On the 10th of December 1961 the late ANC President Inkosi Albert Luthuli accepted the Nobel Peace Prize before an assembled audience at Oslo University.
It was a dark time. Apartheid was at its zenith. Men, women and children faced harassment, imprisonment, torture, and even death. The leadership of the liberation movement, if not imprisoned or killed, had been exiled.
Inkosi Luthuli, extremely humble, thanked the Nobel committee for its recognition of what he called his small contribution to the welfare of mankind.
He said: “I accept the award also as an honor, not only to South Africa, but to the whole continent of Africa, to all its people, whatever their race, colour or creed. It is an honor to the peace-loving people of the entire world, and an encouragement to us all to redouble our efforts in the struggle for peace and friendship.”
As evidenced in the words of the late Inkosi Luthuli – the ANC has throughout its history been rooted in the spirit of internationalism: an internationalism that has advanced unity for the peoples of the Global South.
Led by cadres who fully grasp their role as agents of change – the ANC has consistently affirmed its our commitment to the struggle for a humane, just, equitable, democratic and free world: in pursuit of a better Africa, and a better world.
For it is the whole of Africa that shares in the ANC’s victory of leading our people to liberation in 1994.
It was the liberation movements on the African continent who helped us in our darkest hour, and it was from their own liberation struggles that the ANC, then banned and its leaders banished, took both inspiration and succour.
It was brothers and sisters on the African continent who gave our leaders refuge and training, protected our fighters and took up the cudgels with us as we took the anti-apartheid cause to the world.
It was through them that we as the ANC were inducted into the pan-Africanist movement and came to know that no matter how bitter our struggle, that we would never stand alone.
In our collective journey to end the injustices of apartheid, the hands of friendship and fellowship extended to us by our fellow African states gave us extra courage in our struggle for a united and democratic South Africa.
This was exemplified through international solidarity action such as the Harare Declaration – the Declaration of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Ad-hoc Committee on Southern Africa on the question of South Africa.
Zambia together with other neighbouring countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho would emerge as key allies in the ANC’s struggle to liberate South Africa.
The former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, was a vocal instrument of the anti-apartheid movement and in support of the liberation of the peoples of Africa opened his country to the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) to set up operations there.
Zambia was also the country where former ANC President Cde. Oliver Tambo would spend most of his 30-year exile.
Our movement for liberation would be supported across Africa, from Tanzania, to Ethiopia, to Madagascar.
Many of our fellow African nations paid a heavy price for their solidarity with us. The frontline states, which provided refuge to the ANC, were invaded and destabilized, and their economies blockaded by the apartheid regime.
It is thanks to this solidarity that the notion of African unity is no longer a pipe dream. The ANC government can say with confidence that the political and economic ties between South African and other African countries, continue to grow and deepen.
This year, Africa Month will be celebrated under the theme: “Building a Better Africa and a Better World: For Peace and Friendship.”
The ANC through its relations with fraternal organizations on the continent, and through the ANC government’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) continues to work towards advancing ties between our country and those on the continent.
This is because we know that our prosperity and success is inextricably tied to the success and prosperity of the whole of Africa.
The ANC government has and continues to work with Africa’s political architecture, with the African Union (AU) at the helm. We continue to play our role working with other coordinating formations such as the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative (PICI) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) – in the process furthering the attainment of socio-economic growth for the continent.
We remain committed to the SADC and its noble objectives to “achieve development, peace and security, and economic growth, to alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa, and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration, built on democratic principles and equitable and sustainable development.”
For those who have unfortunately found themselves having to migrate in search of a better life because of such conflict, South Africa has been found to be a welcoming place, with progressive asylum policies.
The Freedom Charter emphasizes that South Africa belongs to all who live in it.
Regardless of nationality or status- all who live in South Africa, among them millions of nationals from the continent, enjoy some of the freedoms accorded our own citizens such as freedom of belief, association, assembly, trade, and access to the courts.
This Africa Month, we reaffirm our commitment to Patriotism, to Development, and to Internationalism.
They are the very foundations upon which our democratic society is built. They are the same foundations upon which our fellow African nations are built.
South Africa’s founding father, the late ANC President Cde. Nelson Mandela was
an ardent advocate of African unity. He understood too well the words of the celebrated writer and poet, Ngugi wa Thiong’o that the biggest weapon unleashed by the enemy on our forefathers was “not the Maxim gun. It was division among them.”
At a time when many countries on the continent are racked by evils such as tribalism, ethnic and religious conflict, instability and financial turmoil, the need for us to remain united amongst ourselves as Africans is all the more pressing. We are only able to build a better Africa if we strengthen existing ties and consolidate the work we have been doing over centuries to undo the damaging effects of colonial-era imposed divisions. The vision that gave rise to the fore-runner of the AU, the OAU was that of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena. Both history and contemporary events have shown the great things that can be achieved if Africans work in a systematic and united fashion.
The ANC will continue to promote unity and solidarity among African states working with the AU and its various structures. To overcome our challenges, be they economic or political, it is vital that we work towards realizing the dream upon which the AU was founded.
CDE. EDNA MOLEWA IS CHAIRPERSON OF THE ANC NEC SUBCOMMITEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS