How the South Africa “ANC” was created

By IndepthAfrica
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Jan 8th, 2012
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A woman holds up a souvenir medal on sale on the streets in Bloemfontein on January 5, 2012 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party. The African National Congress expects 46 heads of state at its 100th anniversary bash this weekend, but isn't sure its iconic leader Nelson Mandela will attend.

By Milton Nkosi

White settlers arrived in South Africa from Europe in 1652. It was from that time that Africans began fighting to defend their land. After the Battle of Isandlwana in January 1879, in which the Zulus led by King Cetshwayo humiliated the British army by successfully defending their land, African resistance gained momentum.

In an irony fuelled by the discovery of large mineral deposits such as gold and diamonds, descendents of the Dutch known as Afrikaners, or Boers, fought the British over African land. This is what came to be known as the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.

In 1910, Britain handed control to the Boers and the union of South Africa was formed with a government that recognised only the rights of white people and denied rights to black Africans.

In the period leading up to the passing of the Land Act of 1913, Africans became increasingly impatient with labour laws designed to grab cheap black labour. They fought many separate battles – even amongst each other.

In 1911, Pixley ka Isaka Seme called on Africans to forget the differences of the past and unite together in one national organisation.

“We are one people, these divisions, these jealousies, are the cause of all our woes today,” he said.

African leaders who were land-owners stood to lose a lot more than their compatriots who were tenants.

On 8 January 1912, chiefs, church leaders and prominent leaders in society gathered in Bloemfontein to form the African National Congress.

It was only after 82 years since its formation that the ANC attained its goal when I witnessed Nelson Mandela taking oath in Pretoria as South Africa’s first black president, democratically elected.

 

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