Taken from Article by: Sandile Memela
The ANC’s commitment to non-racialism is unquestionable but it may need another 100 years to deliver a white president. This is not a problem of the organisation’s principles and ideals per se. Instead, it is the legacy of colonialism and apartheid.
Of course, when it first started out in 1912, the ANC was an exclusive African liberation movement. Its primary purpose was the total liberation of African people. So, whoever joined the organisation later was required to put the interests of African people, first.
What that means is that if you were Indian, coloured or white who joined the ANC, you accepted that you were part of the family because you truly believed that Africans had a right to self-determination, especially the leadership of their own indigenous organisation.
Significantly, in the late 1950s, the ANC experienced an ideological split when Robert Sobukwe suspected that non-Africans exerted too much influence and thus were taking over the leadership of the ANC. According to him, this compromised the rights of Africans to fight for the return of their land and for political self-determination. As far as Sobukwe was concerned, this South Africa was, essentially, a black man’s country and whoever chose to live and die here would do so under the terms of African people.
In the 1950s the ANC would not budge from non-racialism and thus Sobukwe was allowed to leave with those who did not buy into the notion of non-racialism. Thus in 1959 the PAC was launched.
The ANC survived it first major split and grew stronger because of its unwavering commitment to non-racialism. In fact, it was African nationalists in the ANC who suggested that Indians, coloureds and whites should organise themselves (along racial lines,) first, to join what later became known as the Congress Alliance. But this was a partnership that would, primarily, work towards African liberation and political liberation.
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