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How the ANC Lost Its Way: Alex Perry Travels to the Birthplace of the ANC, Bloemfontein

Falling off the EdgeLifebloodLifeblood author Alex Perry went to Bloemfontein to discover the birthplace of the ANC and to reflect on how the party has “lost its way” in its 17 years of post-apartheid governance. In an article for TIME, Perry says that today the ANC has become “synonymous with failure”:

It has been exactly 99 years and 11 months since the world’s most storied liberation movement, the African National Congress, was born, and I am looking for its birthplace. In Bloemfontein, the old Boer capital on South Africa’s central prairie, a white tourist-information officer points me to a building on the edge of town called Maphikela House — after Thomas Maphikela, who built it and who helped found the ANC. “I’ve never been there myself,” the information officer says. “It’s a township.” Then she pulls out a map and circles another part of town that I am to avoid. “Dangerous,” she says. She means “black people.”

On Jan. 8, thousands of ANC supporters and 46 heads of state descend on Bloemfontein to celebrate the party’s centenary. I’ve come early to explore the origins of the organization that gave the world Nelson Mandela and laid the foundations of modern South Africa — and Africa — by inspiring the overthrow of centuries of colonialism and racist deprivation.

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