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South Africa, African nationalism and the ANC

Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni


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South Africans fought the longest national liberation struggle that stretched from 1912 to 1994. This protracted national liberation struggle has been marked by several critical turning points characterized by imbibing and deployment of various ideological resources. Nelson Mandela , who emerged as the iconic figure of this struggle having spent 27 years in prison, correctly summed it up as “the long walk to freedom.” In this “long walk” African nationalism provided a broad and overarching framework within which the struggle was conducted and a post-apartheid nation was imagined and contested. African nationalism became loosely understood to mean all political actions and ideological elements that were deployed in the struggle to realize African rights and eventually the rule of the black majority as opposed to minority white settlers. Historical interpretations diverged on the meaning and connotation of South African nationalism. Donovan Williams understood African nationalism to be a form of evolution of African consciousness of belonging to a common race, with a common heritage including long years of defensive measures against white domination. Lord Hailey preferred the term “Africanism” as clearly encapsulating African struggles for “attainment … of a government dominated by Africans and expressing in its institutions the characteristic spirit of Africa and interpreted by ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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