Animal ritual sacrifice celebrates ANC centenary

Animal ritual sacrifice celebrates ANC centenary Bloemfontein: A bull bellowed in sacrifice on Saturday as South Africa's ruling ANC paid tribute to its ancestors and founding leaders, who 100 years ago paved the way for Nelson Mandela's rainbow nation.

President Jacob Zuma led the slaughter of a black bull in a ceremony on the second day of the African National Congress centenary festivities to celebrate its rich anti-apartheid legacy now tarnished by scandals and challenges.

"Today our leaders, traditional leaders and traditional healers, had to perform certain rituals before we get into serious business of celebration," said Zuma after the sacrifice at the church site where the ANC was founded in 1912.

"In other words, to remember our ancestors, to remember our own gods in a traditional way."

Overlooked by giant portraits of former leaders such as Mandela, healers and cultural groups dressed in beads, porcupine head-dresses and animal skins sang, danced and prepared food as politics gave way to African drums and tradition.

Two goats and two chickens were slaughtered ahead of the bull, which was a gift from neighbouring Lesotho King Letsie III, in traditional rituals to communicate with the ancestors.

"Everything has been done. We have spoken to the ancestors," Zuma said before the sacrifice.

The three-day birthday bash of Africa's oldest liberation movement wraps up tomorrow when Zuma will address a rally to outline the party's way forward, as he seeks to rein in feuding factions to secure another term at the helm of the ANC in party elections this year.

Mandela, who led the country's heady early days of all-race democracy, is notably absent, as his party faces growing frustration over graft smears and the failure to roll out better services to the 38 percent of the nation still living in poverty.

Cultural song, dance and poetry readings were on the programme Saturday ahead of a gala dinner where Zuma will host heads of state and global anti-apartheid movements before lighting a flame at midnight to mark the anniversary.

The party was founded in Bloemfontein as the South African Native National Congress, and met crushing brutality from apartheid rulers who slapped it with a ban in 1960 and jailed its top leaders four years later.

Nearly 30 years on, the crumbling and isolated regime released icon Mandela to lead the country into its first all-race polls where the party has enjoyed huge wins ever since.