Khaya Dlanga

100 years: The ANC is not dead yet

2012-01-06 13:53

A hundred years ago this coming week, the African National Congress was forced into being by the existence of unjust laws not fit for any being.

The right to human dignity demanded that it be born at that time. If it did not rise then, it would have at some point. History’s painful tragedy demanded it. It has lived long and prospered.

ANC, remember who you are.

When it was formed, the founders were asking for something that every human being is entitled to. Justice.

But how do you cry out for justice from the very same person who has made it his sole mission to deny you justice? How much longer could they rely on those who dealt in the worst possible pervasion of justice to give them justice?

With each passing year, the system becomes ever more so blatant in its brutality, doing everything in its power to break the spirit of the people.

You can’t break the spirit of the people when they are right. Instead, you break. In the end, the cruelty that was apartheid was broken.

Might, might be right temporarily, but never forever as the people here proved. Eventually, right becomes might and right becomes unstoppable.

Remember who you are.

There are some who are looking forward to the demise of the ANC. They are Shakespeare’s Anthony. “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”

They come to bury the ANC, not to praise it today. It is true that it is not what it used to be. As if the ANC just existed for these past five, seven, ten or seventeen years since democracy.

They forget that it was here before we were. It was. Remember who you are. 

When the ANC freed the people from the deep, dark, despair of apartheid, both the prisoner and the jailer were freed.

Those who thought they were free suddenly realised that they too were prisoners. The jailers were prisoners of their fears of die swart gevaar that never materialised.

They could now go anywhere in the world without having to lie and say, “I’m from Zimbabwe”. They were free to say, “I’m South African,” and would be welcome anywhere in the world with great warmth.

The ANC liberated the prisoners and the jailers. Remember who you are. 

Some languished in prisons for decades. Children were born, grew up and had their own children and died while these men and women remained unbowed in prison.

Yet when they came out they had the audacity to call some of them sell-outs, as if they alone fought for the freedom. We, along with them, achieved this freedom.


It is our turn to build upon the foundation they set, we couldn’t expect more from them while we do nothing. Some have refused to take responsibility and have chosen to spit in the faces of those who died and languished in prisons for us and say they did not do enough.

How dare you, you who have done nothing, call heroes names!

In fact, you can call them names if you wish, that is precisely the freedom they fought for as well. So that you can also be free to call them names without any consequence.

They were willing to die in order for you, as one famous prisoner once said, “It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realised. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

And to quote from a column I wrote, “Freedom is stubborn. It never comes easily. It is not cheap. It demands sacrifices on those who pursue it.”

Still pain

We have not yet healed. We are not yet united. We walk uncomfortably side by side.

The sores become visible beneath the band-aid at the slightest bump, but some of the people who have caused the injury tell you to get over it.

The nation is still in profound pain, yet it is being denied.

The ANC must find a way of healing us.

Each generation is left to create a more perfect South Africa. We can’t expect those before us to have done everything for us. If they do, what are we to contribute to history? 

At the end of Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela says, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

The great many hills are now ours to climb. The past is built on solid foundations, we have to make a far better future.

Every day, we walk on holy ground. Sprinkled with blood. Today’s ANC and that of the future must not defile it with greed and hunger for power. The ideals of the yester-ANC were far higher.

Remember who you are ANC.

The past few years do not define the ANC. Let us not judge it with a short lens. It must be viewed with the long lens of history, all 100 years of history.

We, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the ANC must strive to make the founders proud. I imagine they are smiling today and looking down saying, “It is your turn now” and shouting, “Amandla! Ngawenu!”

In the great Vulcan greeting, “Live long and prosper.” And when I say that, I mean the people. In order for the ANC to achieve that, it will have to look after the people because the ANC is the people.

Without them, it is nothing.

Long live the ANC! The ANC is not dead yet.

- Follow Khaya on Twitter.

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