Five things you didn't know about Chris Hani

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Twenty five years ago today, struggle icon and then leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Chris Hani, was assassinated in one of the most controversial moments in South Africa's apartheid history.

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

Hani remains a household name for his achievements, one of the biggest tributes being the renaming of the Baragwanath Hospital to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in 1997.

To celebrate the life and times of Hani, we look at some interesting facts about the icon that you may have missed in your history books.

Will the real Chris Hani please stand up?

Chris Hani's real name is actually Martin Thembisile Hani. Hani began to use the name Chris while in exile as a nom de guerre, a name used or assumed by a person when in combat or some other activity or endeavour. However, there is a real Christopher Hani—his brother who has also sadly passed away.

Pappa don't preach...

...Or in this case, Hani don't preach! Hani's father was allegedly gutted when he found out his son was interested in being a priest. The young Hani felt that being a man of the cloth would be the best way to change people's lives.  His ambitions were thwarted when his father moved him out of the Catholic school he was attending, to a non-Christian school, Matanzima Secondary School.

Latin lover

Hani's love of languages, particularly Latin, was fostered at Roman Catholic school St. Marks where he was in primary school.  Later on in life he enrolled at the famed institution, Fort Hare, where he graduated with a qualification in BA English and Latin Studies in 1961.

Too young to struggle

Left to his own devices, Hani would have joined the struggle before he was even a teenager.  After his father, Gilbert shared stories about the ANC, Hani was motivated to join the political party at the tender age of 12. Hani finally got the opportunity to join the fight against apartheid at age 15 while attending Lovedale College where he was part of the ANC Youth League.

Article sources:

SA history



The legend of Hani lives on

While he has famously had the Chris Hani Baragwaneth Hospital named after him, there are also a number of areas in the country that have been named after him. One of these is Haniville which is located in Kwa-Zulu Natal in the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg. In his home province, the Eastern Cape, the districts encompassing the Hani Municipality are Queenstown, Lady Frere and his hometown, Cofimvaba.