The African National Congress (ANC) is preparing for its centenary celebrations in Bloemfontein (Mangaung Metropole) this week. The ANC will be 100 years old on Sunday.
Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders helped the country to win freedom from Apartheid in 1994, but what happened to groups and individuals outside the ANC who also contributed to the liberation struggle?
According to other political organisations and commentators, the ANC’s anniversary will be used to sideline the contributions of others.
“The ANC is airbrushing people out. I don’t know of a street named after Desmond Tutu, and he was effectively the leader [of the anti-apartheid movement] for 15 years. I’m not trying to belittle the ANC, but they didn’t do it all.” Allister Sparks, a veteran journalist and analyst told The Observer.
Archbishop Emeritus Tutu recently said the ANC ignored the influence of church leaders during the struggle: “There was a time when the people leading the struggle were religious leaders. Let the ANC know, they cannot airbrush us out.”
It is not general knowledge that the first political prisoners on Robben Island were indeed PAC members. The late Jafta Masemole, PAC founding member, was the longest serving political prisoner on Robben Island. The PAC, which broke from the ANC in 1959, organised the 1960 protest march in Sharpeville, a defining moment in liberation history.
Andile Mngxitama, political activist and co-editor of Biko Lives!, believes the ANC’s celebrations will expose how the ANC sidelines opposition groups. He told The Observer: “They are going to play on the idea they were the sole liberator of our country. They’re not going to acknowledge Black Consciousness, the Pan Africanist Congress, the independent voices of students. This is the last shot they have at maintaining a hegemony over society.”
Even though we would like to congratulate the ANC on the role they have played in the history of our country, we would also like to remind them of the contributions and spirit of the greater South African public. Those of us who are not part of the ANC, but have also contributed to the liberation however big or small.
But above all, we would like the ANC to remember their duty to improve the lives of all South Africans and not only those of ANC cadres.