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ANC's 99th anniversary

The African National Congress (ANC), Africa's oldest liberation movement, celebrates the 99th anniversary of its founding today.

See South African president and ANC leader Jacob Zuma’s speech marking the event here.

2011 also marks two 50th anniversaries: the forming in 1961 of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (‘Spear of the Nation’), co-founded by Nelson Mandela, and the awarding of the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize (held over for a year) to the then president-general of the ANC, Chief Albert Luthuli.

Explaining the ANC’s decision to take up armed struggle, Mr. Mandela, who argued within the movement’s leadership for the move, told journalists:

"If the  government reaction is to crush by naked force our non-violent struggle, we will have to reconsider our tactics. In my mind we are closing a chapter on this question of a non-violent policy."

With the collapse of the Apartheid state, the ANC came to power under South Africa's new constitution in 1994, with Mr. Mandela as president.

Interestingly, the United States which designated the ANC a terrorist group in the 1970's, only removed President Mandela and other ANC officials from 'terror lists' in 2008. From 1994 till then, they needed special 'waivers' to visit Washington.