Interview with Amabutho members
Digital Innovation South Africa
Oral interview with Amabutho which refers collectively to quasi-military formations of township youth who were also often known as "comrades" or "young lions." Mainly active in urban areas, especially in the eastern Cape, most were unemployed school-leavers who supported the United Democratic Front during the years of its ascendance, 1983-88. Often they lacked the political sophistication of school students, but with little to lose and time on their hands to roam the streets, they became the most militant and daring element within the UDF. Amabutho played a central, often unpopular, role in policing stayaways and consumer boycotts. The toyi-toyi, a high-spirited warriors' dance, became their political trademark at mass gatherings, marches and funerals. Between 1985 and 1987 they were responsible for rendering many townships temporarily off limits to state authorities - "ungovernable," in township parlance.