African National Congress Youth League is founded

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ANCYL logo

Sunday, 2 April 1944

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) is the youth wing of the African National Congress. It was formed in 1944 by members of the ANC who believed in African Nationalism, and wanted to follow an active policy focused on the mobilisation of the masses.

The President of the ANC at the time, Alfred Xuma, was initially rather sceptical of the ANCYL and their ideas. The leaders who formed the ANCYL were, among others, Anton Muziwakhe Lembede, Ashby Solomzi Mda, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo.

Anton Lembede became the first president of the ANCYL, which developed a manifesto in 1944 and published a program in 1948. The ANC officially adopted this program in 1949, which was implemented by James Moroka and Walter Sisulu.

Below is an extract from the official ANCYL website:

"Many more people moved to the cities in the 1940s to work in new factories and industries. They began to from their own community organizations - such as the Squatter's Movement - and trade unions. The militant ideas of the Youth League quickly found support among the new population of the cities. The Youth League drew up a Programme of Action calling for strikes, boycotts and defiance. It was adopted by the ANC in 1949; the year after the National party came to power. The Programme of Action led to the Defiance Campaign of the 1950s."

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Last updated : 31-Mar-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011