Dundee Africa Research Network (DARN) is pleased to present Dr. Matt Graham as the guest speaker on the forthcoming talk titled ‘African National Congress and the Politics of History in South Africa’. The overview of the presentation is provided below. We look forward to welcoming you to this fascinating lecture.
On August 3 2016, South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) suffered unparalleled losses in the local government elections. What made the 2016 local elections so important was that the hegemony of the ANC, a party which played a leading role in the downfall of apartheid, and has dominated the political landscape since 1994, looked under serious pressure for the first time. This is the only election in the post-apartheid era in which the ANC has received less than 60% of the national vote.
Yet, despite a maelstrom of scandals and mishaps that surrounded President Jacob Zuma and the ANC, encompassing an impressive list of issues such as Nkandla, Guptagate, and #feesmustfall, millions of South African’s still remained remarkably loyal to the party of liberation. An important reason for this loyalty is located within the disputed realm of history and the mainstream reinterpretation and utilisation of the past by the ANC. In this paper I will explore some of these contested issues by delving into some of the ‘myths’ of the past by examining the role of historic remembrance in modern South Africa, offer a sense of the continued power and influence of the liberation struggle (especially within a Southern African setting), while demonstrating how the official narrative is promoted.
The paper will offer a sense of how a self-serving portrayal of history designed to suit their current political demands centred on the continued retention of power remains an important electoral tool.
Bio: Dr. Matt Graham is a historian of modern, sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on South Africa. Matt is interested in national liberation movements; nationalism; the ‘invention’ of traditions; and the development of post-colonial governance. His first book ‘The crisis of South African foreign policy’, which examines the historic trajectory of the ANC’s foreign policy from exile to power came out in 2016.
Join us in this fascinating talk.