Did you know?
Albert Luthuli's famous statement 'The road to freedom is via the cross' illustrates his aversion to violence.
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 returned to the family home in Natal in 1908 after his father died. Bright and very religious, Luthuli trained as a teacher. He was elected chief of the Groutville reserve (near Stanger) 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. Alongside other political leaders 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 but later released due to lack of evidence. 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 burnt his passbook and became one of 18 000 arrested during countrywide police raids for this action.
Humanitarian icon Albert Luthuli's relentless struggle against apartheid led to his being the first South African to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. A travel ban was temporarily lifted to allow him to attend the awards ceremony in Oslo in Norway in 1961.
(Since then three more South Africans, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and former presidents FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela, have received the same honour.)
He died in 1967 after he was hit by a train (an accident regarded with some suspicion by his supporters) while walking near his home in Stanger.
In all, he had lived under four successive bans imposed by the apartheid government, severely restricting his movements and political freedom, but his striving for justice remained undimmed until the end.