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    A Continuing Search For an Identity: Carrying the Burden of History

     A CONTINUING SEARCH FOR AN IDENTITY:
    CARRYING THE BURDEN OF HISTORY
    presented at
    SOUTH AFRICAN HISTORY ONLINE CONFERENCE DEBATING LIBERATION HISTORIES AND DEMOCRACY TODAY: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF THE ANC
    Joel Netshitenzhe
    21 September 2011
     
    INTRODUCTION
     “Populations that are multiply wounded as a product of permanent stress lose their capacity to make decisions and plan for the future due to the excess suffering they have lived through and not processed… Reconstructing the sense of our national and personal histories … allows us to go forward in life. But going forward is only possible if people can find new energy.”1 [Martha Cabrera]
    The centenary of the African National Congress presents a unique opportunity to interrogate the ideals that spawned and sustained a movement that has assumed the status of a towering giant in the consciousness of South African society and humanists further afield.
    Whilst our reflections are about history, the subliminal question exercising our mind is whether there should be and indeed whether there will be another hundred years! Are South Africans able, in the words of Cabrera, to transcend the “excess suffering” and “find new energy”?
    Historians are better able to organise and articulate the detailed facts about the evolution of the movement and their significance. Out of such disciplined scholarship, we will be able to understand the ANC historical narrative and how it is intertwined with the evolution of South African society. However, in the discourse on the centenary, we should be inspired by more than just inquisitiveness about the mysteries of the past. Though that in itself is a noble undertaking, this exercise should help us draw lessons that will help South African democrats find new energy.
    This presentation tries to examine some of the current challenges facing the ANC against the backdrop of relevant developments in its evolution. The fact that the ANC is able to touch a hundred-year milestone with its organisational integrity intact – a feat that few political organisations have attained – is deserving of serious intellectual reflection.
    The central argument in this brief treatise is that survival and success are a product of a continuing search for an identity and thus a healthy uncertainty.
    A few themes in current debates which intersect with the ANC historical narrative have been selected. The choice of these themes is subjective, inspired by the question, how in its theory and praxis the ANC should define its identity and project itself into the future. The views expressed in this regard are personal.

    To read full paper download PDF: Search for Identity Joel Netshitenzhe.pdfSearch for Identity Joel Netshitenzhe.pdf
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