India Mission

RECORDS, 1979 – 1994

2 boxes




ACQUISITION: ANC Archive Committee

ACCESS: The collection is open


VISUAL MATERIAL: Video collection on archive shelves

AUDIO MATERIAL: Audio collection on archive shelves


COPYRIGHT: ANC Archive Committee

PROCESSED BY: Arrangement and description done under the auspices of a joint project between the University of Fort Hare and the University of Michigan. Primary processor, Lisa Klopfer, June 1999. Partially rearranged and reboxed by Sibongile Simelane and Khanyisa Bottoman, June 2003.




On April 8, 1960, the African National Congress (ANC) was declared an illegal organization by the South African government. In response, the ANC divided into two spheres of operation, or missions. One was an internal mission, run secretly within South Africa; and one was external, operated through a number of offices throughout the world. The external missions were headed by Oliver Tambo, acting president-general of the ANC, while the internal mission was headed by Nelson Mandela. By 1985 the ANC had offices and representatives in 32 countries, including India. The external missions worked to develop political and popular support internationally for the ANC’s struggle against apartheid.


Representatives in the ANC India mission office were S. Molifi and M. Msimang; Moosa Moolla served as Chief Representative from 1986 to 1989, succeeded by Mtutuzeli Mpehle. Mr. Nzama served under M. Mpehle as Assistant Chief Representative after 1992. In addition, visits were made to India by Mr. Yusuf Dadoo (c.1909-1983), who was a SACP member and also chairman of the ANC National Executive Committee and the ANC Revolutionary Council; and Dr. Z. K. Matthews (1901-1968), who served as Professor and Acting Principal at the University of Fort Hare, and Chairman of the Eastern Cape ANC.


The ANC India Mission enjoyed the strong support of the Indian national government (dominated by the Congress Party), the Communist-dominated West Bengal state government, as well as the loyalty of labour unions across India and a number of schools and colleges.


Activities of the mission included regular correspondence with the Indian heads of state and other political leaders, participation in conferences, celebrations and events at schools and colleges, and after 1980, the promotion of the Free Nelson Mandela campaign.



Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of three series: Subject filesPhotograph albums, and Films and video.


The Subject files are made up of eight folders, primarily containing correspondence.


The first folder contains correspondence between the ANC Chief Representative Mtutuzeli Mpehle and various representatives from supportive Indian schools, colleges and organizations. The bulk of the material relates to Bluebells School and Springdales School, both in New Delhi. In addition to sponsoring “Africa Day,” annual awards and similar events, the Bluebells school offered a scheme whereby two to four South African children could board there and be educated; and one or two South African women could undertake six months of teacher training.


Folder 2 concerns letters to Mandela. The India mission received personal letters of support for Nelson Mandela from Indian schoolchildren, diplomats, clubs and organizations. The folder also contains conference proceedings and resolutions relating to Mr. Mandela’s imprisonment and release, and the full text of Mandela’s address on the day of his release. Note that more letters to Mandela may be found in folder 5.


Folder 3 contains correspondence, addresses and proceedings concerning awards in honour of Mandela. No actual awards are in the folder, but it does contain lists of awards, declarations, medals, etc. conferred on Mandela in India and also internationally.


Folder 4 concerns Mandela’s visit to India in October, 1990. It contains letters of congratulation, text of speeches, celebratory poetry and two photographs of Mandela in India. Note that letters inviting Mandela to India and relating to his release may be found in folder 3.


Folder 5 contains two printed statements by Oliver Tambo. One statement was released from Lusaka, Zambia (August, 1985) regarding the state of emergency imposed by PW Botha; and the other was made at his installation as Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare in October, 1991.


Folder 6 contains correspondence between ANC leaders and Indian Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, VP Singh, Rajiv Gandhi, and Narasimha Rao.


Folder 7 contains correspondence and a statement on South African Women’s Day, 9 Aug 1981.


Folder 8 includes correspondence between ANC leaders and Rajiv Gandhi (son of Indira Gandhi) and also between M. Mpehle and Rajiv Gandhi’s widow, Sonia Gandhi, after his death in 1991.


The Photograph albums series consists of seven albums. They are extremely varied in content, ranging from reproductions of photographs of Mahatma Gandhi’s early years in South Africa to Nelson’s Mandela’s 1990 visit to India. Many of the images are unlabelled, and others have been identified by likeness only.


Album 1 is one of two from the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti (Gandhi memorial and monument committee) in New Delhi (the second album is number 8). The first part of the album consists of reproduced black/white photographs of Gandhi’s mature years in India. The second part of the album consists of black/white and color photographs documenting some activities of the Gandhi Smriti.


Album 2 is undated and has no labels. It contains nineteen large black/white photos of Mr. Yusuf Dadoo (c.1909-1983) and Dr. Z. K. Matthews (1901-1968) in India. Mr. Dadoo was the national chairman of the South African Communist Party (SACP), chairman of the ANC National Executive Committee and chairman of the ANC Revolutionary Council. He was active in passive resistance campaigns in the 1940s and the Defiance campaign in the 1950s. In 1960 he left South Africa, and continued his struggle from abroad. Dr. Matthews was a Vice Chancellor at the University of Fort Hare, and Chairman of the Eastern Cape ANC.


Album 3 was created by students at the Bluebells School in New Delhi as a tribute to Nelson Mandela. It contains collages, photographs and written messages from the children. The photographs, undated, depict the school’s “African Women’s Day,” including images of ANC Chief Representative M. Mpehle.


Album 4 consists of printed text and eight reproduced photographs documenting solidarity actions with ANC in Calcutta, West Bengal. It includes photos of Mr. Musa Moolla, ANC representative.


Album 5 is one of two albums created by the government of West Bengal (India) to document and commemorate Nelson Mandela’s visit in October, 1990. It includes collages and hand-drawn ink decorations.


Album 6 is the second of two albums from the government of West Bengal (India). It contains photographs and collages celebrating Nelson Mandela’s visit in October, 1990.


Album 7 is the second of two albums from the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti (Gandhi memorial and monument committee) in New Delhi (album 1 is the first of the two). It includes reproduced black/white photographs of young Gandhi, photographs of newspaper clippings on the treason trial, Rivonia trial and other major events in the struggle against apartheid.


The Film and video series is stored and documented separately.


Box 1

Series I – Subject Files

1. Indian Schools, 1988 – 1994

2. Letters to Mandela, 1990-1992

3. Mandela Awards, 1979 – 1980, 1984, 1986, 1990 – 1991

4. Mandela Visit to India, 1990

5. Oliver Tambo – Speeches, 1985, 1991

6. Prime Minister’s Office, 1981, 1989, 1994

7. South African Women’s Day, 1981

8. Sonia Gandhi, 1990-1993



Box 2

Series II – Photograph Albums (oversize)

1. Gandhi (n.d.)

2. Yusuf Dadoo (n.d.)

3. Bluebells School Tribute (n.d.)

4. Solidarity Memories, 1986-1990

5. Mandela Visit, 1990 (first of two)

6. Mandela Visit, 1990 (second of two)

7. Gandhi and Young Mandela (n.d.)