Thursday, July 24, 2008

Brian Bunting - Outstanding South African Communist- 1920-2008

I return from abroad and am saddened to hear that Comrade Brian Bunting has died in Cape Town aged 88. I had the pleasure and honour of meeting Brian Bunting on a couple of occasions in London in the early 1980's, he was the epitome of the many deeply committed and highly developed political activists which characterised the cadres of the South African Communist Party (SACP) . I first encountered the SACP in the GDR when I was lucky to meet a number of SACP comrades in Berlin, one recommended that I should contact some of their comrades in London, and eventually I attended a number of the SACP's memorable New Years Eve party's which were notable for the high degree of organisation and the great atmosphere of commitment and sheer exuberant fun which made it such an appealing place to usher in the New Year. I had a long and enlightening comversation with Brian Bunting , and his unparalleled analysis of the struggle against apartheid and the crucial role of the ANC-SACP-Trade Union alliance as a political counterpart to the armed struggle of Umkhonto We Sizwe was intriguing and a privilege to hear. Brian Bunting never wavered in his support for the Party and the international communist movement. He had been elected to the South African parliament from November 1952 to October 1953 as a 'natives' representative in the days when white people could be elected by Africans in the Western Cape. Prevented from taking up his seat, due to the banning of the old CPSA in 1950. When re-elected as an ANC MP in 1994 following the collapse of Apartheid Bunting's first words to his fellow MP's were "As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted". Bunting graduated from the University of Witwatersrand in 1939, commencing a career in journalism before enlisting in the South African army, seeing action against the Nazis in North Africa. On demob he became a leading figure in the anti-fascist ex-services organisation the Springbok Legion editing its jourmal 'Fighting Talk'. In the subsequent years Bunting and his SACP comrades (the SACP filled the political vacuum created by the banning of the CPSA) , notably Govan Mbeki, and Ruth First, were the driving forces behind a series of publications famous for their investigative journalism. As each was in due course banned, another sprang up. From 'The Guardian', to 'Advance', to 'The Clarion', 'Peoples World', 'New Age' and 'Spark'. Finding that banning the publications was insufficient, the Apartheid authorities resorted to banning the people producing them. Bunting and First were put under house arrest and held in detention, before they were sent abroad by the movement. Mbeki was sentenced to life imprisonment with Nelson Mandela, and Ruth First later settled in post-liberation Mozambique where she was murdered by a South African security services parcel bomb. Brian Bunting settled in London with his wife Sonia, where they were active in the Anti-Apartheid movement and produced the respected SACP quarterly 'African Communist'.

His wife Sonia, a leading activist and defendant in the 1956 Treason trial died in 2001. Bunting remained a member of the SACP's central committee until last years SACP Congress which he missed due to ill health. Brian Bunting, a committed communist and internationalist to the end, is survived by three children, Stephen, Peter, and Margie.

21 comments:

Helena Sheehan said...

I got to know Brian Bunting over the last years in Cape Town. Here is a tribute that I wrote that was read in absentia at a memorial meeting in Mowbray Twon Hall in South Africa recently:

Comrade Brian Bunting was a surprise to me. I had heard of him for many years and somehow formed an impression of him as a rigid, assertive, dogmatic, hard-liner. When I got to know him, I found a quiet, gentle, courteous, open, thoughtful man. When I remarked upon this once, he responded with a wry smile.

It was privilege to have such time with him. I so looked forward to those times when he would open his gate to me at Burgh Road or come to collect me at All Africa House at UCT.

We had many long conversations that covered much ground. A conversation with him was very rewarding, but you had to make an effort to make it so. He was more inclined to listen than to talk. He would let you do most of the talking yourself unless you drew him out consciously and constantly. When you did, he was always forthcoming and to the point with his replies, but usually brief. You sometimes had to ask many supplementary questions to explore his thinking on a topic.

When attending a play or film or meeting with him or when discussing a book we had both read, he was always first to ask what I thought. When I asked what he thought, he was always razor sharp. If our views diverged, he considered other angles and even contrary opinions and either conceded some considerations or came back and argued his position.

Some conversations were on difficult terrain. He did have long held and much cherished convictions. Nothing, I believe, could have shaken his belief in the necessity of socialism or in the positive role played by the communist movement. Nevertheless he could face revelations that not all was as he had believed it to be. We spoke on a number of occasions about the history and legacy of the Soviet Union. In 2002 I was working on an introduction to a manuscript written by Bukharin that had been buried deep in kremlim archives until glasnost. I spoke to Brian of the terrible injustice done to Bukharin, who was a tragic true believer, and to many honest communists, in the purges and the Moscow trials. When I wrote up my research and reflections, I sent it to him. He said that it was an eye opener, that it told him much that he didn’t know, that he must find out more. His mind was open even to difficult truths.

The difficult truths were many. His conversations and correspondence told me of how disturbing were daily revelations about life in the new South Africa, which was often far from what he envisioned, as well as events abroad after 9-11 and during the war in Iraq.

He always looked outward towards the world, wanted to know what was happening and adapted to new things as best he could. He was reticent about cellphones and computers, but he did his best to use them meaningfully. His e-mails were an effort for him, but thoughtful and of great value to those of us who were fortunate enough to receive them.

He always arrived on time for meetings, even though he knew that they were unlikely to start on time. He must have been the only one there many times. Whenever he gave me a lift, we were always first. Usually he said nothing about it or just remarked on it quietly but firmly. Once, however, after a very long delay, he lost his temper and told younger comrades that they were betraying the liberation movement by their indisciplined behaviour. The atmosphere was silent and solemn and sad for a few minutes. The meeting then took place, but the gap between the revolutionary rhetoric and failure to live accordingly was never really bridged.

Despite all revelations and disappointments, he never gave up on the movement. He faced every problem with the ANC and SACP, as well as the international left, but never became cynical or drowned in negativity. When others were tempted to do so, he dealt with the problems, but reminded us of how much had been achieved, of how much might still be achieved.

In the last years, Brian lived a difficult life. He felt daily absence of Sonia acutely. He missed his children and grandchildren who lived far away, although he still delighted in the times spent with them. He was deeply disturbed by tensions in the alliance. He was sometimes disappointed in younger comrades, whose commitment did not always match their promises. He was frustrated by his own frailties. He was painfully hard on himself. Although he faced the incapacities of ageing with candour and fortitude, he still held himself to difficult standards. He wrote that he envied me my productive activity and did not feel that he was a very productive member of society. He was surely the only one who thought that.

I am so sorry to miss his funeral and the event tonight. My sympathies to the ANC, to the SACP and to his family and friends for the loss of such a comrade, such a man. So many will miss him so much. I am but one. I 'll be so sad to come back to South Africa and not to see him. Burgh Road will seem so deserted. Perhaps (and this is a suggestion made by Sheila Barsel) it might be Bunting Road by then, but it will still seem sadly empty of Brian and Sonia Bunting who graced it with their memorable presence.

Gabriel said...

Thanks Helena for that additional and far more insightful contribution than my own. It added greatly to the overall information available.

David Duff said...

"I first encountered the SACP in the GDR"

Could you just remind a forgetful old man what the initials "GDR" stand for; and did you enjoy your visit?

Anonymous said...

It certainly is not right

Anonymous said...

excipients halve loosening alliances apero tried theraulazsbk blew lifestyle serum homestead
servimundos melifermuly

Anonymous said...

izkbzosv cancelled repetitive negotiations agendadcita citing libraries impex inbox posed exchanges
servimundos melifermuly

Anonymous said...

Guy
You have got to see this. Obama playing on XBox. Funniest video ever. http://bit.ly/bllhx1

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon


Over the past 30 years, Mansour Engineering have completed thousands of projects of varying degrees of complexity in Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Quebec, the Yukon and Northwest territories

[url=http://www.mansour.ca] click here to go to Mansour Engineering[/url]


http://www.mansour.ca

Anonymous said...

Amiable fill someone in on and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you for your information.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone


Sometimes I get lucky, finding a http://www.BuySellDirect.net FREE ecommerce website was a life changer for me. After I used it for one month I earn $100.


http://www.BuySellDirect.net free service is a radical improvement on my present selling on the
Internet

Anonymous said...

vertex airline
[url=http://vimeo.com/user4498961]price for hotels
[/url]for a song bed prices
two-bit flights usa
forebears
[url=http://www.earthday.org/users/48490]hotels in nyc cheap
[/url]via hotel
airline class
airline criticize
[url=http://www.fairview.org/cty/members/klemot/default.aspx]nick hotel prices
[/url]puri breakfast booking
establishment pub
motor hotel deals due to the fact that valentines light of day
[url=http://www.youthcabinet.org/profile/Josh]ivy hotel
[/url]housing for seniors
inferior london hotels
hotel du vin
[url=http://www.beautyresearch.com/blogs/alexa/archive/2010/08/15/hotels-and-accomodations.aspx]maldron hotel
[/url]flying conservatism class
minimize conformity
beachfront compromise
[url=http://www.mazdacommunity.com/profiles/blogs/special-hotel-offers-or]brazil hotel prices
[/url]economical shot
caravanserai booking ireland
hotel suites deals

Anonymous said...

cheap hotels in glasgow city centre
casino hotel prices
hotel auteuil tour eiffel
pick your price hotel
travel hotel cheap
cheap cardiff hotels

Anonymous said...

latest online casinos us players
tilt onlinebets tournament-online casino
emerald queen mother casino fife
on line casinos usa
free spins new casino online
golf betting recreation
online free play casino slot machines
300 chips online casino
the bingo long traveling allstars motor kings
best online casino uk
free slots online casinos
stratosphere hotel casino ride
online casino player com
the best online casino slots
raffle results south carolina
casino online gambling free
casino linemulti bonus
west virginia situation lottery
all slots online casino
gambling free
national lottery uk
no deposit online casino bonuses
silver dollar online casino
kansas lottery education
juegos online casino
netherlands antilles jurisdiction online casinos
comment jouer de strategie en ligne tournoi de poker
vegasinsider handicappers top online casino bonus
music box online gambling casino
download card games blackjack
gambling sites japanese
Best US online casinos
treasure island casino cruz

Anonymous said...

vegas wild casino no deposit codes
consumer repair email casino bring games property
better jacks video poker strategy
casino online free chips no secure
lucky 18 casino
roulette strategy free
most beneficent casino benefit sports betting
online casino bonus coupons
play free slot games
caper disentangle casino games
software condition casino
assign em opening machines
lasster forte casino
largest casino bonus
unshackled video slots macintosh
online casino gaming
point casino software download
unruly rude west breakfast gambling classroom
joyful nugget casino
online casino
minnesota drawing
gamble internet casino sports
consumer services email casino table games property
nh situation sweepstake
las vegas gift casino chips
on pleasure casino
slotmachine car-boot sale
no deposit casino hand-out codes portofino
top casinos rtg
free download of hoyle card games

Anonymous said...

That іs nоt tο ѕtatе that thе сοst-free tаbles uѕuаlly aге not ωіth no objectіve.
mаnу peoрle aloof will not likely ωогk.


my blog - Casino bonus Codes

Anonymous said...

Not to mеntion you can plаy Casino Bonus codes іn several vaгіatіons such as 5 cагds Caѕino Вonus cоdes (Caribbean Ѕtud Casіnо Bonuѕ codes, Аlloω іt
to go Ride), Ѕeveгal Ϲarԁ Ϲasіno Bοnuѕ cοdeѕ, Pai Gоw Cаsіnο Вonus coԁеѕ аnԁ Texas
Store thеm. Milliоns of men anԁ women play
bingo games online and morе are lеarnіng regarԁing bingo bу pаrticіρatіng in free bingo οnlinе gаmeѕ.

Anonymous said...

Selecting the inԁiνіԁuаl
on-lіne charge сaгds is tгue griеvous ѕince you alsο allοw bеcome
tranѕaсting many your hагd eaгneԁ dollaгs.
Cyber bingo possesses every onе of the traits of it iѕ tеrritοгy baѕeԁ nepheω, howeѵer thе cуber bіngο model allowѕ for much easier аρprοachеs to
develop vагious ѕtуlеs hаd to win compaгed to the teгrain cеntered vеrsіοn
can.

My web-sіte - Casino Bonus codes

Anonymous said...

Ιt reallу is believeԁ that it enteгtaining
vidеo game wаs unveiled in to
amеrісa by means of Chineѕe language immigгants
inside еarlier twentieth сеntury. Pгoрerly this has tо be simply because online bingo online
games are actuаlly an easy task to find οut in additіon to actually amusing to engage
in.

Also visit my wеb blog: online Casino jackpot grand

Poker Bonus said...

Your online site could be more. I think You need more international visitors (poker players too), so please exchange link with us.
--------------
Poker sign up bonus
No deposit instant poker bonus
Poker bonus
Video Poker is a game based on five-card poker " titrated " - the English name of the 5-Card Draw Poker. Video poker game looks like a traditional slot machine . The earliest models of video poker machines were introduced sometime in the middle of the 70 - ties. The game has gained immense popularity in 1980 , when the players in casinos realize that playing video poker is much less frightening , of course, had to do with a smaller probability of losing money than the traditional poker game taking place at the table. In the 90's video poker game has become very popular among the residents of Las Vegas. This was due to the fact that vending machines located outside the city have smaller denominations of cash , as well as attractive chances of winning. Today video poker enthusiasts often use this form of the game for one simple reason - the web have instant access to games and high chances of winning.
No deposit Bonus Free Internet Poker money
Poker bonus bez depozytu
This section contains basic information on how to play in tournaments. They are designed for people who never took part in them. No thanks to them you will become an expert in poker tournaments.
Free Poker money
No deposit bonus free

Texas holdem poker said...

This outstanding article is one of my favourite. I like to read this great blog. Many thanks and good day.
--------------
Texas holdem poker
Gratis Poker senza deposito
Online poker free
The next big difference between Hold'em and Omaha poker is a limit of two cards face down . This means that even if a player has four cards face down , two, and only two of them can participate in the game. For example, you can arrange a set of cards with the cards selected exclusively from the community cards (called playing the board) , because these cards do NOT contain two cards face down .
Poker starting capital Computer for Omaha Poker game
Laptops for sale
Do not use any of the two peaks of common and add three peaks of cards face down , to get the color , because it would break the rules - would use three , rather than two cards. In Omaha, no less and no more than two of the four hole cards MUST ALWAYS BE IN THE GAME . Used cards are often changed during the hand . That's why Omaha poker is so exciting and is therefore greater game based on mathematics than Texas Hold'em. The possibilities are (almost) endless !
TV Deals
TV Program learn High Stakes Poker
Viteo

Aina Fe Garet said...

Thanks for revealing your ideas on this blog. Furthermore, a misconception regarding the financial institutions intentions any time talking about property foreclosure is that the lender will not take my payments. There is a certain quantity of time the bank is going to take payments every now and then. If you are also deep in the hole, they are going to commonly demand that you pay the payment completely. However, that doesn't mean that they will not take any sort of payments at all. In the event you and the lender can find a way to work one thing out, the particular foreclosure method may stop. However, in the event you continue to pass up payments wih the new program, the property foreclosure process can pick up where it left off.