Pixley ka Isaka Seme said in 1911
Forget all the past differences among Africans and unite in one national organisation.
A year later, the South African Native National Congress was formed on 8 January 1912 in Bloemfontein. The struggle was born from the need to increase the rights of black people in what was the Union of South Africa.
Oppression intensified afterwards, and the SANNC laid campaigns against various forms. In 1923 it changed its name to the African National Congress(ANC) and in 1929 it supported a militant strike.
For a while the ANC was ineffectual and somewhat irrelevant until it was remodeled as a mass movement organisation of resistance to apartheid. By 1955 it had adopted the Freedom Charter leading to Congress Alliance ( South African Communist Party (SACP), the South African Indian Congress, the South African Congress of Democrats(COD) and the Coloured People’s Congress).
Over time it morphed as Danny Schechter wrote:
It morphed into a violent struggle of resistance and armed combat when the doors to non-violent change were brutally shut by white nationalists who built on British colonial racism to impose apartheid, a practice of physically relocating communities, regulating labour with passes, and violent repression.
The organisation has an illustrious history of brilliant leaders of the struggle from Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki and Thabo Mbeki. South African President Jacob Zuma is its current leader. The ANC has been in power since majority rule was attained in 1994.
In its core, the ANC has fought for the rights of blacks and has been fearless. It has been a beacon of what an African resistance movement should be about, an inspiration to many other organisations across the content in the fight for emancipation.
Some people would ask if the ANC of 1912 would be proud of the ANC of 2012 and I think the answer is a resounding yes. It remains a vibrant and more plural organisation. The fire sits in its belly to do the right thing. It is true that there are shortcomings as any movement of that size will have. Under what are still very difficult circumstances, it still tries do what is right for the majority.
It is easy to focus on what the ANC has failed to do and the scandals around it. There are some corrupt individuals within the Congress but the overriding principles are protect by the many stalwarts who protect them.
The centenary celebrations will give the ANC an opportunity to reflect and come up with concrete strategies to deal with the struggles ahead. Poverty is still widespread and the already-mentioned corruption. Empowerment is still for a select few and certain essential services have not reached the masses.
The same spirit that was there in the beginning must not be lost. They did not just sit and wait. This was a struggle for survival.
That said, we wish the ANC and all associated with it all the best for the next 100 years. Amandla ngawethu comrades.