Hani, Martin Thembisile

Hani, Chris 1942–1993, anti-apartheid activist, politician, and soldier. A legendary figure in South African history and a key participant in the country's struggle for freedom in the 20th century, Hani graduated in 1962 from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, with a degree in Latin and English. His political experience began in 1957 when he became a member of the African National Congress' Youth League (ANCYL). He eventually joined the underground South African Communist Party in 1961 and uMkhonto we Sizwe, the armed paramilitary wing of the African National Congress(ANC), in 1962. He went on to become a leader within the ANC, a General Secretary of the South African Communist Party, and a Deputy Commander of uMkhonto we Sizwe. Hani was known for his revolutionary beliefs, charisma, and interst in literature.

On April 10, 1993, Hani was assassination by a Janusz Waluś, a far-right Polish extremist. Hani's death had a substantial impact on the transition from apartheidin South Africa. The assassination prompted Nelson Mandelato address the nation four days later: "The cold-blooded murder of Chris Hani has sent shock waves throughout the country and the world... Now is the time for all South Africans to stand together against those who, from any quarter, wish to destroy what Chris Hani gave his life for: the freedom of all of us." Hani's life and death were pivotal to creating a democratic government in South Africa.

See J. Cherry, Spear of the Nation: Umkhonto weSizwe (2012); N. Mandela, In His Own Words (2018); S. R. Davis, The ANC's War Against Apartheid (2018); D. L. Douek, Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in South Africa (2020); H. Macmillan, Chris Hani (2021).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: African History: Biographies