ANC: 100 and not out…yet!

[notice]As the African National Congress celebrated its centenary this week, PE pastor Afrika Mhlophe reflects on its Christian heritage and its historical service to SA. But he laments that today’s ANC leaders are unprincipled, bent on self enrichment and populist. [/notice]

The founding of the African National Congress on January 8, 1912 was a defining moment for oppressed people not only in South Africa but the world at large. Oppression, repression, segregation, racism, apartheid are all terms used to describe the evil that was visited upon indigenous African people by white settlers. Those of us living today cannot fully comprehend the depth of the pain suffered and the difficulties people still experience as a result of it.

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“They have lost the moral high ground and therefore have lost God’s mandate.”

Apartheid was diabolic and inexcusable. Many lives suffered needlessly as a result of it. As children in the 1980’s I don’t remember how many times we had to fend off police attacks and ducked their bullets and teargas which was regularly sprayed on us. I was personally warned of the danger I faced because my first name supposedly had political connotations.

The ANC was formed to fight against this repression. I use the word “fight” loosely because the resistance was at the beginning passive and peaceful. It was only in the 1960’s that the likes of Nelson Mandela called for the formation of a military wing, Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK) which means “the spear of the nation.”  This was in response to the violent and sadistic nature in which the then regime responded to peaceful protests and demonstrations.

What should be more interesting to us as Christians is where and how this organization was formed. It was formed in a Methodist church in Bloemfontein and its first president was the Reverend John Langalibalele Dube who was apparently elected in absentia. Rev Dube was the son of Rev James Dube, one of the first ordained pastors of the American Zulu Mission.

Christian convictions
Another man of cloth led the ANC in various roles from the early 30’s until he died in 1970. His name was Zacharias Richard Mahabane. There were many others whose involvement in the political struggle was largely spurred on by their Christian convictions.

When I was watching a documentary about the famed Oliver Tambo I was taken aback by how people who worked with him underground remembered him as a committed Christian. In fact it is said if he did not have to go into exile for political reasons he would have become an ordained minister.

What about the likes of Trevor Huddleston who was a missionary from England who could not stand by and watch what apartheid was doing to this country? And Beyers Naude, Desmond Tutu, Frank Chikane, Makhenkesi Stofile, etc. were all practicing ministers who struggled alongside the political activists.

Yes there were many other Christians who kept silent and did nothing to fight apartheid but we thank God for those who did something. This is a profound and rich history we have as a nation and we can’t thank God enough that this country did not descend into civil war. We all (black, white, coloured, Indian, etc) owe a lot to the ANC and it in turn owes a lot to God and how He has used His Church to support the struggle. It was God and not ancestors who spurred us from the evil called apartheid and therefore it was misguided for this organization to have paid homage to ancestors on the grounds of a church, on top of that.

Now the Bible says better is the end of a thing than its beginning. Many commentators lament the ANC of today and they are rather urging us to celebrate the ANC that was. Many people do not know what to celebrate but there is lot to celebrate when you look back at what the ANC used to be.

Today’s ANC, which makes a habit of denigrating Christianity and blaspheming our God is not the same one Dr Nelson Mandela left. Today’s one is a cabal of unprincipled men and women bent on self-enrichment and populism.

When kings in Israel forsook the Lord and served foreign gods, God forsook them and took the kingdom from them. Will the ANC rule until Jesus comes? The answer is no. They have lost the moral high ground and therefore have lost God’s mandate. I don’t know who else will rule our country but I know that I will live to see this country not ruled by the ANC. It is even doubtful if they will still be around to celebrate the next centenary when one judges their infightings and bickering.

Notwithstanding all its faults, I still cannot imagine where this country would be if we did not have the ANC. They have produced some of the finest leaders this world has ever seen. Can you imagine what might be if the ANC would go back to its founding principles and values? Let us pray for that then.


  1. Thank you for giving me a prayer topic.

  2. Yes ! I have been deeply disturbed per what -once again – was started correctly ( the founding principles of the ANC) and what – once again – has been distorted, abused and contaminated by man’s greed: the Word is full of these kind of examples ( cf King Saul and Solomon etc) But our God is a God of restoration and redemption and if we, as watchmen and intercessors, will stand in the gap, surely He will intervene so that His Kingdom purposes for RSA can still come to pass ! – To critize is easy, to intercede ( 2 Chron 7:14) takes effort and commitment.Yet, it is also an honour to co-labour with our Lord.
    The Scripture just comes to mind where God said ” I looked for one man to stand in the gap and found no-one …” Let us not found to be wanting and as Sannie says : we have a prayer topic !
    The Lord has again and again laid Kgalema Mothlanthe on my heart. Rumour has it that he is a fellow believer and certainly carries a calm and just authority as a leader that has had me amazed on a number of occasions. Could it be that he is God’s man for the hour ? Let’s seek the Lord and pray.

    • There has been reported instances wherein Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe rebuked people for starting a government meeting without opening in prayer. So Barbara it is possible that the man is a believer. Indeed we should pray for our leaders and we should pray for our country. Every succesful king in Israel had a prophet and a priest next to him giving him Godly counsel. Today’s leaders are surrounded by praise singers and people who practise new age religion. Anyway we as the Church are the custodians of God’s secrets and wisdom (1 Cor 4) and we must be faithful with what God has entrusted to our care. Thank you for your contribution.

  3. Thank you, Afrika, for this well balanced article, and also your contyribution in todays Herald.

  4. thanks for the article. I am sad also that the Christian roots have been forgotten!

    • And you know what Penny? Without those roots the ANC would not be what it became. They wouldn’t have achieved what they achieved. Many activists were sheltered in churches when they were pursued by security forces.

  5. a very good resume of the ANC.
    What a pity they have forsaken God by
    invoking the ancestors.
    Like Israel of old, beware the wrath of God

    • Hi Neville,

      People who invoke and consult ancestors do so because of fear. They fear of might happen if they do not invoke them. The only thing one ever hears about ancestors is that they are angry over one thing or the other. They apparently have to be appeased regularly. Our God does not need to be placated. He does not have an insecurity problem like these ancestors and false “gods.” Folks are provoking God indeed. “…there is no other God but one” (1 Cor 8:4). Thank you

  6. The evil apartheid regime made way for the idealistic ANC government which, sadly has proven itself, in it’s own way as in your article, to also be as evil as its predecessor. This has thereby eroded all the efforts of the good men who went before and has tainted everyone of the ANC with the same brush of greed and corruption. One righteous man right at the top will turn the country around. Oh God bring that man to the fore and save our country before its too late, is our prayer.

    • Hi Hennie,
      Proverbs 14:34 is relevant for your comment. It says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Though the current government is a lessor of two evils but we still see that they have glaring moral deficiencies. If we were to be given a chance, do you think we in the Church are ready to govern this nation? I sometimes wonder about this. It is one thing to critic the current leaders but do we have capacity and expertise in the Church to do a better job?

  7. Yes, I am proud of what the ANC has achieved and for it’s many fine leaders like Oliva Tambo, Nelson Mandela and John L. Dube. The caution is for the present ANC (people & leaders to always remember that God desires truth, love honesty and good morals that the nation can continue to be a peaceful rainbow nation.

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  10. I praise God for people like you who see the truth and are prepared to speak it.
    The present govt. practices reverse Apartheid.
    1. Only black people are Africans – no matter where you are born, and how many generations [6 in my case, all born in Africa]there are. That takes my family line back to the early 1700’s. Thus I am classified in Apartheid terms.
    2. Black empowerment yes, but total discrimination no, that becomes Apartheid language. Abraham Lincoln once said “You don’t empower yourself by taking away a man’s house. You are empowered to have your own house.”
    3. I could go on more how we are living in a new apartheid era, but I think the point is made.
    4. The people of the Church need to stand up and show Jesus’s way of doing things. Why are we allowing all the smut on national TV?
    Why is there no National move by the Church to sort this out.

    • Hi Doug,

      The issue of classification based on race is a problem all over the world. For instances black people in America are referred to as African- Americans though most of them had never even set foot in Africa. They identify themselves with Africa because I suppose many have never felt quite at home in America. Interesting enough is that even Jesus acknowledged geographical and race issues when He said the gospel should be preached in first in Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria and then the rest of the world (Acts 1:8; also see John 4:20-22). He made no bones about the fact that His initial focus was the Jews before the rest of the other nations (Matt 10:5-6). I also don’t care much about racial classification and wouldn’t allow politicians to poison me with their hate-filled words. However we as the Church need to address the issue of economic redress and the empowerment of previously marginalised people. This is not for political expediency but for the moral calling we have from God. Many people are struggling today and yes the majority of them are black but we need to look beyond a person’s race and see the image of God in them. I therefore agree with you that the Church has a lot work to do. Thanks

  11. Thank you for your article Afrika. What a privilege we have to be living in this country at this time! We are not here by chance as we all know, but rather because God has placed us in this nation for such a time as this! My prayer is that we would not be motivated by fear, insecurities, etc but rather we would all purpose in our heart to say, God here am I use me. What role do I have in this nation to see those very values you spoke of becoming the pillar and foundation of this country once again? None of us have the luxury of saying, “it’s not my concern”. It is God’s concern and therefore should be ours too. May you continue to be a voice for our King.

    Blessings to you!


    • Thank you for the encouragement David. We are really previleged to be in this nation. We could have been living in Zimbwabwe, Sudan, or some other strife-torn place. We have challanges of our own but things are not as bad as some people sometimes make them appear to be. Acts 17:26-28 comes to mind. Thanks again