In this second article based on my recent visit to South Africa, I trace the struggle launched by the African National Congress (ANC) against apartheid. We begin with putting racism in perspective. Historically black Africa has been brutalised by all external forces who invaded the African continent. This is not to deny that within Africa, tribal and clan warfare did not occur before the external interventions: they did and caused bloodshed and strife on a recurring basis because the means of subsistence were few and limited, and conflict was inevitable. Nevertheless, the intervention by powers from outside created its own structure and culture of oppression. Black Africa was considered primitive and without a worthwhile history or civilisation — more like the natural animal world where one lives and survives by instinct rather than deep thinking and planning. That view has been corrected by recent research and several civilisations have been discovered, revealing that trade and commerce was a regular feature of sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, whether Persian, Roman, Arab or European — all great powers treated African people brutally. The African National Congress was founded in 1912; originally it was called the South African Native National Congress, but in 1923 it became just the African National Congress. It was from the beginning a movement which included intellectuals, native chiefs and churches and some whites also supported it. However, when apartheid became an official ideology in 1948, the old leadership gave way to younger men such as Oliver Tombo (died 1993), Walter Sisula (died 2003), and Nelson Mandela (died 2013). India under Nehru took up the case of apartheid in the United Nations and became a major critic of racism and a champion of South Africa’s freedom struggle. Pakistan and Arab states too supported the anti-apartheid movement. The Soviet Union was the major superpower which supported the anti-apartheid movement in diplomatic and other ways. Mandela was arrested in 1962, Sisulu in 1963. Tambo succeeded in escaping and led the ANC in exile for another 30 years. While in jail Mandela was charged with sabotage and terrorism. During the trial he made the famous statement: “democracy is an ideal for which I am prepared to die” The ANC adopted an ideology which combined Black Nationalism with Marxism. The emphasis was on peaceful resistance to apartheid, however. The South Africa Communist Party, which had a significant following among whites, supported it as well. In 1952, the ANC began to receive support from the South African Indian Congress (SAIC), which represented the coloured population, including the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities in the country. Such developments caused concern to the government which reacted with totalitarian control of all sectors of society. The freedom fighters began to defy apartheid and enter “whites only” demarcated areas, which resulted in thousands being arrested. Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and many others, were arrested, tried and sent to prison for nine months, while a ban on the Communist Party was also imposed. Moreover, the no-go areas for blacks and browns were expanded to virtually force ANC leaders and others to be confined to their homes. In 1955 a Freedom Charter was adopted by the ANC. SAIC and some other organisations took part in that meeting. In 1956 the Federation of South African Women was founded and became a part of the broader opposition to apartheid. Black and Indian business communities also began to support the freedom movement. However, the government declared the Freedom Charter as subversive Communist conspiracy. The Soviet Union was blamed for masterminding and financing the resistance movement. On the other hand, some activists were dissatisfied with the ANC on grounds that it was influenced too much by white communists. They formed the Pan-African Congress (PAC). A protest march organised by the PAC resulted in the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, in which 69 protestors were killed. The ANC authorised Mandela to organise armed struggle. He organised several actions and even considered setting up bases outside South Africa. It resulted in greater repression, which included mass arrests. However, armed actions were never, at any stage, a military threat to the South African state. Many volunteers also left South Africa for military training in foreign bases, which Mandela co-ordinated. Mandela was arrested in 1962, Sisulu in 1963. Tambo succeeded in escaping and led the ANC in exile for another 30 years. While in jail Mandela was charged with sabotage and terrorism. During the trial he made the famous statement: ‘democracy is an ideal for which I am prepared to die’. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to Robben Island — I saw Robben Island from the Table Mountain skirting Cape Town. It is not far from the coastline. In 1953 the Bantu Education System had been introduced, which brought all schools under state control, whereas previously many were run by churches and other charitable organisations. Bantu education meant inferior education for the blacks. They were trained mainly to work in inferior positions and mostly as cheap labour for the mines and other industries. In 1976, students in Soweto, a shanty town outside Johannesburg, began protesting Bantu Education System. It resulted in a large number of deaths. This radicalised young black South Africans even more and the ANC became the main organisation fighting for apartheid. It received help from not only neighbouring African countries, but also the Communist bloc, Arab nations and from progressive people in Europe and North America. Sweden became a major champion of the freedom struggle led by ANC. However, while resistance to apartheid brought together black and brown South Africans and sections of the white population, especially Communists and some church figures; within the large black population, tribal and clan loyalties still clashed with each other. The major tribal-linguistic group was that of the Zulus (23 percent). Chief Butelezi, who was a member of the ANC, broke away from the ANC and founded the Inkatha National Liberation Movement in March 1975. Initially ANC and Inkatha co-operated, but later Inkatha, with the connivance of the South African Government, became the spearhead of Zulu separatism, claiming eastern South Africa as their exclusive homeland. It was an echo of the All-India Muslim League in India fearing domination by a centrist Indian National Congress in the country. Mandela belonged to the Xhosa ethno-linguistic group, representing 16 per cent of the black African population. On several occasions Inkatha cadres were drawn into armed conflict with their counterparts in the ANC, but many Zulus remained loyal to ANC. Meanwhile world opinion was changing fast against apartheid and ANC was recognised as the true leader of the freedom movement. Consequently, efforts began to be made worldwide to find a peaceful resolution of the South African conflict. Mrs Margaret Thatcher and President Reagan of the United States dragged their feet because at that time preventing the spread of Soviet Communism was their paramount concern. Sweden was one of the leading nations which supported the ANC’s demand for freedom from apartheid. Preparations were also afoot to make the ANC renounce armed struggle and some voices were raised in its favour, but since apartheid was totalitarian, brutal and vicious itself, the ANC continued to subscribe to it while expressing their will to negotiate a peaceful end to the conflict and, ultimately, the establishment of democracy. That role history had destined for the great Nelson Mandela to perform — the transition of South Africa from apartheid, to democracy. To be continued The writer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; Visiting Professor Government College University; and, Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He has written a number of books and won many awards, he can be reached on email@example.com Published in Daily Times, July 10th 2018.