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The roots of the NGO crisis in South Africa: A look beyond the surface
Frank Julie
October 2009

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Part 1

Background to the NGO sector globally

Within the European context the anti-slavery movement in England in the late 18th century provided the initial impetus for the rise of what we today know as the NGO movement (or non-profit sector). This movement gave rise to various political associations that eventually led to the World Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840. Subsequently the World Alliance of Young Men-s Christian Associations (YMCA-s) was founded in 1855, followed by the establishment of International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863.

Trade unions emerged later in England in the 19th century as a leading force in the NGO movement. Rapid industrialization, with its consequent social and economic challenges, created specific areas of need within societal structures. It is these needs that the NGO sector tries to address. The growth of the sector has been substantial over the last decade, fuelled by increasing concerns over issues such as environmental abuse, globalization, unemployment and poverty, gender inequality, human rights violations and more recently the HIV and AIDS pandemic (Paul cited in Rockey: 2001: 129).

NGOs in Africa and social control

The emergence of the NGO sector in Africa can be traced back to the period of colonization and the role of the missionaries in conquest. In a paper, Manji and O-Coill (2002:1) state that the role of NGOs " . . . in 'development- represents a continuity of the work of their predecessors, missionaries and voluntary organizations that cooperated in Europe-s colonization and control of Africa."

According to them NGOs can either subscribe to an "emancipatory agenda" or a "paternalistic role" in development.
Although not stated explicitly, the authors identify at least three major periods within which this colonization and control evolved.

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