ANC Celebrates its 100th Birthday


The African National Congress (ANC), Africa’s oldest freedom movement, has turned a hundred. The party has been South Africa’s ruling party since the beginning of the 1990s when apartheid was abolished.

The ANC was founded in 1912 in an attempt to improve the rights of blacks in South Africa. Tribal chiefs, civil rights groups and church leaders united to start a strong political movement. For almost half century apartheid dominated daily life in South Africa. Blacks lived in townships, were not allowed to vote and worked in a society, in which the whites had power and money.


The organization was banned in 1960 and its leaders were arrested, including figurehead Nelson Mandela, who spent over 27 years in prison. Riots in townships, political pressure and economic sanctions from governments around the world forced South Africa to abolish apartheid and readmit the ANC.

The party celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in a stadium in Bloemfontein, the city in which it had been founded. Nelson Mandela, who became Africa’s first black president in 1994, did not attend the celebrations because of his weak physical condition.




The ANC has done a lot for the poor black population since it took power in 1994. It has given welfare grants to a third of the population and brought electricity and water to poverty-stricken slums of the cities. Despite this fact, many South Africans are hardly better off than they had been during white rule. Today, South Africa is coping with an unemployment rate of over 35% , a high crime rate, as well as widespread corruption and AIDS. Furthermore there are battles between conservative and liberal members of the once unified party.

Political observers have seen the ANC’s popularity decreasing in the last few years. Freeing South Africa from apartheid was one thing but governing such a large nation is another.

Still the ANC is in total control of South Africa. The party has more than a million members and rival organizations are nowhere in sight. In the last elections the ANC received almost 70% of the vote, the second place Democratic Alliance only got about 16%.


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  • abolish = end
  • anniversary = birthday
  • apartheid = system in South Africa in which only white people had full rights ; blacks and others had to go to their own schools, restaurants and live in separate areas ; the apartheid system lasted from the middle of the 20 th century to the beginning of the 1990s
  • arrest = to take someone to a police station and put them into prison because they have done something against the law
  • attempt = try
  • attend = go to
  • ban = forbid
  • century = a hundred years
  • civil rights = the rights that every person should have, like the right to vote or to be treated like everyone else
  • cope = deal with
  • corruption = person in a high position who abuses his power or takes money from someone else
  • decrease = to go down
  • despite = even though
  • dominate = to be the most important power
  • economic sanction = to stop trading with a country in order to force its government to make changes
  • figurehead = the symbolic leader
  • force = to make someone do something
  • found = start something new
  • furthermore = in addition
  • government = people who rule a country
  • hardly = not really
  • improve = to make better
  • including = also
  • movement = people who have the same ideas and beliefs and who work together to fight for them
  • observer = person who understands something and watches it carefully
  • physical condition = the shape your body is in
  • popularity = status
  • population = the people who live in a country
  • poverty-stricken = very poor
  • readmit = to allow again
  • receive = get
  • right = something that you are officially allowed to do
  • riot = uprising, rebellion
  • rival = opponent; here: another party
  • rule = govern
  • society = public; people in general
  • township = area in South African cities that was reserved for black people
  • tribal chief = the boss of a group of people who have the same religion, language and customs
  • unemployment rate = the number of people who do not have a job compared with the working population
  • unified = united
  • unite = to get together
  • vote = to choose a leader
  • weak = not strong
  • welfare grant = money that the government gives to people who are very poor
  • widespread = in many parts of the country