Albert John Lutuli
John Lutuli was the leader of ten million black Africans
in their non-violent campaign for civil rights in South
Africa. A man of noble bearing, charitable, intolerant
of hatred, and adamant in his demands for equality and
peace among all men.
Verwoerd would have been behind the government's decision to force Lutuli to choose between his leadership of the ANC and remaining the chief of the Kholwa people. The quiet mission teacher from rural Natal saw no option and so, at 54, he began a life of defiance and banning orders. Referred to from then on by the press as the "ex-chief Lutuli", he challenged Verwoerd's mad schemes to keep Black people in "subjection as hewers of wood and drawers of water".
Supported by a mother who was determined that he get an education, Lutuli went to the local Congregationalist mission school for his primary work. He then studied at a boarding school called Ohlange Institute for two terms before transferring to a Methodist institution at Edendale, where he completed a teachers' course about 1917. After leaving a job as principal of an intermediate school, which he held for two years (he was also the entire staff, he says in his autobiography) - he completed the Higher Teachers' Training Course at Adams College, attending on a scholarship. To provide financial support for his mother, he declined a scholarship to University College at Fort Hare and accepted an appointment at Adams, as one of two Africans to join the staff.
A professional educator for the next fifteen years, Lutuli then and afterwards contended that education should be made available to all Africans, that it should be liberal and not narrowly vocational in nature, and that its quality should be equal to that made available to white children. In 1928 he became secretary of the African Teacher's Association and in 1933 its president.
Lutuli was also active in Christian church work, being a lay preacher for many years. As an adviser to the organized church, he became chairman of the South African Board of the Congregationalist Church of America, president of the Natal Mission Conference, and an executive member of the Christian Council of South Africa. He was a delegate to the International Missionary Conference in Madras in 1938 and in 1948 spent nine months on a lecture tour of the United States, sponsored by two missionary organizations. To the frequent accusation that he had "red" sympathies, Lutuli had a ready reply:
Sturdily built with old-world manners, Lutuli was
awarded the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize, which John Vorster
grudgingly allowed him to to receive, stating that
Lutuli will be allowed to travel to Norway
"notwithstanding the fact that the government fully
realises that the award was not made on merit".
Copyright © zar.co.za January 2007