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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

Mike Terry

04-12-08

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has heard with great sadness the passing of Mike Terry on 2 December 2008. He was the executive secretary of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement from 1975-1994. We send our condolences to his family and friends.

Mike Terry personified the spirit of international solidarity which inspired thousands around the world to take up the struggle of the South African people, thousands of miles away. He did not sit back and just condemn apartheid in words, but worked ceasel essly and devoted his whole life to mobilising support for our struggle for freedom and democracy and built one of the most powerful international solidarity movements in history.

In an interview with Time Out magazine in 2007 he told how he was drawn into the anti-apartheid movement, which was born in 1959, just before the Sharpeville massacre brought the worlds attention to the brutality of the apartheid regime:

I was very involved in student politics and South Africa became an issue at the same time as the anti-Vietnam War protests and the 1968 demos. I remember a meeting in 1973 in Westminster, with Oliver Tambo. The audience was 100 per cent committed, but we felt the chance of change was far off. The work was all-encompassing. Sometimes we would be at the office until 5am and some people slept there. There was psychological stress too. If someone you were campaigning for on death row was hanged, you always tho ught: Could I have done more?

In the early days there might be eight people at the meetings but, from 1984, it was a rollercoaster. The Nelson Mandela concerts were in a different league  I was dealing with international TV companies. On Mandelas seventieth birthday I went to a frie nds childs school play in Gospel Oak and everyone was wearing a Free Mandela badge. It felt like our greatest achievement.

ACTSA, the successor to the Anti-Apartheid movement, say in a statement that Mike was a dedicated and inspirational campaigner against apartheid and for democracy, justice, rights and development for South and southern Africa. But more than this, Mike thr ough his unstinting work helped build not just a campaign but a movement.

From his days as a student leader in the late 1960s for more than 25 years Mike organised and mobilised, speaking to gatherings of a few, organising rallies of over 250,000 people and the huge Wembley Stadium concerts for Nelson Mandela in 1988 and 1990. His contribution to the Anti Apartheid Movement was unique and outstanding.

South Africans will always remember him as one of our most loyal and dedicated comrades. Hamba Kahle, Comrade Mike!

If you wish to record your message about Mike, please send them to ACTSA at campaigns@actsa.org.

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)

Congress of South African Trade Unions

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