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The ANC Youth League

Clive Glaser

Publication Year: 2013

This brilliant little book tells the story of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League from its origins in the 1940s to the present and the controversies over Julius Malema and his influence in contemporary youth politics. Glaser analyzes the ideology and tactics of its founders, some of whom (notably Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo) later became iconic figures in South African history as well as inspirational figures such as A. P. Mda (father of author Zakes Mda) and Anton Lembede. It shows how the early Youth League gave birth not only to the modern ANC but also to its rival, the Pan Africanist Congress. Dormant for many years, the Youth League reemerged in the transition era under the leadership of Peter Mokaba — infused with the tradition of the militant youth politics of the 1980s. Throughout its history the Youth League has tried to “dynamize” and criticize the ANC from within, while remaining devoted to the mother body and struggling to find a balance between loyalty and rebellion.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Series: Ohio Short Histories of Africa


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 5-7

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1. Introduction

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pp. 7-10

Scarcely a day has gone by since the African National Congress’s Polokwane conference in December 2007 when Julius Malema or the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) has not been in the news for one reason or another. In spite of the fact that he has never occupied a senior leadership position in the ruling party, Malema, until recently president of the...

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2. The road to Bloemfontein, 1940–1949

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pp. 11-40

On 15 December 1949 about 120 delegates of the African National Congress converged on Bloemfontein for their annual national conference. They sensed change in the air. Although the ANC, under the astute leadership of Dr A.B. Xuma, had in many ways resurrected itself from the organisational doldrums of the 1930s, its political methods...

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3. Loyalists and rebels, 1950–1960

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pp. 41-71

In the traditional struggle narrative, the story of the ANCYL ends with its internal victory in 1949. But the 1950s are equally significant, historically. Without its most prominent leaders at the helm, and without the central task of ratifying the Programme of Action within the ANC, the Youth League struggled to find...

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4. The return of the youth, 1961–1990

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pp. 72-97

Between 1960 and 1964 the internal structures of the ANC and PAC were eviscerated by overwhelming state repression. A wave of detentions, bannings and show trials put an effective lid on opposition. Both the ANC and PAC officially adopted armed struggle by 1961. As they regrouped in exile, they set about forming armed wings and external...

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5. The Youth League reborn, 1990–2003

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pp. 98-119

Throughout 1990, after F.W. de Klerk had dramatically announced the unbanning of the liberation movements, ANC exiles drifted back into South Africa and political prisoners were released. The ANC had to reestablish itself as a legal party and negotiate mergers and alliances with the 1980s internal movement...

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6. The new rebellion, 2004–2012

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pp. 120-151

In August 2004 Fikile Mbalula took over the presidency of the ANCYL. He had been secretary-general since 1998 and, though already 33, was the natural successor. With endorsements from the outgoing president, Gigaba, and most senior figures in the senior ANC, he was elected unopposed at the 22nd national congress. Throughout the rest...

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7. Concluding notes: Class of ’44 vs Class of ’04

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pp. 152-160

Julius Malema, like many of the post-apartheid Youth League leaders, claims to be inspired by the organisation’s founding fathers of the 1940s. He likes to draw comparisons between the modern ANCYL and the so-called Class of ’44. These heroes of the past dared to defy a moribund older generation and...


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pp. 160-163


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pp. 164-168

E-ISBN-13: 9780821444573
E-ISBN-10: 0821444573
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821420447
Print-ISBN-10: 0821420445

Page Count: 168
Illustrations: yes, about 5 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1
Series Title: Ohio Short Histories of Africa
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 830627909
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The ANC Youth League