In South Africa, the ANC Youth League is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Former president and African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela was a founding member when its manifesto was issued in 1944. I
t stated that the domination of the white race “is rousing the African feelings of hatred of everything that bars the way to full and free citizenship.” It called on African youth to be “united, consolidated, trained and disciplined because from their ranks future leaders will be recruited.”
Zizi Kodwa is the spokesman for the ANC Youth League. From Johannesburg, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the organization’s 60-year history. He says, “I think what kept us where we are as the ANC Youth League…is the fact that there was a purpose for us to exist…one, is that we were established by the youth of 1944, first and foremost, to ensure that we bring this vibrancy of youth voice within the ANC. And that need, and that objective and that purpose continue to permeate in all the generations of the ANC from 1944 until 2004.”
In fact, he says, the organization is more relevant today than at its founding. He says the ANC Youth League joins efforts of other youth organizations around the world to hold bring peace to troubled regions. And he points to South African President Thabo Mbeki as carrying out the goals of the ANC by helping to bring peace to the Middle East and Ivory Coast.
The manifesto stated, “The majority of White men regard it as the destiny of the White race to dominate the man of color.”
Asked about race relations in South Africa today, Mr. Kodwa replied, “Since 1994, there’s a lot of improvement in a number of areas.” He credits the administrations of Mr. Mbeki and Nelson Mandela for that.
He says, “There are charters, which are in place by our government, to ensure that it addresses the imbalances of the past; brings on board the majority of the people who were excluded on the basis of race. I think, by and large, the country is overcoming its legacy of the past. But, there continues to be resistance. There continue to be ugly heads of racism in many areas of life. In sports, you find there are still exclusive sporting codes that resist transformation to ensure that they bring on board the majority of black people, who were excluded on the basis of apartheid policy. So, racism still finds an expression in South Africa in many ways, but I’m saying it’s not as prevalent as it was pre ’94.”