Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Albert John Lutuli (also known by his Zulu name "Mvumbi", his surname is sometimes and probably more phonetically spelt "Luthuli") (1898? - 21 July, 1967) was a South African teacher and politician. He was president of the African National Congress, at the time an umbrella organisation that led opposition to the white minority government in South Africa through the 1950s until his house arrest in 1958 effectively ended his direct role as head of the organization.
Third son of Christian missionary John Bunyan Lutuli, and Mtonya Gumede, Luthuli was born in Rhodesia around 1898. His father died, and he and his mother returned to their ancestral home of Groutville , Natal, South Africa, where he stayed with his uncle Martin Luthuli, who was at that time the elected chief of the Christian Zulus inhabiting the Umvoti mission Reserve. On completing a teaching course at Edendale, near Pietermaritzburg, Luthuli took up the running of a small primary school in the Natal uplands. He was confirmed in the Methodist church and became a lay preacher. In 1920 he received a government bursary to attend a higher teachers' training course at Adams College , and subsequently joined the training college staff, teaching alongside Z.K. Mathews, who was then head of the Adams College High School. To provide financial support for his mother, he declined a scholarship to University of Fort Hare.
In 1928 he became secretary of the African Teacher's Association and in 1933 its president. He was also active in missionary work.
In 1933 the tribal elders asked Lutuli to become chief of the tribe. For two years he hesitated, but accepted the call in early 1936 and became chieftain, until removed from this office by the government in 1952.
In 1936 the government disenfranchised the only Africans who had had voting rights - those in Cape Province; in 1948 the Nationalist Party, in control of the government, adopted the policy of apartheid, or "total apartness"; in the 1950s the laws known as the Pass Laws were tightened.
In 1944 Lutuli joined the African National Congress (ANC). In 1945 he was elected to the Committee of the Natal Provincial Division of ANC and in 1951 to the presidency of the Division. The next year he joined with other ANC leaders in organizing nonviolent campaigns to defy discriminatory laws.
The government, charging Lutuli with a conflict of interest, demanded that he withdraw his membership in ANC or forfeit his office as tribal chief. Refusing to do either voluntarily, he was dismissed from his chieftainship.
A month later Lutuli was elected president-general of ANC. Responding immediately, the government imposed a succession of bans on his movement, the first for two years, the second also for two years. When this second ban expired, he attended an ANC conference in 1956, only to be arrested and charged with treason a few months later, along with 155 others. After being held in custody for about a year during the preliminary hearings, he was released in December, 1957, and the charges against him and 64 others were dropped.
Another five year ban confining him to a fifteen-mile radius of his home. The ban was temporarily lifted while he testified at the continuing treason trials. It was lifted again in March, 1960, to permit his arrest for publicly burning his pass following the Sharpeville Massacre. In the ensuing state of emergency he was arrested, found guilty, fined, given a suspended jail sentence and returned to Groutville. One final time the ban was lifted, this time for ten days in early December of 1961 to permit Lutuli and his wife to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies in Oslo, an award described by Die Transvaler as an inexplicable pathological phenomenon.
A fourth ban to run for five years confining Lutuli to the immediate vicinity of his home was issued in May, 1964, to run concurrently with the third ban.
In July, 1967, at the age of 69, he was fatally injured in an accident near his home.
In 2004 he was voted 41st in the Top 100 Great South Africans ( see List of South Africans)
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