Letter from Sam Mbah to WSF, 1999

Letter from the late Sam Mbah, of the now-defunct Nigerian anarcho-syndicalist formation, the Awareness League, to the South African-based Workers Solidarity Federation (WSF). Dated 12 April 1999, the letter  arrived in South Africa around the time the WSF was heading for dissolution. In the letter, the WSF was granted the right to republish Sam Mbah and IE. Igariwey’s classic text, the 1997 African Anarchism: the history of a movement (See Sharp, Tucson, USA); the letter also mentions a planned speaking tour of South Africa by Mbah (which fell through), and a proposed Pan-African Anarchist Conference in South Africa (including Africans from the diaspora). The WSF and the Awareness League always sought to build close ties, but these were primarily by post and, given unreliable services and serious repression in Nigeria, somewhat sporadic; email was not used, mainly because this was extrenely rare in Nigeria at the time.The 1990s WSF actively pursued links with other African anarchists and syndicalists, mainly in (officially) English-speaking countries: it had a section in Zambia, shipped materials to Zimbabwe;  regarding West Africa, had contacts with the Awareness League and a short-lived Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union amongst diamond miners in Sierra Leone (also in contact via post);it had some erratic contacts with Egypt. Mbah, sadly, passed away from heart problems in late 2014. By all accounts, the Awareness League disappeared in the 2000s,

Mbah’s letter is here


About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m 10th generation South African, born and bred. I have long been involved in union education, and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented or published 450+ papers, including conferences and workshops, co-edited 4 journal specials (on global and African labour history, and the left), and produced five books. Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). I won the 2008 international ‘Labor History’ PhD thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) award for best African dissertation, for my thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. I have also done research in Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.