BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Nationalism modern history is the movement through which the realisation of a nation- state is regarded as paramount for the attainment of social, economic and cultural aspiration of the people. Nationalism is characterised principally by the feeling of communality among a people, based on common descent, language and religion. Before the 18th century when nationalism emerged as a distinct movement, states usually were based on religion or dynastic ties, citizens owed loyalty to their churches or ruling families. People rarely extend their interest across national frontiers.
Historically, the tendency towards nationalism was fostered by various technological, cultural, political and economic advances. Improvement in communication extended the knowledge of people beyond their villages or provinces. The spread of education in vernacular tongues of the lower income group gave them the feeling of participation in a common cultural heritage. Through education, people learned of their common background and tradition and began to identify themselves with the historical continuity of the nation. The introduction of national constitution and the struggle forpolitical rightsgave people the sense of belonging to determine their fate as a nation and of sharing
responsibilityfor the future well- being of that nation. At the same time the growth of trade and industry laid the basis for economic units larger than the traditional cities or provinces.
Nationalist struggle like other terms in political science is not subjected to a single approach, not even a single conceptualisation, because it means different thing to different people and different countries. Nationalist struggle can be defined as the sentiment and reaction of the indigenes (natives) against foreign rule and domination. Nationalist struggle was said to be an instrument for organised escape from the tyranny of the oppressive monarchs in Europe. However, to the Africans generally, nationalist struggle means opposition to European rule except in the case of south African was also colonised by Africans.
There are many reasons for the development of nationalist struggle in African. Some of the reasons are partly social, partly political and partly economic in nature. First and foremost, the racial differences which exonerate racial discrimination pave to the whites in the all aspect of life, which eventually erodes the opportunities for Africans in their own countries.
Similarly, there was monopoly of foreign and major firm in trade and commerce, and there was disliked by the nationalist. African business class was dissatisfied with the rising prices and rising cost of production especially in town and cities. Moreso, the economics of African countries were completely dominated by British and French frim and theirfinancial institutions. Fair opportunities were giving to African to take part in commerce of their counties .this was another factor that contributed to the cause of nationalist activities in anticipation of their economic rights. At the very crucial stage of colonialism, the two world wars, that is the first and the second world wars exposed the weakness of the British. For instance, Britain was the first to withdraw her troops from the continents. She was heavily defeated by the Germans, a non-European power. This event had some psychological on the colonial subject and their determination to fight for freedom. In addition, the growth of urbanization greatly contributes to the growth of nationalist activities. Most towns grew four times their sizes, most evident in the rate of population growth. These urban centres became the rallying centres for fostering of the spirit ofnationalism.
However, despite the general feeling of the nationalist towards their course of activities, there are different approach to and kinds of struggle. And the reason was located within peculiar setting in which the nationalist operated. There were different kinds of colonial existence.
Therefore, there are different kinds of nationalist struggle. To a varying degree, the struggle is political, economic and social (racial). This is reflected in Kwame Nkrumah’s statement:
Seek ye political kingdom first……..
Moreover, the kind of setting which the nationalist operated shaped the kind of nationalist activities embarked upon. For instance, the settler’s factor in south African confirmed the need for a violent struggle. Algeria for example had to embark upon a violent struggle to wade off the French and the non-European colonisers. But to the contrary, liberal British colonies were not violent but underwent a lot negotiation and compromise in the course of their struggle. The approach to the nationalist struggle in these British- European colonized countries are obviously reflected in the result of the struggle in terms of the quality of the independence.
The liberal British colonies consequently ended the nationalist struggle with the perpetuation and perpetration of the colonial structures, except for Tanzania. They opted for capitalism as their ideology.
Where’s, the violent nationalist of some African independent countries advocated for socialism in a bid to complete the remnants of colonialism. South Africa, a land of diversity and division in its geography, people and political history; physically tall mountain ranges separate fertile coastal plan from high interior plateaus. The grassland and desert of the plateaus include pockets of amazing mineral wealth particularly in gold and diamonds.
Black African comprises more than three quarter of South Africa. While whites coloured people (people of mixed race) and Asians mainly Indians) make up the remainder. Among the black population there are numerous ethnic groups and 11 official languages. Until the 1990s, white dominated the non-white majority population under the political system of racial segregation known as Apartheid. Apartheid ended in the 1990s, but South Africa is still recovering from the racial inequalities in political power, opportunity and lifestyle. The end of apartheid led to a total reorganisation of the government, which since 1994 has been a anonracial democracy based on majority rule.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
This research project tries to examine the role of the African National Congress in the nationalist struggle in South Africa. There is the need to know the objectives, strategies, organisation and the political activities of the African national congress. The formation of the congress which embraces its historical background shall be discussed. In addition, the attracts the two major period of the nationalist activities of the African National congress, that is the period of non-violence which signifies like peaceful demonstrations, protests and strikes and the period of the armed struggle which portrays the latest tactics of the African national congress in achieving its objectives. We will also evaluate the general effects of the African national Congress as a nationalist organisation in South
DEFINITION OF CONCEPT
Various concepts have been used in the course of this study. However, it is deemed necessary to operationalize some of these concepts for proper comprehension. The major and important concepts used in this context include, “Nationalist struggle”, “white and black”, ”coloured”, White Minority”, Black majority”, “Apartheid”, Armed struggle”,
Guerrilla warfare” and “squatters”.
Nationalist struggle as used here refers to the general sentiment and reaction of the indigenes as reflected or portrayed in their opposition foreign rule and domination.
Black and White are used here to reflect what has become
conventional South Africa terminology for describing the different people inhabiting this country, that is, White for Europeans settlers and their descendants, African for members of the bantu-Speaking groups, ‘coloured’ for those who are legally categorised as being of mixed descent and ‘Indian’ for the descendant of the Asians. When referring collectively however to the Africans, coloured and Indian section of the population, we have the term ‘Black’.
White minority is used here nevertheless to mean a small population of white settlers and their descendant which claim racial authority over the black majority, while black majority as used here refers to the large population of about 28 million blacks whose political or human rights are denied by the white minority. The black majority are denied the right to vote, the right to move in their own country, etc.
Although, ‘Apartheid’ has been defined as South Africa policy of social segregation, separate development of Europeans and non- Europeans. The term apartheid originated as a political slogan coined by Dr. D.F. Malan, leader of the South African National Party in 1944, and derived from the Afrikaans word denoting ‘Apartness’ or ‘segregation’. It featured prominently in the party’s successful election campaign in 1948, cementing a coalition of desperate Afrikaner group and classes and would serve for the next four decades as the rationale for the regimes racial programme.
Armed struggle here means the adoption of violent physical reaction (attack) as a means of attaining total liberation by some nationalist organisation and movement from the abject foreign domination and oppression as evident in South Africa. These violent programmes involve the employment of arms and ammunition and
guerrilla war tactics.
Guerrilla warfare here is used to refer to the sporadic fighting which is illegally embarked by some nationalist in order to frustrate the
South African authorities’ measures. Violence in this context is a tool for the liberation of the natives. It is a creative force, that is, it brings about unity between the different forces participating in the liberation struggles. It is also o corrective force which projects towards genuine process of decolonisation through complete and total disorder of the South African apartheid regime.
To be an African in South Africa means that one is politicised from the moment of one’s birth, whether one acknowledge it or not. An African child was born in an African hospital, taken home in Africans only bus, lived in an Africans only area and attend African only schools, if he attends school at all. When he grew up, he can hold African only jobs, rent a house in Africans only township, ride Africans only trains and be stopped at any time of the day or night and be ordered to produce a pass, without which he can be arrested and thrown in jail. His life is circumscribed by racist laws and regulation that crippled his growth, dim his potential and stunt his life. This was the reality and one could deal with it in a myriad of ways. In view of this, some fundamental question would help us understand what lead to this kind of segregation and the positive/possible action taken to bring equality in the country. Questions such as (i) what gave birth to freedom fighters? (ii) What are the roles of African National Congress in liberation of Africa? (iii) Why the use of armed struggle? are meant to be discussed answered/probed into in this study.
Walter Sisulu believed that the African National Congress (ANC) was the means to effect change in South Africa, the repository of black hopes and aspirations. Sometimes, one can judge an organisation by the people who belong to it. The ANC was the organisation that welcomes everyone, it saw itself as a focal umbrella under which all African could find shelter.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The study is about the African National Congress as a political organisation, it does not aim to describe and document the totality of the nationalist struggle in South Africa. The use of ‘Struggle’ as a concept limits the study to look at forms of action and activities which fall outside the legally sanctioned outlet of political expression for the nationalist. For one reason or the other, the study has concentrated on the explicit type of resistance embarked upon by the African National Congress, which have directly confronted the authorities. Changing phases of the nationalist struggle in South Africa is discussed in the study. For instance, the early existing political organisation (African National Congress, Unity
Movement and Pan African Congress etc) resulted to the formation of Black Consciousness Movement (BCM). The latter concentrated not so much on political defiance and protest as a mobilising and strengthen the inner resources of the black majority.
However, the course of national struggle among organisation in South Africa is not easy to understand without the knowledge of some local situation and the condition arising from them. One of our preoccupation therefore has been to set the events we describe firmly in their particular local context.
The overt signs of race as the mechanism of domination of the white minority over the black majority has been perpetrated by economic exploitation since the race discrimination is the mechanism of this exploitation and function to it, it is the modus operandi of South Africa capitalism, the struggle to destroy ‘white supremacy’ is ultimately bound up with the very destruction of capitalism itself.
The main objective of this study therefore, is to portray the event and activities of the organisation of African National Congress in South
Africa in respect of national struggle.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The work will be of great importance to policy makers. This is because it is only through a comparison of diverse opinion that one can verify whether political organisation is useful or not. The research intends to offer vital suggestion to relevant government agencies and to the general public on the ways and means by which the political hazard might be controlled as well as possible adjustment strategies that need to be adopted.
Hence, it is also hope that the study will contribute significantly towards improving the quality of political organisation against injustice, racial segregation and economic exploitation etc. of the third world countries. The researcher also hope that the research would stimulate further researches on the impact of political organisation not only in
South Africa but also in other African countries.
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