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"Apartheid is the embodiment of the racialism, repression and inhumanity of all previous white supremacist regimes."

--Nelson Mandela, 1976

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Nelson Mandela upon release from Prison

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The African National Congress

The African National Congress (ANC), founded in 1912, is the oldest Black (now multiracial) political organization in South Africa. Prominent in its opposition to apartheid, the organization began as a nonviolent civil-rights group. In the 1940s and 50s it joined with other groups in promoting strikes and civil disobedience among the emerging urban black workforce.

The ANC was banned in 1960 and the following year initiated armed actions. In 1964 its leader, Nelson Mandela, was sentenced to life in prison, and the leadership was forced into clandestinity and exile. Although outlawed, the ANC was acknowledged as one vehicle of mass resistance to apartheid in the late 1970s and the 1980s; the training of ANC guerrillas continued in neighboring countries.

Following the end of the ban on the ANC and the release of Mandela in 1990, many of its leaders returned from exile and clandestinity, and the ANC negotiated with the government for black enfranchisement and an end to apartheid.

In 1994, in advance of the first South African elections open to Black Africans, the ANC became a registered political party. It won over 60% of the vote in the elections, and Nelson Mandela was elected president of the country. Thabo Mbeki succeeded Mandela as head of the ANC in 1997; Mbeki was elected president of South Africa in 1999.

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