This year marks the 100th since the founding of South Africa’s prominent African National Congress, and the milestone was celebrated locally at ImageNation and SummerStage’s “Come Back, Africa” program in Central Park.

The evening featured remarks from South African Consul General George Monyemangene, who talked about the significance of the ANC to the struggle for freedom in South Africa. The political party was founded in 1912, then banned in 1960 by the Afrikaner government. But it continued to function in exile and underground inside South Africa until 1990, when the ban was raised. Today the ANC is the dominant political party in South Africa.

The night was hosted by ImageNation’s founder Moikgantsi Kgama, who initiated the event to spread awareness about the ANC and its importance to the progress of South African. Kgama specifically chose Goapele as the headliner because of her own ties to South Africa. The soul singer grew up in Oakland, with her father having been exiled from his native South Africa because of his political involvement.

“Being here today for the 100th anniversary of the ANC has really come full circle for me, and it has really just been an honor,” said Goapele.

Goapele, who is featured on the “Sparkle” movie soundtrack, performed her latest single, “Undertow,” and then proceeded to deeply move the crowd with her renditions of Etta James’ “At Last” and Aretha Franklin’s “Giving Him Something He Can Feel.”

The night concluded with a showing of “Come Back, Africa!” a poignant and insightful drama secretly shot in 1959 during apartheid in South Africa. Shot primarily in Sophiatown, this historical wonder presents an honest glimpse into the reality of life under the now-abolished apartheid government. It was by watching this film that Harry Belafonte discovered the revered Miriam Makeba.

The “Come Back, Africa!” program was part of ImageNation’s annual Outdoors Festival, which hosts free films and musical performances in parks throughout New York City. ImageNation will continue celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ANC with the photo exhibit “Harlem to Hillbrow: A Home Away From Home.” The exhibit features collaborative works by South African Samson Mnisi and Cannon Hersey and will be on display at ImageNation’s Soul Cinema Raw Space, located at 2031 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. between 121st and 122nd streets in Harlem.

For more information on ImageNation’s their upcoming programs, visit