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A Force More Powerful 03, South Africa

This is the third of a 6-part series about the implementation of non-violent struggle against oppression in various countries throughout the world. The third episode looks at the work of the United Democratic Front in South Africa beginning in the 1980s.

In the 1980s in South Africa police killing black youth was endemic, and one of the very few gatherings of black people that was allowed was for the weekly funerals. Violence against young blacks was being reciprocated by violence on the part of the youth in the form of riots in the townships.

The UDF was an umbrella organisation that united civil liberties groups, church groups, youth groups and others in the townships. They used their organisation to organise boycotts of white businesses who were going along with the apartheid regime, and they managed to cause a lot of economic harm to these interests.

Large international corporations pulled out of the country, white businesses suffered from the boycotts, and enough pressure was placed on vested interests that they eventually had to agree to change. The film shows the beginning of these changes, and just as in the other films in this series, quickly speeds up to the victory lap, in 1993 in this case, when free elections were held for black and white alike.

What these films show over and again is that boycotting, or withdrawing economic support, is one of the most powerful tools in the weaponry of non-violence. If you hit the oppressor in their pockets eventually they have to change.

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