On Sunday January 08th the African National Congress celebrated its 105th Birthday in Gauteng. The day was also dedicated to celebrating the legacy of Oliver Tambo, the ANC’s longest standing President as 2017 would have been his 100th year of life had he not passed on in 1993.
The year has thus been announced by the party to be the year of O.R Tambo and returning back to the core principles of the movement in honor of the comrades who did not make it to see this year.
The gathering took place at Orlando Stadium in Soweto despite many skeptics thinking the event would be negatively impacted by the weekend’s severe weather conditions. The African National Congress boldly opted to go ahead with the celebrations even risking the turnout being affected because they knew that ANC members would not be stopped by anything from making it to Orlando. As predicted, the commitment of ANC faithful to unity in action was evident as they stadium was filled up by mid morning in true ANC spirit. The event was attended to such an extent that there was an overflow of supporters outside. Nevertheless, Orlando was black, green and gold as jovial ANC members and supporters from across the country danced, sung struggle songs and waved flags united whilst proudly dressed in regalia.
The support the ruling party received from all corners of South Africa was not detoured by the rains as comrades were clear in expressing why they found it important to attend the celebrations come rain or high water. One loyal supporter, Cde Valoyi, travelled all the way from Limpopo to show her support for the ANC.
When asked she stated “I am here for the President’s speech, to take instructions from leadership in the year going forward and to show my continuous commitment to the movement”. It was evident at the celebrations that despite coming from different provinces, members of the party were all in attendance in good spirits.
The atmosphere within the stadium, in and amongst members of the organization was one representative of big a family gathering more than that of an organization of strangers. There was a great sense of hope reminiscent of the ANC of Tambo, Hani and Slovo that was not easy to ignore. A delegation of elderly comrades from Free State Province, Motheo Region expressed their happiness to be in attendance of the event despite their frail bodies. One lady, Mama Mchunu stated “we are here to show the youth that their mothers still believe in the ANC and that if we can travel and not sleep to be here then our children can do the same, the ANC lives on!”
The leadership of the ANC has called for 2017 to be a year in which the organization and its members exercise greater levels of unity in action and putting the people of country first. The image of the ANC must be restored back to its former glory and this can only be achieved through all members sacrificing themselves and prioritizing the movement more than their own personal ambitions. In an interview with ANC’s popular radio station 1912, ANC NEC Member and Mkhonto we Sizwe veteran Cde Lindiwe Zulu stressed that the South African struggle for liberation was an extremely difficult one in which many brave men and women gave their lives. She called on members, especially the youth, to use this opportunity to remember what the ANC stood for and urged that they return to those core principles in honor those fallen comrades.
ANC January 8 Statement 2017 - The Year of OR Tambo