The African National Congress was founded in 1912 (6 years before Nelson Mandela’s birth) to unite the African people against white minority ruling. Their aim has always been to create a non-racial and democratic South Africa.
Nelson Mandela and ANC have become almost synonymous. Nelson Mandela joined the ANC in 1943. From that time on he never lost his vision for the ideals that the ANC stands for. In the ANC Mandela found the way to a free South Africa but it did not come without a high price.
Shortly after joining the ANC Nelson Mandela, together with his friend and partner Oliver Tambo and Walter Sislu, formed the Youth League of the congress. Initially, in line with the ANC’s Defiance campaign the ideals of peaceful non-compliance and protests were the order of the day. As things progressed, more specific areas were targeted, but always with the intention that no person would be hurt or injured.
In 1956, 156 members of the ANC were arrested and tried for treason. The Riviona trial lasted from 1956-1961 and eventually all members, including Mandela, were acquitted.
In 1959, under the leadership of Potlako Leballo and Robert Sobukwe the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) was formed. This depleted the ANC’s numbers and finances dramatically.
Following the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960 however, a new Nelson Mandela ANC came into being. Mandela realized that peaceful protest was getting them nowhere and so he co-founded and became leader of the Umkhonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation branch of the ANC. This name is also abbreviated as MK. With this branch of the ANC Nelson Mandela recognized and was ready to demonstrate the need for a less passive approach to achieving the goal of freedom.
The ANC was banned by the government and though Mandela stayed on the run for 17 months he was eventually caught and sentenced to life imprisonment. While on Robben Island many ANC members welcomed going there to Mandela for education. ANC, Mandela and the cause against apartheid continued on.
It was not until 1990 that Mandela was released. Shortly after his release from prison Nelson Mandela became ANC President. When black Africans were allowed to vote the ANC Mandela led party won the election and Nelson Mandela became the first black President of South Africa.
Through and with Nelson Mandela, ANC finally won the victory they had envisaged for so long. When Mandela stepped down from the presidency in 1999 it was to ANC president Thabo Mbeki.