Assistant editor of Ilanga lase Natal,editor of Inkundla ya Bantu, co-authored the ANC Youth League Manifesto of 1944, member of the Liberal Party
Lives of Courage
Jordan Kush Ngubane was born 15 November 1917 near Ladysmith in Natal, the son of a policeman. After receiving his early education in Ladysmith, he entered Adams College in 1933, where he became friends with Anton Lembede. On graduating from Adams in 1937, Ngubane was offered the assistant editorship of John L. Dube's newspaper, Ilanga lase Natal. From that beginning, he established a distinguished career in journalism. While working with Selope Thema on the Bantu World in the early 1940s in Johannesburg, Ngubane's early interest in politics intensified.
He renewed his acquaintance with Lembede and through Lembede met A. P. Mda. The three subsequently became principal architects of the Youth League's emerging ideology, and Ngubane co-authored with Lembede the Congress Youth League Manifesto of 1944. Later that year he returned to Natal to take up the editorship of Inkundla ya Bantu, the country's only newspaper owned entirely by Africans. Writing under both his own name and the pen names "Kanyisa"and "Twana," he made Inkundla from 1944 to 1951 the country's leading forum for the expression of African political opinion. Using the power of his paper to promote the downfall of Natal's older and more conservative leaders, particularly A. W. G. Champion, Ngubane waged a campaign to elevate Albert Luthuli (whom he had first met at Adams College) to prominence, first as a Natal leader and then as president-general of the ANC. Though often subject to attacks from politicians who disputed his frequently controversial opinions, Ngubane was generally recognised and respected by African intellectuals as a writer and analyst of unusual talent.
A strong aversion to Communist tactics and philosophy led Ngubane to fight a long battle against what he perceived to be Communist efforts to control the ANC. Luthuli's willingness to accommodate the ANC left-wing provoked bitter denunciations from Ngubane, and the two former friends remained at odds throughout most of the 1950s. At home with neither the left nor the extreme nationalist wings of the ANC, Ngubane in the mid-1950s was drawn to the Liberal Party, and in the late 1950s he was elected its national vice-chairman.
In December 1958 he represented the Liberals at the All African Peoples' Conference held in Accra. In April 1959 he attended the inaugural convention of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) as an observer and thereafter became known as a partisan of the PAC.
In December 1960 he was present at the Consultative Conference of African Leaders in Johannesburg and was chosen to head the continuation committee charged with planning for an "all-in" conference. He later resigned this position but was nevertheless arrested with other members of the planning committee, following the March 1961 follow-up conference. He was charged under the Unlawful Organizations Act and Suppression of Communism Act but was eventually acquitted. In 1963 he was issued a banning order and fled to Swaziland.
In 1969 he came to the United States, where he now lives. He is the author of An African Explains Apartheid (1963), Ushaba: The Hurtle to Blood River (1975), numerous articles, and a number of works in Zulu, including a novel, Uvalo Lwezinhlonze (Terror in the Frowns).