Elizabeth Murray

South African Native National Congress

The SANNC, also known as the South African Native National Congress, was one of the largest and most influential groups in the anti-apartheid struggle. This group later became known as the African National Congress, or the ANC. In 1908 and 1909, white man only meetings began to be held regarding the Union of South Africa. Africans, Indians and Coloureds met in response to the discriminations they were facing, particularly these constitutional discussions. This was only the beginning of they many harsh prejudices they would face in both the government and their societies. Meetings between these racial groups became more frequent as they tried to organize an official objection to the Union Constitution. Founded in January of 1912 as a response to the new Union of South Africa, the SANNC sought to unite all Africans in the hopes of pursuing a higher political and social status in their society. Their main goal was to appeal for just treatment before the law, regardless of race. The group sought to be the voice of the African people against the oppressive ruling of the government. The SANNC's first action was a petition against the Land Act. Unfortunately, the request was disregarded. Many more petitions and small, organized protests followed, only to receive the same disappointing results. However, the movement began to gain attention and more members joined the cause. In its later years, the SANNC was led by well-educated, professional men and more progress was seen. The greatest stride was made when they united all the rulers of the different Chiefdoms in South Africa. In addition to this, they symbolized the need for unity before the enemy. The SANNC was able to convince most Africans to start seeing themselves as one people, and gave them hope that one day they could rule their own land once again. Pictured below are the founding members of the SANNC/ANC.
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Significance of the SANNC

Nothing quite like the SANNC had been seen before in the history of Black Politics in South Africa. This organization was the first to truly reach the national level, with members pouring in their undying support from all over. The initial meeting between the founders in 1912 marked the first official meeting of all four representatives from the British colonies. Their drive and dedication to gain a political and social status in their everyday lives portrayed that blacks were fully capable of action. Although the outcomes in the beginning were not what they had hoped, the Congress was able to make great advances amidst such hatred and prejudice. The SANNC was not the first African political group, yet their appearance on the stage of the anti-apartheid movement marked a clear change in the way in black politics would work. From this point forward, there was little to no discrimination in who would be permitted to join the cause. Previously, positions and office-holders were decided on an electoral basis- those who qualified with the right monetary and educational backgrounds would be eligible to join and/or lead. By the 1920s, the movement's policies began to see less and less results. The force that which the government pushed back was exhausting to the people, but they persevered. At this time, the SANNC transformed into the ANC. With their own setbacks and triumphs ahead, The African National Congress continued the SANNC's legacy of hard work and devotion.

Link to A Talk Upon My Native Land (Above)

This primary source document is a speech given by the first president of the SANNC, John Dube. Dube was a Minister and a school headmaster. He often appealed for unity and emphasized the importance of peace. These points are seen in his public address in 1892, A Talk Upon My Native Land.


African National Congress- Founding Members. Digital image. South Africa History. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.

Dube, John L. "A Talk Upon My Native Land." (1892): n. pag. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.

"Formation of the South African Native National Congress." Anonymous. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.

"The Formation of the SANNC/ANC." Tinashe. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.