Chris Hani: 5 interesting facts about South Africa’s struggle icon

Chris Hani: 5 interesting facts about South Africa’s struggle icon

One of the most controversial moments in South Africa’s apartheid history, was the assassination twenty five years ago today, of the struggle icon and then leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP).

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Through his involvement with the African National Congress (ANC) and uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), Hani was a power player in the thwarting of the apartheid government.

Baragwanath Hospital was in 1997, renamed Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and this made him a household name for his achievements. This was one the biggest tributes to him.

Looking back and to celebrate the life and times of Chris Hani. Here are some interesting facts about this icon that you may have missed in history books.

1. The truth about his name

Martin Thembisile Hani is Chris’s real name. While in exile as a nom de guerre, a name used or assumed by a person when in combat or some other activity or endeavor, Hani began to use the name Chris. The real Christopher Hani was in actual fact his brother that sadly passed away.

2. He once aspired to be a man of the cloth

Hani had his heart set on becoming a priest. He felt that being a man of the cloth would be the best way to change people’s lives. Attending a Catholic school at the time would have made this a possibility. When Hani’s father found out about his desire to go into the ministry, he was gutted. This resulted in Hani’s father moving him out of the Catholic school and placing him in a non-Christian school, Matanzime Secondary School.

3. He had a love for languages

The primary school Hani attended, St Marks, was a Roman Catholic School, which offered Latin as a subject. With Hani’s love of languages, in 1961, he enrolled at the famed institution, Fort Hare, where he graduated with a qualification in BA English and Latin Studies

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4. His desires to be part of the ANC

Hani’s father, Gilbert, shared stories about the ANC when Hani was very young. If it was up to Hani, he would have joined the struggle before he was a teenager. After every story his dad told him, Hani was only 12 years old but was more and more motivated to join the political party. At the age of 15, Hani finally got his opportunity to join the fight against apartheid. He was attending Lovedale College and was part of the ANC Youth League.

5. Places named in his honour

In his home province, the Eastern Cape, the districts encompassing the Hani Municipality are Queenstown, Lady Fere and his hometown, Cofimvaba. The biggest name change has to be the Chris Hani Baragwaneth Hospital but there are also a number of areas in the country that have been named after him.

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