Celebrating 62 years of struggle, 10 September 2006

On the 10th of September each year, the ANC Youth League celebrates its founding, and recently, on the same date, the ANC Youth League launched its 62nd Anniversary programme at a Gala Dinner in Midrand at the Gallagher Estate. The theme for this 62nd Anniversary programme is "Youth mobilisation to advance democracy and create jobs", underpinning the broad analysis of the challenges of the day.

We have decided that this 62nd Anniversary celebration would be in honour of the indelible mark left by the founding members of the ANC Youth League, hence the programme has been dedicated to the 1944 Youth League generation of AP Mda, Duma Nokwe, Mxolisi Majombozi, Willima Nkomo, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Henry Makgothi, Zamindlela Chonco, Arthur Letele, Peter Nthinte, Dilizintaba Mji, David Bopape, Godfrey Pitjie, Victor Mbobo, Patrick Molaoa, Congress Mbatha, Dan Tloome, Jordan Ngubane, Bigvai Masekela and many more!

The slogan that inspired these stalwarts of our struggle was "freedom in our lifetime" and this symbolised the main challenge until freedom and democracy were attained in 1994. Likewise, since 1994, we have crafted what becomes our main challenge and the 62nd Anniversary theme, amongst others, precisely addresses itself to such a challenge. According to Nelson Mandela in 1999: "Each historical period defines specific challenges of national progress and leadership….as for me personally, I belong to a generation of leaders of whom the achievement of democracy was the defining challenge".

As we celebrate and implement our anniversary programme, we considered it fitting to bestow honour to selected members of the 1944 Youth League generation. To comrade Oliver Tambo, a founding member of the ANCYL and longest serving President of the ANC throughout the years of political banning, we re-affirmed our decision to bestow on him the Honorary Lifetime President of the ANCYL posthumously. 

Other starlwarts honoured, who received the honour of the Walter Sisulu Lifetime membership, were comrades Henry Makgothi, Nelson Mandela, Albertina Sisulu and Adelaide Tambo.

In recognition to the contemporary youth development and asetting good example on patriotism to transform our society and ensure young people remain focussed in their own development and the development of our country, we recognised three young people who have made a difference. We honoured Lucas Radebe with an award for his leadership of Bafana Bafana, and his sterling example on patriotism throughout his soccer playing days. We honoured Bonginkosi "Zola" Dlamini, for his contribution towards patriotism through youth development programmes, and Simon Mofokeng, a student from Mpumalanga, for achieving 7 distinctions in his school matric performance results in 2005.

We deemed it fitting that in celebrating the ANCYL 1944 generation, we should inspire more of our youth in celebrating this historic legacy, by recognising those young people who continue to make a difference in the various facets of national transformation. By so doing, we make the statement that while it has become a celebrated fact that the struggle by the 1944 Youth League generation was not in vain, likewise the efforts to build a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa will not be in vain. Our statement is that heroes and heroines are those who choose to be of service to their country unselfishingly, as well as their own development. The anniversary programme will run until the end of the year.