Fighting Racism in Africa

In September 1984, the segregated townships of the blacks in South Africa’s Vaal Triangle, around twenty five miles away from Johannesburg, were suddenly lit up – burned by the fury of resistance. It seemed as though the helplessness felt by the blacks for two years during which their rebellion had been controlled had suddenly turned into extreme anger. In any case, it became apparent at the time that the region was ungovernable by all means. Moreover, it appeared as though the Soweto revolt of 1976 was being repeated in the history of South Africa (Davis).

After all, the blacks had not been able to secure their rights in their own countries during that time. It is ironic that the blacks have had to fight racism in their own countries for a very long time. The African National Congress was established to struggle for their rights. On its website, the African National Congress describes itself thus: The ANC is a national liberation movement. It was formed in 1912 to unite the African people and spearhead the struggle for fundamental political, social and economic change.

For nine decades the ANC has led the struggle against racism and oppression, organizing mass resistance, mobilizing the international community and taking up the armed struggle against apartheid. The ANC achieved a decisive democratic breakthrough in the 1994 elections, where it was given a firm mandate to negotiate a new democratic Constitution for South Africa. The new Constitution was adopted in 1996. The ANC was re-elected in 1999 to national and provincial government with an increased andate. The policies of the ANC are determined by its membership and its leadership is accountable to the membership. Membership of the ANC is open to all South Africans above the age of 18 years, irrespective of race, color and creed, who accept its principles, policies and programs (“What is the African National Congress”). Stephen Davis, in his book, Apartheid’s Rebels: Inside South Africa’s Hidden War, describes the African National Congress in greater detail.

According to the author, this movement has acted as the chief mobilizing agency of black resistance in South Africa. Furthermore, the unrest experienced by South Africa during the mid-1980’s was staged by the African National Congress through a tremendous transformation of the blacks. The unrest was neither unplanned; nor was it short-lived. Rather, the main adversary of Pretoria – the African National Congress – had developed it through an ever-widening network of secret cells where blacks were politicized as well as schooled in all manners of confrontation (Davis).

Although the African National Congress has played a part in the governance of South Africa, Davis claims that the movement is rather unruly in the sense that it employed clandestine couriers that slipped across international borders, in addition to insurgents that primed themselves for attacks, including sabotage, against their enemies who were understood to be superior in both numbers as well as weaponry. The author also details the relationship between the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party – an ally.

The propaganda of Pretoria had exploited this connection, while the legislators of the United States had been troubled by the effect that sanctions would have had on this friendship. According to Davis, the South African Communist Party was influential enough in the policymaking process of the African National Congress to be a cause of worry. The surge of new recruits that had been trained in violent rebellion had also given rise to apprehension within the African National Congress. Oliver Tambo, an exiled leader of the African National Congress, had taken a rather radical position because of this friendship.

Nevertheless, Tambo argued that the majority of the blacks would simply balk at the endorsement of Marxist rule if free elections were to take place in South Africa. Hence, Davis believes that the relationship between the South African Communist Party and the African National Congress was merely one of convenience for the latter. The African National Congress enjoyed the assistance of the South African Communist Party in its underground operations. Moreover, the South African Communist Party was known to supply weapons as well as intelligence information from its Russian sponsors to the African National Congress.

At the same time, the South African Communist Party acknowledged the importance of the struggle against apartheid that the African National Congress was engaged in. What is more, the South African Communist Party hoped to establish a Marxist society once the African National Congress had won its struggle (Davis). Thus, Davis’ study describes the struggles, divisions, and weaknesses of the African National Congress, while also dwelling on the successes of the movement. As an example, the African National Congress was able to transform itself at a time when it was almost forgotten.

The movement was able to spread its roots far and wide by nurturing alliances with the United Democratic Front, a movement of mass protest, in addition to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Davis). Undoubtedly, the African National Congress has come a long way. At the same time, however, its history leaves a number of questions unanswered for the reader. The main question seems to be the following: In a world applauding the power of information and knowledge – must we continue to fight against discrimination? Sadly, the answer is, ‘Yes, our world is not civilized enough at this point. ’

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