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Black Resistance

Black activism increased after World War II in South Africa as elsewhere in Africa. When A. B. Xuma became president-general of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1940, he attempted to unify the organization ideologically, regulate its finances, and conduct a propaganda campaign. A major schism developed when Xuma and a few middle-class members advocated negotiation through African representative bodies, while more militant members leaned toward the Communist Party and more assertive political activism.

In the mid-1940s a group of young professionals, including Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe, banded together to form the ANC Youth League. They made overtures to Coloured and Indian political organizations in their call for majority rule. Coloureds were descendants of "miscegenation" that occurred in the Cape after the Dutch East India Company's occupation. Indians were recruited as indentured servants to work on Natal's sugar plantations in the 1860s.

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