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date: 23 April 2019

South Africa’s African National Congress in Exile

Summary and Keywords

The African National Congress (ANC) operated in exile for just over three decades, from 1960 to mid-1990. It developed from a flimsy and inexperienced “external mission” to an exiled organization caring for thousands of full-time members and maintaining an army, Umkontho weSizwe (MK), which by the 1980s numbered about 5000 soldiers. Based predominantly in Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola (though with members and offices in many other countries), the exiled movement established schools, hospitals, farms, and factories; it published and broadcast energetically; it lobbied for international support and established a diplomatic presence in dozens of countries. By the late 1980s, it was clear to the apartheid regime that it could not defeat or ignore the ANC but must enter negotiations with the organization. Equally, it was clear to the exiled leadership of the ANC that armed struggle relying on Soviet bloc funding was no longer feasible. Negotiations, and not military victory or seizure of power, was the only available option.

The ANC was pushed to the brink of survival but recovered, cohered, and regrouped, especially after 1976 when its membership and influence increased substantially. By 1990, through a combination of popular support inside South Africa and international solidarity, the ANC was swept to the status of government-in-waiting. Yet the exile experience was by no means an uninterrupted success story. The organization was variously beset by factionalism, rank-and-file disquiet, security failings, and an armed wing that saw little armed action. The ANC’s exile experience has generated controversy: over its relations with the South African Communist Party in exile; its human rights record, especially in the MK camps; and a political culture shaped by secrecy, militarism, and hierarchy. The “reinvention” of the organization in exile was a striking achievement—and it came at a cost.

Keywords: exile, African National Congress, liberation movement, armed struggle, Umkhonto weSizwe (MK)

The Condition of Exile

Exile is as old as recorded history; but it was only in the 20th century that exile became a mass phenomenon. After World War I, hundreds of thousands, and since World War II, millions of people have been uprooted, transplanted, dislocated, and relocated. A specialized lexicon of dispersal and diaspora distinguished between alien, deportee, displaced person, illegal immigrant, refugee, and stateless person. Those fleeing war zones, natural disasters, or persecution were processed in a bureaucratic machinery of border posts and border guards, tent cities and transit camps, deportations and repatriation.

Within the flows of displaced people, exiles were those who could not or would not return whence they came, whose absence from their own country was enforced. Yet, and it is a key component of the condition, exiles nurtured the hope, the idea, the promise of return. “The most powerful appeal for the exile lies in the concept of Return, which exerts a remarkable pull even on people who have never seen the country of their parents’ birth.”1 Edward Said presents a compelling analysis of the condition of exile. Exile, he says, “is the unbearable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.” Even the courage and creativity of people in exile are efforts “to overcome the crippling sorrow of estrangement. The achievements of exile are permanently undermined by a loss of something left behind forever.”2

The South African experience of exile, wrote Hilda Bernstein, was “both universal and unique.” It was universal in “the disruption, the loss and loneliness, the alienation, the restlessness and the sense of lives fractured”; it was unique in its voluntary or enforced withdrawal from the sociopolitical system of apartheid.3 South Africans who were victims or opponents of apartheid left the country: some did so legally, others on exit permits; but the majority entering exile left illegally. They fled to escape arrest or in defiance of banning orders; they jumped fences, were smuggled across borders, moved along underground routes, and once in exile defined themselves in terms of their opposition to apartheid. Many, but by no means all, South African exiles, gravitated to the African National Congress; they were drawn by its aura as an organized enemy to apartheid and its ability to provide shelter, training, and a sense of common purpose.

This was the context of the ANC’s experience of exile. In global terms, it was an instance of a 20th-century phenomenon: the large-scale displacement of people. Regionally, the ANC was one of many exiled movements (based in recently independent African countries) contesting colonial and white minority rule in South Africa, Rhodesia, South West Africa, Angola, and Mozambique. As was true of these other liberation movements, the ANC’s efforts to survive and to operate were enmeshed in and affected by the great power politics of the Cold War. Finally, and more narrowly, the ANC in exile was an expression of personal and organizational responses to racial discrimination and political repression, and the remaking in exile of an African nationalist organization founded in 1912.

To consider “the ANC in exile” requires analysis at two levels. First, there was the experience of its members: men and women who spent years in exile, spread over every continent. The condition of exile differed from one place to another and at different times; but in all cases it was marked by the “homesickness, loneliness, pain, alienation, sense of loss, and the waste of energy and time that were essential features of life for most exiles and for much of the time.”4 Many ANC exiles expressed these emotions vividly: two examples stand for the many. Ben Turok was a Communist, a founder-member of MK, and a political prisoner who left South Africa in 1965. “Exile wastes the spirit” he recalled; “To be in exile is to live on remote hope. Every mite of news from home is passed round, chewed on like tough steak. . . . Much of exile is spent in reflecting on the past. Not reflecting so much as brooding, like a toothless old man sitting in a rocking chair, ruminating over his youth.” Wonga Welile Bottoman fled South Africa as a teenager, in 1980, and spent six years in MK camps in Angola. His memoir provides a matter-of-fact but unforgettable account of life in the camps—its camaraderie and culture, its harshness, tedium, and violence, its deprivations and discontents. “Ours was a displacement and a dissolution that seared the soul and sucked our spirit.”5

While these were the core features of exile, for some exile also meant growth and opportunity. Exile was a double-edged sword, said John Matshikiza: for some “it was a prelude to a slow and calculated suicide. . . . For others it was the dawning of the discovery of a new world.”6 Lorna Levy wrote of her determination to “have a here-and-now life” while exiled in England and described how she “pushed the pain of exile out of my consciousness and lived in a new, sweet present.”7 A striking memoir by Sisonke Msimang delineates not only the privations and anguish of exile, but also the opportunities and openings it provided.8

Second, there was the condition of exile as experienced by the ANC as an organization. It was a nationalist movement, with various allies and foes; an organization with different factions and tendencies. In exile, the movement had constantly to negotiate the terms of its presence with those countries that recognized it and offered it a base. It was ceaselessly involved in struggles to win international recognition and support, to mobilize opinion overseas against apartheid, and to win financial assistance and other forms of aid, such as scholarships. Especially after 1976, the ANC was attacked and harried by the South African security forces: assassinations, bombings, cross-border raids, and infiltration by agents were among the weapons deployed. Over time, the exiled movement expanded its numbers, its activities, and its needs; and in turn it developed a set of structures and bureaucracies responsible for fund-raising, international links, education, health, publicity, welfare, and so on.

In terms of numbers and resources, but also symbolically, the largest and most important of the ANC’s substructures was its armed wing, MK. MK’s cadres received military training that ranged from basic square-bashing to the use of sophisticated weapons and underground methods; they were based in military camps in various countries, but especially Tanzania and Angola. Much of MK’s training and weaponry, and almost all of its external funding, came from the Soviet bloc countries and after 1977 from Cuba. The number of MK cadres hovered in the hundreds from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s, but swelled rapidly after the exodus of young men and women following the Soweto Uprising of 1976. Ultimately, MK played a modest role in the ANC’s national liberation struggle. One scholar concludes that in military terms “MK has to be judged one of the least effective armies in modern history.” Even so, the armed struggle attained almost mythic proportions for black South Africans hostile to apartheid: the “central paradox that existed throughout the ANC’s armed struggle” was the discrepancy between its material weakness and its symbolic strength.9

Into Exile

During the 1950s, the ANC embraced civil disobedience, mounted a series of protest campaigns, and for the first time in its history developed a sizable mass base. The response of the National Party government was to arrest and/or ban ANC activists, and in 1956 to charge 156 leaders of the ANC (and its allies in the Congress movement10) with treason. In response, the ANC leadership decided in 1958 that Oliver Tambo should leave the country if the ANC itself was banned: in effect, as an ambassador for the movement, to present its case and to solicit support. In the event, Tambo left South Africa clandestinely in March 1960—a week after the Sharpeville Massacre and a couple of weeks before the ANC and its rival the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) were proscribed. The ANC’s banning meant that henceforth it could only operate illegally in South Africa—or abroad, through its “external mission.”

Tambo initially worked in London, where a network of several dozen left-wing South Africans had developed during the 1950s. Exile in the early 1960s was complicated by the rivalry between the ANC and PAC, both of which were now operating in exile and competing for recognition and support. Under pressure from African countries, the ANC and the PAC set up a United Front, but this coalition collapsed in 1962. Inside South Africa, leaders of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the ANC had made the decision to jettison nonviolence as a principle and to resort instead to armed struggle. In December 1961, the existence of MK was announced, accompanying the first explosions in a sabotage campaign designed to avoid the loss of life. In July 1963, the senior underground leaders of the ANC, the SACP, and the High Command of MK were arrested in the Rivonia Raid. Over the next eighteen months, nearly 4000 rank-and-file ANC and PAC activists were rounded up and imprisoned, in addition to Mandela and his fellow-accused in the Rivonia Trial. By mid-1965, the ANC and MK had to all practical purposes ceased to operate within South Africa.

This turn of events had major implications for Tambo and his ANC colleagues already in exile. ANC members who had fled from arrest brought the message that the External Mission was now responsible for leading the movement. Tambo—writes his biographer—had to “redefine the role of exile and create a new repertoire . . . to negotiate the structures and culture of politics in exile.”11 It was from exile that the ANC would mount its critique of apartheid; justify the turn to armed struggle; lobby churches, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the United Nations for recognition and funding; open offices in countries around the world; and find roles for its exiled members. The MK High Command had to be rebuilt from scratch; the training of its cadres, the creation of military camps to hold them, the devising of strategy and its execution—all must be achieved in exile.12 The exile project became dramatically larger in the early 1960s.

Between 1962 and 1964, a stream of ANC members and supporters made their way into exile. The majority, perhaps 800 men and a few women, joined MK. Their training initially took place in Algeria, Egypt, and Ethiopia, but increasingly in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany. A trickle of younger people left home to pursue education overseas; for many, study merged imperceptibly into exile. Some students played major roles in helping to establish anti-apartheid organizations in the countries where they studied: for example, Billy Modise’s role in Sweden has been described in detail.13 Several hundred noncombatant ANC members were dotted across southern and eastern Africa; for the most part they were recognized as refugees, and they came to rely on the exiled organization for food, clothing, shelter, and employment. Whether MK cadres or civilians, most of those newly in exile were in African countries, especially Tanzania, Zambia, and Botswana. It was thus a logical step to relocate the exiled movement’s headquarters from London to Africa, and in 1961 Tambo accepted Tanzania’s offer of land for training camps and an office in Dar-es-Salaam. The headquarters subsequently moved to Morogoro, in eastern Tanzania (and finally to Lusaka, in Zambia).

MK, the Military Dilemma, and Morogoro

By the press of events rather than by design, the ANC in exile became increasingly preoccupied with and committed to MK. Armed struggle began in December 1961 as an urban sabotage campaign but morphed quite rapidly to an externally based guerrilla army. Preparation for guerrilla warfare proved “to be difficult, capricious and extremely complicated.”14 By 1965, MK had some 500 soldiers, cadres who received sophisticated military training, mainly in the USSR,15 but were now holed up in bases in Tanzania and Zambia, hundreds of kilometers from any South African border, desperate for action and dismayed by its absence.

This remained the most intractable problem confronted by the exiled liberation movement. The practical difficulties are obvious: distance, dangerous terrain, and overwhelmingly superior enemy forces. But there was also a theoretical and strategic dimension to the problem. In exile, the ANC prioritized military action as the key element in the struggle for national liberation. It was assumed that armed activity by a small MK force would detonate broader political revolt against the state. For twenty years, the ANC relied on military exploits to develop political bases inside the country. Correspondingly, it neglected underground activism and semilegal forms of struggle inside the country and neglected political options. “Paradoxically, their very emphasis on armed struggle over other operational options seriously hampered their efforts to mount armed struggle.”16

The presence of MK, the support of the Soviet bloc in terms of weapons and training, and the priority accorded to guerrilla warfare by the exiled ANC had long-term consequences. MK exercised a gravitational tug on the ANC’s theory and practice, unbalancing or warping the overall exile project. “The ANC followed the general tendency of liberation movements towards what Amilcar Cabral called ‘the mania of militarism’,” partly because of the belief in violent revolution championed by the ANC’s ally, the SACP; “but also because of the way the army—with its manpower and firepower—called the shots in the liberation movement.” In 1989, Ronnie Kasrils—a charismatic and senior MK leader—acknowledged that “we were too carried away with guerrilla warfare . . . [the] romantic stuff” in the 1970s.17 More harshly, the biographer of another senior MK operative, Mac Maharaj, accused the leadership of sanctioning the recruitment and training “of thousands of young men and women for an armed struggle . . . bind[ing] itself more assiduously to this course even as the cumulative evidence became unmistakable: the armed struggle was not succeeding and could not succeed.”18

In 1967 and 1968, MK attempted to solve the problems of distance and inaction by infiltrating guerrillas across the Zambezi River in order to set up a corridor, a “Ho Chi Minh trail,” through Rhodesia to South Africa. The men who fought in the Wankie and Sipolilo campaigns showed immense courage; but the sorties were a heroic fiasco. The incursions resulted in heavy casualties, and not an inch of territory was secured. These campaigns embodied the problem that haunted MK for a quarter of a century: “Despite repeated attempts to return home in large numbers, this was never achieved.”19 Wankie and Sipolilo also precipitated a crisis within the ANC. Chris Hani and six other MK members submitted a devastating critique of the tactics, practices, and lifestyles of the ANC’s senior echelons. They wrote of “the rot in the ANC and the disintegration of MK”; of leaders “completely divorced from the situation in South Africa,” spending their time at international conferences and “globetrotting.” Democracy and accountability were absent. Discipline in the camps was draconian, punishments were “criminal and inhuman,” and “secret trials and executions” had taken place. They demanded that a conference take place between MK and the exiled leadership.20

A shaken National Executive Committee, recognizing that “[r]adical changes are required in our machinery and work,” convened the Morogoro Conference of 1969.21 Half the delegates were drawn from MK, and it was an important moment in rethinking the struggle for national liberation. Morogoro approved a new policy document, Strategy and Tactics. Although this abandoned foquismo—the notion that guerrilla operations would detonate mass-based protests—it continued to map a military route to national liberation. Guerrilla warfare was the “special and in our case the only form” in which armed struggle could take place. Although Strategy and Tactics acknowledged that future military combat should be preceded by the creation of an underground political presence, this was not translated into practice. The ANC continued to invest resources in training and maintaining a guerrilla army in purpose-built camps, even as the cadres aged and morale flagged. Morogoro also created a Revolutionary Council to oversee armed struggle, on which members of all races might serve—as had been MK’s practice since its formation.

These steps addressed the immediate crisis of confidence, and there has been a tendency to claim Morogoro as a “turning point”22: Hani, in 1993, claimed airily that “after Morogoro we never looked back.”23 In reality, the recovery took several painful years: the early 1970s were the nadir in the history of the exiled movement, its “lowest ebb.”24 The ANC was stretched to its organizational limits, riven with internal tensions, and no nearer being able to return its soldiers to South Africa. Relations with Tanzania and Zambia deteriorated. In July 1969, the ANC had to evacuate the bulk of the MK membership from Tanzania to the Soviet Union, at short notice; and their euphemistically styled “retraining” lasted into the early 1970s. In addition, thirty rank-and-file members were expelled from the ANC in September 1970, and a festering conflict led in 1975 to the expulsion of eight senior figures, the self-styled ANC African Nationalists. They objected to the Morogoro decisions and repeated the PAC critique that the ANC was too heavily influenced by non-Africans in the SACP.

By 1973–1974, under 500 people were in ANC care—fewer than in any period before or after.25 The ANC at mid-decade was “anemic,” and its remaining trained soldiers increasingly middle-aged and disillusioned.26 The SACP was also sorely tested; Joe Slovo said the party “also suffered from the disease of exile”; and it was only in 1970 that the Central Committee took steps “to reorganise (not to say resurrect) the SACP.”27 But the fortunes of the hard-pressed alliance were about to change as a result of developments within South Africa and the region. These developments included the Durban strikes of 1973 and the spread of independent black trade unions, and the rise of organized Black Consciousness and South African Students Organisation (SASO) militancy on black campuses. The fall of Portuguese fascism in 1974 led rapidly to MPLA (The People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) and FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Front) governments in Mozambique and Angola. The cordon of buffer states around South Africa had been breached. But the decisive shift for the exiled movement came in June 1976.

The Soweto Watershed: “Forward Areas,” “Armed Propaganda”—and Crisis in Angola

The Soweto risings were a watershed in the history of apartheid and equally decisive in the history of the ANC in exile. In a year, ANC and MK ranks were suddenly swelled by thousands of new recruits. The young men and women who poured across the borders brought up-to-date political intelligence; their relatives and comrades at home were ready-made support networks for a new ANC underground and for MK cadres who managed to find their way back.28 However, the new intake also created logistic and political problems. The “young lions” were often resented by the Mngwenyas (veteran MK members) who saw them as unruly and disrespectful. The new recruits were impatient and less disciplined, their commitment sometimes suspect. In the longer term, they proved to include a number of spies, recruited and trained by the South African security forces.

The decade after Soweto saw dramatic developments within the exiled ANC and its armed wing. First, the changed geopolitics of the region meant that selected MK units could now operate in “forward areas”: Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho provided the platform for the launch of armed attacks within South Africa in the late 1970s. These were relatively small scale until the dramatic attacks on SASOL (South Africa’s oil-from-coal company), Koeberg, and Voortrekkerhoogte, in the early 1980s. The number of MK attacks rose from about 55 in 1981 to a peak of 230 in 1986.29 However, the MK units sent into the country were extremely vulnerable, and a majority were captured or killed within days of entry. The South African security services had infiltrated MK and used askaris (ex-MK members who had been “turned”) to devastating effect.30 South Africa also exerted political pressure on neighboring states to prevent their housing MK operatives. In 1982, Swaziland agreed in secret to do so; and the 1984 Nkomati Accord, signed by Mozambique and South Africa, was a major setback for the ANC and MK, forcing out most members of what had been a substantial exile presence in Mozambique.31

Second, a major strategic review took place in 1978 and 1979. It concluded that the ANC had paid insufficient attention to internal resistance, had failed to respond to the mass organizations that had arisen inside the country, “and . . . had sometimes taken sectarian positions towards them.” The main task henceforth should be “to concentrate on mass political organisation and legal and illegal mobilisation”: MK units inside the country should align their attacks with popular struggles.32 Despite the stated realignment toward political preparation for a “people’s war,” military actions (or “armed propaganda”) continued to be prioritized; sporadic attacks mounted by hit-and-run MK units hardly amounted to preparatory political work inside the country.

Third, despite the resumption of attacks and the rethinking of their purpose, ironically and tragically MK endured “probably its worst crisis in all the years of exile,”33 culminating in mutiny and reprisals of shocking severity—which the Truth and Reconciliation Committee subsequently classified as gross abuses of human rights. The reasons for the 1984 mutinies are clear enough. Conditions in the Angolan camps were dreadful: food was short, diseases were rampant, clothing and equipment were ill suited to the climate. Rank-and-file soldiers resented a widening gulf between the life of officers and their own; and they chafed at the severity and unfairness of discipline meted out by the security department known as Mbokodo. Above all said James Ngculu, “The most traumatic thing in the camps was the waiting . . . We moved from one post to another, from one camp to another, without ever being deployed to the front.”34 Welile Bottoman, who also spent years in Angolan camps, agreed: “The underlying complaint was that we left the country to get arms and fight the regime. Instead we found ourselves as spectators and cheerleaders of the revolution that continued inside the country.”35

Exile: Belonging, Depending, Believing

The post-Soweto exodus of young South Africans dramatically increased the size of the exiled ANC, quite apart from the growth of MK. According to ANC estimates, at the beginning of the 1980s, the movement catered for a total of 8000 members (MK and noncombatant) in the African frontline states; by 1990, there were some 20,000 members in total, distributed across a dozen countries in Africa, as well as in Britain, western Europe, eastern Europe and the United States.36 The ANC made itself responsible for housing, feeding, educating, and generally providing for several thousand civilian members in Zambia and Tanzania, as well as smaller exile communities in many other countries. In significant degree, the exiled ANC not only survived but recovered, regrouped, and reorganized itself to meet the challenges created by its growth. It could do so because of the equally dramatic increase in its funding. International donor support surged in response to the Soweto uprising; the growth of an international anti-apartheid movement played a key part in directing funds to the exiled ANC. By the mid-1980s, the ANC received substantial funds from Scandinavian governments, from NGOs and solidarity organizations, and from UN agencies.

There were two main dimensions to this saga of adaptation and longevity: physical and psychological. The physical achievement of the exiled movement was its ability to provide welfare and sustenance for its members; and, with donor support, to run schools, farms, and factories; and simultaneously to maintain what became an army of several thousand cadres. In Mazimbu, outside Morogoro in Tanzania, the secondary school SOMAFCO (the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College) was at the center of the development; “around it grew creche, infant school, primary school, a productive modern farm, a small but well-equipped hospital, workshops and factories making furniture and goods, and other divisions.” The school and infrastructure were handed over to Tanzania in 1992.37

The psychological achievement of the exiled movement was essentially to create a sense of belonging: to give people far from family, home, and community an alternative framework of the familiar. Existing ANC communities gave exiled members a sense of identity and purpose. Moeletsi Mbeki spoke of the importance of arriving in a new country and being able to find an ANC office, attend the branch meetings, congregate with comrades, and speak in his mother tongue. The metaphor of family is recurrent. Callinicos (in a chapter called “Family in Exile”) writes that for ANC members, the movement “was their extended family of brothers and sisters in the struggle.” Hilda Bernstein wrote that “exiles in clusters in such places as Lusaka, London and Mazimbu found a new family.” Blanche la Guma recalls that in Havana, she and her husband Alex became surrogate parents to the South African students there: “some of them called me ‘Mommy’, while others called me ‘Auntie’, and still others ‘Comrade’”!38

At times, metaphor merged with reality. Arianna Lissoni has described how the exiled movement developed formal policies and procedures to handle personal and emotional matters in the lives of its members. It acted as surrogate family mediating relationships and granting permission to marry or divorce, or to travel to see family members. “In the context of exile this notion of the liberation movement as family was accentuated . . . because of the separation of exiles from their real families.”39 The extensive physical and psychological support provided by the ANC to its members gave rise to concerns about a “dependency” syndrome among its members. The Tloome Commission worried about the movement’s tendency toward paternalism and its creation of a “welfare organisation” which encouraged people to see themselves as refugees rather than as politically active freedom fighters.40 Suttner argues that in many cases the relationship of rank-and-file to the organization resembled dependency rather than active membership. He quotes an American scholar’s critical summary: many ANC members in exile, particularly in African countries, were dependent. “They were employees of a government bureaucracy, personnel of an army, or clients of a welfare state, not members of a political party.”41

Membership of the exiled movement provided ideological grounding as well as material and psychological support. For Said there is an “essential association” of nationalism with exile. Nationalism asserts “belonging in and to a place, a people, a heritage. It affirms the home created by a community of language, culture and customs; and, by so doing, it fends off exile, fights to prevent its ravages.”42 The ANC—a nationalist movement—provides a textbook case of the use of “language, culture and customs” to bond its members. Macmillan describes the importance of the “ceremonial commemoration of anniversaries” in the exiled movement’s calendar; Bernstein describes the dances, chanted slogans and fervently sung freedom songs: “These were the rituals that held them together, no longer strangers in a strange land.”43 The ANC’s members exemplified what Said claimed was inherent to the exile condition: “an urgent need to reconstitute their broken lives, usually by choosing to see themselves as part of a triumphant ideology or a restored people.”44

The ANC, the SACP and the Political Culture of Exile

The relationship between the ANC and SACP in exile remains a keenly contested topic. A hostile and influential view of the relationship, published in 1992, held that the Communist Party was spectacularly successful in penetrating the ANC, dominating and manipulating it. During exile, argued Ellis and Sechaba, “the Party came to dominate the ANC,” decisively shaping the policies and strategies of the ANC and MK. Morogoro steered the ANC on a course originally charted by Communists and “greatly increased the Party’s influence.” Over the next two decades, the “ANC’s collective leadership became prey to the caucus tactics of the CP, whose members were subject to another authority.”45

Twenty years later, Stephen Ellis restated and amplified this interpretation. Central to his thesis is that the SACP initiated the armed struggle, sustained it in exile, and dictated its form. The ANC “was bounced into adopting the armed struggle” by the Party, and once both organizations were operating in exile, the SACP’s “separate and secret structure” made it easier for it to regain the influence it had exerted in the formation of MK. The Morogoro Conference of 1969 was a tipping point. Although the ANC’s National Executive Committee remained the senior body, the creation of the Revolutionary Council meant that the SACP “ha[d] its hands on the real levers of power” and could “exercise decisive influence over the ANC.” In a separate strand of analysis, Ellis associates the SACP with the development of the ANC’s security department (usually known as NAT). He sees NAT’s authoritarianism and excesses as outgrowths, transmitted by the SACP, of Soviet Stalinism.46

Ellis casts intriguing new light on other aspects of the exile experience. He gives a striking account of corruption within the exiled community and of how some of its members became involved in organized crime, from car theft to ivory and drug smuggling. He traces parallels and convergences between the apartheid regime and the ANC, as both colluded with criminal entrepreneurs, fishing for information and influence in the murky waters of cross-border crime. He is excellent, too, on the “wilderness of mirrors” as competing networks, agencies, and factions spied and spun so that “it was impossible to be sure in any given context precisely who was manipulating whom.”47 However, Ellis’s interpretation ultimately rests on his view of the malign sway the Communist Party exercised over its nationalist ally. In this respect, his work is less persuasive; it is open to substantial challenge, not least because of the sheer vehemence of its central thesis.

An alternative view holds that the relationship between the two organizations was extremely close, with overlapping membership at senior levels, but that they retained their separate identities and influences between the two flowed in both directions. This is not to suggest that the SACP exerted no influence on the ANC. During the early years, when the ANC’s external mission was to find its feet on the testing terrain of exile, the SACP provided a ready-made network of links with the Soviet bloc countries and with “fraternal organizations” in capitalist countries, enabling a flow of concrete support for the ANC. The Party also contributed “intellectual and organizational muscle” to the ANC, providing it with “discipline, revolutionary theory and ideological certitude.” Young men and women recruited to the Party were among the ANC’s “most able, dedicated and courageous members.” Although a minority within the parent movement, they constituted a relatively cohesive group; they were often better educated and more highly trained, and so were well positioned to influence collective decisions.48

But it was the influence of African nationalism on South African Marxism that Ellis fails to acknowledge. The Party’s 1962 program, “The Road to South African Freedom,” spelled out the logic of its theoretical postulate, Colonialism of a Special Type. In the South African context, the Party’s “immediate and foremost task” was to fight for the “national liberation of the African people.” Marks and Trapido suggest that, contrary to conventional opinion, this theory was shaped at least as much by militant African nationalism as by SACP ideology. It may be “that the SACP was even more influenced by the ANC, than the ANC was influenced by it.”49 In short, the SACP, in theory and in practice, prioritized the national question over class struggle throughout the exile years.

Similarly, Paul Landau disputes Ellis’s belief that the SACP was responsible for MK’s shift from sabotage to planning for guerrilla war. In a magisterial review essay, Landau demonstrates that the key role in this shift was played by African communists—including Mandela, who joined the Party for strategic reasons. They prevailed over orthodox Communists in preparing for military confrontation: it “was not (pace Ellis) the influence of the SACP on the struggle, but the pull of revolutionary thinking born of the crisis in the transition of going underground’.”’50

Ellis discusses Morogoro in a chapter titled “The Party Triumphant.” However, Karis and Gerhart argue, by then “the relationship between leaders of the SACP and of the ANC had become so symbiotic that ‘triumph’ and ‘control’ do not convey its complex reciprocal nature and commonness of purpose.”51 Certainly, the Strategy and Tactics document approved at the conference represented SACP thinking. It reiterated the 1962 position: “The main content of the present stage of the South African revolution is the national liberation of the largest and most oppressed group—the African people.” Rather than puppet-master, the SACP was a committed and disciplined ally of the ANC; far from insisting on a vanguard role, the Party was happy to allocate this to the nationalist movement. And when the ANC began its “talks about talks” in the 1980s, what outsiders found difficult to fathom “was the extent to which the views of communists and non-communists in the ANC were so heavily overlapping as to be almost indistinguishable.”52 For the exile period as a whole (writes Landau) “[r]ather than a struggle between Communists and non-Communists, what characterised the ANC most were issues dividing African Communists from African Communists.”53

In short, a credible case can be made that the tail was wagging the dog—but the other tail, the other dog. Such a case helps to explain a throwaway line in External Mission—that the Party “has had little influence within the alliance for the last two decades” [i.e., since the end of exile]. It is difficult to explain this if the Party had indeed steered and shaped the ANC for thirty years. It makes more sense if one recognizes that the ANC, “thanks largely to the leadership of Tambo . . . remained independent as a nationalist movement,” and that after return from exile, the SACP resembled its counterparts in some postcolonial African countries, “faced with the difficulty of having to survive as a socialist force within an alliance that is led by a nationalist movement.”54

More generally, was an identifiable political culture formed during exile? Ellis believes that it was: after Morogoro, the presence of “a disciplined SACP group at the core of the ANC’s power structure” saw a tradition of collective leadership “subtly altered into a system resembling the Leninist technique of democratic centralism.”55 Ellis’s critics point out that this is asserted rather than demonstrated. Beyond the question of the SACP’s influence, the political culture that developed in exile has been characterized as undemocratic, authoritarian, and opaque. O’Malley notes that “the ANC leadership was secretive, conspiratorial, and paranoid, decidedly non-democratic—and with good reason” given the terrain on which it operated.56 Similarly, Xolela Mangcu sees militarism, intolerance, and conspiratorial thinking as the legacies of underground and exile politics.57

However, Raymond Suttner warns against simplistic, totalizing judgments: the exile experience “cannot be summarily categorised as militaristic, top-down and bureaucratic.”58 Any balanced assessment of the political culture of exile would have to acknowledge the strands of secrecy, intolerance, and authoritarianism that run through three decades, as well as the human rights abuses in the MK camps that stain the record. But it would also have to make due allowance for the context of such behavior and recognize the patterns of open debate, collective decision making, and accountability that were defended and practiced—however raggedly—throughout the exile years.

Macmillan presents a judicious case for the defense of the ANC’s politics in exile. “The ANC in exile had many weaknesses and many failings. It was, however, unusual among liberation movements for its level of self-scrutiny and self-criticism.” No other southern African movement matched its “self-conscious engagement with the sociology, and pathology, of exile.”59 The leadership was challenged from below in various ways and at various times, notably at the two consultative conferences at Morogoro and Kabwe. Policies and strategies were subject to real debate and disagreement in the National Executive Committee and other structures. Macmillan also stresses that the ANC in exile moved from the multiracial coalition of the 1950s to nonracialism as ideal and as practice. Certainly, these positive features help explain how and why the ANC survived and prospered. Exile is a notoriously corrosive and demoralizing political context; but in comparison with the PAC and other exiled movements, the ANC never succumbed to the levels of factionalism, violence, and corruption that destroyed them. Instead, over three decades, the ANC endured crises and difficulties; recovered, and regrouped; and despite external pressures and internal tensions remained able to bind a membership across ethnic, racial, class, and generational divides.

From Armed Struggle to Negotiation—and Return from Exile

In 1984, MK was wracked by internal dissent, and deprived of its bases in Mozambique, Lesotho, and Swaziland. In the years that followed, it was buffeted by pressures arising from shifts in global politics. By 1987, the Soviet Union was signaling that it favored political solutions to African conflicts and that military aid to MK would be scaled back. Then in 1988 the United States, backed by the USSR, brokered an accord signed by the South African, Cuban, and Angolan governments. An immediate outcome was that MK had to withdraw all personnel from its Angolan camps. A military struggle relying on external support was no longer even notionally feasible. At no point in its history had MK ever posed a serious military threat to South Africa; by 1989, the ANC leadership was acutely aware of the disjuncture between militarist rhetoric and the reality. In a famous gaffe in January 1990, the ANC secretary-general, Alfred Nzo, read to journalists from a document intended for internal scrutiny: “realistically we must admit that we do not have the capacity within our country to intensify the armed struggle in any meaningful way.”60

As the guerrilla project stalled, paradoxically the political power of the exiled ANC increased exponentially. Historically, the exiled ANC was far more successful in winning the war of words and ideas than the war of arms. From early in the exile years, the ANC embarked on a patient, persistent, and multipronged engagement in the diplomatic sphere. It was significantly assisted by the UN’s Special Committee against Apartheid (created in 1963) and in the 1980s, by the emergence of an extraordinary movement of international solidarity in opposition to apartheid.61 From 1960 to about 1980, the ANC’s diplomatic leverage was limited by Western suspicions of its closeness to the Soviet Union. Only Sweden (joined by Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway in 1977 in a Nordic Programme of Action against Apartheid) provided major support from the mid-1970s. By the early 1980s, the ANC, working with anti-apartheid movements, had succeeded in presenting Mandela as symbol, as synecdoche: the struggle personified. Another of the ANC’s long-term diplomatic goals was to be recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the oppressed. In 1983, the Organization of African Unity hailed the ANC as the vanguard of South African national liberation. By 1988, as the Cold War thawed, Western powers broadly accepted the idea that the ANC headed opposition to apartheid. It now enjoyed access to embassies and governments and had offices in more countries than South Africa had embassies.62

The ANC’s political advances were assisted by the travails of P. W. Botha’s government. South Africa was assailed by domestic protest on an unprecedented scale and by mounting international disapproval. Capital flight intensified; there was an international credit squeeze; and the first tranche of significant economic sanctions was approved. The apartheid regime remained militarily powerful, but was politically weak. The exiled liberation movement was militarily ineffectual but politically potent. Both sides came to a reluctant recognition of this stalemate. The ANC’s exiled leadership, in parallel with Mandela in prison, began to explore the option of talking to the enemy. ANC emissaries scurried back and forth; meetings took place in London, in Lusaka, and in secret. ANC leaders held unpublicized meetings with British, Soviet, Japanese, Australian, and U.S. government officials. A trickle of visits by prominent South Africans to consult the ANC in exile became a flood. The ANC was recognized as key to any negotiated outcome; and Western governments accepted that it would relinquish its armed struggle. On February 2, 1990, President de Klerk announced the lifting of the ban on the ANC, PAC, and SACP. Through internal activism and international solidarity, the ANC had been swept to the status of government-in-waiting.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, exile was over. Return from exile proved to be far more ambiguous than many had anticipated. For one group of returning exiles—the senior ANC leaders who reentered the country in late April 1990—return was relatively seamless, not so much disruption as “a kind of continuum,” said Thabo Mbeki. They were immersed in meetings and negotiations, dealing with the issues familiar from the past few years. Meeting senior members of government and businessmen was straightforward: “We had a good sense of who they were and how they thought.”63 But for rank-and-file ANC members, returning home was a protracted and even painful process, with months dragging by in camps short of food and other supplies. Not until March 1991 did the first charter flights from Zambia and Lusaka take off; and only later that year was agreement reached that the United Nations High Commission on Refugees should handle the repatriation of significant numbers of exiles and their dependants.

Delay was not the only source of pain. A Spanish journalist wrote of “the wound of return” experienced by many who returned to Spain after the fall of Franco “and never, come what may, will they ever be what they once were in the country of their birth.”64 South Africans also experienced this sense of being back but of being elsewhere. Bernstein put it poetically: “All through the years South African exiles sang songs, the songs they brought with them from home. But at home they are singing different songs now.”65 Lorna Levy, more prosaically, confided to her diary when she first revisited the country: “Thirty years later, 1993, and I am separated and detached from everyday life in South Africa . . . now I am a displaced person in South Africa. I feel confused and ambivalent about my identity.”66

“Comrade Andrew” was a middle-ranking ANC official who returned from Lusaka to Johannesburg. Although he had made his way across Moscow, Havana, and Warsaw without the benefit of local languages, “when I returned to Jo-burg, my home town, after being away for 13 years, I was completely disoriented. . . . It’s OK to be a stranger in a strange land. But to be a stranger in the land of one’s birth is intolerable.”67 Many ANC returnees, accustomed to the welfare provided by their organization, found it difficult to survive on scant resources once they were back inside the country. Many were not used to handling money. Even those who returned to middle-class lifestyles were challenged by return. White South Africans who had entered exile rather than be conscripted to serve in the South African Defence Force, were acutely aware that their experiences had changed them, and “many accepted that South Africa would feel foreign, weird, strange.”68 The one thing that is certain about return (concludes a psychoanalytical account of exile) is that the returnee “will feel a new kind of home-sickness, a new kind of grief.”69

For one group of returnees, reentry was indeed a “new kind of grief.” These were the MK cadres who began returning en masse in 1992 “[w]hen they finally did arrive home they had literally nothing and came back to little more. Instead of returning as heroes . . . they became a burden on their already struggling families.” Many were ill: HIV/AIDS, malaria, diabetes, and posttraumatic stress all took their toll.70 A minority were absorbed into the new South African National Defense Force as serving soldiers.71 But for the others listed by the ANC as ex-MK, let alone the thousands not named, no systematic and coherent program existed to reintegrate them into civilian society. In 2003, a survey of ex-MK and ex-APLA combatants (the Azanian People’s Liberation Army was the much smaller armed wing of the PAC) revealed that 60% were unemployed and only 8% were in waged or salaried jobs in the formal economy. On the job market, they lacked education, relevant skills, work experience, and contacts.72 Their plight was an unintended outcome of the exiled liberation movement’s overemphasis on militarism. They had been trained for a struggle they could not win; they returned to a life for which they had no training.

The Achievements and the Costs of Exile

Thula Simpson reminds us of Eric Hobsbawm’s observation that in Ireland and Israel it took forty to fifty years for the history of nationalism to transcend mythic and polarized versions. The same may well be true of the South African liberation struggle.73 A dominant narrative of “struggle history” privileges the ANC, diminishes the role of non-Charterist movements, and exaggerates the significance of MK’s armed struggle. A romantic and triumphalist account of the past is read backwards from 1994. The narrative is teleological: the nationalist movement and its allies emerge as coherent and purposeful entities, running along the rails of history toward a triumphal arrival at Victory Station.

Academic historians and social scientists have criticized, and resisted, the ANC-centric and ANC-serving version of struggle history. “Much recent scholarship adopts a sceptical attitude to aspects of the ANC or its historiography,” and “struggle history” scholarship now includes “a rich and welcome diversity of theoretical, methodological and political outlooks.”74 And without any doubt, reinterpreting the history of the ANC in exile will be a major element of the new, contested struggle history. The ANC is Africa’s oldest nationalist movement. In the years since its formation, in 1912, it has survived a series of ruptures, setbacks, and crises: such survival has depended on resilience and adaptation. The exile years demonstrate this very clearly. The ANC not only survived in exile but developed and expanded, playing a far larger role by the end of exile than it had ever done before. It also adapted, reinventing itself and its methods even while constantly insisting on its historical continuity. As Mark Gevisser states, “the African National Congress was formed and deformed by its years in exile.”75

Discussion of the Literature

The ANC operated in exile for just over thirty years, and until the 1980s its activities, structures, and ideas lay largely beyond reach of scholarly analysis. Two publications in 1987 considerably advanced existing knowledge: an overview of the ANC in exile from 1976 to 1986 by the political scientist Tom Lodge, and a lively book by an American journalist and ex-State Department officer, Stephen Davis. Lodge’s account of the exiled movement concluded: “It is an army, an educational system, a department of foreign affairs, a mini economy, a source of moral hegemony, in short, a government. . . . it is a state-in-exile, and only in exile could such a state have been constructed.” Davis summed up his visits and interviews with ANC personnel in Zambia and Tanzania with a similar finding: that the ANC acted as “a borderless welfare state” supplying “food, clothes, housing, transportation and health care” for more than 13,000 constituents in exile.76

Unsurprisingly, given the prominence of Mandela as the world’s best known political prisoner, the new visibility of the ANC in Lusaka, and the onset of negotiations, scholarly work on the exiled ANC burgeoned in the 1990s and beyond. Successive volumes in the From Protest to Challenge series provided both analysis and important sets of documents, covering the years 1964 to 1979 and the 1980s, respectively;77 there have been special issues of journals on liberation movements and exile and an edited collection.78 Several important dissertations were written79 (all are unpublished but have yielded a series of journal articles and chapters by their authors). Within work more broadly on the ANC, there is a vigorous separate literature on its armed wing, MK.80

Scholarly work was also produced which, while based on research, was explicitly or implicitly partisan. In 1992, Stephen Ellis and the pseudonymous Tsepo Sechaba published a hostile account of the ANC in exile, with particular emphasis on the malign role of the SACP. This work was updated and amplified in Ellis’s External Mission, published in 2012, and is accompanied by Inside Quattro, a collection of essays by Paul Trewhela, also relentlessly hostile to the SACP and ANC.81 By comparison, Francis Meli’s in-house history of the ANC is resolutely uncritical. More scholarly and less partisan, but certainly inflected toward an orthodox struggle history of the ANC and MK, are the chapters dealing with aspects of exile in the multivolume South African Democracy Education Trust (SADET) series, The Road to Democracy. (A leading scholar of South African historiography proposes that these chapters amount to “the single most important contribution to our knowledge of the ANC in the struggle”82) Less orthodox in tone and judgments, but sympathetic to the ANC, is Macmillan’s closely researched study of the ANC in Lusaka.83

In addition to academic analysis, numerous biographies and autobiographies provide much information about the exiled ANC. Key biographies include those of Oliver Tambo, Thabo Mbeki, Mac Maharaj, and the joint study of Ruth First and Joe Slovo.84 Autobiographies of activists who entered exile are too numerous to list, but the Further Reading section selects half a dozen. Important data exist in the form of interviews with exiles, notably Hilda Bernstein’s collection of interviews with over 100 exiles, most but not all affiliated to the ANC, but also including Lauretta Ngcobo’s interviews with exiled women and the SADET volume of interviews.85

The literature on the exiled ANC, a quarter of a century after its unbanning and return, is fertile and feisty, but in many respects still somewhat preliminary. Aspects of that history remain opaque and even concealed: the ANC archives, for example, have had sensitive material removed from scholarly access. Controversial and highly charged topics—such as torture and abuses in the MK camps, the role of the ANC’s intelligence and security apparatus, allegations against prominent individuals of corruption and espionage—are live issues within contemporary politics. All this means that major works of synthesis on the exile experience have not yet been written. When they are written, they will illuminate such topics as the transnational nature of the movement; the murky past of the security and intelligence wings of the ANC; how persistently issues of race and ethnicity presented themselves and how they were handled; the reintegration of the ANC into the country at the end of exile, and the relations between exiles and “in-ziles.” Only at that point, too, will be it clear how lasting the imprint of the exile experience was on democratic South Africa in the years after 1994.

Primary Sources

The most important archival source for the study of the ANC in exile is the collection of ANC Papers housed in the National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre (NAHECS) at the University of Fort Hare Library. (Fort Hare is in the town of Alice, in South Africa’s Eastern Province.) In the 1990s, the ANC made a sustained effort to repatriate documents from exile: ANC offices in thirty-three countries were charged with locating files and documents and shipping them to South Africa. The first consignment of papers was the SOMAFCO collection; the most important were those from the headquarters in Lusaka. Fort Hare Library also houses the Oliver Tambo Papers. The University of the Western Cape Mayibuye Centre has a collection of ANC papers; the original interviews conducted by Hilda Bernstein and interviews conducted under the Mayibuye Centre’s Oral History of Exile Project; and several other sets of relevant institutional and personal papers. The University of Cape Town, Manuscripts and Archives Department, holds the Jack and Ray Simons Papers. The University of the Witwatersrand, William Cullen Library, holds the Karis-Gerhart Collection, which includes copies of ANC material and important sets of interviews by Phil Bonner, Peter Delius, Barbara Harmel, Tom Karis, and others. Another set of interviews is in the Howard Barrell Papers in the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

Further Reading

Barrell, Howard. MK the ANC’s Armed Struggle. London: Penguin, 1990.Find this resource:

Barrell, Howard. “Conscripts to Their Age: African National Congress Operational Strategy, 1975–86.” D. Phil. Dissertation, Oxford University, 1993.Find this resource:

Bernstein, Hilda. The Rift: The Exile Experiences of South Africans. London: Jonathan Cape, 1994.Find this resource:

Bottoman, Wonga. The Making of an MK Cadre. Pretoria: LiNc Publishers, 2010.Find this resource:

Callinicos, Luli. Oliver Tambo: Beyond the Engeli Mountains. Cape Town: David Philip, 2004.Find this resource:

Cherry, Janet. Umkontho weSizwe. Johannesburg: Jacana, 2011.Find this resource:

Ellis, Stephen. External Mission: The ANC in Exile. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2012.Find this resource:

Gevisser, Mark. The Dream Deferred. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2007.Find this resource:

Gilder, Barry. Songs and Secrets. Johannesburg: Jacana, 2012.Find this resource:

Landau, Paul. “Controlled by Communists? (Re)Assessing the ANC in Its Exilic Decades.” South African Historical Journal 67, no. 2 (2015), 222–241.Find this resource:

Lissoni, Ariana. “The South African Liberation Movements in Exile, c. 1945–1970.” PhD dissertation, University of London, 2009.Find this resource:

Lodge, Tom. “State of Exile: The ANC of South Africa, 1976–86.” Third World Quarterly 9, no. 1 (1987), 1–27.Find this resource:

Macmillan, Hugh. The Lusaka Years: The ANC in Exile in Zambia. Johannesburg: Jacana, 2013.Find this resource:

Msimang, Sisonke. Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2017.Find this resource:

Ngculu, James. Honour to Serve: Recollections of an Umkhonto Soldier. Cape Town: David Philip, 2009.Find this resource:

Shubin, Vladimir. ANC: A View from Moscow (2nd ed.). Johannesburg; Jacana, 2008.Find this resource:

Simpson, Thula. Umkhonto we Sizwe: The ANC’s Armed Struggle. Cape Town: Penguin, 2016.Find this resource:


(1.) “Editorial: Struggle and Sanctuary,” Third World Quarterly, “The Politics of Exile,” 9, no. 1 (1987): ix–xi.

(2.) Edward Said, “Reflections on Exile,” in Reflections on Exile and Other Literary and Cultural Essays (London: Granta, 2001), 173–186, 173.

(3.) Hilda Bernstein, “Discovering Exiles,” Southern African Review of Books 5, no. 4 (1993): 10–12.

(4.) Hugh Macmillan, The Lusaka Years: The ANC in Exile in Zambia 1963–1994 (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2013), 1. An unmatched narrative of the tribulations of exile in a single family is Lynda Schuster, A Burning Hunger: One Family’s Struggle against Apartheid (London: Jonathan Cape, 2004).

(5.) Ben Turok, Nothing But the Truth: Behind the ANC’s Struggle Politics (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2003), 221; and Wonga W. Bottoman, The Making of an MK Cadre (Pretoria: LiNc, 2010).

(6.) John Matshikza, “Instant City,” in Johannesburg: The Elusive Metropolis, eds. Sarah Nuttall and Achille Mbembe (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), 221–238, 225.

(7.) Lorna Levy, Radical Engagements: A Life in Exile (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2009), 112, 123.

(8.) Sisonke Msimang, Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2017).

(9.) Janet Cherry, Umhonto weSizwe (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2011), 141; and Thula Simpson, “Toyi-Toyi-ing to Freedom: The Endgame in the ANC’s Armed Struggle, 1989–1990,” Journal of Southern African Studies 35, no. 2 (2009): 507–521.

(10.) The ANC formed a loose alliance with the Congress of Democrats, the Coloured People’s Congress, and the South African Indian Congress.

(11.) Luli Callincos, Oliver Tambo: Beyond the Engeli Mountains (Cape Town: David Philip, 2004), 277.

(12.) Callincos, Oliver Tambo, 289–293.

(13.) Tor Sellström, Sweden and National Liberation in southern Africa, vols. 1 and 2 (Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstituter, 1999 and 2002),

(14.) Sellström, Sweden and National Liberation, 298.

(15.) For details of training in the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic (GDR), see Vladimir Shubin, ANC A View from Moscow, 2d ed. (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2008; originally published 1999), 63–65; Ronnie Kasrils, “Armed and Dangerous”: My Undercover Struggle Against Apartheid (New York: Heinemann, 1993), 81–92; and James Ngculu, The Honour to Serve: Recollections of an Umkhonto Soldier (Cape Town: David Philip, 2009), 73–84, 90–94.

(16.) Howard Barrell, “The Turn to the Masses; The ANC’s Strategic Review of 1978–9,” Journal of Southern African Studies 18, no. 1 (1992): 72. For other critiques of the militarist bent of ANC/CP strategy, see also Martin Legassick, Armed Struggle and Democracy (Uppsala, Sweden: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 2002); and Ben Turok, Strategic Problems in South Africa’s Liberation Struggle (London: LSM Information Centre: 1974).

(17.) Mark Gevisser, The Dream Deferred: Thabo Mbeki (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2007), 295.

(18.) Padraig O’Malley, Shades of Difference: Mac Maharaj and the Struggle for South Africa (New York: Viking, 2007), 491.

(19.) Callinicos, Oliver Tambo, 320.

(20.) See Hugh Macmillan, “The ‘Hani Memorandum’—Introduced and Annotated,” Transformation 69 (2009): 106–129: the memorandum itself is at 114–121.

(21.) Nhlanhla Ndebele and Noor Nieftagodien, “The Morogoro Conference: A Moment of Self-Reflection,” in Road to Democracy vol. 1 (Capetown: SADET, Zebra Press, 2004), 573–599; Hugh Macmillan, “After Morogoro: The Continuing Crisis of the ANC in Zambia 1969–71,” Social Dynamics 35, no. 2 (2009): 295–311; Macmillan, “Hani Memorandum”; Shubin, View from Moscow, 66–73; and Callinicos, Oliver Tambo, 329–337.

(22.) See Callinicos, Oliver Tambo, 337.

(23.) Macmillan, “After Morogoro,” 308. This paragraph draws heavily on Macmillan’s analysis.

(24.) Shubin, View from Moscow, 101; Vladimir Shubin, “Comrade Mzwai,” in One Hundred Years of the ANC, eds. A. Lissoni, J. Soske, N. Erlank, N. Nieftagodien, and Badsha (Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2012), 263.

(25.) Shubin, View from Moscow, 92.

(26.) Stephen R Davis, “The ANC, its Radio, its Allies and Exile,” Journal of Southern African Studies 35, no. 2 (2009), 349–373, 362–363.

(27.) Shubin, View from Moscow, 115, 118.

(28.) See: Raymond Suttner, The ANC Underground in South Africa to 1976 (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2008); Gregory Houston and Bernard Magubane, “The ANC Underground in the 1970s”; Jabulani Sithole, “The ANC Underground in Natal”; and Janet Cherry and Pat Gibbs, “The Liberation Struggle in the Eastern Cape,” all in The Road to Democracy in South Africa, Volume 2 [1970–1980] (UNISA Press: Pretoria, 2006).

(29.) For details, see Gregory Houston and Bernard Magubane, “The ANC’s Armed Struggle in the 1970s,” in The Road to Democracy in South Africa, Volume 2 [1970–1980], 453–516; and Gregory Houston, “The ANC’s Armed Struggle in the 1980s,” The Road to Democracy in South Africa, Volume 4, Part 2 [1980–1990], 1037–1168.

(30.) For the attrition of MK cadres operating inside South Africa in the late 1970s and early 1980s, see Thula Simpson, Umkhonto we Sizwe: The ANC’s Armed Struggle (Cape Town: Penguin, 2016).

(31.) The ANC in Mozambique is vividly described in Nadja Manghezi, The Maputo Connection: ANC Life in the World of Frelimo (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2009).

(32.) Barrell, “Turn to the Masses,” 82–83.

(33.) Cherry, Umkhonto weSizwe, 68.

(34.) Ngculu, Honour to Serve, 50.

(35.) Bottoman, Making of an MK Cadre, 141.

(36.) Tor Sellström, Sweden and National Liberation in southern Africa, vols. 1 and 2 (Uppsala, Sweden: Nordiska Afrikainstituter, 1999 and 2002), II, 625.

(37.) Seán Morrow, Brown Maaba, and Loyiso Pulumani, Education in Exile: SOMAFCO, the ANC School in Tanzania (Cape Town: HSRC Press, 2004), 2, 179.

(38.) Callinicos, Oliver Tambo, 410–411; Hilda Bernstein, The Rift: The Exile Experiences of South Africans (London: Jonathan Cape, 1994), xvi; and Blanche La Guma, In the Dark with my Dress on Fire (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2010), 172.

(39.) Arianne Lissoni, “’Dear Comrade Chief Rep’: Love, Marriage and the Family in the ANC in Exile in Tanzania,” African Studies 76, no. 1 (2017): 1–21.

(40.) Macmillan, The Lusaka Years, 166; see also Lissoni, “Dear Comrade Chief Rep,” 6.

(41.) Raymond Suttner, “Culture(s) of the ANC of South Africa: Imprint of Exile Experiences” in Limits to Liberation in Southern Africa, ed. Henning Melber (Pretoria: HSRC Press, 2003), 190; the quotation is from Marina Ottaway, South Africa: The Struggle for a New Order (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1993), 45–46.

(42.) Said, “Reflections on Exile,” 176–177.

(43.) Macmillan, Lusaka Years, 104; see also 180–181; Bernstein, “Discovering Exiles,” 10.

(44.) Said, “Reflections on Exile,” 140–141.

(45.) Stephen Ellis and Sepho Sechaba, Comrades against Apartheid: The ANC and the South African Communist Party in Exile (London: James Currey, 1992), 6, 59, 60–61.

(46.) Stephen Ellis, External Mission: The ANC in Exile (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2012), 27, 48, 76, 79, 299.

(47.) Ellis, External Mission, 262–263.

(48.) Saul Dubow, The African National Congress (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2000), 77; and Thomas G. Karis and Gail M. Gerhart, From Protest to Challenge, Volume 5: Nadir and Resurgence 1964–1979 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997), 37.

(49.) Shula Marks and Stanley Trapido, “Introduction,” Journal of Southern African Studies 18, no. 1 (1992): 3.

(50.) Paul S. Landau, “Controlled by Communists? (Re)Assessing the ANC in its Exilic Decades,” South African Historical Journal 67, no. 2 (2015): 222–241, quotations 240, 229.

(51.) Karis and Gerhart, From Protest to Challenge, 37.

(52.) Gail M. Gerhart and Clive Glaser, From Protest to Challenge, Volume 6: Challenge and Victory 1980–1990 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010), 149.

(53.) Landau, “Controlled?,” 224.

(54.) Ellis, External Mission, 299; Eddy Maloka, The South African Communist Party: Exile and After Apartheid (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2013), 175–176.

(55.) Ellis, External Mission, 79.

(56.) O’Malley, Shades of Difference, 491–492.

(57.) Xolela Mangcu, The Democratic Moment: South Africa’s Prospects under Jacob Zuma (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2009), pp. 44–46.

(58.) Raymond Suttner, “Culture(s) of the ANC,” 181–182, 195. See also Suttner, The ANC Underground, 85–88.

(59.) Macmillan, Lusaka Years, 12, 166.

(60.) Simpson, Umkhonto, 484.

(61.) See Colin Bundy, “National Liberation and International Solidarity: Anatomy of a Special Relationship,” in Southern African Liberation Struggles: New Local, Regional and Global Perspectives, eds. Hilary Sapire and Christopher Saunders (Cape Town: UCT Press, 2013), 212–228.

(62.) For a full account, see Scott Thomas, The Diplomacy of Liberation: The Foreign Relations of the ANC since 1960 (London: Tauris, 1996) and South African Democracy Education Trust, The Road to Democracy in South Africa, Volume 3, parts I and II, “International Solidarity” (Pretoria: UNISA Press, 2008).

(63.) Gevisser, Dream Deferred, 572.

(64.) Leon Grinberg and Rebecca Grinberg, Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Migration and Exile (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989), 185.

(65.) Bernstein, The Rift, xxiv.

(66.) Levy, Radical Engagements, 195.

(67.) Gevisser, The Dream Deferred, 576.

(68.) Mark Israel, “South African War Resisters and the Ideologies of Return from Exile,” Journal of Refugee Studies 15, no. 1 (2002): 26–42, 38.

(69.) Grinberg and Grinberg, Migration and Exile, 188.

(70.) Cherry, Umhkonto weSizwe, 122–123. See also Ngculu, The Honour to Serve, 205–208.

(71.) Lephophotho Mashike, “Age of Despair: The Unintegrated forces of South Africa,” African Affairs 107, no. 428 (2008): 433–453, 447.

(72.) Lephophotho Mashike, “‘Some of Us Know Nothing Except Military Skills’: South Africa’s Former Guerrilla Combatants,” in State of the Nation: South Africa 2007, eds. Sakhela Buhlungu et al. (Pretoria: HSRC Press, 2007), 351–378, 362–363.

(73.) Thula Simpson, “The Expanding Horizons of Liberation Struggle History,” African Historical Review 43, no. 1 (2011): 100–115, 100.

(74.) John Soske, Arianna Lissoni, and Natasha Erlank, “One Hundred Years of the ANC: Debating Struggle History after Apartheid,” in One Hundred Years of the ANC: Debating Liberation Histories Today, eds. Arianna Lissoni et al. (Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2012), 36, 49.

(75.) Gevisser’s words appear on the cover of Ellis, External Mission.

(76.) Tom Lodge, “State of Exile: The ANC of South Africa, 1976–86,” Third World Quarterly 9, no. 1 (1987): 1–27, 27; Stephen M. Davis, Apartheid’s Rebels: Inside South Africa’s Hidden War (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987), 72.

(77.) Karis and Gerhart, From Protest to Challenge, Volume 5; Gerhart and Glaser, From Protest to Challenge, Volume 6.

(78.) Journal of Southern African Studies 35, no. 2 (June 2009): “Special Issue: Liberation Struggles, Exile and International Solidarity”; Social Dynamics 35, no. 2 (2009), “Symposium: Liberation Struggles in Southern Africa”; South African Historical Journal 62, no. 1 (2010): “Feature: Liberation History of Southern Africa”; Journal of Southern African Studies 43, no. 1 (2017): and “Special Issue: Southern Africa beyond the West: The Transnational Connections of Southern African Liberation Movements”; Southern African Liberation Struggles: New Local, Regional and Global Oerspectives, eds. Hilary Sapire and Christopher Saunders (Cape Town: UCT Press, 2013.

(79.) Howard Barrell, “Conscripts to Their Age: African National Congress, 1975–1986,” D.Phil. Dissertation (Oxford, 1993); Arianna Lissoni, “The South African Liberation Movements in Exile, c.1945–1970,” PhD dissertation (University of London, 2009); and Stephen R. Davis, “Cosmopolitans in Close Quarters: Everyday Life in the Ranks of Umkhonto we Sizwe, 1961–Present,” PhD dissertation (University of Florida, 2010).

(80.) In addition to the unpublished dissertations by Barrell, “Conscripts” and Davis, “Cosmopolitans,” published studies include Barrell, MK; Cherry, Umkhonto weSizwe; and Simpson, Umkontho we Sizwe.

(81.) Stephen Ellis and Tsepo Sechaba, Comrades Against Apartheid: The ANC and SACP in Exile (London: James Currey, 1992); Ellis, External Mission; and Paul Trewhela, Inside Quattro: Uncovering the Exile History of the ANC and SWAPO (Johannesburg: Jacana, 2009).

(82.) SADET. The Road to Democracy in South Africa, editor-in-chief Bernard Magubane, Volume 1, chapters 11, 12, 13, 14; Volume 2, chapters 9, 12; Volume 4, Part 1, chapter 2; Volume 4, Part 2, chapters 19, 20, 21; and Christopher Saunders, “The ANC in the Historiography of the National Liberation Struggle in South Africa,” in Treading the Waters of History: Perspectives on the ANC, eds. Kwandiwe Kondlo, Christopher Saunders, and Siphamandla Zondi (Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa, 2014), 11–22, 18.

(83.) Macmillan, Lusaka Years.

(84.) Callinicos, Oliver Tambo; Gevisser, The Dream Deferred; O’Malley, Shades of Difference; and Alan Wieder, Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the War against Apartheid (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2013).

(85.) Bernstein, The Rift; Lauretta Ncgobo, Prodigal Daughters: Stories of South African Women in Exile (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2012); and South African Democracy Education Trust, The Road to Democracy: South Africans Telling Their Stories, Volume 1, 1950–1970 (Houghton, South Africa: Mutloatse Arts Heritage Trust, 2008).