RECORDS, 1984-1994

(bulk dates, 1987-1994)

13 Boxes (12 linear meters)

ACQUISITION: ANC Archive Committee

ACCESS: Open for research

PHOTOGRAPHS: In Box 0001, Folder 0007 and Box 0004

VISUAL MATERIAL: Videos , Posters and Art Work are separately shelved in



COPYRIGHT: ANC Archive Committee

PROCESSED BY: Sadie Forman, October 1998. Partially reorganized and reboxed by Sibongile Simelane and Khanyisa Bottoman, June 2003.

Additional material processed by Malefyane Mogale, June 2003.

REVISED BY: Africa Media Online (Nelly Nxumalo, Kulu Mushaka), December 2017


Historical background on Italian Mission


When the Nationalist Government banned the African National Congress (ANC) on 8 April 1960, the ANC began operating underground in South Africa. Outside the country the ANC started to establish itself as the official voice of South Africa’s vote-less masses. By the 1970s recognition of the ANC’s legitimacy was growing, not only amongst the multiplicity of non-governmental anti-apartheid organizations, but also among foreign governments.

The first missions were opened in London, Accra, Cairo, and Dar-es-Salaam. By 1980, the ANC had offices and representatives in 32 countries. The external missions worked to win support for the overthrow of apartheid by promoting the cause of the ANC and urging international economic pressure against the South African government. The missions also provided assistance to South African exiles. Following the banning of the organization, Oliver Tambo, President General of the ANC left South Africa to head of the ANC’s external operations.

On 2 February 1990 the bans on the ANC and other political organizations were lifted. A process of negotiations between the unbanned organizations and the South African government ensued. In 1992 the ANC instructed its missions to collate and box their records for shipment to South Africa. These records were to form the basis of the official archives of the ANC, from which a true history of the ANC’s role in the struggle against apartheid could be written.


History of the Italian Mission.

The early history of the Italian Mission, from 1972 to the mid-eighties, is taken from the O.R. Tambo record files of Correspondence and those of the Department of International Affairs. A reply from Max Sisulu to Antonio Calo in Rome, dated 20 November 1972, indicates that an Italian connection with the ANC was established early on.

In 1982, Thami Sindelo wrote a report on her appointment in June 1978 as an ANC representative to Italy. From the start the Municipality of Reggio Emilia supported the organization and its presence there. Sindelo writes of the First National Conference of Solidarity held in Reggio Emilio in November 1978. An Italian ‘Ship of Solidarity’ had been donated and Sindelo told that it had docked in Luanda and Maputo with necessities of food, clothing, medicines, ambulances, prefab schools, tractors and more.

The Second Conference of Solidarity with South Africa and Namibia was held in Rome in a parliamentary building attended by representatives from the Front-Line States, the UN, EEC and European Parliament inter alias Decisions included sending a second Solidarity Ship “Amandla” and the formation of an Italo-Southern African Association. Nelson Mandela was given the citizenship of the City of Rome.

The political situation in Italy in 1982 was unstable, with economic and criminal scandals involving the Mafia, Masonic Lodges and Right-Wing groupings. The government collapsed repeatedly after short terms. Nevertheless the decisions of the Solidarity Conference and the ANC office were sustained.

Thami had useful contact with the Italian Foreign Ministry which resulted in important contributions, but despite denials, the government continued to sell arms to South Africa. A successful programme with high schools, showing films of the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College and talking to students was regularly conducted and the office was able to publish ‘Sechaba’ in Italian with a circulation of 4,000. They printed 23,000 diaries for sale together with Isitwalandwe gold medals.

Although all the political parties declared their support for the ANC only the Communist Party gave them practical and necessary assistance. They had good relations with other liberation organisations such as Polisario, El Salvador and Uruguay and with other African Diplomatic Missions. Their closest connections were with the embassies of Lesotho, Algeria and Zambia. However the office struggled to keep going financially for the promised donations from Italian parties did not materialise. A major problem arose when visitors would arrive at the airport without a visa. Thami sent a strong plea for visas to be obtained prior to travelling.

At a meeting of ANC representatives Thami related that organisations worked well for South Africa but “they are not conscious of the person on the spot…what you eat, where you sleep or how you go about your medical care….” And she suggested that representatives have regular medical check-ups, rest and regular get-togethers.

There is a gap in the records after 1982 until 1985 when letters and reports from Ugo Benassi of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia were written to O. R. Tambo. The letters express a concern about the Natal violence and murder of Victoria Mxenge. Tambo was greatly loved in this part of Italy and established close relationships in the area. In 1987 he was given the Freedom of the Comune di Reggio nell’Emilia. Albertina Sisulu had Honorary Citizenship conferred on her and two streets in Reggio Emilia were renamed via Albert Lutuli and via Martiri di Soweto. In addition they organized demonstrations and collected donations for SOMAFCO and for the Lusaka farm.

By 1987 Henry Benny Nato de Bruyn had been appointed Chief Representative in the Rome office and the volume of records kept by the mission began to grow. He set up links with municipalities throughout the country and made close friends with people in local government, the trade unions and solidarity organizations. Particular friends to the ANC were Giuseppe Soncini and his wife Bruna. Tambo was himself ill when Soncini died in April 1991, but he sent in a shaking hand, a condolence note to Bruna who replied with deep affection saying ‘the struggles of your people have enriched our life.’ The address at the funeral was delivered by Marcellino dos Santos, as Benny Nato informed Tambo by fax on April 8 1991.

A letter from Martello Bucci of Pistoia dated 24 June 1991 to Benny Nato expresses regret that Benny is leaving Italy but pleased that he is returning to South Africa. It would appear that Pandula Steve Gawe left the UK to replace Benny around July or August of 1991. The task of informing solidarity groups about the negotiations for a new dispensation and later of the arrangements for democratic elections now fell to Gawe, as did the closing down of the Mission in 1994

Scope and Content Note

The Italian Mission Papers of the African National Congress are stored in 11 boxes, 10 individually numbered collections of memorabilia and a box of posters.

The papers are divided into 4 series: Subject Files, Correspondence, Memorabilia and Posters.

The Subject Files Series I is held in Boxes 0001 – 0004 and consists of 35 folders.
The subject Files spans years 1985 – 1994. It consists of generated documents such as records of conferences, policy documents and statements, education, the economy, health and Human Rights, land, MK, Mandela, Missions and NGO’s. Folder 0027 in Box 0003 contains newspaper clippings followed by plays and poetry, reports, Joe Slovo, SOMAFCO, the SA Institute of Race Relations and United Nations documents.

The Correspondence Series II is in Box 0005, folders 0001 – 0010. The bulk of the correspondence consists of faxes from folders 0003 – 0010 while letters are in folders 0001-0002 and spans the years 1997-1994.

The Periodicals Sub- Series is in Box 0008. General ANC periodicals and publications, and material not generated by the Italian Mission office were removed. See ANC Special Collections for a list of this. Publications kept include those of solidarity organizations, and a biography of OR Tambo inter alia. Within each folder in this series only, every item is recorded.

The Memorabilia Series III is in Box 0009, separately numbered from 1 to 10. Items include poster photographs, art works, Mandela awards, a medal for Dr. Agostinho Neto and a Mandela poster on cloth.

The Poster Series IV is a collection of miscellaneous posters and these are held in Box 0010.

The Additions is material that was found subsequently at the ANC Headquarters and processed. This includes series 3 series : Documents in the English language, Italian Translation and statements.


Series I – Subject Files

Box 0001
0001. ANC Conferences/Anniversary/Workshops, 1985, 1987-1988, n.d
0002. ANC Memos and Circulars, n.d., 1988, 1990 – 1993 -1994, n.d
0003. ANC Development Centre/Dakawa, 1990
0004. ANC Policy/Discussion Documents, 1988-1993
0005. ANC Statements/Declarations, 1990, 1992, n.d
0006. Anti-Apartheid Movement, 1988-1993
0007. Cards/Photographs
0008. Children, n.d.
0009. Commonwealth, 1993

Box 0002
0010. Community Development – Kagiso Trust, 1986
0011. Conferences, 1990
0012. Conferences , 1991 – 1993
0013. Directory, 1989-1992
0014. Economy, n.d., 1989-1990, 1992-1993
0015. Education, n.d., 1989
0016. Embassies, 1993-1994
0017. German Foundation for International Development, 1980-1993
0018. Hani Chris,[ 1993]
0019. Health, n.d.

Box 0003
0020. Human Rights, 1989-1992
0021. Invitations, 1988-1989, 1991, 1993
0022. Land, n.d, 1991
0023. MK, 1961
0024. Mandela Nelson, 1990
0025. Missions, 1987
0026. NGO’s, n.d, 1991, 1994
0027. Newspaper clippings, 1987-1994
0028. Papers, n.d, 1988-1992

Box 0004
0029. Plays / poetry, n.d, 1989
0030. Periodicals, 1990, 1993
0031. Reports, n.d, 1987 – 1988, 1992 – 1994 (photo copy)
0032. Slovo Joe, n.d
0033. SOMAFCO, 1989
0034. South African Institute of Race Relations, 1992
0035. United Nations, 1984-1993


Series II – Correspondence

Box 0005
0001. Correspondence/Postcards
0002. Correspondence (letters), 1987-1994
0003. Faxes Dispatched (i), 1989 – 1994
0004. Faxes Dispatched (ii), 1993 -1994

Box 0006
0005. Faxes Received (i) (Organizations), 1987-1994
0006. Faxes Received (ii), 1988 – 1992
0007. Faxes Received (ii), 1992 – 1994

Box 0007
0008. Organizations, 1987-1994 (photocopy)
0009. Telex Messages (i), 1987 – 1989
0010. Telex Messages (ii), 1987-1989


Sub- Series – Periodicals

Box 0008
0012. AWEPPA
0013. Afrika
0014. Afrika Aktuell
0015. IL Passaggio, 1993
0016. Mensile Anti – Apartheid
0017. Nigrizia
0018. Sud Afrika, 1987
0019. Sud – Sud, 1992
0020. Tambo, O.R (Biography), n.d
0021. UNICEF
0022. Update, 1989


Series III – Memorabilia

Box 0009
0001. Poster Photographs
0002. Art Works
0003. Post Card
0004. Torbole Monument
0005. Election Campaign
0006. Mandela Awards
0007. ANC Flag Cover
0008. Italian Flags
0009. Medal for Dr Agostinho Neto
0010. Poster – Mandela on Cloth


Series IV – Posters – (separately shelved)

Box 0010
0001. Posters (6 Items)



Series I – Documents in the English language

Box 0011
0001. Correspondence – General, 1990 – 1993
0002. Correspondence from the Chief Rep’s Office
0003. Correspondence re ANCWL
0004. Correspondence re Treasurer General, 1984,1988
0005. Correspondence re Universities Act, 1987
0006. Discussion Documents
0007. Minutes of meetings.
0008. Notes and diary of Benny Nato Bruyn (Chief Rep)
0009. Proposals, 1990
0010. Reports – General
0011. Speeches and addresses, 1991
0012. Statements, 1990


Series II – Italian Translation

Box 0012
0001. Press release of the SA Embassy in Wally, December 1993
0002. Referring to the private residence of the ANC Representative, 1993 December 21
0003. Campaign in support of Nicaragua, 1989 August 03
0004. Anti apartheid and solidarity initiatives rallies, etc, 1986-1994
0005. International seminars on “where is SA going?” organized in Rome 1990
0006. UN conferences in Geneva 1992, What NGO and AAM role in the EC/EV
0007. Correspondence to and from the ANC Rep in Rome 1988-1994
0008. Hopes for SA, documentation of the Vatican after a visit by De-Klerk to the Pope, 1993 December 13
0009. Letter of the SA Consulate General in Milan to the Italian Trade Union to deny existence of apartheid, nd
0010. List of local groups, communities, associations, parties active in supporting the anti apartheid movement in Italy, nd
0011. Visit to Italy by comrade Patrick Lekota accompanied by ANC representative Steven Gawe, 2003 October
0012. Short presentation of the ANC with no date prepared and distributed in Italy
0013. Books and documents on SA
0014. Seminars on Economic Relations with SA organized by the local Chamber of Commerce Northern Italy, 1994 February
0015. Solidarity initiatives with the ANC Technical arrangements,
0016. Political elections, 1994
0017. ANC Rep. in Rome
0018. List of attorneys and members of the Rome Tribunal prepared in 1990
0019. TGO, 1988, 1989 including weekly economic Reports
0020. Anti Apartheid movements


Series III – Statements

Box 0013
0001. ANC Requisition to the Italian Government, 1991 June
0002. Biography of Nelson Mandela
0003. Biography of Winnie Mandela, n.d
0004. Italian Chief Rep. Mr Bevany Nato De Bruyu 1986-1987, 1989-1991
0005. Chief Rep. To Italy Mr Stephen Pandwa Gawe, 1992-1994
0006. CVs of prominent members of the ANC, 1993
0007. Incoming telexes messages to Italian Chief Rep Benny Nato 1988-1990
0008. Mandela, Nelson Rolihlahla, 1990,1992
0009. Outgoing telefax messages from Italian Chief Rep Benny Nato , 1988-1990
0010. ANC Election Campaing, a constituent assembly proposal for funding, 1992-1993
0011. Available projects received by the ANC, n.d
0012. Elections, General Information including manifestors of political parties, 1994
0013. ANC media and Press statements
0014. Mandela Speeches, interviews collection, 1993 Feb 11