ANC parties in Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein - An ANC centenary torch was lit at midnight in Bloemfontein on Saturday, while party leaders, members, heads of state and guests celebrated until early hours on Sunday.
ANC president Jacob Zuma and Archbishop Desmond Tutu lit the torch at the Wesleyan Church in the company of various party elders including former President Thabo Mbeki and guests. The ANC was founded at the church.
Fourteen heads of state, five former heads of state and four heads of governments in Africa and elsewhere were welcomed at the presidential gala dinner at the Vista campus during the night.
Several delivered messages of support to the ANC and South Africa.
Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda was a huge favourite.
The 88-year-old former president drew huge cheers and applause when he jogged to the stage, while the guests chanted “KK”.
He urged South Africans and Africans to talk to each other about their problems, to love each other and to promote “genuine” peace.
He also had the guests sing a song to fight HIV/Aids.
“Sons of Africa cry and fight. We shall fight and conquer Aids,” he sang.
He also finally sang “wish me luck as you wave me good bye”, while the more than 1000 guests gave him an standing applause.
Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba thanked South Africans for its “peace and stability”.
Zambian president Michael Sata said his country and South Africa were examples of where state leaders were voted out peacefully during elections.
Those former presidents, Kenneth Kaunda and Thabo Mbeki, were even present at the gala event, he said.
ANC veteran Ruth Mompati highlighted the role played by women during the apartheid years.
“Spare a special thought for women…they were wonderful leaders.”
She also urged South African’s to hold hands and move forward.
ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada thanked the ANC’s overseas visitors and friends, specially the independent states north of South Africa during the apartheid years.
“They suffered just as much as us.”
He also paid tribute to the many ANC members that were assassinated or tortured to death by the apartheid regime.
The party’s centenary torch would be taken to Free State Stadium on Sunday to be showcased for everyone.
The torch would also travel the country as provinces hold centenary celebrations throughout 2012.