Russia and South Africa: Historical Memory. Part 1


Ndlovu Sifiso Mxolisi


In order to prove that the relationship between South Africa and Russia began well before the democratic dispensation in South Africa, the author is of the belief that the present Russian state inherited the mantle of the former Soviet Union state and therefore the two place names are used interchangeably. The timeline for this article begins from the 1960s to the present, particularly the era after the formation of post-1994 democratic South Africa. The themes to be analysed relate to the writing of a brief ‘diplomatic’ history of South Africa and the Soviet Union and will focus on progressive internationalism, diplomacy, foreign policy, communism and anti-communism in South Africa.


African National Congress, Soviet Union, Russian-South African relations, archives, oral history




1. S. Zondi. The ANC’s Progressive Internationalism: A Paradigm of Struggle in International Relations, in K. Kondlo, C. Saunders and S. Zondi (eds), Treading the Waters of History: Perspectives on the ANC (Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa, 2014), p. 154–172; S.M. Ndlovu, ‘The African Agenda and the Origins of Internationalism within the ANC: 1912–1960’, in B. Ngcaweni (ed.), The Future We Chose: Emerging Perspectives on the Centenary of the ANC (Pretoria, Africa Institute of South Africa, 2013), chapter 3.
2. R. van Diemel. In Search of Freedom, Liberty, Justice and Fair Play: Josiah Tshangana Gumede, 1867–1946 (Glenvista: House of Memory, 2013), p. 130; H. Haywood, Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist, (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1978), p. 214. Sechaba, December 1982; H. Adi, Pan-Africanism and Communism: The Communist International, Africa and the Diaspora, 1919-1939 (Trenton, NJ: African World Press, 2013); Inprecor, 25 February 1927.
3. Interview with Joe Gaobakwe Matthews conducted by S.M. Ndlovu and B.M. Magubane, 18 July 2001, SADET Oral History Project (SOHP). See also V. Shubin and M. Traikova, ‘There is No Threat from the Eastern Bloc’, chapter 12 in SADET, The Road to Democracy, Volume 3, International Solidarity, Part 2 (Pretoria: Unisa Press, 2008).
4. Interview with Thabo Mbeki conducted by S.M. Ndlovu, 12 March 2020, SADET Oral History Project (SOHP).
5. Ibid. See also interview with Essop Pahad conducted by Thina Nzo and S.M. Ndlovu, 2019, SOHP.
6. Ibid.