Luthuli, Albert John

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Luthuli, Albert John

(lətho͞o`lē), 1898?–1967, African political leader in the Republic of South Africa. Descended from a line of Christian Zulu chiefs, he was educated at Adams College, a mission school near Durban, and taught there for 15 years. He was appointed chief (1935) and, remaining active in church affairs, preached non-violence in the Africans' campaign against racial discrimination. Although devoutly religious, he grew disillusioned with the church's racial position and became active politically. In 1946 he joined the African National Congress (ANC). When he refused to resign (1952) from the presidency of the ANC, the South African government deposed him as chief and applied severe restrictions on his activities. Nevertheless, he led a campaign of passive resistance against the apartheid laws. In 1956, with some 150 other critics of the government, he was arrested on charges of treason; after a prolonged mass trial he was acquitted. In 1959 the government banished him to his village and outlawed (1960) the ANC, which continued to operate underground. A government law in 1962 banned publication of his statements in the media. A firm believer in the political and spiritual force of passive resistance, he was awarded the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize. Despite some criticism of his passive philosophy, he was highly regarded by most black South Africans. He is the author of an autobiography, Let My People Go (1962).


See biography by M. Benson (1963); study by E. Callan (rev. ed. 1965).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Luthuli, Albert John


Born 1898 in Groutville, Natal Province;died July 21, 1967, in Stanger. Political and public figure in the Republic of South Africa. Zulu by nationality.

Luthuli was educated in a missionary school and at Adam’s College (Natal). In 1946 he joined the African National Congress (ANC), the largest political organization of the country’s African population. From December 1952 he was president-general of the ANC (which went underground after being proscribed in 1960). He advocated rallying all the democratic forces of the Republic of South Africa. He participated (in 1952 and 1955 and on other occasions) in mass campaigns against the apartheid regime. A member of the World Peace Council, he was the first African to be awarded the Nobel Prize (the Nobel Peace Prize for 1960). In 1959 the South African government prohibited him from leaving his farm, attending assemblies and meetings, or participating in political life. He died in an accident.


Let My People Go. London, 1962.


Benson, M. Chief Albert Luthuli of South Africa, London, 1963.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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