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date: 30 March 2020

Slovo, Joe locked

  • Peter Limb

Extract

Joe Slovo was a central figure in the national liberation movement of South Africa, chiefly as a theorist and leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and African National Congress (ANC). His importance lies in the way he adroitly combined Marxism (as applied in the South African situation) with national liberation ideology, as well as his ability as a strategist of armed struggle and then as a flexible, yet principled, negotiator for democracy.

Slovo migrated to South Africa at age nine to join his working-class Jewish family. He joined the Communist Party of South Africa at age sixteen and became a National Union of Distributive Workers’ shop steward. After serving in the army in World War II, he was active in the radical veterans’ Springbok Legion. Qualifying as a lawyer, he defended Africans arrested during the 1950s for opposing apartheid. In 1949 Slovo married radical journalist Ruth ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought.

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