Lutuli, Albert

South African political leader

Albert Lutuli was president of the African National Congress (ANC), a black-led political party in SOUTH AFRICA that fought for African rights. In 1960 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in the nonviolent struggle against racism.

The son of a preacher, Albert John Mavumbi Lutuli was born in Southern Rhodesia (present-day ZIMBABWE) and grew up in Natal, South Africa. After graduating from college, Lutuli became a teacher in Natal. Elected a ZULU chief in 1935, he administered local justice and organized peasant farmers.

In 1945 Lutuli joined the ANC. Forced to resign as Zulu chief in 1952 because of his work with the political group, Lutuli was elected ANC president the same year. In this role, Lutuli helped transform the party from a collection of educated and privileged blacks into a broad-based popular movement.

Lutuli, Albert

While serving as ANC president, Lutuli was often confined to his neighborhood by government authorities and banned from attending political gatherings. Despite these restrictions, he had considerable influence and enjoyed widespread loyalty from black Africans.

In his later years, Lutuli was considered an honored elder statesman. By this time, however, the ANC had begun to abandon his nonviolent methods and adopt more radical policies. Still confined to his neighborhood by the authorities, Lutuli died in 1967 after being struck by a train near his home. (See also Apartheid.)