The Africans’ Claim

On the 16th of December 1943, the Africans’ Claim was presented at the annual ANC Conference in Bloemfontein.

Africans’ Claims in South Africa is the title of a document drawn up by a committee of 28 members and sympathizers of the African National Congress (ANC) and on 16 December 1943 unanimously accepted at the ANC’s annual Conference. It was created in response to the Atlantic Charter passed two years earlier, in which former President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill set out the objectives of the Allies during the Second World War and their ideas of the world order after its end formulated. The central points of Africans’ claims were the demands for universal suffrage and for an end to racial segregation in South Africa. This document charted the path to racial equality in South Africa that they hoped would follow the conclusion of the Second World War.

Alfred Bitini Xuma, who became President of the ANC in 1940, inherited an organization in disarray and set out to rebuild the ANC against great opposition. Under his leadership, the ANC constitution was revised and the organization became more efficient and centralized, thus attracting a wider following. Xuma was central to the adoption of the Africans’ Claims document at a time when the ANC was increasingly becoming politicized and there were increasing calls for a departure from petitions and conciliatory methods. The conclusion of the document read;

In short, we demand the repeal of any and all laws as well as the
abandonment of any policy and all practices that discriminate against the
African in any way whatsoever on the basis of race, creed or colour in the Union
of South Africa.

The full text of the document can be found on the ANC website.

References

‘Africans` Claims in South Africa.’ http://www.anc.org.za/content/africans-claims-south-africa

‘Dr. Alfred Bitini (A.B.) Xuma (1893 – 1962).’ http://overcomingapartheid.msu.edu/people.php?id=65-251-13F