n Journal for Contemporary History - The emergence of the student and youth resistance organizations in the Free State townships during the 1980s : a viable attempt to reorganize protest politics?




The banning of the South African black opposition, the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), in 1960 discouraged most forms of African organization during the 1960s. After they had been banned, both these organizations established a mission-in-exile, leaving an organizational vacuum in the country. This vacuum was partly filled by the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) during the 1970s. The late 1970s introduced a revival of black opposition as popular class struggles evolved from the coordinated national mass struggles to one of combined student, youth, trade union and community struggles against apartheid. Without doubt the 1976 Soweto uprising triggered a surge of student protests in centres around the country including the Free State, bringing young people into the frontline of anti-apartheid protest. After this a number of influential student and youth organizations were formed. The United Democratic Front (UDF) which was formed in August 1983 became a haven for such organizations as most of them became its affiliates. The UDF was specifically formed to oppose the new constitution and the Koornhof Bills. Before the establishment of the UDF, the youth in South Africa had already challenged the apartheid government although not in an organized way.


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