This collection provides fresh perspectives on the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union of Africa (ICU). By far the largest black political organisation in Southern Africa before the 1940s, the ICU was active in six African colonies as well as in global trade union networks.
Thirteen original chapters by major scholars examine different aspects of the ICU’s record in the 1920s and 1930s, assessing its achievements and its failures in relation to the post-apartheid present. In its syndicalist One Big Union approach to protecting workers’ rights; its emphasis on economic freedoms; its internationalism; and its robust protection of women and migrant workers, the ICU challenged fundamentally the axioms, tactics, and programmes of rival organisations like the African National Congress. More than simply an exercise in excavating a crucial chapter in struggle history, this volume demonstrates that the traditions and legacies of the ICU are of great relevance to contemporary Southern Africa.
List of Abbreviations
Section A The ICU in Southern Africa
Chapter 1: The ICU, the Mines and the State in South West Africa, 1920-1926: Garveyism, Syndicalism and Global Labour History, Lucien van der Walt.
Chapter 2: The Rabble-rouser: Robert Sambo’s ICU Stint in Rhodesia, Anusa Daimon.
Chapter 3: Organising the Unorganised: ICU Internationalism and the Transnational Unionisation of Migrant Workers, Henry Dee.
Section B Local and Regional Histories of the ICU
Chapter 4: The ICU in Free State Dorps and Dorpies, Peter Limb and Chitja Twala
Chapter 5: The ICU and Local Politics: Kroonstad, from the Late 1920s to the 1930s, Tshepo Moloi.
Chapter 6: Trouble Brewing: The ICU, the 1925 Bloemfontein Riots and the Women Question, Nicole Ulrich.
Chapter 7: The ICU in the Western Transvaal, 1926-1934: Re-imagining Ideological, Spatial and Political Realities, Laurence Stewart.
Chapter 8: The ICU in Port-Elizabeth: The Making of a Union-cum-Protest Movement, 1920-1931, Noor Nieftagodien.
Chapter 9: ‘Home Truths’ and the Political Discourse of the ICU, Phil Bonner.
Section C Factions and Legacies of the ICU
Chapter 10: Leadership Contestations and Worker Mobilisation in the Early Years of the Twentieth Century: Selby Msimang and the ICU, 1919-1921, Sibongiseni Mkhize.
Chapter 11: The Communist Party of South Africa and the ICU, 1923 – 1931, Tom Lodge.
Chapter 12: Elizabeth van Heyningen, Illusion and Disillusion: White Women and the ICU
Chapter 13: The Romance and the Tragedy of the ICU, David Johnson.
About the Editors