Chris Hani (28 June 1942 – 10 April 1993) born Martin Thembisile Hani SSA, SBS, CLS, DMG, MMS, 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 by Janusz Waluś, a Polish immigrant and sympathiser of the Conservative opposition on 10 April 1993, during the unrest preceding the transition to democracy.
Thembisile Hani was born on 28 June 1942 in the Xhosa village in Cofimvaba, Transkei. His father Gilbert Hani was a mine union worker and political activist who left the country to go into exile in 1962 and returned to South Africa in 1991. His mother Mary Hani was a simple person who had never attended school. He was the fifth of six children. He attended Lovedale school 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.
He was the fifth of the six children of Gilbertand Mary Hani, and one of the three that did not die during infancy. The name Chris was adopted by him as a nom de guerre, and was in fact the real name of his brother. Chris grew up a devout Christian.
Hani was introduced to the politics of inequality early in life, when his father had to leave their rural home in search of work in the urban areas of South Africa. This had a profound influence on the young Chris, who became aware of his mother's struggle to run the household. Like other young men of his age, Chris tended the livestock until he reached school-going age.
Hani was enrolled at a Catholic school where he soon developed a love for Latin. At this stage of his life, Hani's desire was to enter the priesthood, but his father disapproved and moved him to a non-denominational school, Matanzima Secondary School at Cala, in the Transkei. In 1954, a number of Hani's school teachers who were active in the Unity Movement lost their jobs after they protested against the introduction of Bantu education. This played a further role in developing Hani's political ideas. Hani later moved again to the Lovadale Institute in the Eastern Cape, where he matriculated in 1958.
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.
Hani was a charismatic leader, with significant support among the radical anti-apartheid youth. At the time of his death, he was the most popular ANC leader after his senior, Nelson Mandela. Following the legalisation of the ANC, Hani's support for the negotiation process with the apartheid government was critical in keeping the militants in line
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 what would become "#36", with lyrics and chorus referring to Hani's shooting.
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.
Chris Hani was assassinated on 10 April 1993 outside his home in Dawn Park, a racially mixed suburb of Boksburg. He was accosted by a Polish far-right anti-communist immigrant named Janusz Waluś, who shot him as he stepped out of his car. Waluś fled the scene but was soon arrested after Margareta Harmse, a white Afrikaner housewife, saw Waluśstraight after the crime as she was driving past, and called the police. A neighbour of Hani also witnessed the crime and later identified both Waluś, and the vehicle he was driving at the time. Clive Derby-Lewis, a senior South African Conservative Party MP and Shadow Minister for Economic Affairs at the time, who had lent Waluś his pistol, was also arrested for complicity in Hani's murder. The Conservative Party of South Africa had broken away from the ruling National Party out of opposition to the reforms of P. W. Botha. After the elections of 1989, it was the second-strongest party in the House of Assembly, after the National Party, and opposed F. W. de Klerk's dismantling of apartheid.
Date of Birth: 28th June, 1942
Time of Birth:
Place of Birth: Cofimvaba
Country: South of Africa