Discussion Papers

No.351 Casting a Voice for Rural Struggles during Apartheid: The Case of AFRA

by SATO Chizuko

March 2012


This paper explores the attempts to co-ordinate rural resistance and struggles in South Africa during apartheid through a case study of the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA), a land NGO established in Natal in 1979. It was a small group but had a significant local and national impact. The paper addresses three key questions concerning the character and works of AFRA: (1) What was the character and strategy of AFRA in the politicised context of the late 1970s and 1980s? (2) Was there any historical continuity and discontinuity with early attempts by Natal liberals and African landowners to organise anti-removal campaigns in the 1950s? (3) How and to what extent could AFRA negotiate the increasing influence of the Inkatha and KwaZulu government over Natal rural communities? The paper aims to serve as a critical evaluation of AFRA’s strategies and activities, and its relationship with rural communities up to 1990 when land movements became nationwide.

Keywords: South Africa, land struggles, land NGO, forced removals

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