Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

The ANC Underground in South Africa, 1950-1976

Raymond Suttner
The ANC Underground in South Africa, 1950-1976
ISBN: 978-1-935049-13-5
2009/199 pages/LC: 2009009408
A FirstForumPress Book
"Offers a valuable window into ongoing debates between thoughtful liberation movement insiders." —Patrick J. Furlong, International Journal of African Historical Studies

"Will serve as a powerful corrective to the standard historiographies.... This is an important book.” —Roger Southhall, Journal of Modern African Studies

"Brings fresh insights into the ANC during a critical phase in the organization's development.... Suttner provides a nuanced understanding of what it took to work against the racist South African regime.... Essential reading for those interested in South Africa. Highly recommended." —Choice

"Supplies the foundation for important revisions in our understanding of the history of anti-apartheid resistance politics and the ANC’s role within them.... an important and original contribution."—Tom Lodge, University of Limerick

"A rich and fascinating new book.... Suttner’s nuanced analysis of the [ANC's] past informs his predictions about its future."—Anthony Butler, University of Cape Town


It is widely assumed that the African National Congress essentially disappeared from South Africa after its banning in 1960 and the imprisonment of its leaders, until public support for it revived in the wake of the 1976 Soweto uprising. Raymond Suttner takes issue with that view.

Drawing on extensive oral testimony, Suttner reveals how internally based activists, often working independently of the ANC in exile, were able to reconstitute and maintain effective underground networks. His scope encompasses the broad features of the clandestine work, the impact that it had on personal lives, and the opportunities that were presented for both bravery and abuse. He also considers the gendered character of the underground ANC. In the concluding chapter of the book, he explores the gradual establishment of the ANC hegemony, which continues to this day.


Raymond Suttner is professor emeritus at the University of South Africa and also on the faculty of Rhodes University.


  • Introduction.
  • The Early Underground: From the M-Plan to Rivonia.
  • The Reconstitution of the SACP as an Underground Organization.
  • The ANC Underground Between Rivonia and 1976.
  • The Character of Underground Work.
  • Gendering the Underground.
  • Revolutionary Morality and the Suppression of the Personal.
  • The Re-establishment of ANC Hegemony After 1976.
No rights in Africa and India.