The fight against the apartheid regime produced many heroes and claimed many lives. Albert John Mvumbi Luthuli was one such humanitarian hero who devoted his life to the freedom of his people.
Born in Bulawayo in 1898, the young Luthuli was sent to his ancestral home in Natal in 1908. Bright and very religious, Luthuli trained as a teacher. He was elected chief of the Groutville reserve in 1935, abandoning his teaching post for a life of politics. The devout Christian entered the larger political field when he started to understand the full extent of apartheid through his new position as Chief.
Chief Luthuli joined the ANC in 1945 and was elected as the organisation's Natal Provincial President in 1951. Joining forces with political greats like Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, Luthuli played a pivotal part in carrying out the non-violent protest against apartheid. This protest was known as the Defiance Campaign.
Due to his involvement, Luthuli was stripped of his title as Chief and became president-general of the ANC in 1952. Luthuli was one of nearly 100 people banned after the campaign. He was arrested for high treason in 1956.
He was re-elected as president of the ANC in 1955 and again in 1958. Luthuli led a protest during the notorious Sharpeville Massacre in 1960. The protest unexpectedly turned violent and 72 protestors were shot and killed during the demonstration. Condemning the violence, the humanitarian figure publically burned his passbook and became one of 18 000 arrested during countrywide police raids.
Humanitarian icon Albert Luthuli's relentless struggle against apartheid led to his being the first South African to receive a Nobel Peace Prize, in 1960. Since then 3 more South Africans - Desmond Tutu, F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela - have received the same honour.