About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

African National Congress (ANC)

Founded in 1912 in the town of Bloemfontein, its original name was the South African Native National Congress and in 1923 it became known as the ANC. It is the oldest surviving national political organization in South Africa. Initially its endeavours against racial discrimination were carried out within the law but by the mid-1950s, when it became clear that its aims for a South Africa for the entire population were meeting with stubborn resistance from the white minority government, the ANC initiated a policy of determined mass action. This shift in attitude was largely due to the initiative of a group of dedicated young men within the ANC, the Congress Youth League* (ANCYL). The ANC was banned by the government in 1960 and for three decades it operated in exile and underground. From bases outside the country it trained guerrillas and in 1961 formed a military wing, Umkhonto weSizwe,* (MK), which undertook an armed liberation struggle, with MK operatives entering South Africa to perform acts of sabotage. The ANC was eventually unbanned in 1990. It agreed to abandon the markedly socialist policies it had previously held and entered into protracted negotiations with the National Party* government. Following a compromise settlement the ANC, under the inspirational leadership of Nelson Mandela, took power in the election of 1994 and became the ruling party in a democratic South Africa.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.