Chris Hani Bio
Chris Hani (28 June 1942 – 10 April 1993), born Martin Thembisile Hani, was the leader of the South African Communist Party and chief of staff of uMkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). He was a fierce opponent of the apartheid government, and was assassinated on 10 April 1993.
Thembisile Hani was born on 28 June 1942 in the small town of Cofimvaba, Transkei. He was the fifth of six children. He attended Lovedaleschool in 1957, to finish his last two years. He twice finished two school grades in a single year. When Hani was 12 years old, after hearing his father’s explanations about apartheid and the African National Congress, he wished to join the ANC but was still too young to be accepted. In Lovedale school, Hani joined the ANC Youth League when he was 15 years old, even though political activities were not allowed at black schools under apartheid. He influenced other students to join the ANC
In 1959, at the University of Fort Hare in Alice, Eastern Cape, Hani studied English, Latin and modern and classical literature. He did not participate in any sport, saying “I would rather fight apartheid than play sport”. Hani, in an interview on the Wankie campaign, mentioned that he was a Rhodes University graduate.
Political and military career
At age 15 he joined the ANC Youth League. As a student he was active in protests against the Bantu Education Act. Following his graduation, he joined Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the ANC. Following his arrest under the Suppression of Communism Act, he went into exile in Lesotho in 1963. Because of Hani’s involvement with Umkhonto we Sizwe he was forced into hiding by the South African government during which time he changed his first name to Chris.
He received military training in the Soviet Union and served in campaigns in the Zimbabwean War of Liberation, also called the Rhodesian Bush War. They were joint operations between Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army in the late 1960s. The Luthuli Detachment operation consolidated Hani’s reputation as a soldier in the black army that took the field against apartheid and its allies. His role as a fighter from the earliest days of MK’s exile (following the arrest of Nelson Mandela and the other internal MK leaders at Rivonia) was an important part in the fierce loyalty Hani enjoyed in some quarters later as MK’s Deputy Commander (Joe Modise was overall commander). In 1969 he co-signed, with six others, the ‘Hani Memorandum’ which was strongly critical of the leadership of Joe Modise, Moses Kotane and other comrades in the leadership.
In Lesotho he organised guerrilla operations of the MK in South Africa. By 1982, Hani had become prominent enough that he was the target of assassination attempts, and he eventually moved to the ANC’s headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia. As head of Umkhonto we Sizwe, he was responsible for the suppression of a mutiny by dissident anti-Communist ANC members in detention camps, but denied any role in abuses including torture and murder.
In 1993, French philosopher Jacques Derrida dedicated Specters de Marx (1993) to Hani.
In 1997, Baragwanath Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in the world, was renamed the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in his memory. In September 2004, Hani was voted 20th in the controversial Top 100 Greatest South Africans poll.
Days after his assassination, the rock group Dave Matthews Band (whose lead singer and guitarist, Dave Matthews, is from South Africa) began playing on what would become #36. The first version contained lyrics about Hani’s shooting. Later versions, Hani was on Matthews’ mind, and the repeated line “Hani, Hani, come and dance with me” became the chorus of the song. Later, Matthews believed the song to be too cheery for the subject matter, so he changed it to “Honey.” A live favorite for years, the music evolved into the basic foundation of the 2001 single, “Everyday”. The introduction to the song in this latter form, a popular hit in 2001, starts with the crowd singing the “Honey” line, and the crowd and band occasionally use the reprise as an outro to the song as well.
A short opera Hani by composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen with libretto by film producer Mfundi Vundla was commissioned by Cape Town Opera and University of Cape Town premiering at the Baxter Theatre 21 November 2010. A District Municipality in the Eastern Cape was named the Chris Hani District Municipality. This district includes Queenstown, Cofimvaba and Lady Frere.The Thembisile Hani Local Municipality in Mpumalanga also bears his name.
In 2009, after extension of Cape Town’s Central Line, the new terminus serving eastern areas of Khayelitsha was christened Chris Hani.
Jese Bal born Nov 9, 1982, is a novelist and poet. He has published novels, volumes of poetry, short stories, and drawings. His works are distinguished by the use of a spare style and have been compared to those of Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino.