African National Congress and Natal Indian Congress newsletters

Scope and Content

Newsletters including Afrika and Flash.

Administrative / Biographical History

The African National Congress (ANC) was formed in 1912 as the South African Native National Congress (it changed its name to the ANC in 1923) with the aim of replacing tribal opposition to white rule with a united African force. At first its membership was narrow - its leaders drawn from among traditional chiefs and wealthy Africans, its aims were limited and its activities were law-abiding. An attempt by J.T. Gumede to create a mass anti-imperialist movement was defeated by the moderates in 1930, following which the ANC lapsed into inactivity. With an enlarged membership, a new President-General, Dr A.P. Xuma, and the adoption in 1943 of a new constitution and political programme - calling for full political rights for the first time - the ANC began its transformation into mass movement. It began to co-operate with other organisations, like the Communist Party and the South African Indian Congress. The Congress Youth League, formed in 1944, played an increasingly powerful role within the ANC: in 1949, its Programme of Action, with mass opposition to apartheid at its heart, was adopted as ANC policy. The 'Defiance' campaign of 1952 was the result and, though eventually broken by the state forces, it did give the ANC a mass membership. Under the Presidency of Albert Lutuli and the leadership of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and others, the ANC became the leading resistance force in South Africa. The alliances it developed with other organisations, including the South African Indian Congress and the Congress of Democrats, led to the formation of the Congress Alliance, whose delegates adopted the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in 1955. This was adopted as the ANC's programme in 1956. In the same year, the Charter was used as the basis of a charge of treason against 156 members of the Congress Alliance. All of the accused in the 'Treason Trials' were acquitted, but in April 1960 the ANC was forced underground when it was banned as an 'unlawful organisation' following the pass law campaign and the Sharpeville massacre. Many leaders went into exile and an external mission under Oliver Tambo and a military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), under Mandela were formed. After the arrest at Rivonia in 1963 of Mandela, Sisulu and other leaders and their imprisonment, ANC activities were for a while based mainly on the work of the external mission and the development of MK. However, following the rise of mass opposition among workers and students in the 1970s and 80s, the ANC's position as the leading anti-apartheid force was confirmed after the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 and his and the ANC's subsequent victory in the election of 1994.

The Natal Indian Congress was a body which campaigned against discrimination against Indians in South Africa. The Natal Indian Congress was founded by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, later known as the Mahatma. A constitution was drawn up on 22 August 1894. It later allied itself with the African National Congress.

Access Information

Open for research although at least a working day's notice should be given.


The collection is held at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies - Senate House London

Archivist's Note

Uploaded by Clara Cuccu (12.02.2022).

Related Material

The Library also holds archives relating to the African National Congress and the Natal Indian Congress (reference ICS1).