“The long walk continues.”-Nelson Mandela

In South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Known throughout the world for orchestrating the fall of apartheid, the ANC is also celebrated for producing one of the most beloved and admired statesmen on earth: Nelson Mandela. Alex Perry of Time reported, “The central figure in ANC legend is Mandela, who reinvigorated the party in the 1940s and eventually led it to power in 1994.”

Mandela joined the ANC in 1943 and dedicated his life to its cause, to attain equal rights for South Africa’s oppressed black majority. He spent twenty-seven and a half years in prison—more than a third of his adult life—for conspiracy to overthrow the government of South Africa and its policies of white supremacy.

In 1994, four years after his release, Mandela was elected president of a democratic South Africa. Kem Sawyer, author of Champion of Freedom: Nelson Mandela, wrote, “It was a day to remember. The ANC, the party to which Mandela had dedicated most of his life, captured 62.6 of the vote. Mandela would become his country’s first black president.”

Mandela served as president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, but despite his best efforts, his administration was not able to lift millions of South Africans out of poverty or transform the racially divided country into a “rainbow nation.” Wrote Sawyer:

On March 29, 1999, Mandela gave his last speech to Parliament, saying “It is in the legislatures that the instruments have been fashioned to create a better life for all.” He paid tribute to all South Africans who had made him who he was—the villagers, the workers, the intelligentsia, the business people, and those who “cherished the vision of a better life for all people everywhere.” He ended with the words, “The long walk continues.”

Today, the ANC finds itself at a crossroads on that long walk. Richard Dowden of Spectator magazine wrote, “After the departure of the old guard led by Mandela, the ANC has a growing reputation for corruption as well as incompetence.”

Dowden continued:

Eighteen years after the ANC came to power South Africa has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world and the gap appears to be widening. 10 % of the population are still without clean water and 20 % without electricity. And who is paying the … bill for the ANC’s 100th party this week? The South African tax payers.

Whatever the future holds, Nelson Mandela remains the most iconic figure of the ANC and South Africa.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information on Mandela and the ANC, check out Kem Sawyer’s Champion of Freedom: Nelson Mandela, a Morgan Reynolds title. (ISBN9781599351674)

Published in: on January 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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