Tag Archives: Esau du Plessis

“Don’t Squeeze a South African Dry!”

28 May

object archives

HUGH CROSFIELD

“Each trade agreement, each product bought, each bank loan, each new investment is another brick in the wall of our continued existence.” (South African Prime Minister John Vorster in the Johannesburg Star 26.8.72)

The snow rolled up six feet on either side of the road. As the car swept into a cleared driveway it was as if a giant white blanket had dropped from the sky and feathered itself upon the land for as far as eyes could see. But the land, it seemed, would not be subdued. Timber, trunks, glass and tiles pushed their way upwards to emboss their form on the darning and rip vertical holes filled with colours, textures and reflections invisible to Google Earth. It was here, in one of these holes under the snow, that I began to learn some of the historical geographies of the above image. I wanted to understand how…

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Introducing ‘racism here apartheid there’

17 Mar

Europe, by Mazisi Kunene

apocalypse fire

Europe, your foundations

Are laid on rough stone.

Your heart is like cobwebs

That dry in the desert.

Your children fill us with fear:

They are like the young of the puff adder

Who devour the flesh of their parent.

Once I believed the tales.

Once I believed you had breasts

Over-flowing with milk.

I saw you rushing with books

From which the oracles derive their prophecies.

I heard you in the forest

Crying like wolves,

Breaking the bones of your clans.

I know the hardness of your visions:

You closed the doors

And chose the bridegroom of steel.

You chose her not to love

But because she alone remained

Dedicated to silence.

From her you made your prophecies

And summoned the oracles:

You laughed at the blind men

But you yourself were blind,

Struggling in this great night.

Children have inherited the fire.

They blow its flames to the skies

Burning others in their sleep.

What will the sun say?

The sun will laugh

Because it burnt out cradles from age to age.

Image

 Mazisi Kunene, (1930-2006) and Mathabo Kunene

Poem translated from Zulu. Kunene, M (1975) ‘Europe’, in Soyinka, W (Ed.), Poems of Black Africa. Ibadan: Heinemann, pp. 20

‘What Does Apartheid Mean To You?’: Video Interview with BOA Leader Esau du Plessis

23 Feb

In this brief video extract the former leader of Boycott Outspan Action communicates some personal meanings of apartheid:

Social Politics and the ‘Home Front’ of Consumer Boycotts

3 Dec

During a recent BBC radio four program that hosted Rob Harrison, the editor of the ethical consumer magazine, I was left feeling a little frustrated as people phoned in to talk about  consumer boycotts (Call You and Yours – 21st November). The host, Julian Worricker, did a fine job in covering plenty of ground in the time allocated. However, there seemed to be a skepticism over what consumer boycotts could actually achieve. This became particularly apparent when Worricker suggested that it might be impossible to know if anti-apartheid boycotts achieved tangible success. Admittedly the show was tailored to fit the consumer topic de rigueure* (boycott action and divestment over tax evasion, by the likes of Google, Amazon and Starbucks), but I felt that a little bit of history would have gone a long way. Sarah Emily Duff, a South African historian,  does an innovative job summarizing some of this history on her website on food and power – tangerineandcinnemon.

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A Visual Introduction to Boycott Outspan Action and the Blood-Citrus Topos

17 Oct

Over the last two years I have been researching the work of the radical anti-apartheid and anti-racist organization, Boycot Outspan Actie (Boycott Outspan Action). Founded in 1972 in Leiden, Holland, the BOA were led by the charismatic South African exile, Esau du Plessis.  After first contacting du Plessis in 2010, I have interviewed many key BOA activists and associates in Sweden and Holland; during this time I have been fortunate enough to have access to a range of compelling sources stored in private archives and correspondence. Much of this research will be published in my thesis in 2013. Here, as a little taster, I would like to provide you with a visual introduction to the organization that reworked the blood-sugar topos into a powerful anti-apartheid weapon.

The author in conversation with the former leader of the BOA, Esau du Plessis, at his home in Sweden

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Introducing Boycot Outpan Aktie (1972-1994)

24 Sep

 

Boycott Outspan Action were an innovative European anti-apartheid and anti racism organization of the 1970s and 80s. The BOA were one of several widely supported Dutch anti-apartheid organizations that emerged in the period between the Sharpeville massacre (1960) and the Soweto killings (1976). However, among this group the BOA were unique in that they prioritized action and worker solidarity over rhetoric, they were highly critical of Dutch government’s official and unofficial relationship with apartheid South Africa, and they saw apartheid as a terrible but wholly logical extension of European racism.

Jennifer McLaren

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