Fonds BC1522 - Richard Owen Dudley Papers

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Richard Owen Dudley Papers


  • 1925-2010 (Creation)

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41 archival boxes

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Biographical history

RO (Richard ‘Dick’ Owen) Dudley (1924-2009) matriculated from Livingstone High School at the age of 15, and enrolled at UCT in 1940. He attained the following degrees: BSc (1942), MSc (1943) and BEd (1944). During a period of banning, he completed a BCom degree in Economics and Economic History at UCT (1963-1966). Shortly before his death, UCT conferred an honorary DEd on Dudley in April 2009. Dudley spent his entire teaching career from 1945 to 1984 at the Livingstone High School, where he served as Deputy, and as Acting Headmaster.

Dudley joined the New Era Fellowship in 1941 and became involved in the political struggle working with Ben Kies, Goolam Gool, IB Tabata, Hosea Jaffe and Ali Fataar. He was active in the Anti-Coloured Affairs Department Movement from 1943, serving on its National Committee. Dudley became a member of the Non-European Unity Movement from its inception in 1945 serving on its committees. He helped found its mouthpiece, The Torch newspaper, in 1946. Dudley was also active in the Teachers’ League of South Africa, serving on its Executive Committee. Owing to his political activities, Dudley was banned by the government for several years in the 1960s, but was allowed to continue teaching. In 1983, Dudley co-operated with organisations that had continued the work of the NEUM to reorganise the Unity Movement. The New Unity Movement was formally
launched in 1985 and Dudley was elected President repeatedly, become Life President in 1998, shortly before retiring from active office owing to ill health.

In terms of the Group Areas Act, in 1961 Dudley’s parents were forcibly removed from their home in Palmboom Road, Newlands, which had been in the family for a century. Dudley himself together with his own family were similarly removed from their home in Harfield Village in the early 1970s, after which they settled in Elfindale.

In 1948, Richard Dudley married a fellow teacher at Livingstone High School, Iris Atkins. They had three children: Nerine (1950), a medical doctor who died tragically in a car accident in 1979, Gary (1955) and Russell (1959). Iris passed away in November 2008. Richard Dudley died on 31 May 2009.

Name of creator


Administrative history

The New Unity Movement (NUM) was formed in Cape Town in April 1985 by 40 organisations. The NUM has a federal structure (where affiliate organisations have policy autonomy) with unitary features. Thus both an organisation and a branch can affiliate. During the period covered by the collection, the largest affiliate was APDUSA. Others included the Western Cape Federation of Civics, the Teachers’ League of South Africa and the South Peninsula Education Fellowship. The NUM revamped the NEUM’s Ten Point Programme of minimum requirements for the democratisation of South Africa. Its aim is “to build a single, undivided, independent, non-racial, democratic and socialist South Africa in which the interests of workers and rural poor shall be paramount”.

Name of creator


Administrative history

The Teachers’ League of South Africa (TLSA) was established in 1913 exclusively to cater for the interests of Coloured teachers. After the formation of the NEUM in 1943, the TLSA became an affiliate, and its publication, The Education Journal, became a mouthpiece of the NEUM and the Anti-CAD Movement. Some members began withdrawing from the TLSA in the mid-1950s fearing government repression. Dr Edgar Maurice became principal of Harold Cressy High in 1952 and served as vice-president in the mid-1950s. In 1953, Neville Alexander joined the TLSA. The TLSA became dormant and held its last conference in June 1963. Nevertheless, members of TLSA continued to influence young students who became leading anti-apartheid activists.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Scope and content

The bulk of the material in this collection concerns the programmes and activities of the New Unity Movement since its inception in 1983-1985 until the death of RO Dudley in 2009. The collection includes material related to the constitution and Ten Point Programme, conferences and resolutions, National Executive Committee Meetings, correspondence and publications of the NUM, press releases, and writings and speeches of Dudley and others. A large quantity of published material such as journals, periodicals and monographs (other than those produced by
the New Unity Movement and the Teachers' League of SA) was interspersed with the records received. This material was listed and where it supplemented the holdings of published material in UCT Libraries, it was taken on stock.

Another part of the collection constitutes records of, or material related to the Teachers’ League of South Africa, covering mainly the period between 1938 and the 1950s, and the 1990s. Some items are official TLSA records, e.g. minutes, 1938-1948, correspondence in the late 1940s and 1950s, and a few membership registers, while others are copies. Some of the material shows signs of water damage, as Dudley buried the material in a time of repression, not anticipating that the water table would rise. The collection further contains some material of political and other organisations pre-dating the New Unity Movement, e.g. the Anti-Coloured Affairs Department Movement (Anti-CAD). The collection also contains a smaller amount of personal material and material related to educational matters.


System of arrangement

The collection as received reflected little cohesion chronologically, structurally or thematically, and material from the various entities including the reference material was intermingled and included considerable duplication dispersed in the records. A classification scheme was therefore devised to organise and describe the records. As a result of the federal structure of NUM, which includes affiliated organisations, the dividing line between what should regarded as internal or external to NUM may not have been applied accurately in all cases. Unidentified handwritten notes taken during meetings may not in all cases have been correctly classified according to the relevant structure.

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  • English

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The material in this collection was donated by Dr Basil Brown on behalf of the New Unity Movement. Appraisal has been performed in accordance with UCT Libraries Special Collections appraisal policies.

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