One of these, Pixley ka Izaka Seme, had declared in 1906: “The brighter day is rising upon Africa Yes the regeneration of Africa belongs to this new and powerful period. The African people possess a common fundamental sentiment which is everywhere manifest, crystallising itself into one common controlling idea The regeneration of Africa means that a new and unique civilisation is soon to be added to the world.”
In 1911, in a historic clarion call which articulated a widely felt need for a united Struggle against colonial domination in Africa, Pixley Seme invited the peoples of the sub-continent to meet in conference and, forgetting and burying all past differences and divisions, to discuss and plan together for their common future.
As an expression of the “regeneration of Africa”, and in response to the call for united Struggle, the most representative political gathering of Africans ever held in the sub-continent of Africa took place on January 8, 1912.
Today, as we look back over seven decades of uninterrupted and principled Struggle by the African National Congress to free our continent and our motherland from the shackles of colonialism, racism and fascism, we rise in our millions in salute of the great patriots who gathered at Mangaung in early January, 1912.
The desire, the attempt, to bring to the Bloemfontein Conference all the peoples of southern Africa, as a first step towards the unification of the African Struggle, was defeated only by the fact that we were separately subjugated by three metropolitan powers - Great Britain, Germany and Portugal.
Those who attended came from the British-colonised part of the region. Today, however, the colonial barriers that separated us in 1911 have crashed under the weight of the advancing African revolution. We have become one people, with one cause and one enemy - the South African fascists and their imperialist allies.
On this historic occasion, marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of our vanguard liberation movement, we extend our revolutionary greetings and congratulations to all our peoples on the great achievements and advances that they have thus far registered along this long and arduous march to our cherished goal of national and social liberation.
That goal is already in sight! We are saying this boldly and confidently: for our forces of national liberation have never been better poised for the final onslaught to eradicate the evil system of colonial and racial oppression and exploitation. Our Struggle, as part and parcel of the revolutionary process that is sweeping across the continent, draws inspiration and support from the victories already scored by Africa.
Our victory over what was at the beginning, and now remains, entrenched imperialist domination and white minority rule, will constitute the apex of Africa`s advance to genuine political and economic emancipation.
It is equally true that the revolutionary transformations that we have witnessed on the continent of Africa are also a component part of the broader global struggle waged by progressive mankind against the dark forces of imperialist domination over the world and of the exploitation of man by man.
At the time of the founding of the ANC, a handful of imperialist powers dominated the rest of the world politically and economically. Africa had been carved up among the grabbing imperialist forces in pursuit of strategic raw materials, profit, and spheres of influence.
Millions upon millions of people in the colonial and semi-colonial world had been reduced to objects of unbridled exploitation and producers of fat profits for foreign masters.
Today, that picture has changed. It has changed radically and irreversibly. The sphere of imperialist domination has shrunk tremendously and continues to do so as the forces of liberation and social progress grow in size and combativeness. As a consequence, the balance of forces, both continently and internationally, has decisively shifted in favour of the forces of independence, democracy and peace.
The mainstay of this world revolutionary process are the socialist countries, fully committed to the cause of national liberation, the democratic forces in the capitalist camp, and the national liberation movement. We too, therefore, are part and parcel of this revolutionary stream that is changing our planet for a better and happier world to live in.
In the current period, our people have begun to reply to the enemy violence with revolutionary violence. Today our armed cadres are dealing blow after blow at the enemy in widespread areas throughout South Africa.
The growing sophistication of these blows, their frequency and their high level of organisation have inspired our people and reinforced their conviction that our cause shall triumph.
The racist regime itself can no longer deny that they face a future in which growing mass political upsurge will be more and more complemented by increasing armed action by the people. We have reached a stage where the people have opted for and are joining the armed struggle as one of the most effective ways to dislodge the racist rulers from power.
On this, our 70th anniversary, we call upon our people, and on our allies and supporters to make 1982 a year of Unity in Action with the intensification of our assault on all fronts.
We call upon our working people, the backbone of our liberation movement to mobilise as never before at the point of production to build a powerful democratic trade union movement for the advancement of the interests of the workers and for their activisation into the Struggle for the victory of the national democratic revolution.
We call upon our people in the bantustans to mobilise, and to isolate and destroy the Pretoria puppets. Let us all fight for a democratic and unified South Africa. We call upon our youth and students to maintain and heighten their spirit of resistance. You have already demonstrated that you are a detachment of greatest courage and heroism. Now, more than ever before our Struggle demands that you act with supreme dedication and vigour under the banner of our fighting movement.
We call upon our womenfolk to raise the cry for vengeance against those who are murdering, maiming and torturing our sons and daughters for their participation in our Struggle. You have already demonstrated that you do choose between dying in defence of apartheid or joining the noble cause of national liberation.
We call upon the millions of the oppressed to stand shoulder to shoulder at this crucial hour in our history. The enemy manoeuvres to sow division in our ranks must be defeated. Our destiny is one!
We call upon those among our people who have been clad in police and army uniforms to rethink their role. You have it within your grasp to choose between dying in defence of apartheid or joining the noble cause of national liberation.
We call upon those in the white community who stand ready to live a life of real equality and non-racialism to make common cause with our Struggle for genuine liberation.
Today we commemorate with deserved pride the 70th anniversary of our national union. This is a historic occasion which has been made possible by the sacrifices which our people have made throughout these years and the support of the world democratic movement.
From Port Elizabeth and Bulhoek to Sharpeville and Soweto and many other widely dispersed points in time and space between, our people have laid down their lives in the Struggle for our liberty and in pursuit of the goals for which the ANC was founded.
On Robben Island, in Kroonstad and Pretoria are locked away leaders of our people, both young and old, men and women, black and white, heroes and heroines to whom the liberation of the people is worth more than their own lives.
In the name of the founding fathers, in the name of the martyred heroes of our people, and in the name of the leadership of the African National Congress, we call upon our people to observe 1982, the 70th anniversary of the formation of our national union, as the Year of Unity in Action.
Let this be the year of the most powerful offensive that our country has ever seen. Let this be the year of a great leap forward to the threshold of victory. Long live the Year of Unity in Action! Long live our glorious people's movement, the African National Congress!
Maatla kea rona! Amandla ngawethu! Ke nako, Mayihlome!
All power to the people!