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Alan Brooks

Alan Brooks was born in Bristol on 18th May 1940 the child of a Bristol GP who emigrated with his family to Southern Rhodesia when he himself was only seven year old. He went to university in South Africa, where he did two law degrees and came under the influence of the South African Communist Party intellectual Jack Simons, joining the SACP in 1962.

He also briefly joined the small, clandestine and doomed African Resistance Movement, and in 1964 was arrested and detained under the notorious "90 day" Act. He was tried and convicted for membership of the ARM and sabotage, and was held in solitary confinement and tortured during his two years in prison. On his release he was deported to Britain in 1966.

By the end of the 1960s he had a degree in international politics from Sussex University and was Organising Secretary of the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Brooks became one of the major figures behind support for the Southern African liberation movements, masterminding the "'Stop the 70 Tour"' campaign against apartheid in sport.

He also campaigned against the Vietnam War.  Brooks attended the Lenin International School in Moscow in 1971, undergoing 10 months' training in undercover work. In the early 1970s, Brooks organised a speaking tour for Angela Davis. Later he was Director of Research at the International Defence and Aid Fund, promoting solidarity with Southern Africa.

In the late 1970s he moved his family to Mozambique where he taught at the Frelimo Secondary School, and at the same time worked undercover with ANC and SACP colleagues. He then moved to Lusaka at the request of the ANC to work with Thabo Mbeki to set up an ANC Research Department.

He was the co-author, with Jeremy Brickhill, of a book on the Soweto uprising, Whirlwind Before the Storm (1980).

In 1980 he left the SACP and joined the British Communist Party, becoming managing director of Central Books. But he then moved to run the Mozambique Angola and Guinea Information Centre (Magic).

Brooks was key to the organisation of the 1986 Artists Against Apartheid concert, which drew an audience of 250,000 people, and he also led the 1988 Nelson Mandela March from Glasgow to London.

In the late 1980s, Brooks became Deputy Executive Secretary of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Britain.

He worked briefly for the UN in Somaliland at the tail-end of the civil war, playing his part in the peace and disarmament process as part of the Demobilisation Advisory Team. Then, back in Britain, he became a case-worker for asylum seekers and went on to campaign for change in Zimbabwe. Brooks died in London on 10th May 2008. 

Source: Guardian 20th May 2008