South African Black Theatre Union

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(Acronym: SABTU). Founded in July 1972, during a festival sponsored by TECON at Orient Hall in Durban and in accordance with the Black Consciousness Movement’s principles they intended to promote theatre as a means of assisting blacks to reassert their pride, dignity group identity and solidarity. They sought to create opportunities for black writers and performers, and played down participation by white sympathisers and activists. Srini Moodley was elected president and Saths Cooper its director. The first (founding) festival had been organised by the newly founded Black People’s Convention (BPC) and the South African Student’s Association (SASO – a black students’ body founded in 1969). SABTU then organised a second conference in Cape Town in December 1972. It was effectively dismantled in March 1973 when Moodley and Cooper were banned. Its membership relied heavily on the relative mobility and affluence of its Indian members.


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