From 1982-1987, Michael and Monica Appleby were Southern Africa Regional Representatives for the National Council of Churches of Christ USA. While based in Gaborone, Botswana, they participated in anti-Apartheid organizations and befriended South African exiles, including members of the Medu Art Ensemble.
The Medu Arts Ensemble was an Anti-Apartheid resistance art movement that operated in Gaborone, Botswana. (Medu is the Pedi word for "roots.") Membership consisted of South African exiles and western sympathizers, and included five artistic units: photography, film and theatre, music, graphic art, and publications and research. The visual arts unit membership consisted of: Thami Mnyele, Miles Pelo, Heinz, Judy Seidman, Gordon Metz, Albio, Theresa Gonzales, Philip Segola, and Lentswe Mokgatle. From 1979-1985, the Medu graphic arts unit produced over fifty anti-Apartheid posters. These posters were smuggled into South African and posted throughout the black townships.
From July 5th-July 9th, 1982, Medu with other South African cultural workers and international activists came together for The Culture and Resistance Symposium. The festival took place at the University of Botswana and was attend by over 900 people. Discussion centered on the future cultural environment of South Africa, and in particular, the bond between art and social justice. The symposium consisted of people reading papers or speaking on panels about literature, visual arts, theater, film, photography, music, and dance. Evening activities included performances of dance, music, poetry, and theater, as well as film showings. The event was considered an astounding success.
On June 14, 1985, the South African Defense Force raided Gaborone, killing twelve people, including Medu artist Thami Mnyele, and Medu treasurer Mike Hamlyn; a number of other houses of Medu members were destroyed. Medu ceased to exist overnight. Many Medu members left the country; others remained in Botswana as members of the underground, not as artists in residence.
Upon returning to the United States, the Applebys continued to fight Apartheid and work for social justice issues. Michael joined students at Virginia Tech. in their goal to divest holdings in U.S. corporations profiting from the South African Apartheid state. Monica became involved in Planned Parenthood, and was an advocate for the pro-life movement. Michael Appleby died January 26, 2004. Monica Appleby currently resides in Virginia and continues to be active in social justice issues.