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Slovo, Joe (1926–1995)

Immanuel Ness


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Joe Slovo, a South African of Lithuanian decent, was instrumental in shaping a united front among working-class opponents of the South African apartheid government. He rose to the position of general secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and formed a strategic alliance with the African National Congress (ANC) , the leading African nationalist resistance movement against the South African racially segregated system known as apartheid. In 1948, the Nationalist government of South Africa established apartheid (separateness) to prevent the African majority from gaining political and economic power. Apartheid was used to divide and marginalize the African majority through the creation of segregated territories known as Bantustans. Born in Lithuania on May 23, 1926, Yossel Maschel Slovo immigrated to Johannesburg, South Africa at the age of 8 with his family. The son of a truck driver, Slovo joined the SACP in 1942 and became an active trade unionist. He was a leading opponent of the Nazis during World War II. Slovo entered law school following the war and earned a law degree from Wits University in 1950. Slovo married Ruth First, an SACP member and an unwavering opponent of the apartheid government in South Africa. In the 1950s state repression against the SACP subjected Slovo and First to the Suppression of Communism Act, which prevented the party from engaging in ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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