White lies: Canon Collins and the secret war against apartheid

OUTPUT TYPE: Monograph (Book)
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2004
TITLE AUTHOR(S): D.Herbstein
KEYWORDS: APARTHEID RESISTANCE, HUMAN RIGHTS
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Web link: http://www.hsrcpublishers.ac.za/full_title_info.asp?id=2010
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 3190

If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at researchoutputs@hsrc.ac.za.

Abstract

Behind the clerical dog collar he wore as Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, John Collins ran a single-minded, constantly creative, campaign over several decades to provide material support to those waging the struggle against apartheid - assisting leaders like Nelson Mandela, thousands of township and rural activists, as well as families who suffered because their loved ones were in prison, in exile or killed. The success of the organisations he founded, the International Defence and Aid Fund (IDAF) and Christian Action, depended on a network of volunteers across the world and a small group of South African exiles and British workers in London. South African intelligence agents often tried to penetrate these networks but to no avail. Through this book, Herbstein has preserved an important piece of contemporary history. During the era of apartheid, and amongst the oppositional movements internationally, IDAF could not be seen on posters or sign appeals like Oxfam or Amnesty but had to work "in the shadows". Often, it was underestimated and sometimes overlooked, but perhaps to its greatest advantage. Whatever its profile amongst the international anti-apartheid movements, IDAF's significance was immense and the actions of John Collins, in the framework of his fund, remind us that change is indeed possible, and that the overcoming of apartheid was indeed a triumph of civil society. This story, of a remarkable man and a remarkable human-rights organisation, is told here for the first time.