8 Jan 2012

ANC begins centenary year

7:50 am on 8 January 2012

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa has presided over the ritual sacrifice of a bull, to launch celebrations to mark the founding of the African National Congress 100 years ago.

The event took place on Saturday outside a church in Bloemfontein where the party was formed on 8 January 1912.

Two goats and two chickens were sacrificed before the bull, which was a gift from King Letsie III of Lesotho.

"Today our leaders, traditional leaders and traditional healers, had to perform certain rituals before we get into serious business of celebration," said Mr Zuma after the sacrifice.

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

A political rally will be held on Sunday, the 100th anniversary. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend.

The BBC reports the gold, green and black ANC flags are on virtually every street corner of Bloemfontein.

Nelson Mandela, 93, who led the party to power after the end of apartheid, is not there.

''He is in good spirits but very, very old,'' ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told SABC.

The ANC was founded to fight white minority rule, which ended in 1994.

Centenary celebrations are scheduled to run all year, at a cost of $US12 million.