The ANC Youth League was established on the 2nd of April in 1944 at the height of become an answer to raising levels of oppression faced in the 1940's. This comes amid the ANC's centenary celebrations at Mangaung in the Free State this weekend.
It was founded by Anton Lembede, Nelson Mandela, Ashby Mda, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo most of who played an important part in our struggle for liberation. The Youth League launched its manifesto in March 1944 ahead of its inaugural meeting and it preached the promotion of Africanism.
Started as a platform to unite African Youth. The Youth League became a training ground for future leaders. Its primary role was to reinforce the ANC in its struggle for the National Liberation of the African People and uniting youth.
It was the first formation to push for strikes and defiance tactics against the then government.
Anti apartheid political activicy saw a resurgence in the 70's. The backlash from the 1976 Soweto uprisings led to many leaders being imprisoned
Under the leadership of Anton Lembede, Nelson Mandela, Ashby Mda, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo the league sought to radicalise the ANC.The Youth League has over the years influenced the face of ANC leadership.
After the banning of liberation movements in the 60's members of the Youth League would be central in the formation of the ANC military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe. Many young people were ready to pursue military training.
But some leaders of the ANC discouraged them.With South Africa's economy experiencing a boom and the National Party government consolidating Apartheid policies the 1960's saw a decline in black political activity.
Anti apartheid political activicy saw a resurgence in the 70's. The backlash from the 1976 Soweto uprisings led to many leaders being imprisoned.
Some fled the country into exile then the ANC youth section was established.
It’s task was to look after the welfare of youth and mobilising them internationally.
In 1990 after the unbanning of liberation movements by the Apartheid regime. A Provisional National Youth Committee re-established the ANC Youth League. Peter Mokaba became its President, and after 1994 the league redefined its aims,
which were now mobilising the youth behind the ANC vision of the country's future. It is now viewed as a strong body of opinion and a preparatory school for the ANC.
The league has been in the news recently for its march for economic freedom their pushing what is seen as a radical agenda of the Nationalisation of mines and the expropriation of land without compensation while some of its present leaders are appealing a possible suspension from the party.
With its history which is so intertwined with that of the mother body the ANC,
which turns a hundred in a few days, it remains to be seen if the league will continue,
to maintain its radical character.