TONY BIANCHI unfortunately passed away in July 2017. There was a good crowd of people at his Humanist funeral from all walks of life. Much has been written about his contribution to Welsh culture and his work in literature in English and Welsh. He was viewed as one of the finest writers in Welsh society.

My purpose is to refer to his involvement in the Anti- Apartheid Movement. I met Tony circa 1978 together With his then partner Diana and as time proceeded got very close to the family including his two daughters Heledd and Rhianon. The family were active in the Cardiff, South Wales AAM and then the Wales Anti-Apartheid Movement which we formed in 1983. By this period we had branches in most colleges, universities and 22 branches in towns across Wales. Tony was a regular translator of  documents in the Welsh language. Apart from leaflets he and a team of Welsh speakers translated items like a booklet on welsh rugby links with Apartheid, the exhibition on Education, Culture and Education in South Africa.

When the Cardiff Red Choir was formed in 1983 he took South African records and tapes from me and the choir sang freedom songs from South Africa at pickets and demonstrations. The Choir still sing at them. He was one of the key volunteers at the many Eisteddfods where WAAM had a stall. He co-ordinated a committee, at his suggestion, to develop a bilingual book of Poetry, with contributions from many of Wales’s leading poets and writers. The book was a huge success and played an instrumental part in galvanising writers, poets artists and artists to support WAAM and the fight against links with Apartheid South Africa.

Towards the end of October 1983 when he was literature Director at the Welsh Arts Council he came to my house with news that the Arts Council was going to host two leading Broederbond members in Wales. This organisation was directly connected to the Apartheid regime and all the leading Afrikaner politicians were members. Between Tony, the late Raymond Edwards and me we contacted leading writers, politicians, unionists, churches and other prominent people in Wales to add their names to a letter calling for the cancellation of the visit. The letter was delivered by me personally to The Welsh Arts Council addressed to Aneurin M Thomas, Director of the Council. He was allegedly not in but a staff member who supported WAAM said in whispers that he was. I left and proceeded to the Western Mail, Echo, BBC and HTV with copies. It made headline news. Mr Thomas told the Media that the Broeders cancelled the visit as they had enough information. On the 4th October the Western Mail reported, “You would have to be exceptionally naïve not to believe that the protest did not play a significant part in the decision”. All this was done with one telephone line as there were no mobiles then and WAAM had only one line. Fortunately we had he contacts and committed people on our side.

Tony will sadly be missed by the political community in Wales. Our deepest sympathies to Diana, Heledd, Rhianon and Ruth on their great loss.

by Hanef Bhamjee