‘KK’ & Co. wish ANC well

2012-01-08 15:07

The ANC’s centenary gala dinner was a show of force for the support Africa’s oldest liberation movement still enjoys on the continent.

Speaker after speaker at the event last night related stories of the relationship with the ANC at the time it was exiled and how that foundation continues to play a role in South Africa’s ties with many countries.
Forty-six heads of state are attending the ANC’s 100th birthday.

Among those who attended the gala dinner were Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Zambian President Michael Sata, Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

Former president Thabo Mbeki also attended the event, and was accompanied by former Zambian head of state Kenneth Kaunda. Mbeki sat next to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe during the dinner and received a big applause when the event’s master of ceremonies, ANC national executive committee member Cyril Ramaphosa, acknowledged his presence.

Kaunda, to whom ANC leaders refer as the father of the party because he “gave a home” to the exiled ANC in Zambia when it was banned by the apartheid government, was the favourite speaker of the night, judging from the standing ovation he received.

The 88-year-old sang traditional revolutionary songs that got many former exiles on their feet. Most of the songs were unknown to the ANC generation that was not in exile.

“KK”, as Kaunda is fondly known in the ANC, was the only leader who openly raised Africa’s challenges of poverty and disease, particularly HIV/Aids.

Other leaders, probably reluctant to pollute the celebratory mood, stuck to praising the ANC.

Mozambican President Armando Guebuza praised the ANC for its pioneering role in paving the way for other African liberation movements.

Museveni reminisced on how he had known the ANC since his primary school days and how he had convinced his cabinet to allow the ANC to set up a base in his country despite opposition from conservative Ugandan politicians.

He praised pro-liberation South Africans for handling race issues effectively when they crafted the Freedom Charter in 1955, saying the country could have degenerated into reverse racism were it not for the vision of the charter.

“South Africa was the last country to be free and it brought a lot of good things,” said Museveni.

The Ugandan president had the audience in stitches when he tried to do Xhosa clicks and said he once believed that all South Africans were Zulus.

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