South Africa: The Blogosphere's Take on ANC's 100 Years

The ANC has just celebrated its 100 years in existence in South Africa, moving from a radical resistance movement to the leading political party in the country. Bloggers’ views are as diverse as the country itself.

First, let's cover the details of the event itself. SA People gives us a good breakdown:

The Centennial logo. Image source:

Thousands of people descended on the quiet Free State province to the city of Mangaung, also known as Bloemfontein, to celebrate the party’s existence since 8 January 1912.
The celebrations were attended by former heads of state, current leaders, the party’s political elite, and throngs of ordinary citizens.
Those in attendance included former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda; Ugandan president Yuweri Museveni; Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba; Mozambican president Armando Guebuza; and Rev Jesse Jackson from the US.

The motto for the celebrations is Unity in Diversity – also South Africa’s national motto – and the party truly displayed this sentiment after being plagued with faction fighting over the past year, especially with its youth wing.
But it showed a united front throughout the weekend of festivities.
Former ANC and South African president Thabo Mbeki was seen laughing heartily with the incumbent president Jacob Zuma and suspended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.
Zuma said: “We continue to have different and differing perspectives on the processes unfolding in our country. Despite the progress we have made, there remain deep fault lines in our society that continue to undermine our vision of a united, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.”
Nobel Peace laureate and the country’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, was there in spirit although not in person.
Attendees were reminded of the elder statesman’s contribution to democracy by the many posters of him, and other former presidents of the party, hung throughout the usually quiet city.
Baleka Mbete, the ANC’s national chairperson, said: “He is in good spirits but very, very old.”
Nobody expected the centenary events to be anything else but pomp and ceremony with nearly R100-million (US$12.4-million) spent to commemorate this achievement.

The Daily Maverick gives us some perspective here by pointing out the main conflict that ran throughout the celebrations:

The weekend displayed the ANC’s prevailing attitude – it celebrated its past with abandon and views its future with some trepidation. It is very clear with which it is more comfortable.

The Gateway News lauds the ANC's great past and it's achievements and hopes the future holds something better:

Notwithstanding all its faults, I still cannot imagine where this country would be if we did not have the ANC. They have produced some of the finest leaders this world has ever seen. Can you imagine what might be if the ANC would go back to its founding principles and values? Let us pray for that then.

One highlights a worry amongst certain groups of the ANC becoming too exclusive:

Some observers of this weekend’s celebrations are concerned that the ANC is losing its inclusive, non-tribal and non-racial ethos, enriching the few, mostly politically connected, rather than the poor majority.

In the view of some critics, ANC leaders are increasingly chosen by a small group of people, selected for how best they can capture competing interests. Opposition parties are either poorly organized or racially homogeneous and have little chance to secure broad support, so the ANC will likely remain unchallenged for some time.

Without real opposition, change must come from within. ANC party conferences in June and December are an opportunity for the ANC to return to its roots and maintain South Africa as a global example for genuine democracy, equitable economic development and peaceful racial integration.

Left Foot Forward is positive about the ANC's impact but also highlights the challenges facing them in next century:

South Africa is a different and far better place than in 1912 or 1989. It is a country for all South Africans. Formerly a pariah state it is now a leading player in Africa and globally.
The challenges of achieving political and civil rights for all, and of ending apartheid, were great and many many people suffered and sacrificed to achieve these.
The challenges of building on this great achievement, overcoming the economic legacy of colonialism, imperialism and apartheid, dealing with the globalised economy of which South Africa is now part in ways which benefit most South Africans, providing good quality services to all of its citizens are just as great, perhaps greater, and will be the test for the ANC in its second century.

Muddy roads and dusty trails evokes a sense of nostalgia:

Today 100 years ago the African National Congress saw the light. Today the festivities take place for 100 years of selfless struggle. As an interpreter I have been once or twice the voice of Nelson Mandela after he was released from Robben Island. When South Africa was freed from Apartheid, it became member of the ACP and had at their first attendance the meeting in Cape Town and were given a most moving and enlightening tour of Robben Island by a former prisoner who became a minister in the first Mandela government. It was non-violence which won freedom. was one of his messages and that the embargo gave support to the resistance because even when suffering they knew it was because people supported their struggle.

People's World is positive about the future of ANC:

A potrait of Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected president of South Africa. Photo released under Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0) by Flickr user Abode of Chaos.

Its centenary is surely a cause for celebration and hope for all who cherish freedom, civil rights and democracy.

Founded three years after the NAACP in the U.S., the ANC is one of the African continent's oldest and most enduring liberation movements.

Its leaders worked alongside W.E.B Du Bois in shaping the 20th century struggle against the color line.

Born in the struggle against white settler colonialism, the ANC's history is deeply rooted the struggle for human dignity and national independence.

Like any modern political party in a capitalist country, the ANC is also challenged within and without by big business designs to buy influence and peddle prestige and power.

By keeping its eye on unity and its feet firmly planted in the roots of its century-long experience, the ANC and its Tripartite Alliance partners will continue their steady march down the road to freedom and equality. They will meet obstacles and detours on the way but as Nelson Mandela once famously said, “There is no easy walk to freedom.”

Mick Hartley posted an interesting post questioning ANC's statement on the passing away of Kim Jong-il:

Avi at AfriCartoons posts ANC celebration cartoon with a sarcastic caption:

100 years of ANC through a cartoonist's eyes. Cartoon by Avi Ramjan at

“SHOCKING!!!! SA editorial cartoonist does a POSITIVE cartoon!
Actually, it's quite refreshing. Perhaps South African cartoonists should do a positive ANC cartoon every 100 years (until Jesus comes, that is).”

Speaking of political cartoons, Tia Mysoa shares Zapiro's take on the ANC's past and future.

If you want details of what exactly the ANC has done in the last 100 years, the Global Black History Blog has a detailed blog post of ANC history right up until 1994 when Nelson Mandela became South Africa's president.

Marcus's Space does a similar post, but a bit more politically motivated:

Economically, the party has drawn praise for steering Africa’s biggest economy into safe waters, rolling out new electricity and water supplies, as well as houses and inspiring a new black middle class, but when I see documentaries of that beautiful country I also still see a lot of shams and misery.

Finally, for a more irreverent take on things, Naked Chiefs post their thoughts covering everything from the conflict of South Africa's “Africanness”:

However, WHY South Africa is conflicted about its Africanness, is a matter for all Africans. It is a conflict that seems to stem from three sources.

First, ignorance about the rest of Africa.

Secondly, the apartheid trauma that seems to have left South African unable to give back full-heartedly to those who supported its liberation.

Thirdly, a bizarre and complex need for international acceptance, especially from the west, born out of the peculiarities of apartheid oppression, and the global stardom that was conferred upon Mandela by the world.

… and after a very long detailed discussion, they describe ANC's main failure in its 100 years:

The ANC failure has been its inability to make South Africa that is comfortable and confident about its Africanness. I don’t see that changing for another 30 years, at least.

As with all things large and complicated in life, ANC has had its ups and downs in its 100 years history.

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