The 1973 Mass Strikes: Opening the Front Line Against Apartheid

The Forge invites you to the opening of an exhibition titled The 1973 Mass Strikes: Opening the Front Line Against Apartheid

In 1973, 50 years ago, at the height of apartheid, black workers broke out of the cheap labour system with rolling strike after strike; a movement which struck at the base of the apartheid system: racial capitalism.

Starting with the heroic general strike of Namibian workers in 1971/72 and moving on to the mass strikes of 1973, here are the images of short-term contracts, urban rights denied, ultra-low pay, brutal regimes in barracks, rule by agents of chiefs and Bantustans, blacklisting reference books and the ever-present police.


Thursday 9 March 2023




David Hemson is a socialist, a researcher and a social historian. As an anti-apartheid student activist, he was the Vice President for International Relations of the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS). He founded the student Wages Commissions in South Africa in 1971, wrote on the national strike in Namibia 1971-72 and edited research bulletins and workers’ newspapers. He actively participated in the Durban mass strikes in 1973 and addressed mass meetings of strikers. 

Free to attend