Exterior of Toxteth Library
Toxteth Library

City volunteers fight against apartheid

The role Liverpool people played in fighting apartheid is to be highlighted at an event in the city.

The Liverpool launch of  a new book “London Recruits – the secret war against Apartheid” takes place at  Toxteth Library on Thursday 18 October (6pm start) as part of the Black History Month calendar of events.

The book tells the story of how recruits fromLondon, Liverpool and other parts ofBritain traveled toSouth Africain the 1960s and 70s to work secretly for the then banned African National Congress (ANC).

They were recruited by an exiled ANC group which was based inLondonfollowing the jailing of Nelson Mandela and other leaders. Initially they distributed publicity material, smuggled in using such methods as false-bottomed suitcases, and using “leaflet bombs”.

Later a number, at great risk to themselves, were involved in providing further help to the ANC.

Among the Liverpoolrecruits were Eric Caddick, George Cartwright, Gerry Wan, Pat Newman and former seaman and teacher Bill McCaig who will be speaking at the book launch.

Other speakers are Ken Keable, the editor of London Recruits, Bob Newland and Roger O’Hara who organised recruiting inLiverpool.

As well as the volunteers who traveled toSouth Africa, Liverpoolworkers also supported the struggle against apartheid in a variety of ways. Car workers, for example, hid literature in cars where they could be found by black workers after they were exported

“Many public protests and actions took place in Liverpool during the struggle against apartheid, “said Councillor Steve Munby, Liverpool city council cabinet member. “What few people knew about till now was the secret actions of some of our local heroes who risked their freedom and lives in the struggle.

“With the volunteers fighting apartheid along with the work carried on in the city itself, Liverpool played its part in helping to bring down this evil system. It will be fascinating to hear the stories of people, who volunteered to join in the struggle with the ANC, why they went and what happened to them in South Africa.”

The book launch event is sponsored by Riverside Housing, Liverpool City Council and Riverside ward councillors.

Copies of the book will be available for sale on the night and a number of copies are available for borrowing from the library.



Liverpool Waterfront