17 December 2007

South Africa turmoil?

Having spent four months in South Africa a few years ago, I have an interest in news that comes from that country.

The African National Congress (ANC) has a tumultuous history. Initially formed in 1912 in response to the oppression blacks found themselves under from British and Afrikaners who were taking control, the group didn't become prominent until Nelson Mandela and other young black South Africans came about in 1944.

After apartheid rule was passed in 1948, the ANC used non-violent methods for years to oppose this racist rule of law. The ANC used strikes, boycotts, demonstrations and civil disobedience in an effort to stop white minority rule, following the example of leaders such as Ghandi.

However, white South African leaders proved to be extraordinarily stubborn. Factors that helped civil rights movements in the United States, such as media coverage, were no present in South Africa. Thousands of blacks, including students, were arrested, beaten, and even killed.

Faced with the realization that these non-violent activities would not force any change in the government, Mandela and others moved to violent methods, bombing governmental buildings and military locations.

Eventually, Mandela was arrested and imprisoned for almost 30 years.

Upon his release, which was possible thanks to South African President F.W. De Klerk, Mandela did a lot to end apartheid and prevent violence between the races. His idea of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which allowed people of all races to be absolved of past wrongdoings if they publicly admitted to them, was hugely influential in keeping the country together in the wake of apartheid's fall.

Since the ANC was born out of a need to tear down the establishment, it's not surprising that the party has had trouble functioning as the establishment.

Current president Thabo Mbeki has faced criticism for his handling of several issues, one of which being the AIDS epidemic in his country.

The ANC is now faced with nominating a candidate for the upcoming presidential election. Reports coming from the country say there is quite a bit of infighting, but Jacob Zuma seems to be the frontrunner.

I'll be watching this closely over the next few days.

1 comment:

Jessie said...

Yeah, keep us posted. And by us I mean at least me--I took a South African lit class a few years back (I'm pretty sure we've talked about it some), and have been interested in the subject ever since, but haven't really heard much about it. Not having any sort of news (no cable, no reception) doesn't help.