During the political uprisings and turmoil of the 1980s, progressive organisations sprang up everywhere. Each one wanted to be able to identify itself and used the form of printed T-shirts to do this. The Community Arts Project (CAP) in Woodstock, Cape Town, provided a creative facility to develop and print T-shirts. Organisations would send a few representatives into the workshop and within two days or even less they could conceptualize, design and print up to 500 T-shirts, displaying whatever slogan or logo desired. The people working at CAP discussed the desired concept with the organisations and together they developed and printed the T-shirts. All the prints were silkscreens.
The T-shirts, besides a form of identity, were also used, in the words of a past worker at CAP, to "popularize, organise, educate or mobilize." An interesting T-shirt which was aimed at educating and mobilizing, produced by the End Conscription Campaign (ECC), shows a soldier preparing to shoot an unseen target. The caption, written in child-like handwriting, says, "your toys, our boys".
CAP was extremely busy during the 1980s, with as many as 3 different organisations coming in every day, each with three or more members. T-shirts were often very important and widely used for funerals. The importance of the funerals was magnified because ordinary meetings were banned during Apartheid. If a member of an organisation was killed for a political reason, that organisation would then print a number of T-shirts that could be worn by members at the funeral, which usually lasted an entire day. The funeral could be attended by as many as 20 000 people, bussed in from around the country, and would consist of speeches from prominent figures discussing liberation issues combined with freedom songs and hymn-singing. Other popular events were May Day, Youth Day and Woman's Day. Students also used T-shirts as a way to represent themselves, as well as sports groups, trade unions, youth groups, church groups and political groups. Every branch of the ANC, for example, had a different T-shirt printed. Although black people mostly wore the T-shirts, the method of expression was by no means limited to any racial group. Through the Publications Control Board the state was able to ban some T-shirts and even jail people for wearing them.
Because overseas bodies funded CAP, the organisations only had to pay for the material used for the T-shirts. Sometimes the organisations used the T-shirts as a form of fundraising, charging small amounts for them. Presently T-shirts are still being produced at the Khayelitsha Media Project outside of Cape Town, being run by a former member of CAP. The printing is now done for a small fee. CAP was not only involved in the printing of progressive organisation T-shirts. It also carried out media training to enable and encourage small self-run workshops to develop where they could do their own conceptualizing, designing and printing.