Contact us

Please get in touch to find out more about this project, or to share your memories of the Non-Stop Picket.

You can email us at:

Gavin Brown –

Helen Yaffe –

10 Responses to Contact us

  1. Jon Kempster says:

    Very glad to see this work being done.

  2. Daisy Nelson says:

    Hi there,

    I am currently working on my third year university dissertation (at Bath Spa University) with the working title ‘Kicking Apartheid into Touch: British Sporting Boycotts Against South Africa.’ If anyone would like to share their stories with me or any photos I would be very interested.

    Kind Regards


  3. Reenie says:

    Hi Gavin, Helen and everyone else on this project. Hi all City Group members for whom I wrote the account below.
    I don’t know where it fits in, or whether you’d want to post this at all, but here goes.

    A while ago I was contacted by a researcher working on this project. Since then she’s interviewed me. That interview, and reading through your blogs about the non-stop picket has brought back such memories – not just political, but personal as well. Allow me to tell my tale.
    I left South Africa in 1986, having been active in local community organizations, youth organizations, Sacos and trade unions. In some of the mass organizations we belonged to, we worked with ANC affiliated groups, though constantly waging battle with them, for example in the Disorderly Bill Action Committee and Cahac. In many we were obliged to follow different paths in separate organizations such as the Western Cape Youth League and the Cape Action League. Needless to say, I and several others attracted unwelcome attention from the apartheid state, endangering not just ourselves, but all those we were connected to personally and politically. Decisions were taken almost overnight that we should leave South Africa for the safety of those others, the organizations and the work that had to be done.
    When I arrived in London with a handful of people who had, like me, belonged to what the ANC-acolytes called “The Partyites” of course we had no political home in mainstream anti-apartheid. There was a lot of support from left organizations, but whilst the intricate theoretical debates in smoke-filled little rooms were interesting and important, what I missed was the on-the-ground activism which I had been involved in so heavily since my teens.
    City Group provided a natural home for those amongst us who were more activist than theorist, to put it crudely. I needed that more than anything – the big meetings, the open and robust arguments, the picket line, protests, the appeals to the public.
    What I also missed was the warm community and close-knit family I’d left behind with barely a good-bye. I felt that most when I fell pregnant – my first child, no family, no neighbours, no friends to provide the practical and moral support which women in my community usually had. And of course, no money to provide the things women in my family were usually given by the extended family and community. I feared for our future and that of our child.
    I mentioned all this to a comrade in City Group. Embarrassingly, he announced in a meeting one Friday night that people should stop smoking because there was a pregnant woman in the meeting. One minute the smoke was like a curtain you could cut through. The next I had fresh air. No objections were raised, though this was years before smoking bans in public places.
    Next Friday I arrived back at our flat to find our bedroom almost impossible to get into. The bed was piled high with black bags full of baby clothes. Baby equipment stood everywhere. I had about 3 walking rings for a baby who was as yet unborn. Several baby carriers, two prams, a bath, a crib and all the linen. I sat down and cried. When my family called and my worried mother asked how I would cope and what I needed to be sent, I could answer honestly that I had dozens of friends supporting me and that they had already provided all I would need and so much more.
    And then, when she was born, Norma presented her with a crib quilt, embroidered with a Marxist/Revolutionary alphabet. Norma, Amandla and Ire were such stalwart supports in those first years of my baby’s life. What would I have done without City Group? I really don’t know. Yes, it was important politically to the masses of South Africa. But please permit me to say that I learnt then, up close, the truth of the maxim that the personal is also political. The personal was so very, very important for me back then.
    And in tribute as much to City Group as anyone who had a hand in raising her, she’s turned out to be a young woman with a social conscience, a loud mouth in speaking up for causes she believes in (Palestinian liberation being one) and a total commitment to revolutionary politics.

  4. Pingback: When the personal is political: care in social movements | Non-Stop Against Apartheid

  5. Great to see the story of the Non-stop picket being told and with the possibility of the archive of materials being stored permanently for the future. Happy memories of the picket and gratitude to those who worked so hard to keep this civil disobedience protest on track and active for a significant period. So sad to hear about Ken’s death – his singing voice was great. Rubi leading the chanting using a megaphone : ) I was drawn to this through another of the RCGs campaigns – Hands Off Ireland – which for a time provided the back cover of the Fight Racism ! Fight Imperialism! newspaper. It “internationalised” my political conciousness as I realised that the working class and other oppressed minorities have more in common and if united could expose the lies and distorsions of the Red Top press. At the very least the picket exposed the Apartheid South African embassy and made a small but significant contribution to the AA campaign.

  6. Chris says:

    Hi just stumbled on your site, I was a teenage runaway back in 1986. When I arrived in London like many I headed up to the west end of London at found St Martins church. With nowhere to sleep I learnt about the demonstrations and stayed a while. For a naive 17 year old from the midlands it strangely gave a safe environment. This despite the snatch squad from the police who were taking demonstrators when they left to get food or go toilet. I think I stayed nearly a week, learning about London, where to get a safe sleep, and ironically learning about Mandela. Looking through the fliker pictures I remember some of the others, there is another homeless lad there that helped me and took me under his wing. After moving to a hostel nearby, I used to come down and sit in the steps of st martins.

    Strange times for me, lasting memories

  7. Lorna Whitfield says:

    What can I say, I was part of the picket for three years, mostly accompanied either by a dear friend Simon or I often brought my children James and Jonathan who are now 32 and 30 years old.
    The picket was an important part of my life then and remains so today. I recently found lots of photos that I had taken on those days at the picket and memories came flooding back, like the night the south african flag was set on fire and we sat in the road outside the embassy, stopped the traffic and were on the Ten o’clock News.My (ex) husband hadn’t known where I had taken the children that night but he soon found out!
    Many fond memories but most importantly Nelson Mandela left prison and became the President – a title we were apprehensive to use as it was such a dream at that point.
    To say we will miss the glorious man is inadequate , he hasn’t really gone because he will be in the hearts of millions of people to keep him alive .

  8. Liz Myers says:

    I also was a regular picketer for several years- I had a regular 4 hour slot on a thursday evening which I seem to remember was called ‘the women’s picket’ and was always menorable because of the prescence of the marvellous Plume and the Horns of Jericho amongst many other splendid stalwarts. I wonder who remembers looking forward to the left overs from Cranks in covent garden coming down? cheers if it was almost warm pizzas- groans if it was cheese scones,eventually this was stopped by the oh so green and progressive cranks management and their staff were threatened with dismissal if they brought it to us . campaigning for justice in south africa and making people aware of the situation was of course the main aim but the reality of the pavement university was a brilliant thing in itself and seemed quite different to anything i had come across before, though people who were involved in the wapping dispute and the many miners/firemans pickets probably have similar experiences but you met so many different types and nationalities of people on NSP including of course tourists and evening shoppers who just dropped by for a quick word or argument. I feel proud that i was part of this political action and personally enriched for the hundreds of fascinating,eccentric, funny,brave,brilliant people I met and picketed with. especially so many wonderful muscicians and singers. Who remembers the most wonderful Bhundu Boys coming to perform and then regularly joining the picket- though sadly I think most of them are now dead.
    I was not part of any of the political parties who were significant in starting and organising the picket so I sometimes felt a bit of an outsider when it came to the formal meetings but on the street it was much easier to feel part of the team because every individual was so vital in keeping the picket going. Great times . A Luta continua. Viva Mandela . Viva Africa . Viva to all the picketers.
    Rest well Mandela

  9. Good to stumble across your blog. I used to visit the NSP from time to time, mainly accompanying a friend who did a regular early morning slot before she went to work! It’s all pretty vague, but I do remember having a sense of belonging to a family. I recall, as has been previously mentioned, the police ‘snatch squads’ who would just pinch people when they strayed from the picket. I remember the wonderful singing, the chants, but most of all the camaraderie between people of all walks of life with a common purpose. RIP Mandela.

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