the strike]... [with] ourselves as your leaders, and we shall tell you what to do." Mvabaza added: "If you ... workers listen to what we say as your leaders, you will surely succeed."52 This dirigisme was based on a contradiction between sympathy for exploited black workers (based on national identification) and a feeling of educational or class superiority. In common with moderate leaders, the radicals appealed to black unity and solidarity to justify their leadership.

Driven by frustration with state policy and economic hardship, TNC agitators called many mass meetings across the Transvaal in 1919 at which issues of passes and wages became entwined. They argued that since work contracts and passes caused the failure of black strikes they should be abolished.53 TNC agitation began to resonate with workers whose lives were deleteriously affected by passes. Boksburg detectives noted growing unrest on passes and wages after a TNC meeting at which workers "complained that the Pass Law did not give them a chance to travel about freely and get work." Police attributed the radical mood to local TNC Secretary Josiah Matshiqi, employed on the mines, who issued leaflets to workers and whom they feared would surreptitiously spread agitation to the mines.54 Only secret gambits could succeed inside compounds. TNC Pretoria Secretary T. D. Ditshego was denied permission to hold meetings inside railway and cement company compounds.55 However, TNC leaflets "freely circulated" inside E.R.P. mine compounds,56 and police saw a Springs mine strike as evidence of secret "propaganda work." Wesleyan minister Hlabangwane told Native Affairs that the TNC was "entirely responsible" for unrest in Pretoria. Protestors even disguised their names. When ten were arrested with a bag of passes, they all gave their name as "Congress."57

Rolling protests swept across the Rand. A rally of 3,000 people in March 1919 saw 2,000 passes collected; 4,000 attended a meeting in April. There was widespread talk of strikes and pass burning.58 Activists experimented with proletarian tactics that in the South African context required great secrecy. At meetings in Vrededorp in April, it was agreed to urge workers to strike and to picket work places. Groups of 20-30 people were chosen to stop others from working.59 In Johannesburg thousands marched, with pickets accused of "molest[ing]" employees. The worker "Japie" recounted how TNC radicals entered his workshop and told all Africans "to stop work and join [Congress]."60

These protests were met by 700 arrests.61 Congress leaders protested their loyalty and a contemporary protest card drew on diverse symbols: a Union Jack; a declaration against oppression; and a plea "for justice. We are loyal" (figure 2). However, repression drove them to bolder and more secret tactics. At Vrededorp in May, a TNC leader told a crowd of 200 that Africans had "opened a new Congress there on the hill," referring to the gaol.62 Women were mobilised to penetrate the mines. Congress - in ways reminiscent of the UDF in the 1980s - promptly replaced its arrested leaders. A speaker advised protesters: "when your leaders are arrested you must be leaders yourself."63

African miners were prominent in TNC campaigns in 1919, attending meetings in large numbers. A week before a strike of 71,000 miners in 1920, police reported two dozen "educated natives" had penetrated compounds with leaflets.64 When the strike was repressed, the TNC did not stand aloof. It vigorously condemned the sjamboking of strikers and convened large solidarity meetings.65 Congress activists found themselves supporting strikers who were "drilling in companies," erecting barricades, and facing police shootings.66 To operate in such conditions required a high level of secrecy. Messages were passed by word of mouth or by leaflets. Open means of operating also were found. Abantu-Batho, declared TNC organ in 1918,67 sympathetically reported black protests and strikes, and explained their causes. It served as an organising tool, directing Africans to make campaign donations via its offices and publishing lists of donors.68


Figure 2. TNC anti-pass card (source: JUS 3/527/17)


Congress thus began to develop flexible tactics combining openness and secrecy. It used networks that permeated black communities. A Native Affairs official noted the Rand "is a good hunting ground for [Congress] .... It was well organised and knew in half an hour what was happening."69 This militancy had its price. Company-funded newspapers and state initiatives soon choked off radical protests. The TNC continued to protest police brutality against workers70 and in 1923 organised meetings over land scarcity among rural toilers. Farmers blamed rural strikes in 1924 on TNC activists. TNC Secretary Moses Mphahlele in 1928 took up the case of workers "involved [and] coerced into" a strike, but his apology to the employer for "the actions of these misguided Natives"71 shows the triumph of moderation. In other provinces, the ANC was less radical but there are many other examples of its leaders attempting to unify, mobilise and lead blacks against injustice though in a more moderate manner.72 In doing so, they sometimes turned to secrecy


"Secrets and Lies" of Moderate ANC Leaders


Moderate leaders confronted "secrets and lies" in diverse ways. Some exaggerated ANC or their own support by "little white lies." Z. R. Mahabane in 1926 and again in 1927 gave ANC "membership" as 100,000: undoubtedly an exaggeration but meant to suggest support, as he conceded that "we have no paying members."73 Such practices are common in politics as all political organisations seek to maximise their support through propaganda.

ANC moderates grappled with the dilemma of how fully to expose the secrets of white domination whilst remaining true to liberal convictions that discouraged revolutionary solutions. Many glimpsed mass suffering attendant upon the Land Act. This made them more aware of government duplicity and, together with pressure of black protest, at times pushed them to positions that were more radical. Solomon Plaatje, first SANNC Secretary-General, is not associated by historians with strikes. Yet, in the maelstrom of mass action of 1918, he told a TNC strike meeting that the recent killing of an African by a white man for his horse "shows that we will be shot down as dogs, as the ... magistrate said to the natives arrested while demanding an increase to their wages."74 This lapse into radical rhetoric should not be exaggerated. Plaatje protested his loyalty to Empire and rejected radical socialism. This did not, however, stop police from secretly monitoring his movements for years.75 Yet, his attitude to labour was complex. He was justifiably suspicious of white labour and accused the Labour Party of secretly conspiring with the state to reserve jobs for whites.76 He was well aware of the atrocious conditions of African workers and sympathetic to their plight, which he exposed repeatedly in the press.77 Interviewed in Britain by Labour Leader in 1919, he even conceded that "the only people from whom we have any sympathy and support are the International Socialists."78 That he avoided making such statements publicly in South Africa suggests that ANC moderates chose to not tell the full story due to their political philosophy or fear of social ostracism if their views were deemed too radical by the Establishment.
Various ANC leaders engaged in unethical leadership practices. Some deserted their supporters. Walter Rubusana as SANNC Vice-President opposed the effects of the Land Act on rural toilers, but he feared class struggle. In 1918, when East London workers threatened to strike, he aligned himself with the white mayor and the following year completely Congress.79 Allan Soga, a Congress founder who championed black labour rights in the first decade of the century, became trapped in the public service "no-politics" rule, left the ANC for the Bantu Union."80 In the early 1920s, many ANC moderate leaders allowed themselves to be diverted from urgent ANC tasks to join with white liberals to form the Joint Council.81

Others resorted to opportunism. James Thaele, a Cape ANC leader of the 20s, deftly switched allegiances between radicals and moderates. Inspired by Garveyism, he used ANC funds in risky business ventures such as the "Parthenon" in Cape Town (an effort to show the ANC's "visible aristocracy") or unrealistic labour bureaux to find work for members.82 The ANC's reputation among Africans tempted some unscrupulous people to deceive supporters about their credentials. Theodore Mvalo, expelled from Congress in 1924 but later reinstated, masqueraded as a leader. In 1925, G. G. Tantsi of the ANC-Transkeian Territories (ANC-TT) alleged that he had, without authority, solicited money in the name of Congress.83 However, local leaders also championed justice. In 1927, ANC-TT Secretary Abner Madalane lobbied government over popular grievances. He stressed the lack of legitimacy of the state-appointed Bunga84 and, citing cases of exploitation of youths by labour recruiters, demanded the Native Recruiting Corporation be abandoned as it was "nothing but slavery and injustice."85

The 1930 rise to the ANC Presidency of Seme, a champion of Booker T. Washington's black capitalist philosophy, ushered in what is widely regarded as a period of ANC stagnation. He sounded a clear warning to radicals. The government, he argued, did not want to see ANC people "go about stirring up strife."86 His views reflected ideas common to other moderates but he went further and resorted to outright deception. At the 1931 ANC conference he claimed Prime Minister Hertzog was "a man of conviction," a view "not well received" by delegates. He used the departure of delegates to declare vacant positions of opponents. In November, he was accused of seeking to strip provincial leaders and the ANC Secretary of power.87 Seme adopted a secretive leadership style. His "ministers" accused him of "culpable inertia" in failing to convene conventions, consult, or attend meetings. He postponed a conference only two days before it was due. The legality of voting procedures was challenged in 1930 and in 1933 when he was re-elected on votes of proxies of doubtful representation.88
Seme was well aware of state hostility to black demands. Did he exaggerate the need to be subservient to protect his privileged life-style or was he a prisoner to ideology? He earned a comfortable living as an attorney from 1911, but the fact that he later was struck off for unethical legal practices suggests a deeper corruption as does his profiting from the Land Act.89 His flawed leadership illustrates what can happen in organisations when checks and balances fail to control autocratic tendencies. However, members found ways around the torpor induced by Seme. Despite a pronounced lethargy, the ANC attempted spasmodically to recover. In 1931, 1932, 1933 and 1936 it initiated anti-pass protests, attracting to its ranks some militants, such as the worker Bertha Mkhize.90 Another avenue of re-birth was self-criticism and openness. Leadership inertia under Seme spawned a plethora of criticism91 in the face of which there was little choice but to tell the truth. Seme admitted in 1934 that the ANC treasury was bare. ANC Secretary Elijah Mdolomba conceded that decline arose when leaders "were enfeebled by wealth."92 Much of this criticism was aired through the press.

ANC Openness and the Black Press

Congress could be frank about its weaknesses. It openly declared 1925 as "perhaps [its] worse year."93 It also openly courted legitimacy, asserting the historical injustice of African dispossession which provided the ANC with an antidote to historical amnesia: Africans did not have to lie about their predicament; it simply could not be forgotten when they were daily confronted with their loss of land and rights. ANC writers also began to manufacture a counter-history.94 These trends were evident in the press, notably the pro-ANC black press.
From its origins, the pro-Congress press played two key roles: exposing the secrets of white domination that the white-owned press chose to keep hidden from readers and providing a forum for criticism of and by Congress members. Izwi Labantu ("Voice of the People" 1897-1909) editor Allan Soga saw Congress' role as one of confronting "all questions affecting the social problems and welfare" of blacks and he regularly exposed their harsh treatment. Yet, at times, he hesitated to tell the truth. In 1908, he reported "letters sent to us for publication complaining of evil treatment" on Rand mines, but refused to publish them "as the interests affected [were] too great and the consequences too far reaching to be satisfactorily dealt with in the press" and as labour complaints should first be supported by a "responsible body." Such prevarication is a case of "not telling," although some other workers' letters were published.95

A vivid instance of openness was the willingness of Abantu-Batho editors Josiah Gumede and Daniel Letanka to speak their mind. Attracted by growing leftist support for national liberation, they dared publish articles by communists.96 Abantu-Batho combined fierce criticism of both the white state and black moderates, attacking the "falseness and falsehood" of Hertzog97 and castigating blacks who "do not support the throwing away or burning of passes."98 It attacked Seme's "clique" that "excluded the masses," accused him of harbouring state agents and unambiguously condemned "a class of traitors among our native leadership."99 After its demise, African Leader was established in 1932 as an unofficial ANC organ. ANC Secretary Mweli Skota was editor and it attracted other ANC writers.100 It published Seme's statements but encouraged a spirit of openness and inner-party criticism. Its editorials, writers, and correspondents accused Seme of making ANC policy "over the heads" of the Executive and demanded instead an ANC program "competent to appeal to the masses."101 African Leader sought "to place before the public the claims of thousands of our unhappy and unfortunate compatriots employed on private farms." The ANC should act on their plight, "otherwise any invitation to farm labourers to join the Congress which does not hold out a definite ideal for the improvement of their lot must be robbery."102 This epitomised the dilemma Africans faced in the 30s with a concerned but effete ANC.

Practically, Congress could not lead. Neither could African Leader, which ceased publication in 1933.
Given the neglect of African demands by the state and in the white press, black newspapers became a medium through which the secrets and lies of white rule could be exposed, but so too the weaknesses and corruption of ANC leaders.


The history of the inner life of Congress shows it was a complex movement with both moderate and radical, and secretive and open tendencies. The persistence of these dual trends helps explain why the post-1960 ANC exhibited authoritarian traits yet did not succumb to policies of secrecy. Instances of "not telling" will continue under the Mbeki administration as under all governments. Perhaps the tendency to secrecy could be checked by a revival of the ANC press, as Govan Mbeki dreams.103 It is also probable, if the past is any guide that from within the ANC forces will continue to assert the need for truth and openness.



1 T. Lodge, "Policy Processes within the African National Congress and the Tripartite Alliance" Politikon v. 26 no. 1 1999, pp. 5-32.

2 M. Meredith, Nelson Mandela: a Biography (London: H. Hamilton, 1997) pp. 411, 40.

3 B. Bozzoli, "Public Ritual and Private Transition: the Truth Commission in Alexandra Township, South Africa 1996" African Studies vol. 57, no. 2 1998, pp.167-196, p.168.

4 N. Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: the Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (London: Little/Brown, 1994); G. Bizos, No One to Blame?: In Pursuit of Justice in South Africa (Cape Town: D. Philip, 1998).

5 S. Ellis and T. Sechaba, Comrades against Apartheid: the ANC and the SACP in Exile (London: Currey, 1992); TRC. Report (1998) v.2 pp.359-60; M. Mayekiso, Township Politics (NY: Monthly Review, 1996).

6 R. Campbell, Truth and Historicity (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992).

7 M. Heidegger, Basic Questions of Philosophy (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994) pp. 14, 95.

8 F. Fernández-Armesto, Truth: a History (London: Bantam Press, 1997), pp. xi, 2.

9 D. Nyberg, The Varnished truth: Truth Telling and Deceiving in Ordinary Life (U Chicago Press, 1993).

10 T. Mbeki, Africa: the Time Has Come: Selected Speeches (Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1998), p.i

11 See the debate on "Kwame Nkrumah's Writings" on <> 6-7 May 1999.

12 N. Etherington, "Visible Topography of Rural South Africa" African Studies Centre of Western Australia seminar, Oct. 1998.

13 Critics who decry the "historicity" of a view must weigh their own bias. In disputes about the validity of past events, protagonists tend to appeal to the authority of "objective" criteria: A. B. Spitzer, Historical Truth and Lies about the Past (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), pp.1-5, 117-21.

14 To Felix Guattari, any notion of universal truth is a mirage as under capitalism meta-languages express statements of authority merely to impose a notion of 'universal' truth. F. Guattari, Molecular Revolution: Psychiatry and Politics (Penguin, 1984), pp.144-145. On South Africa and postmodernism see T. Nuttall and J. Wright, "Exploring beyond History with a Capital 'H'" Current Writing v. 10 no. 2 1998, pp.38-61.

15 See Kwasi Wiredu, Philosophy and an African Culture (Cambridge University Press, 1980) chapter 8.

16 E. Wyschogrod, An Ethics of Remembering: History, Heterology, and the Nameless Others (U Chicago Press, 1998) p.2. For example in 1949 Australian historian Fred Alexander precariously balanced the need for objectivity (as seen in his attendance at events ranging from the Voortrekker Monument inauguration to meetings of liberals) with a desire to expose dangerous trends in apartheid policy and support struggles of the oppressed (as seen in his meetings with ANC President James Moroka). See P. Limb, "An Australian Historian at the Dawn of Apartheid: Fred Alexander in South Africa 1949-50" (forthcoming).

17 See S. Nuttall and C. Coetzee (eds.), Negotiating the Past: the Making of Memory in South Africa (Cape Town: OUP, 1998).

18 G. Lerna, Why History Matters: Life and Thought (New York: OUP, 1997), p.52.

19 M. Guibernau, Nationalisms: the Nation-State & Nationalism in the 20th Century (Polity, 1996) p. 81.

20 F.Z. Peregrino, "The S.A. Native National Congress: What It Is" Tsala ea Becoana 30 Mar. 1912.

21 P. Walshe, The Rise of African Nationalism in South Africa (Johannesburg: Donker, 1970), p.243; A. Cobley, Class and Consciousness: the Black Petty Bourgeoisie in South Africa 1924 to 1950 (New York: Greenwood, 1990), p.170; M. Benson, South Africa: The Struggle for a Birthright (London: Faber, 1964) p.164; F. Meli, South Africa Belongs to Us: a History of the ANC (London: Currey, 1989), pp.37-44.

22 Walshe, The Rise of African Nationalism p.34.

23 Imvo Zabantsundu 10 June, 15 July 1913, 9, 16 July, 17 Sept., 19, 27 Nov., 3, 24 Dec. 1918.

24 J. Lonsdale, "Some Origins of Nationalism in East Africa" J. African History v. 9 1968, pp. 119-46; B. Davidson, The Black Man's Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State (Currey, 1992), pp.163-66.

25 Tsala ea Batho 14 Mar. 1914. See T.D. Mweli Skota (ed.) The African Yearly Register (Johannesburg: Esson, 1932) pp.137, 175, 273 for notes on some artisans and workers who joined Congress.

26 H. Bradford, A Taste of Freedom: the ICU in Rural South Africa (New Haven: Yale, 1987) p.15 warns against "strait-jacketing of struggles within extremely schematic categories ... [such as] 'petit bourgeois.'"

27 P. Delius, "Sebatakgomo and the Zoutpansberg Balemi Association" J. of African History v.34 1993, pp.293-313; J. Cherry, "The Making of an African Working Class, Port Elizabeth 1925-63" MA, UCT 1992; W. Hofmeyr, "Agricultural Crisis and Rural Organisation in the Cape 1929-33" MA UCT, 1985.

28 A. Odendaal, Vukani Bantu (Cape Town: D.Philip, 1984), pp. 286, 8-21; Odendaal, "'Even White Boys Call Us 'Boy'': Early Black Organisational Politics in Port Elizabeth," Kronos no. 20, 1993, pp.3-16.

29 One scours in vain E.A. Walker, A History of South Africa (London: Longmans, 1928) for mention of the ANC. A more extreme example is Professor J. P. Duminy's call for history to be banned as a school subject after black militancy in 1946 led to public hysteria among whites: Cape Times 11 Oct. 1946.

30 Sunday Times 21 July 1918.

31 See P. Limb, "The ANC and Black Workers in South Africa: Continuity and Change in their Relationships before 1940," Ph.D., University of Western Australia, 1997, chapters 4, 6, 8.

32 Tsala ea Batho 15 Nov. 1913, 10 Feb., 31 Jan., 14 Mar. 1914.

33 S. Mgedeza (spy) to CID Johannesburg, June 1919 in Dept. of Justice file [hereafter JUS] 3/527/17.

34 Walshe, Rise of African Nationalism pp.73-75.

35 Tsala ea Batho 6 Apr. 1912; J. Dube to Chief Lekoko 13 Apr. 1912, in Molema-Plaatje Papers, Cullen Library, University of the Witwatersrand; Tsala 14, 28 Nov. 1914, 23 Jan. 1915.

36 "The Natives & the War" Tsala 29 Aug. 1914; Seme, "Native National Congress" Tsala 17 July 1915.
37 TNC "Resolution" 11 Dec. 1916, Transvaal Archives Depot [TAD], NTS 7204 17/326; International 16 June 1916.

38 Natives Land Commission 1916-18 (UG32-18); Minutes of Evidence before the Select Committee on Native Affairs 1917 (SC6A-17), p.647. See also "Owasekaya" to Tsala 29 May 1915.

39 In protest, he cabled British socialist Keir Hardie for help: Natal Archives, SNA 1/1/369 1907/1420.

40 SC 6A-17 pp.618-26; NAD CNC 226B 1916/29, 224 1915/1359, 253 1916/1464, 326 1918/1752.

41 SNA to Chief Native Commissioner Natal (CNCN) 23 July 1925, Gumede to M. Alexander n.d., CNCN to SNA 28 July 1925, NA 17/328; "Non-European Political Organisations in the Union" 1926, NA 39/362.

42 South African Worker 31 Dec. 1929.

43 Ilanga lase Natal 25 Mar. 1927; SA Worker 1, 15 Apr. 1927, 2, 30 Mar. 1928; Umteteli wa Bantu 14 Apr. 1928; Sechaba Dec. 1982 pp.20-27; Meli, South Africa Belongs to Us, p.77.

44 F. Johnstone, Class, Race and Gold (London: Routledge, 1976) pp.173ff; P. Bonner, "Transvaal Native Congress, 1917-20: the Radicalisation of the Black Petty Bourgeoisie on the Rand" in S. Marks and R. Rathbone (eds.) Industrialisation and Social Change in S. Africa (London: Longman, 1982) pp.270-313.

45 International 18 Feb., 2, 9 June 1916, 3 May 1918; Abantu-Batho 18 July 1918; J. King to SA Police [SAP] 12 May 1919 JUS 3/527/17; Abantu-Batho 15 May 1919, TAD 7204 17/326; Imvo 16 July 1918.

46 International 8 June, 9, 16 Mar., 5 May 1917: Bud-M'belle was invited to address the May Day rally.

47 "Internationalist Socialistic Meeting" 19 July, 15, 22 Nov. 1917, tr. of H. Msane, "IWA" Abantu-Batho 22 Nov. 1917, in JUS 3/527/17; International 21 July 1916, 30 Nov. 1917; Sunday Times 28, 7 July 1918.

48 SAP reports 15 Nov., 14 Sept., 24 Oct. 1917, 14, 17 Jan., 4 July 1918, SNA letter Oct. 1917, "IWA enrolled" [Nov. 1917?], all in JUS 3/527/17. See also Sunday Times 7 July 1918.

49 SAP. "IWA" 27 June 1918, GNLB 281 446/17/D48; SA Law Reports (Transvaal) 2 June 1919 p.197.

50 SAP. "IWA" 27, 13 June 1918, GNLB 281 446/17/D48; Carter Karis Collection [CKC] 2: XK20:96.

51 SAP. "TNC," "IWA" [12, 13 June 1918], GNLB 281 446/17/D48; International 5 July 1918.

52 SAP reports 29 June 1918, GNLB 281 446/17/D48.

53 SAP on TNC meetings 1, 17 Dec. 1918 att. to SAP to Sec. Justice [SJ] 4, 23 Dec. 1918, JUS 3/527/17.

54 Report of Commission of Enquiry into Native Unrest...1919, SAP reports on Boksburg TNC, 27, 30, 29 Apr., 1 May 1919, JUS 3/527/17; Rand Daily Mail 28 Apr. 1919.

55 T.D. Ditshego to H. Thipe 25 Apr. 1919, DNA to SNA 30 Apr. 1919, 481/141/19, TAD 7204 17/326.

56 Tr. of leaflet, 22 May 1919 and SAP reports 8 May, 8 July 1919, JUS 3/527/17; Star 1 Apr. 1919.

57 SAP Witbank 29 Jan. 1919, "Diary re...Unrest"; CID, 7 Apr. 1919 "Unrest ... at Springs mines"; SAP Springs 1 Apr. 1919, JUS 3/527/1; "Native Unrest: Pretoria" 5 May 1919, TAD 7204 17/326.

58 Star 31 March, 4 April 1919.

59 SAP on TNC meetings 12, 26 Jan., 9, 23 Feb., 3, 4, 11, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 Apr. 1919, TNC leaflet Apr. 1919, SAP, "Native Unrest 1919" 10 Apr. 1919, SAP on TNC meeting 3 Apr. 1919: all in JUS 3/527/17.

60 Star 3, 21 Mar. 1919; affidavits of O. Field, S. Seider, "Japie" 12, 14 Apr. 1919, JUS 3/527/17.

61 E. Roux, Time Longer than Rope (London: Gollancz, 1948) p.128; Walshe, African nationalism p. 83.

62 SAP reports of TNC meetings 18 May, 28-29 June, 16, 20 Sept., 5 Dec. 1919, in JUS 3/527/17.

63 SAP on TNC meetings 3 Apr., 5 Jan. 1919, attached to SAP to SJ 9 Jan. 1919, in JUS 3/527/17.

64 Abantu-Batho 15 May 1919 in NTS 7204; Dunjwa to Mag. Potchefstroom 7 Aug. 1919; SAP on TNC meetings June, 30 Oct., 27 Nov, 5 Dec. 1919: JUS 26/351; Johnstone, Class p.179; Star 1 Apr. 1919.

65 International 27 Feb. 1920; Star 18-19 Feb. 1920; Rand Daily Mail 20, 24-27 Feb. 1920; SAP Western Area to SAP Fordsburg "Native Unrest" 1 Mar. 1920, JUS 4/719/A. Cf. Bonner, "Transvaal Congress."

66 Star 18 Feb. 1920; Rand Daily Mail 20, 27-28 Feb. 1920; International 27 Feb. 1920; Report of A/D Command West Rand SAP 26 Feb., 1 Mar. 1920; SAP reports 2, 4 Mar. 26 Feb. 1920: JUS 6/757/20/1/B.

67 TNC. Constitution, s.19, TAD NTS 17/326; SAP on TNC meetings June, 12 Jan. 1919, JUS 3/527/17.

68 Abantu-Batho 24 Oct. 1918, tr. in JUS 3/527/7; Abantu-Batho 15 May 1919, tr. in NA 1217/14/D110; Abantu-Batho Feb. 1920; Abantu-Batho 3 April 1919, TAD DNL309 125/19048 cited in Bonner, "Native Congress" p.300; SAP on TNC meetings 1, 17 Dec. 1918, 23 Feb. 1919, JUS 3/527/17.

69 Rand Daily Mail 1 Mar., 25 Feb. 1920. In contrast, the ISL conceded that it "had no means of getting the workers' version." "The Great Native Strike" International 27 Feb. 1920.

70 C. van Onselen, The Seed Is Mine (Cape Town: Philip, 1996) p.151; DNL to SNA 14 Oct. 1920, "Arrest of Natives on Alluvial Diamond Diggings" TAD JUS 3/1007/20.

71 Abantu-Batho 23 Nov. 1922 cited in Walshe, Nationalism p.212; R. Morrell "African Land Purchase and the 1913 Natives Land Act in the Eastern Transvaal" South African Hist. J. v. 21 1989, pp.1-18, p.15; M. Murray, "'Burning the Wheat Stacks': Land Clearances and Agrarian Unrest along the Northern Middleburg Frontier, c.1918-1926" JSAS v.15 1988 pp.74-95 p.78; ANC. Records of Work Done (1928).

72 See, for instance, Limb, "The ANC and Black Workers in South Africa," chapters 4, 6, 8.

73 Walshe, Nationalism pp. 65, 239-244. Membership estimates vary from 1,000-4,000 in the inter-war years: SC on Native Affairs (SC10A-20) p.27; SC on the Subject of the Native Bills (SC10-27) p.299.

74 Report on TNC meeting 12 June 1918, TAD GNLB 281 446/17/D48. He refers to the "bucket" strike.

75 SAP to SJ re Plaatje's movements in 1923, JUS J269. H.S. Msimang, a moderate who sought to restrain worker militancy, was similarly regarded as an "agitator": "Report on Communism in SA" 21 Feb. 1921, JUS.

76 Tsala ea Batho 14 Mar. 1914.

77 See P. Limb, "'Representing the Labouring Classes': African Workers in the African Nationalist Press, 1900-60" in L. Switzer and M. Adhikari (eds.) South Africa's Alternative Press v. 2 (forthcoming).

78 Plaatje, "Homeless! Landless! Outlawed!" Labour Leader 1919 reproduced in English in Africa v. 3 no. 2 1976) pp.59-63. Cf. "Native Life at the Alluvial Diggings" Daily Dispatch 7 May 1927, ibid., pp.64-67.

79 SAP "Native Unrest...East London" 29 Aug. 1918, Abantu-Batho 29 Aug., 5 Sept. 1918, JUS 3/527/17

80 Chief Magistrate [CM] Umtata to District Council Kentani 3 Jan. 1930; Kentani Vigilance Association to District Council Kentani 6 Feb. 1930, Cape Archives Depot (CAD) 1/KNT 40/12.

81 J.D.R. Jones, "Brief Report on the Joint Council Movement" June 1933 in "Records Relating to the Joint Councils of Europeans and Natives 1929-40"; R. Haines, "The Politics of Philanthropy and Race Relations: the Joint Councils of South Africa, c1920-55" Ph.D. University of London, 1991.

82 African World 10 Oct. 1925, 24 July 1926; "...Meeting at Sterkspruit 27/4/29" CAD 2/SPT 16, N1/9/3.

83 T.D. Mweli Skota, "ANC Secretary Generla's Report" 1925, CKC 2:DA14:30/65; Tantsi to CM Transkeian Territories (CMTT) 22 Apr. 1925, CMTT to Tantsi Apr. 1925: CAD CMT 3/1471 42/C.

84 Madalane to Mag. Tsomo 15 Oct. 1927, Mag. Tsomo to CMTT, 20 Oct. 1927, CAD CMT 3/1471 42/C

85 A. C. Madalane, ANC Cofimvaba, to Secretary of Justice, 20 May 1927, CAD CMT 3/1471 42/C.

86 P. Seme, "Condemn the Spirit of Sedition" Bantu World 7 Apr. 1934.

87 Umteteli wa Bantu 24 Jan., 18 Apr., 23 May 1931; R.V. Selope Thema, "ANC" ibid. 14 Nov. 1931.

88 Abantu-Batho 3, 19 Mar., 24 Apr., 7 May 1931; Umsebenzi 16 Jan. 1931; Umteteli wa Bantu 8 July 1933; H.S. Msimang, "Big ANC Controversy" Umteteli wa Bantu 18 Nov. 1933.

89 Umteteli wa Bantu 29 Apr. 1933. R. Morrell, "African Land Purchase and the 1913 Natives Land Act in the Eastern Transvaal" South African Historical Journal v. 21 1989, pp.1-18, pp.15-17.

90 Izwi lama Afrika 26 June 1931; Bantu World 23 July 1932; African Leader 10 Dec. 1932, 18 Feb. 1933; Umteteli wa Bantu 27 June, 3 May 1931; Ilanga lase Natal 3 July 1931; Bradford, Taste p.110.

91 E. Masibe-Langa to Umteteli 6 Aug. 1932; G. Coka, "Congress Wash-Out" Umsebenzi 25 Aug. 1934.

92 Seme in Bantu World 14 Apr. 1934; Mdolomba to Bantu World 11 Jan., 14 Mar. 1936.

93 Mweli Skota, "ANC Report" 1925.

94 P. Limb, "'Thrilling Stories of Bloody Encounters': Representations of Workers, and References to History, in the South African Black Press, 1897-1997" paper to AFSAAP Conference, Melbourne, 1998.

95 Izwi LaBantu (East London) 4 Nov. 1902, 29 Sep., 13 Oct., 19, 26 May, 21 July 1908, 16 Mar. 1909.

96 Skota, Register p.439; Abantu-Batho 1, 15 May 5, 17 June 1930; A.N[zula], "The Tyranny of the Pass Laws & Pin Pricks" ibid. 25 Sept.1930; C. Baker, "Imperialism in Practice" ibid. 4, 11 Sept. 1930.

97 Abantu-Batho 1, 15, 22 May, 5, 17 June, 18 Sept. 1930, 25 June 1931; "The Plight of Native Labourers on the Diggings" ibid. 17 July, 9 Oct. 1930; ibid. 3, 24 July, 28 Aug., 18 Sept. 1930, 7 May 1931.

98 Abantu-Batho 27 Nov. 1930.

99 Abantu-Batho 12, 19 Feb., 3, 19 Mar., 9, 16, 30 Apr., 25 June 1931 5, 19 June, 3, 17 July, 4 Dec. 1930.

100 African Leader 19 Nov., 31 Dec., 19 Nov. 1932; S. Mbulawa, "The Native Press" ibid. 28 Jan. 1933.

101 African Leader 19 Nov., 31 Dec. 1932, 6 May, 1, 15, 29 Apr., 11 Feb., 18 Mar. 1933.

102 African Leader 31 Dec. 1932, 11 Feb. 1933. The press engaged in vitriolic name-calling verging on lying. The Communist Party characterised Gumede as "timid" and labelled Congress "a servant of the imperialist bourgeoisie": Umsebenzi 18 Apr. 1930, 16 Jan., 27 Mar., 4 Sept. 1931. Seme and Thaele were "scum of the African intellectuals." Some communists such as Moses Kotane associated with the ANC combined criticism with support: Umsebenzi 27, 13 Jan. 1934. The criticisms are valid yet ANC leaders often held ambiguous positions. Just as Seme praised Hertzog for laying the "foundation of a great temple of justice" his newspaper warned blacks to expect nothing from white rule (Ikwezi le Afrika 9 May 1931).

103 Personal communication with the author, 1994.