The ANC's growth after the defiance campaign

The publicity the ANC received as a result of the defiance campaign and, undoubtedly, the tireless efforts of its leaders at branch and national level, helped the organisation to gain more members.

"Figures cited by Joe Matthews suggest that membership of the ANC in Port Elizabeth swelled enormously during the Defiance Campaign. He reckons that the membership of the New Brighton branch alone increased from 2 700 to 13 000 within a space of less than a month ... By early September, ANC members in Korsten and Dassieskraal stood at 5 000 and 3 000, respectively."

- Baines, GF, "New Brighton, Port Elizabeth c.1903-1953: A history of an urban African community", University of Cape Town, Department of History, PhD thesis, February 1994, p. 217)


"Over the next five months, 8 500 people took part in the campaign. Doctors, factory workers, lawyers, teachers, students, ministers, defied and went to jail ... The campaign received an enormous amount of publicity and the membership of the ANC shot up from some 20 000 to 100 000, with the most spectacular increase occurring in the eastern Cape, which contributed half of all new members."

- Mandela, N, Long Walk To Freedom, South Africa, A Macdonald Purnell Book, 1994, p. 123

back to the Raymond Mhlaba memorial page

"I opened the way for others to defy an unjust system."
Raymond Mhlaba
Raymond Mhlaba
Picture: Courtesy of Thembeka Mufamadi


In this lesson plan, learners will have an opportunity to study Raymond Mhlaba's memoirs as he related them to a historian in 2001. They will be able to think about the value of oral history and how it provides new insights into events.

Lesson plan
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Archive and Artwork Photo Gallery
Images from Raymond Mhlaba’s life and of the Heritage Project’s memorial to his role in the 1952 defiance campaign.
Audio about Raymond Mhlaba
Family, friends and colleagues talk about Raymond Mhlaba and why he is regarded as one of the unsung heroes of the Eastern Cape
Raymond Mhlaba speaks about life imprisonment
In June 1964, Raymond Mhlaba and seven other icons of the struggle against apartheid were sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island. For them the sentence came as a relief — it was much better than the death sentence they were expecting. In this e
Mhlaba and Mandela on the 1952 Defiance Campaign
In 1952, Raymond Mhlaba launched the famous Defiance Campaign by walking into a whites-only area at the New Brighton train station, knowing that he would be arrested. In this video extract from a documentary by Dali Tambo, Mhlaba and Nelson Mandela remi