External Mission is a meticulously researched book that penetrates the secrecy of the ANC in exile for the first time.
The ANC was banned by the apartheid government from April 1960 to February 1990. Those of its leaders who escaped arrest were forced to live abroad. The rank and file of members in exile lived in camps in Tanzania and Angola.
The real history of this period remains shrouded in mystery. Some events are well known, like the Rivonia arrests of 1963, the Rhodesian campaign of 1967-68 and the Kabwe conference of 1985. Less well known are the intense factional struggles within the organisation, recurring pro-democracy protests, and the creation of a security apparatus that inspired widespread fear. Some networks within the exiled ANC became heavily involved in corruption, even colluding with elements of the apartheid security police and secret services.
Anyone who wants to understand South Africa today needs to know this history. This book aims for the first time to provide a full account of the ANC’s years in exile, penetrating the secrecy that the organisation erected around itself and testing the myths that emerged from that period. It is notable for using an exceptionally wide range of sources, including the many biographies and autobiographies by leaders of the struggle, numerous personal papers and the ANC’s own archives, but also foreign archives including in East Germany, where the ANC’s security personnel were trained.