Tuesday, 15 March 2011

African People's Organisation / first coloured pressure group in Namibia

The African People's Organisation (APO), originally the African Political Organisation, was formed in Cape Town in 1902 and was initially the most prominent "coloured" pressure group in South Africa. Its interest in SWA/Namibia goes back to at least 1918 when it opposed the transfer of the former German colony to the South Africa Authority. The first SWA branch of the APO was established in Windhoek in February 1923. In informing the colonial authorities of the establishment of the branch, the leaders stated that the aims of the organisation were to defend "the Social Political and Civil Rights of the Cape Coloured Community throughout the SW Protectorate. Another political organisation which devoted itself to representing the Coloured community in SWA, the African National Bond, was also launched in Windhoek in 1925.

The APO, although it recruited its members from the relatively small group of educated and economically comfortably off Coloureds, was to become the most influential political organisation for Coloureds for almost forty years. Although it collapsed as an organisation in the early 1940s, having to give way to more radical organisations, the APO shaped black political thought and culture for decades after its demise.