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The African National Congress History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

The African National Congress was South Africas political party that helped fight apartheid during the 1900s. This committee was responsible for many important tasks during the apartheid movement. The ANC is South Africa’s governing body, which is not just composed of them but an alliance of three. The alliance was made up of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, South African Communist Party, and the African National Congress. “Each alliance partner is an independent organization with its own constitution, membership and programs” (African National). The African National Congress is an organization founded in 1912 to protect the rights of the black South African’s against apartheid.

There were several issues that made the people of South Africa change their views and form this committee. Through the years the people have had to fight just to keep their own land, work unjust hours in unfair working conditions, and also for the right to vote for their own leader. In 1862 the British arrived in South Africa demanding control of all of the land. One of the most famous tribes who rebelled was the Xhosa. They fought a total of nine wars, but the streak came to an end when they were finally defeated in 1878. Valuable resources such as diamonds were discovered in 1867, and gold in 1886. This gave the British an even bigger incentive to control South Africa. On January 8th 1912, chiefs, church organizations, and other prominent individuals gathered in Bloemfontein and formed the African National Congress.”(African National). Their main goal was to reunite the blacks, and return them with the power in which they thought they should be granted. Soon after the ANC was formed a flag was created to recognize their party. It is composed of three colored stripes (black, green, and yellow) and each color symbolized a different part of South Africa. Black symbolizes the native black people who live in South Africa, green represents the land of the country, and yellow represents the riches and wealth South Africa has to offer. The logo of the ANC contains a spear and shield which represents the early wars and inexperience of the South African’s. These two symbols show what the people had to endure just to live in their own country.

There were many setbacks during the beginning of the ANC. One of the first was the Native Land Act of 1913. This was a rule set by the Parliament of South Africa that segregated where the natives could own land. “It stated that only certain areas of the country could be owned by natives, and the percent was only 7% of all South Africa”(African National). The Land Act forced the people to look for work outside of their native cities, and travel to larger cities such as Johannesburg just to find work. They usually worked all year traveling around getting second hand jobs to make ends meet, and at the end of the year they would return to their home town. This act was in place until the late 1990’s, and the ending of this law was a milestone in African history. The ANC also had a fighting side to the party which was named Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). This fighting party associated with the ANC was put together in response to the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960. This massacre involved a riot of blacks which outnumbered the police. The police thought they were going to rebel, so they open fired on the crowd of blacks, killing 69 people. The natives did not have any firearms, and were not planning on fighting back. This massacre was the reason the ANC decided to make a fighting force in case something like this happened again. “In the first 18 months they carried out 200 acts of sabotage (A Brief History).” In 1963 the police raided the secret headquarters of the organization, arresting some of the most powerful members, which led to the Rovonia trial. This trial was in response to the Umkhonto we Sizwe, in that the police thought they were trying to cause a violent revolution.

Before those violent struggles during the 1960’s the ANC boosted with emergence during the 1940’s. This period in time was the worst violence upon the Africans, which created the need for a more military side of the ANC. Although it was a tough time for the people of South Africa, it created a greater agreement among all of the non-white people. In 1944 the ANC Youth League was formed, which was a group who wanted to be involved in decision making in the community. Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Olover Tambo were among the members of the Youth League. Unlike the African National Congress they believed Africans could only be freed by their own efforts, even if that included militant efforts. Since more people were living in the cities at this time, the people working in the factories supported what the Youth League wanted. They rebelled through strikes, boycotts, and fighting.

The defiance campaign was the beginning of a large movement in South Africa during the 1950’s. This was a time that segregated different parts of South Africa for “whites” and “blacks.” This encouraged more campaigns against apartheid laws because the land was being split up into different races. In 1955, the government announced that women must carry passes. This angered the women of South Africa, so they held a large campaign. The women also held a military campaign against beer halls; the law said it was illegal for women to brew traditional beer. The government wanted the men to go to beer halls and buy their own beer instead of brewing it themselves. The women in turn attacked the beer halls and destroyed all of the equipment. Throughout all of these struggles it brought the blacks and whites in close proximity to fight for freedom. The government in turn tried to help the people by expressing the freedom charter, which was a document that declared that South Africa belongs to all of the people who live in it. “The breaking point of peaceful protests came to an end on March 30, 1966, ten days after the Sharpeville Massacre, the government banned the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress(PAC)”(African National).

During the 1970’s the cost of living began to rise, which made it more difficult for the workers and their families to live on low wages. “Spontaneous strikes resulted: workers walked off the job demanding wage increases, the main strikes began in Durban in 1973 and later spread to other parts of the country”(A Brief History). This was a short movement until the struggle for the power of the people in the 1980’s. Thousands of youths began to make their way into the Spear of the Nation after the large uprising in 1976. Their main goal was to change the views of the blacks and to get them on their side.

Throughout the years of killing and banning laws, they were finally able to make an agreement. The ANC was claimed unbanned in February 1990, and the blacks were now free. They began to establish committees and branches all across South Africa. After they were established the Congress began to elect members to rule different parts of the committee. The ANC’s main goal was to unite South Africa, and to ultimately free the country and bring the people back together. “At the 1991 National Conference of the ANC, Nelson Mandela was elected President (Fetter 137).” After the election of the nation’s favorite leaders they held the first national election in 1994 in which blacks were able to vote. The ANC won a majority of seats in the new national assembly. This was a great change in South Africa, and will always be a milestone in their history. The ANC went through many struggles and hardships to achieve peace, and is still in power today. Their struggles and hardships will always be remembered in history for years to come.


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