Not So Hesitant Comrades: The African National Congress and Sinn Fein
Dr Connal Parr (Northumbria University)
This talk will explore the links between the two formerly militant political groups at the heart of post-Apartheid South Africa and ‘post-conflict’ Northern Ireland. It will focus on the practical links which were highlighted in 2011 following the passing of South African lawyer Kader Asmal, who was a major player in the Irish anti-Apartheid movement and would serve as a minister in both Mandela and Mbeki’s cabinets. Asmal revealed in his posthumous memoir that the Provisional IRA had provided secret training and assistance to the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto we Size to carry out the Sasol oil refinery bombing of June 1980: a gateway into the broader links between these two groupings, memorized in Belfast murals and cemented by the IRA’s nomination of the ANC’s Cyril Ramaphosa as a weapons inspector during the decommissioning process in 2000. Both Sinn Fein and the ANC continue to navigate the tricky path between memory of the past armed struggle of the past, present electoral strategy, and an increasing political neoliberalism.