‘Open Fascism Has Appeared on this Continent’: South Africa’s Independent Press and Anti-Fascism, 1937–1947



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When Moses Kotane founded The African Defender in 1937, he did so with the intention to encourage African self-sufficiency through teaching and publishing in indigenous languages and through sharing information on how to survive in segregated South Africa. In doing so, he entered into public conversation with writers and editors of other independent publications such as The Anti-Fascist or occasional series by groups such as the South African Jewish Deputies Board. In the decade after Kotane and his peers began their own discussions, conversations about fascism and anti-fascism in South Africa moved from the margins among those deemed alarmist into spaces where anti-racist activists increasingly saw red flags connecting European oppression with the growing populist nationalism in their own country. This article examines this decade through the language and conversations of independent publications such as Kotane’s, in the face of the proliferation of groups such as the Greyshirts, The People’s Movement, the South African National Democratic Party (‘Blackshirts’), The South African Fascists, and the Gentile Protection League. It argues that anti-fascist philosophies not only informed but served as cornerstones to a nascent anti-apartheid movement.

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South African Historical Journal




This article has been accepted for publication in South African Historical Journal, published by Taylor & Francis. It is currently unavailable through this institutional repository until August 1, 2023; it is available online at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02582473.2022.2038660.

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