Some notes on the “Azanian Anarchist Alliance,” 1991-1993

The Azanian Anarchist Alliance (AAA) was a small group at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), in Johannesburg, South Africa, formed in 1991. It was probably the first organised anarchist group in the country in decades.

One of the founders, HG, co-published the radical zine Social Blunder with his brother NG, in the Indian townshipof  Lenasia, south of Soweto and Johannesburg. The group’s politics were a mix of class struggle, radical environmentalism, anti- apartheid and third worldism. The group tried to promote anarchism in various ways. On 8 August 1991, the group called an unsuccessful protest against Unilever, which was recruiting at Wits. That year it also published the pamphlets Anti-Mass, Sam Dolgoff’s Relevance of Anarchism to Modern Society, and Peggy Kornegger’s Anarchism: the Feminist Connection. These were typed up from the few compilations of anarchist texts available locally, and given short introductions in an effort to link them to South African conditions. In 1992, the AAA produced Revolt magazine: there was only one issue, but it was numbered as #2.

In 1992, EG and RL established the “Backstreet Abortions” distribution in Johannesburg, and produced the zine Internal Conflict. They were also linked to the 1994 zine No Sensation. “Backstreet Abortions” carried AAA pamphlets, these now including (besides those listed) Revolutionary Organisations (based on a chapter from Class War, Unfinished Business), Alfredo Bonnano’s  Anarchism and the National Liberation Struggle (this was billed as a “South African edition,” with a long introduction added), the Anarchist Communist Federation text, The Role of the Revolutionary Organisation and Ten Days that Shook Iraq (a Council Communist-influenced text from the UK). Class War (or the Class war Federation) was a British group, as was the Anarchist Communist Federation: both groups had a huge influence on AAA, which had collected a fair number of their papers, Class War and Organise!

EG and RL initiated the Anarchist Revolutionary Movement (ARM) in 1993, a loose group that shared the address of “Backstreet Abortions.” Around this time AAA was wrapped up.

Advertisements

About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m South African, born and bred. I am currently also 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 papers at more than 120 conferences and workshops, published in key journals like 'Capital and Class' and 'Labor History', have co-edited 3 journal specials (these on global labour history, African labour, and unions in the Global South), and written well over 130 other articles, papers and entries. I was Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). My focus has been on South Africa, but I have also done research in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I won the 2008 international 'Labor History' thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research prize for best African dissertation, for my PhD thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. I have several books, including 'Negro e Vermelho: anarquismo, sindicalismo revolucionário e pessoas de cor na África Meridional nas décadas de 1880-1920,' 'Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1880-1940: the praxis of national liberation, internationalism, and social revolution' (co-edited with Steve Hirsch, Brill, 2010/ 2014) and 'Black Flame: the revolutionary class politics of anarchism and syndicalism' (co-written with Michael Schmidt, AK Press 2009).