Equity moves to turn unbanning around

Contrary to most reports, the decision by the council of the British actors’ union, Equity, to lift its ban on sales to South Africa is neither universally welcomed by South African actors, nor irreversible.

“Speaking personally, as a black actor, it makes me very angry,” John Kani commented on the council’s decision to end the prohibition of sales of television and radio programmes to South Africa. “It is so hypocritical. Equity in its rejection of apartheid felt a moral obligation to boycott South Africa. Are they supposing things have changed? Instead, I suspect the politics of the stomach have triumphed.”

His response was very different from the enthusiasm of organisations like the SABC, and theatre folk like Sun City’s entertainment director Hazel Feldman who found “any decision to lift any ban commendable” – and Des Lindberg, head of the South African Association of Theatre Management who claimed some credit in lobbying Equity people to lift the “meaningless” ban.

Kani said South African actors would suffer as “has-been West End actors” and dusty British Broadcasting Corporation programmes were imported, instead of developing work with a South African identity.

“I don’t see anything to jump around about,” commented Johannesburg actress Gcina Mhlope. British film actress Glenda Jackson has said she will oppose the decision and other actresses and Equity members – including Vanessa Redgrave and Julie Christie – are reportedly considering demanding a special meeting to renew the ban.

The 40-year-old prohibition by the British musicians’ union on sales to South Africa, remains in effect, and would complicate sales of programmes.

The London Anti-Apartheid Movement’s executive secretary, Mike Terry, told Weekly Mail the movement deplored the council’s decision. “It overturns the express wishes of Equity’s membership. On a number of occasions members have voted to adopt this policy. But he said, the result was “a temporary setback, not a defeat.” 

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail newspaper

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Is the US establishing a military base in Zambia?

Dr Fred M’membe, president of the Socialist Party in Zambia, says such a facility will be established ‘over our dead bodies’

A queer community in Elands Bay pushed for religious inclusion...

Elands Bay’s queer folk were determined to find a home in the town’s conservative churches

I’m ready to pass the baton – ANC spokesperson Pule...

Mabe has been at Luthuli House for some years but is now ready for a new chapter

Factory gate inflation surprises on the upside

The higher producer prices come after consumer inflation also bucked consensus expectations

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…