The ANC in Exile
THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS, founded in 1912 as the voice of black South Africans, was banned by law on 30 March 1960, nine days after the infamous Sharpeville massacre and at a time of unprecedented international pressure directed at the racial policies of the government of South Africa. The ANC remained illegal until 2 February 1990, when President De Klerk unbanned it, together with other illegal organizations such as the Pan Africanist Congress and the South African Communist Party, as a bold step in his declared aim of creating a new South Africa through negotiation. We may therefore define the ANC's period in exile as lasting from 1960 to 1990. For most of that period the ANC leadership was based abroad as were many of its most active rank and file members. It is no exaggeration to say that the ANC was in danger of extinction inside South Africa at one point, say from the arrest of the Umkhonto we Sizwe leadership at Rivonia in July 1963 until after the Soweto rising of 1976. For most of that time the ANC was committed to advancing its aims by force of arms through the autonomous organization which later became its military wing, Umkhonto zve Sizzve. It was these conditions which formed the ANC during its exile period. Before giving a brief account of the main developments which affected the ANC during these years, it is perhaps helpful to sketch the previous history of the organization. At its foundation in 1912, the ANC was a rather geilteel organization, established by what were then the pillars of black South African society. These included lawyers and ministers of religion with some Western education as well as traditional chiefs. Its tactics were to lobby and petition on behalf of black people. It was not a mass organization, made no attempt to apply pressure by such tactics as strikes or delmonstrations, and appears to have engaged in little formal activity beyond its annual general meetings. It did not represent the views of white, Indian or so-called 'coloured' South Africans, nor was membership open to them. It llad no ideology beyond a moderate nationalism.