1950 – 1961

Peaceful Protest

The Freedom Charter – 30th Anniversary

The Freedom Charter was adopted in Kliptown in 1955. It is a significant document in the history of this country as it paved the way to a non-racial, non-sexist South Africa.

Women against Apartheid

This annual public holiday commemorates an eventful day in South Africa's history on the 9 August 1956.

These freedoms we will fight for, side by side, throughout our lives, until we have won our liberty
– ANC leaders including Z.K. Mathews and Lionel ‘Rusty’ Bernstein

The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices: submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means within our power in defence of our people, our future and our freedom.
Leaflet issued by the Command of Umkhonto we Sizwe, 16th December 1961

Repression intensified

More than 10,000 Africans were arrested in 1961 and the government closed all channels of peaceful protest.

White Republic

Under pressure from the Commonwealth to change its racial policies the government staged a fraudulent referendum among the white voters and obtained a mandate to proclaim a White Republic on 31 May 1961. An 'All-in-African' Conference in Pietermaritzburg on 25-26 March called for countrywide demonstrations and a stay-at-home in opposition to the White Republic. The conference demanded instead a National Convention of all races.

Treason Trial

In March 1961 the 30 remaining accused in the Treason Trial were found not guilty and set free. The defence team was carried shoulder high in response to the news.

ANC Women’s League

A funeral of an ANC cadre. The coffin is carried by members of the ANC Women's League. Among them is Winnie Mandela (front) and Viola Hashe (behind).

Albert Luthuli

Chief Albert Luthuli was the president of the African National Congress from 1953-1967. He was the first African recipient of the Nobel Peace prize for his outstanding contribution in South African and African politics.

Sharpeville Massacre

The aftermath of the Sharpeville Massacre on 21-03-1960 which left 69 dead and hundreds injured after Black people had protested against pass laws. This massacre led to the end of non-violent protests against apartheid and led to the formation of the armed struggle.

Pass Book burning protest

The ANC called a national one day strike in protest and ordered the burning of all pass books in 1960.

Sharpeville Massacre

On 21 March 1960, a peaceful demonstration against the Pass Laws was fired on by the police, leaving 69 dead and 178 wounded.

Chief Albert Luthuli receives Nobel Peace Prize

Chief Luthuli accepted the Nobel Peace Prize "in the name of the true patriots of South Africa".

Chief Albert Luthuli

Chief Luthuli was one of the many detained during the State of Emergency in 1960. He emerged from 5 months detention to the news that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He travelled with Mrs. Luthuli and M. B. Yengwa (Secretary ANC (Natal)) to Oslo to receive his award.

A women’s place is in the struggle

Women were an integral part of the struggle for national liberation. The posters say: A woman's place is in the struggle. Keep my baby alive! Pay me R2 a day. Recognise my trade union. Support SACTU's Demands. SACTU Demands: - Living wages - The right to organise - The right to bargain with out bosses - decent treatment - shoter hours, 40 hour week We must eat more than mielie pap!

State of Emergency

The government declared a 'state of emergency', arrested 20,000 and banned the ANC which decided to continue the struggle underground.

Community Leaders

People singing freedom songs at a public event holding up their fist with thumb out in salute. This sign was usually made when singing Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika.

Wealth shall be shared by the people

While the Freedom Charter was being described in the Treason Trial as a blueprint for violent communist revolution its true content was being made known throughout the country.

Freedom Charter

While the Freedom Charter was being described in the Treason Trial as a blueprint for violent communist revolution its true content was being made known throughout the country.

The people shall govern!

While the Freedom Charter was being described in the Treason Trial as a blueprint for violent communist revolution its true content was being made known throughout the country.