Freedom Charter


Freedom Charter

The Freedom Charter was the statement of core principles of the South African Congress Alliance, which consisted of the African National Congress and its allies the South African Indian Congress, the South African Congress of Democrats and the Coloured People's Congress. It is characterized by its opening demand; "The People Shall Govern!" [cite
title=The Freedom Charter
author=www.anc.org.za
publisher=ANC
date=1955
]

In 1955, the ANC sent out fifty thousand volunteers into townships and the countryside to collect 'freedom demands' from the people of South Africa. This system was designed to give all South Africans equal rights. Demands such as "Land to be given to all landless people", "Living wages and shorter hours of work", "Free and compulsory education, irrespective of colour, race or nationality" were synthesized into the final document by ANC leaders including Z.K. Mathews and Lionel 'Rusty' Bernstein . The Charter was officially adopted on June 26th, 1955 at a Congress of The People in Kliptown.The meeting was attended by roughly three thousand delegates but was broken up by police on the second day, although by then the charter had been read in full. The crowd had shouted its approval of each section with cries of 'Afrika!' and 'Mayibuye!' [cite
title=The Shock Doctrine
author=Naomi Klein
publisher=New York:Little, Brown and Company
date=1994
] Nelson Mandela only escaped the police by disguising himself as a milkman, as his movements and interactions were restricted by banning orders at the time. [cite
title=
author=Nelson Mandela
publisher=London:Penguin Group
date=2007
]

The document is notable for its demand for and commitment to a non-racial South Africa, and this has remained the platform of the ANC. Members of the ANC with opposing Africanist views left the group after it adopted the charter, forming the Pan Africanist Congress. The charter also calls for democracy and human rights, land reform, labor rights, and nationalization. After the congress was denounced as treason, the South African government banned the ANC and arrested 156 activists, including Mandela who was imprisoned in 1962. However, the charter continued to circulate in the revolutionary underground and inspired a new generation of young militants in the 1980s. [cite
title=The Shock Doctrine
author=Naomi Klein
publisher=New York:Little, Brown and Company
date=1994
]

On February 11th 1990, Mandela was finally freed and the ANC came to power soon afterwards in May 1994. The new 'Constitution of South Africa' included in its text many of the demands called for in the Freedom Charter. Nearly all the enumerated concerns regarding equality of race and language were directly addressed in the constitution, although the document included nothing to the effect of the nationalization of industry or redistribution of land, both of which were specifically outlined in the charter.

References

External links

* [http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/charter.html Text of the Freedom Charter]


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