Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania

Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania

▪ South African organization
also called (1959–64)  Pan-Africanist Congress 

      political organization of South African blacks who joined together to work for majority rule and equal rights. (Azania is an African name for South Africa.)

      The PAC was formed at a conference of nearly 300 black Africans in April 1959 as an offshoot of the more multiracial African National Congress (ANC). The founding chairman of the PAC was Robert Sobukwe, who insisted that South Africa be returned to its indigenous inhabitants (“Africa for the Africans”) and charged the ANC with being contaminated by non-African influences. The hard-line PAC originally advocated such methods of political pressure as strikes and boycotts. On March 21, 1960, a year after its formation, it sponsored a nationwide one-day protest against the laws requiring blacks to carry passes. Sobukwe and others were arrested.

      During one such demonstration, at Sharpeville in the Transvaal, police fired into a crowd, killing 69 Africans and wounding 180. In further response to the demonstration, the government outlawed the PAC (as well as the ANC) as of April 8, 1960. Sobukwe remained in prison or under some form of restriction until his death in February 1978. Some members of the PAC went abroad, establishing centres in London and in Dar es Salaam, Tanz. The PAC became involved in armed struggle about 1961, and a number of arrests related to both the armed struggle and the clandestine activities of the PAC and the ANC occurred throughout the late 1960s and the '70s. The PAC cultivated sympathy for the cause in the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity, and the World Council of Churches, while other members remained in South Africa as an underground movement. In 1985 the PAC reiterated its “Africans-only” policy but announced willingness to work with the ANC and other antiapartheid groups. The ban on the organization was lifted early in 1990.

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Universalium. 2010.

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