Luthuli was a man of integrity and a Believer

2017-07-27 06:02
opinionThembile Ndabeni

opinionThembile Ndabeni

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Last Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Inkosi Chief Albert Luthuli, president of the ANC.

He was a man of integrity, well-mannered, cool, calm, collected, peaceful and loving.

He was also a Christian and a Chief. He presided over the ANC from 1952 until his demise in 1967.

Yet the white minority apartheid regime, instead of listening to him, rather put him under a restriction order.

Before becoming the president of the ANC, Luthuli didn’t keep quiet when the press condemned the Defiance Campaign.

Luthuli responded that for the government, the campaign was too orderly and successful.

“The prospect before the white supremacists, if they were going to react to our challenge in a civilized way, was that arrests would continue indefinitely.

Behind the thousands already arrested were more, many more. The challenge of non-violence was more than they could meet. It robbed them of their initiative. On the other hand, violence by Africans would restore this initiative to them – they would then be able to bring out the guns and the other techniques of intimidation and present themselves as restorers of order…”

Luthuli said of the Freedom Charter: “... is line by line, the direct outcome of conditions which obtain, (such as) harsh, oppressive and unjust conditions. It is thus a practical and relevant document. It attempted to give flesh and blood meaning, to such words as democracy, freedom, liberty.”

It is this political activism that led to the house arrests of this true Christian, who believed in peaceful means(to attain freedom).

It is that restriction order, which nearly barred him from receiving his Nobel Peace Prize in 1960. He was the first person from South Africa and Africa to receive that award.

How did the white minority apartheid regime feel that the honour was bestowed to “troublemakers”.

Luthuli assumed leadership at a trying time in our history; the introduction of Bantu Education in 1953, a year after taking over as the ANC president.

Chief Luthuli was to observe later that though some people might consider the decision to boycott schools as unrealistic, this decision could only be understood in terms of the current mood of the people then, and the need to give it some form of expression.

During his reign, a lot happened: In 1953, the formation of the Congress Alliance: African National Congress (ANC) for Africans, Coloured People’ Congress (CPC) for Coloureds, South African Indian Congress (SAIC) for Indians and the Congress Of Democrats (COD) for Whites.

On 26 June 1955 at Kliptown “a meeting” was held where the Freedom Charter was tabled as the minimum programme for the future government of South Africa.

On 9 August 1956 about 20 000 women marched peacefully to Union Buildings protesting against the passbook.

In the same year there was a Treason Trial against 156 members of the ANC for participation in the Kliptown Freedom Charter day.

In 1958-1959 it was the climax of the discontent from the Kliptown Freedom Charter by the Africanists.

They decided to break away finally on 6 April 1959 from the ANC and formed the PAC.

The Sharpville and Langa Massacre of 21 March 1960 by the PAC also affected him because it was Africans who were killed there.

After being made not effective enough through a restriction order, the ANC was banned on 08 April 1960. Fortunately the ANC proved its intellectual superiority over its enemy.

It already sent away its deputy-president Oliver Reginald “OR” Tambo to prepare for the banning it “smelled”.

The most challenging was the decision the ANC was forced to take, “return fire with fire”.

Sharpville and Langa Massacre and the “topping up” with the banning of both the ANC and the PAC left the liberation movements with no choice but to take up arms. On the last issue, the formation of the armed wing and taking of arms, there are conflicting “reports”.

In Mandela’s book “Long Walk to Freedom”, he said Chief approved (of the formation of MK).

There is another one disagreeing saying that the Chief distanced himself.

Verwoerd continued from his predecessor in restricting Chief until he passed on in 1967, from train accident.

At that moment in history, the apartheid regime deprived South Africans a leader, a Christian and a father-figure.

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