ANC centenary torch to crisscross SA in 2012

2012-01-08 14:13

The centenary torch, which was featured during the ANC’s birthday bash at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein this afternoon, will be sent from province to province throughout 2012 as a reminder of the ANC’s history, ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete said.

The torch was lit at midnight to mark 100 years of the ANC.

President Jacob Zuma and retired Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu led the lighting of the torch at Bloemfontein’s Wesleyan Church last night.

The revamped church was used by the ANC founding fathers in 1912, and had fallen into disuse before it was renovated.

ANC chaplain-general Vukile Mehana officially opened the church and consecrated it last night. The congregation sang composer Tiyo Soga’s “Lizalis’ idinga lakho Thixo nkosi yenyaniso” (Fulfil thy promise, God of truth), the same hymn the 1912 gathering of African chiefs and intellectuals sang when they met to form the ANC.

Some parts of the spruced-up church, such the unplastered parts of the walls, bear the traces of the original structure. So do some bits of its corrugated iron roof.

A priest read out the names of departed ANC presidents and thanked God for their contribution to the liberation struggle. That prayer was followed by another, dedicated to President Jacob Zuma and former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela.

Guests included Mbeki, who sat next to President Zuma’s wives maNgema and maNtuli. Zuma sat next to Tutu, barely making eye contact with him throughout the ceremony.

Mozambican president Armando Guebuza, former president Joachim Chisano and African Union Commission leader Jean Ping were also among those in attendance.

Last night’s service was followed by a multi-religious one this morning. The attendees included American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, Mandela’s grandson Mandla, and some ANC leaders.

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