Chief Albert John Mvumbi Luthuli

Chief Albert John Mvumbi Luthuli timeline 1800 - 1967

Historical Context to Chief Luthuli Chronology

While Chief Luthuli himself preferred another spelling and signed his name without an 'h', his surname is very often spelled 'Chief Luthuli'. It is so in his autobiography, which was prepared for publication by non-vernacular-speaking friends.

While noting this, the spelling on this site has not adhered to Chief Luthuli's preference. This choice is in order to facilitate Internet searches, where the more widespread spelling of 'Chief Luthuli' is more likely to be used by visitors.

Mary Benson in her biography notes that Chief Luthuli, although christened Albert John, preferred his Zulu name Mvumbi, which means continuous rain.

1820s
Shaka, the Zulu king, allows a small party of English traders to found a small settlement in the south of his kingdom near present-day Durban, Natal.
1836
January, Dr. Newton Adams and Revs. George Champion and Aldin Grout from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission arrive at Dingane's capital.
Rev. Aldin Grout begins work at KwaNginani, but soon leaves to build the officially termed Umvoti Mission Reserve, on a site near the Umvoti River presently known as Groutville.
1860
Albert Luthuli's grandfather, Ntaba Luthuli, who succeeded Rev Grout as head of the mission station, is elected Chief of Groutville.
1892
John Bunyan Luthuli, second son of Ntaba Ntuli and the father of Albert Luthuli, journeys to Matabeleland in the Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and settles at the Solusi Mission Station near Bulawayo.
1895
John Luthuli is joined in Rhodesia by his wife, Mtonya.
1898
Albert John Mvumbi Luthuli is born at the Solusi Mission Station near Bulawayo. Mvumbi, his Zulu name, means 'continuous rain'
1901
Martin Luthuli, older brother of John Luthuli and the uncle of Albert Luthuli, is involved in the founding of the Natal Native Congress
1908
Mtonya Luthuli and the young Albert Luthuli leave Rhodesia and return to the Union of South Africa. Albert joins the household of his uncle Martin Luthuli in Groutville
1911
Albert Luthuli starts his education at the Groutville School
1913
June 19, The Land Act, Act No 27, is passed. The Act confines Africans to hopelessly overcrowded reserves and deprives them of rights to purchase land outside the native reserves.
1914
Having completed Standard Four, Albert Chief Luthuli continues his education at Ohlange Institute 'a boarding school' under Dr. John Dube, the founding President of the South African Native National Council
After only two terms at Ohlange, Albert Luthuli passes the end of year examinations and is transferred to a Methodist Institution at Edendale, near Pietermaritzburg
1917
Albert Luthuli completes a teacher's training course at Edendale and becomes principal and sole staff member of a tiny intermediate school in Blaauwbosch, Natal.
1919
The South African Native National Congress (SANNC) organises an anti-pass campaign. In Johannesburg alone, 700 arrests are made
1920
Albert Luthuli attends the Higher Teachers' Training Course at Adams College, Natal, on a scholarship and joins the staff upon the successful completion of the course.
40 000 African miners strike on the Reef and in Port Elizabeth 21 people are killed by the police.
1921  
Josiah Mqebu succeeds Martin Luthuli as Chief of Groutville
1927
Albert Luthuli marries fellow Adam's College teacher Nokukhanya ('The Bright One') Bhengu, the granddaughter of a hereditary Zulu Chief.
1928
Albert Luthuli is elected Secretary of the African Teachers' Association under the presidency of his friend Z.K. Matthews, principal of Adam's College.
April 30, Josiah Gumede is succeeded by Pixley ka Isaka Seme as African National Congress president. Chief Luthuli commented later: "With his ascendancy, the African National Congress shifted several degrees rightwards into almost total moribundancy."
1933
Albert Luthuli becomes President of the African Teachers' Association.
1935
Albert Luthuli is elected Chief by the people of Groutville Mission Reserve, and he subsequently leaves Adam's College.
December, Call for a conference of all African organizations by Professor D.D.T. Jabavu results in 400 delegates attending the All-African Convention in Bloemfontein.
1938
Visits India as one of several delegates to the International Missionary Conference in Tambaram, Madras, India.
1944
April, The African National Congress Youth League is formally constituted.
Joins the African National Congress.
1945
Chief Luthuli is elected to the Executive Committee of the Natal Provincial Division of the ANC.
1946
Becomes the Natal representative on the Native's Representative Council (NRC) following the death of Dr John Dube.
1948
Attends the North American Missionary Conference and undertakes a lecture tour under the auspices of the American Board and the North American Missionary Conference.
1951
Represents Natal at the ANC national conference.
November 23, M.B.Yengwa and other members of the Youth League in Natal nominates him for President of the African National Congress in Natal and Chief Luthuli is subsequently elected to this position. In his address to the Annual Conference of the African National Congress in Natal, Chief Luthuli calls for unity among Africans and redefines the challenges that face them in the light of new pieces of apartheid legislation being introduced by the Malan Government.
1952
April 6, While White South Africans celebrate the three hundredth year anniversary of Jan van Riebeeck's arrival at the Cape, large meetings are held in the country's main centres as a warm up for the Defiance Campaign proper.
May 31, Encouraged by the success of huge rallies organised on 6 April in protest against the Van Riebeeck tercentenary celebrations, the executives of the African National Congress, South African Indian Congress (SAIC) and Franchise Action Council (FRAC) decides that the Defiance Campaign shall commence on 26 June.

30 August, 'We Go To Action' — Statement on the launching  of the Defiance Campaign in Natal

November, The Government deposes Luthuli from his Chieftainship. Chief Luthuli issues a public statement entitled ' '

December, he is elected President-General at the African National Congress' annual conference.
1953
Under the Internal Security (Suppression of Communism) Act, Act No 44, Chief Luthuli is banned for one year from attending any political or public gatherings and prohibited from entering any major city.
January, The Defiance Campaign of 1952 formally ends.
Visits the Cape to attend the Executive of the Christian Council, which gives him his first opportunity to visit Congress branches outside Natal.
February 21, Opens the 6th Annual Conference of the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) in Durban with the speech ' Let us march together to freedom'.
June, In ' A message to the African people and their allies in the struggle for freedom in the Union of South Africa', Chief Luthuli introduces the campaign to make ordinary Black people more aware of their political situation and attempts to bridge the gap between the educated and the uneducated.
August , At the ANC's Cape provincial congress, Professor Z.K. Matthews suggests the summoning of a national convention at which all groups might be represented to consider the country's national problems on an all-inclusive basis in order to draw up a Freedom Charter for a democratic South Africa.
December 18-20, The ANC's 42nd Annual Conference is held in Queenstown. The Conference endorses the idea of an assembly of the people.
1954
The ban on Chief Luthuli expires and is not immediately re-imposed.
Chief Luthuli opens the conference of the Natal Indian Congress in Durban.
March 23, The executives of the African National Congress, South African Indian Congress, Congress of Democrats and the South African Coloured People's Organisation meet at Tongaat near Durban and decide to establish a National Action Council for the Congress of the People.
June 27, A 'Resist Apartheid' conference is held in Johannesburg, and the day is declared one of 'Solidarity with the Western Areas'. In his speech Chief Luthuli calls for the enrolment of 50 000 'Freedom Volunteers'.
July 11, While on his way to address a protest meeting in Johannesburg, Chief Luthuli is served with a banning order as he steps off a plane.
September 5, Chief Luthuli delivers the speech 'The Challenge of our Time' to the first Natal Congress of the People held in Durban. It is subsequently cited in the 1956 Treason Trial.
November, Nearly the entire Natal Indian Congress (NIC) executive, elected at the end of 1953, is banned.
1955
Outlines the reasons for the ANC's demands for universal suffrage in the speech 'What is aimed at the African people'.
May, An effective protest strike of Coloured people, supported by Africans and Indians, takes place in Port Elizabeth and the South Western Cape. It is directed against the National Party's (NP) intention to remove Coloureds from the Common Electoral Roll.
June 25- 26, The Freedom Charter is adopted by the Congress of the People at Kliptown, Johannesburg. Chief Luthuli is given the title, Isitwalandwe ('Wearer of the feather of Indwe' a rare legendary bird), traditionally only conferred on the greatest of warriors.
August, The executives of the African National Congress, South African Indian Congress, the Congress of Democrats (COD) and South African Coloured People's Organisation (SACPO) recommend the adoption of the Freedom Charter by each of their respective Congresses. A 'million signature' campaign is conceived to popularise the Charter and the 10 000 'Freedom Volunteers' succeeds in collecting nearly 100 000 signatures to the Charter, half of them in the Transvaal.
December 16-18, Chief Luthuli delivers his presidential address to the 44th Annual Congress of the African National Congress in Bloemfontein.
1956
In a report entitled 'The struggle must go on' to the Annual Provincial Conference of the African National Congress in Natal, he introduces the idea of supporting boycotts and civil disobedience.
May 5-6, At the Natal Indian Congress consultation in Durban, Chief Luthuli criticises the recent Tomlinson Report for 'shamefully ignoring to face the important and urgent question of the inadequacy of land set aside for Africans'.
July, Second banning order on Chief Luthuli expires.

October 19, delivers the opening address to the Twenty-second Biennial Conference of the South African Indian Congress, 19 October 1956, Gandhi Hall, Johannesburg

December 5, Chief Luthuli is arrested in Groutville on a charge of high treason.

1957
May 27, In a letter to the Prime Minister, J.G.Strijdom, Chief Luthuli defines the aims and objectives of the ANC and its belief in a common society and suggests that a national convention be held.
June 26, A fairly successful one-day stay-at-home of workers is held and 65 treason trialists, including Chief Luthuli, are discharged.
1 September, In an interview with the New Age, Chief Luthuli said, "The recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry in regard to Undesirable Publications create another grave threat to the liberties of the people and constitute an unwarranted attack on the liberty of expression."

12 December, Chief Luthuli delivers the Presidential Address to the 47th Annual Conference of the African National Congress in Durban on 12 December 1959

1958
Delivers a speech entitled 'Our vision is a Democratic Society' to a meeting organised by the Congress of Democrats (COD) in Johannesburg.
Opens the Transvaal Conference of the Liberal Party of South Africa (LPSA).
February, The then Minister of Native Affairs, H.F. Verwoerd draws up a proclamation that will give him the power to ban the African National Congress anywhere under his jurisdiction and forwards it to the Governor-General for signature.
April, In an open letter to White voters in 1958, Chief Luthuli states the aim of the ANC to be 'a common South African multiracial society, based upon friendship, quality of rights and mutual respect'.
September 3, H.F. Verwoerd assumes the office of Prime Minister following the death of J.G. Strijdom.
November 2, Robert Sobukwe breaks away from the African National Congress to form the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC).
1959
May 25, Chief Luthuli is served with his third banning order, which prohibits him from attending any meeting anywhere in South Africa and from leaving his home district for five years.
1960
April 7, The Extension of University Education Amendment Act  bans Black students from attending white universities.
5 July, An undelivered statement by Chief Luthuli at the time of the Treason Trial, for burning his pass. This statement was to have been made to the court before the passing of sentence, after which the Chief had been found guilty of burning his pass, guilty of disobeying a law by way of protest, and not guilty of incitement. At the time he voluntarily accepted the advice of his lawyers, and because of the very poor state of his health, Chief Luthuli did not deliver this statement.  

1961

March 15, Prime Minister H.F. Verwoerd withdraws South Africa's application for continued membership of the Commonwealth following bitter opposition in the Conference of Commonwealth Ministers.
March 29, Twenty-eight persons, including Chief Luthuli and Walter Sisulu, on trial for high treason since 1956, are found not guilty and discharged. The three judges of the High Court in Pietermaritzburg unanimously find there is no evidence of communist infiltration into the African National Congress. Hours later the Government retaliates by renewing the ban on the African National Congress and Pan Africanist Congress for another year.
October, Chief Luthuli is informed that he has been awarded the 1960 Nobel Prize for Peace for his 'fight against racial discrimination' through non-violent means. He is the first African to win the prize.

21 October 1961, Chief Luthuli`s speech at a ceremony where he was awarded the Christopher Gell Memorial Award, Port Elizabeth

December 5, Chief Luthuli and his wife, Nokukhanya Luthuli, boards a plane in Durban to be flown to Oslo via London to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for 1960.
December 10, Wearing ceremonial garb, Chief Luthuli receives the Nobel Peace Prize in the presence of King Olaf of Norway, diplomats and dignitaries and is given a standing ovation. In his acceptance speech, Chief Luthuli declares: 'I regard this as a tribute to Mother Africa, to all peoples, whatever their race, colour or creed'.
Chief Luthuli delivers his Nobel Peace Prize address entitled 'Africa and Freedom' and pays tribute to the late Dag Hammarskjold, 'a distinguished world citizen and fighter for peace,' to whom the Nobel Peace Prize for 1961 was awarded. At the conclusion of his address, Chief Luthuli sings the liberation anthem Nkosi Sikel'I iAfrika and all the assembly soon joins in singing or humming the anthem.
1962
February 1, A statement entitled 'We don't want crumbs' appears in the New Age. In the statement Chief Luthuli unequivocally rejects the Government's homelands policy.
October, Chief Luthuli is elected rector by the students of Glasgow University, Scotland, in recognition of his 'dignity and restraint' in 'a potentially inflammatory situation'.
December 10, Chief Luthuli and Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. issue a joint statement 'Appeal for Action Against Apartheid'
1964
May, Minister of Justice, John (B.J.) Vorster, serves Chief Luthuli with yet another five-year ban confining him to his home in Groutville.
June 12, In a statement issued following the imposition of life sentences on Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and six others after the Rivonia Trial, Chief Luthuli declares: 'The African National Congress never abandoned its method of militant, non-violent struggle. However, in the face of the uncompromising White refusal to abandon a policy which denies the African and other oppressed South Africans their rightful heritage freedom - no one can blame brave, just men for seeking justice by use of violent methods; nor could they be blamed if they tried to create an organised force in order to establish ultimately peace and racial harmony'.

November 30, The University of Algiers, Algeria, confers an honorary Doctorate of Literature on Chief Luthuli.

1967
July 21, Chief Luthuli is killed after being struck by a train on a narrow railway bridge near his home in Groutville.
July 23, 3 000 people gather in the church at Groutville to attend Chief Luthuli's memorial service and to see Mrs Nokukhanya Luthuli unveil the memorial stone which has been erected on his grave.

Last updated : 07-Aug-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 05-Apr-2011

Donate with Snapscan