Nationalist Movements In South Africa

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Nationalist Movements in South Africa between 1912 and 1960.

Nationalism is an ideology where people are encouraged to be loyal and proud and to support their own nation.

Between 1912 and 1960 several Nationalist movements emerged in South Africa, defining in which way different groups belonged to the South African Nation.

In 1910, the Union of South Africa was formed, and only white men had political power. This left black South Africans with no voice.

In January 1912, the South African Native National Congress was formed, with Reverend John Dube as it’s first president. It aimed to unite Africans, to oppose discrimination and prejudice and to win political rights for all.

The SANNC later became the ANC and at first was a moderate organisation,
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The ANC under Dr Alfred Xuma drew up the African Claims in South Africa calling for votes for adults, fair land distribution and an end to discrimination in the workplace.

The Congress Youth League (CYL) was formed in 1943, by younger ANC members, and wanted to bring about change for all classes and races in a more active way and with mass support.

After the National Party came into power in 1948, many of the CYL members, like Nelson Mandela, were elected to ANC leadership positions and the ANC adopted a Programme of Action. This accepted the use of strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience and non-co-operation.

Some black Africans like Anton Lembede, wanted Blacks to be organised separately and in the Africanist view believed that, as Garvey said, “Africa is for Africans” and that they must stick together for national liberation.

The ANC’s idea of nationalism was supported by their Freedom Charter of 1955. This Charter was non-racial and stated that, “All who live in it, black and white” belong to the South African nation and this non-racial nationalism is known as
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“Government of Africans, by Africans for Africans.”

Even though the ANC and the PAC were banned in 1960, African nationalism did not collapse. The Black Consciousness Movement, which developed in the late 1960’s, led by Steve Biko, continued to promote pride in the Black identity through culture, history and language.

After the South African War (1899-1912) and the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, many Afrikaners resented the English heritage and links to the British and so there was a call for Afrikaner Nationalism.

The Afrikaners, led by JBM Hertzog, formed the National Party in 1914. They wanted to promote white Afrikaner interest and have a greater say in their country.

When The National Party came into power in 1924, with Hertzog as Prime Minister, Afrikaans became an official language and a South African flag was adopted. In order to protect white workers, the government introduced policies where they gave preference to white workers and helped poor Afrikaners.

Afrikaner nationalism grew in the 1930’s, as people from different classes, occupations and areas united the Afrikaner nation with their own history, language and
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