The African National Congress

Apartheid (South African English pronunciation: /əˈpɑːrtd/Afrikaans: [aˈpartɦəit]) was a system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa between 1948 and 1991.[1] Broadly speaking, apartheid was delineated into petty apartheid, which entailed the segregation of public facilities and social events, and grand apartheid, which dictated housing and employment opportunities by race.[2] Prior to the 1940s, some aspects of apartheid had already emerged in the form of minority rule by white South Africans and the socially enforced separation of black South Africans from other races, which later extended to pass laws and land apportionment.[3][4] Apartheid as a policy was embraced by the South African government shortly after the ascension of the National Party (NP) during the country’s 1948 general elections.[5]

Delegation from the SANNC that went to England in 1914 to convey the objections of the African people to the 1913 Land Act

ANC Origins and Background

The African National Congress (ANC) was formed in 1912 as a result of many grievances. This included black dissatisfaction with the South Africa Act of 1910 that established the Union of South Africa, their treatment after the South African War and numerous laws that controlled and restricted black movement and labour.

The end of the South African War (1899-1902) paved the way for the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910. The eight years between the end of the war in 1902 and the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910 was marked by intense negotiations between the four, previously unconnected provinces. Populations of the Cape Province and Natal were considered to owe allegiance to Britain, while Transvaal and the Orange Free State had become independent Boer/Afrikaner republics in 1852 and 1854 respectively. The war was fought over the question of independence of the latter two provinces from British control.

During the eight years of negotiations, it became apparent that delegates of the four provinces were determined to forge a settlement that excluded Africans from meaningful political participation in the envisaged unified South Africa. This galvanised different African political formations, hitherto fragmented and each with a ‘provincial’ appeal, to forge a unified political movement that would challenge the exclusion of Black people. The African People’s Organisation, largely a Cape political formation, the Orange River Colony Vigilance Association and the Transvaal Vigilance Association were all formed during this period.

In 1909, a group of Black delegates from the four provinces met in Waaihoek, Bloemfontein to propose a means to object to the draft South Africa Act, and Union Constitution. This was the South African Native Convention (SANC). A nine man delegation was sent to England. The Convention is considered a precursor to the South African Native National Congress (SANNC). Apart from sympathetic coverage from the British media to the plight of Blacks, little else was achieved by the delegation.

The SANC continued to be active in 1910 and in 1911, objecting to further discriminatory legislation. The need for a permanent body to represent Blacks on a national level was the reason for the transformation of the body into a more representative and dynamic organisation. Pixley ka Isaka Seme, a well educated attorney, and author Solomon Plaatje, pioneered the formation of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC).


Nelson Mandela in his book Long Walk to Freedom, describes the ANC in this way, “The ANC was the one organization that welcomed everyone, that saw itself as a great umbrella under which all Africans could find shelter.” p110 Nelson Mandela speaks about how under this group different tribes arranged meetings and demonstrations to campaign for the indigenous African rights. The ANC struggled to fight apartheid and many of their leaders were imprisoned. At first they led peaceful rallies but later adopted gorilla warfare  tactics when their voices were not heard. Nelson Mandela encouraged the ANC to participate in Bantu political issues. There was a commission created by the government to develop Bantu areas including Transkei the commission also wanted to create separate black and white areas. Nelson Mandela saw this as separating the people and creating a class system.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (/mænˈdɛlə/,[1]; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionarypolitician, and philanthropist, who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation. Ideologically an African nationalist and socialist, he served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) party from 1991 to 1997.

His Excellency
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela on the eve of his 90th birthday in Johannesburg in May 2008

Mandela in Johannesburg on 13 May 2008
1st President of South Africa
In office
10 May 1994 – 14 June 1999
Deputy Thabo Mbeki
F. W. de Klerk
Preceded by F. W. de Klerk
as State President
Succeeded by Thabo Mbeki
Personal details
Born Rolihlahla Mandela
18 July 1918
MvezoCape ProvinceUnion of South Africa
Died 5 December 2013 (aged 95)
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Resting place Mandela Graveyard
Qunu, Eastern Cape
Political party African National Congress
Other political
South African Communist Party
Children 6 (including Makgatho,MakaziweZenani andZindziswa)
Parents Nosekeni Fanny
Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa
Alma mater
  • Activist
  • Politician
  • Philanthropist
  • Lawyer
Religion Methodist
Known for Anti-Apartheid Movement
Notable work(s) Long Walk to Freedom
  • Madiba
  • Dalibunga

Xhosa, Mandela was born in Mvezo to theThembu royal family. He studied law at theUniversity of Fort Hare and the University of the Witwatersrand before working as a lawyer inJohannesburg. There he became involved inanti-colonial and African nationalist politics, joining the ANC in 1943 and co-founding itsYouth League in 1944. After the National Party‘s white-only government established apartheid—a system of racial segregation that privileged whites—he and the ANC committed themselves to its overthrow. Mandela was appointed President of the ANC’s Transvaalbranch, rising to prominence for his involvement in the 1952 Defiance Campaignand the 1955 Congress of the People. He was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the 1956 Treason Trial. Influenced by Marxism, he secretly joined the banned South African Communist Party (SACP). Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the SACP he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961 and led asabotage campaign against the government. In 1962, he was arrested for conspiring to overthrow the state and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.

Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially onRobben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prisonand Victor Verster Prison.

Steve Biko

Bantu Stephen Biko (18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977) was a South African anti-apartheid activist. Ideologically an African nationalist and African socialist, he was at the forefront of a grassroots anti-apartheid campaign known as the Black Consciousness Movement during the late 1960s and 1970s.

Stephen Biko
Steve Biko Photograph.jpg
Born Bantu Stephen Biko
18 December 1946
Ginsberg, South Africa
Died 12 September 1977 (aged 30)
Pretoria, South Africa
Occupation Anti-apartheid activist
Spouse(s) Ntsiki Mashalaba
Partner(s) Mamphela Ramphele
Children Nkosinathi Biko; Lerato Biko; Samora Biko; Motlatsi Biko;Hlumelo Biko

Raised in a poor Xhosa family, Biko grew up inGinsberg, Eastern Cape. In 1966, he began studying medicine at the University of Natal. Here he was increasingly politicised and rose to a senior position in the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS). He was strongly opposed to the apartheid system ofracial segregation and white-minority rule in South Africa. At the same time he was also frustrated that the anti-apartheid movement, including NUSAS, was dominated by whiteliberals rather than by the blacks who were most disadvantaged by the apartheid system. He developed the view that to avoid white domination, black people had to organise independently and focus on ridding themselves of any sense of racial inferiority. To this end he was a leading figure in the creation of the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO) in 1968. Membership was only open to “blacks“—a term that Biko used in reference not just toBantu-speaking Africans but also Colouredsand Indians—although he retained friendships with several white liberals, and opposed anti-white racism.

Following the 1968 NUSAS conference in Johannesburg, many of its members attended a July 1968 conference of the University Christian Movement at Stutterheim. There, the black African members had a meeting among themselves, deciding that they would hold a further conference in December to discuss the issue of forming an independent black student group.[43] The South African Students’ Organisation (SASO) was officially launched at a July 1969 conference held at the University of the North; there, the group’s constitution and basic policy platform was adopted.[44] The group’s main impetus was on the need for contact between centres of black student activity, including through sport, cultural activities, and debating competitions.[45] Biko was elected as SASO’s first president, while Pat Matshaka was elected vice president and Wuila Mashalaba as secretary.[46]

The security services imprisoned Biko at Walmer Police Station in Port Elizabeth, where he was held in custody for almost a month.[114] On arrival, he was kept naked in a cell for twenty days, with his legs in shackles.[115] During his interrogation, he was severely beaten by one of the ten security police officers,[116] although the exact events have never been ascertained.[117] He received three brain lesions that resulted in a massive brain haemorrhage on 6 September.[118]Following this incident, Biko’s captors forced him to remain standing and shackled to the wall.[119]


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s