Chris Hani was one of the most influential political activists in the declining years of apartheid
in South Africa
. He was born on 28 June 1942 in the rural areas of what is now the Eastern Cape. He attended the University of Fort Hare and Rhodes University
where he obtained a BA in English and Latin. While at school Hani joined the ANC
Youth League and immediately started climbing the internal ranks of the organisation. Increasing awareness of the plight of the worker in South Africa at the time lead him to join the ANC's armed wing Umkontho We Sizwe
He received military training in Zambia and in 1967 became commander of the Luthuli Regiment of Umkontho We Sizwe. By 1987 Hani had been heavily involved in both the political and military structures of the ANC and had risen to the rank of Chief of Staff of the ANC's armed wing. Despite his military involvement, Chris Hani was committed to Nelson Mandela's vision of seeking a political end to the National Party regime. Following his return to South Africa in 1990, Hani became a member of the Politburo of the South African Communist Party. He became Director General of the SACP in 1991.
Chris Hani had a huge following among all the people of South Africa. In a November 1992 opinion poll he was the second most popular candidate for the presidency, second to Nelson Mandela.
Hani was gunned down outside his home in Boksburg, Gauteng, South Africa by Januz Wallus on 10 April 1993 in front of his wife and children. His funeral was attended by 150 000 people. Conservative Party MP Clive Derby Lewis was later jailed for arranging his murder. In 1994, the year after his death, the first democratic elections were held in South Africa.
It is thanks to the vision of leaders such as Chris Hani, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Govan and Thabo Mbeki among others that a peaceful resolution was found to apartheid. Without them, South Africa would be in a state of constant Civil War like many other African countries.