The ANC's 100 years: Some recent work on its history in historiographical content

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Historia: Journal of the Historical Association of South Africa

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University of Cape Town

Much has now been written about the history of the African National Congress (ANC) over its hundred years, but surprisingly there is no survey of this literature. This article surveys some of this historiography before proceeding to discuss two major recently-published monographs, by Peter Limb on the early years of the ANC and by Susan Booysen on the eighteen years since it took office. Limb's book is characterised by its use of new sources to tell the detailed story of what the ANC did at the local level, and is a book that will long retain its importance. Booysen's book is equally detailed, but is not based on the same kind of source-material, and is therefore inevitably unable to see the ANC in recent years in the same kind of perspective. We will learn more about the ANC in its years in power from the memoirs of key figures becoming available, one of which, by the late Kader Asmal, inter alia recounts his experiences as Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry under Mandela and then as Minister of Education in the Mbeki cabinet.