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Head of Department of History, National Museum Bloemfontein, South Africa, Research Associate, Departments of History: University of the Free State, South Africa;
Hendrik Snyders is the head of department of history at the National Museum (Bloemfontein) and a research associate at the universities of Stellenbosch and the Free State. His research focuses on race, sport, masculinity, memory, heritage, and public history as well as colonialism in South Africa. Hendrik graduated with a PhD (history) from the University of Stellenbosch and has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals. He has contributed a number of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on a variety of topics on the abovementioned focus areas, in addition to co-authoring Tries and Conversions: South Africans in Rugby League, with Peter Lush of London League Publications (UK).
‘Coincidental, parallel and common struggles’: South African weightlifting, the international sports boycott and Artists and Athletes Against Apartheid c. 1948 – 1990
The role of the African diaspora, both on individual and organisational level in the anti-apartheid sports struggle, remains a neglected aspect of South Africa’s sports history. Beyond the role of the broad anti-apartheid movement and that of a few individual activists, very little effort has thus far been made to fully acknowledge the specific contribution of scores of individuals and organisations in both Northern America and Europe in the demise of apartheid. Organisations such as Americans for South African Freedom (AFSAR), later the American Committee on Africa (ACOA), who pioneered the establishment of a United States-based anti-apartheid solidarity platform, and who also assisted in the formation and expansion of a nation-wide network of activists and sister organisation committed to fighting the scourge of institutionalised racism at the southern tip of Africa for example, remains to be formally acknowledged in South African sports history texts. Over nearly half a century (1948 -1990), these organisations launched a myriad of campaigns aimed at the isolation of South Africa in the international arena. Out of these campaigns emerged new activists and formations such as Artists and Athletes Against Apartheid who, in conjunction with TransAfrica and others and from their own particular vantage point, gave new momentum to the battle for the elimination of institutionalised racism. This essay investigates the linkages, parallel struggles and eventual convergence of the anti-apartheid campaigns of two seemingly disparate sectors in the diaspora, against the background of the struggle of black athletes (weightlifters) in South Africa (1948 -1980) for non-racialism and social justice.
Key words: South Africa; sport, weightlifting; apartheid; boycott