Dozens of International Publishers Celebrate Anti-Apartheid Leader Ruth First in a New Collection

by 1804 Books

The International Union of Left Publishers releases Ruth First: Selected Writings on International Workers’ Day 2023, an effort of 25 publishing houses in more than 17 languages.


Ruth First held multiple roles during the struggles of her time as a communist militant, a journalist, and a leading intellectual. She was born into a political family in Johannesburg in 1925, and, as a student in the 1940s, she cofounded the Federation of Progressive Students. Her cohort of fellow students and comrades included a broad swathe of activists such as Nelson Mandela and Eduardo Mondlane, the first leader of the Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO).

While in exile in Mozambique and the United Kingdom, First carried out pioneering research on the lives of migrant labourers in South African gold mines, critiquing the apartheid state’s imperialist ambitions and the impact of Western imperial nations on Africa. Tragically, on 17 August 1982, she was assassinated by a spy for the apartheid state who sent a deadly letter bomb to her office in Maputo.

Ruth First: Selected Writings, the sixth joint book published by the International Union of Left Publishers, brings together five stirring essays on a range of topics including the landmark 1956 Women’s March, the workings of the apartheid state, and the history of armed struggle against this state, introduced by an essay on First’s life and legacy written by Vashna Jagarnath, a labour activist who works in the office of the general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).

Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research is an international, movement-driven institution that carries out empirically based research guided by political movements. It seeks to bridge gaps in knowledge about the political economy and social hierarchy to facilitate the work of political movements and engage in the ‘battle of ideas’ to fight against bourgeois ideology, which has swept through intellectual institutions from the academy to the media.







Media Contact: (Miguel Yoshida)