From the book: Freedom In Our Life Time by Anton Muziwakhe Lembede
41. WALTER NHLAPO,"He Sang and Soared Away," Barlow's Weekly, 16 August 1947
Walter Nhlapo (d. 1967) was a Journalist employed by Umteteli wa Bantu and a frequent contributor and letter writer to newspapers and magazines. He was also a talent scout for the Gallo recording company.
I BELIEVE some Europeans were surprised when they read the news item headlined "Death of a Noted African Lawyer." They were surprised because they had not heard of a Bantu lawyer before. Those who had known his dynamic personality on the political, educational and legal platforms must have been shocked by his early and untimely death.
He was a fine example of a self-made man. He burned the midnight oil from University Junior Certificate to M.A., LL.B. Only a year ago he received his Master of Arts degree by presenting the thesis: "The Conception of God As Propounded By Great Philosophers From The Time of Descartes To The Present Day."
Africans deeply mourn his departure. He passed in the prime of life, when his acts and deeds were showing a Midas touch. In the words of a wiser man: "It is not the tragedy of death that we lament, but the tragedy of life." We feel that Death has been unkind. It nipped the bud in its first spring. Darkness descended at sunrise.
He was a thinker. He was a brilliant scholar, who was thrilled by the philosophic writings of Hegel, Spinoza, Socrates and Aristotle.
Goethe's poetry in the German language was his inspiration. The writings of Dutch masters were a joy to him and these, too, he read in the Dutch language.
He was a linguist. He was proficient in German, Dutch, Afrikaans, English, Latin and the Bantu languages. He was a dynamic leader and loyal to his people and national conscience.
He was destined to be a Member of the Representative Council. He was one of the possible candidates for the General Presidency of the African National Congress, in the event of Dr. A. B. Xuma relinquishing his position. Above all else he was an ardent Catholic. He feared God and loved his fellow men. He was a simple man like the masses.
His creative powers, his education he imparted in the Bantu Press for the benefit of his countrymen. He urged them to study and fit themselves to fight the battle against oppression. Education, he emphasized, is the gateway to high spheres: socially, politically and economically.
I write about this fellow man because he was great, yet very few knew about him. Most people read his name when he was no more. I write about this fellow man because he is an inspiration. He showed that education can be acquired without the university portals. I write about this African because the daily Press gives more space to crime and conviction, and does not tell the world that there are brilliant Africans straining mind and nerve to write a clean page against crime.
42. EDITORIAL, "Anton Lembede," Inkundlaya Bantu, 7 August 1947.
THE SUDDEN DEATH of Anton Lembede in Johannesburg has come as a crippling blow to the progress of the African community at a time when the demand is greatest for trained young men willing to surrender themselves completely to the service of their people.
Mr. Lembede had struggled against poverty and all the odds which stand in the way of a young African eager to forge ahead until he had passed his M.A., LL.B. degrees. After that he took over a practice which Dr. Seme had run for a number of years in Johannesburg. Going into the legal profession at a time when this was a very risky course for a young African, he rapidly won the confidence of his people as well as the Europeans with whom he dealt with in and out of Court. At the time of his death he had already set up what had very bright prospects of becoming a flourishing practice. Certainly, he had clearly shown that he would end up by being one of the greatest lawyers of our race.
Mr. Lembede's early success did not deflect him from the main purpose of his life ”” namely, to be a servant of his people, in the truest sense of the expression. He gave generously when financial help was asked for to advance the national cause. His own life was dedicated constantly to the service of his race. If you spoke of self sacrifice, Anton Lembede was always the first to sacrifice himself without regard even for his own health or personal safety. In this whole make-up, there wasn't the slightest shred of selfishness.
Among a community beset with difficulties like ours these qualities speedily brought him to the forefront even in national affairs and at the time of his death, he was already a leading member of the Congress Executive Committee. His rapid success in this field naturally won him many enemies, but in his treatment of them, he was always a great man and towered a giant over them at all times. This only enhanced the respect in which he was held by all sections of our people.
In a sense, Mr. Lembede died fighting and in this respect his name will occupy a proud place among those of the fallen heroes of our race. He worked himself literally to death, to see his a free race. The example he set will guide many a coming servant of Africa. We join the many who mourn his death and in doing this are proud to salute a great son of Africa. Our race needs very many more young men and women imbued with the spirit of self-sacrifice which Mr. Lembede personified. His life and example combine to assure those of us who are living that, in the first place, he did not die in vain and that our national struggle itself is not in vain. When we show ourselves as ready to pay the price of becoming free, we shall surely shake off our ankles the shackles that bind us.
Lembede is dead, but the free Africa he always saw in his visions is a reality which will always live and those of us he has left behind can pay no better tribute to his memory than to resolve once more to carry on the fight in which he lost his life with renewed strength. The deep sympathy of this journal and its readers goes to his be reaved relatives.
43. J. B. MARKS, "Tribute to A. M. Lembede," Guardian, 7 August 1947.
John B. Marks (1903-1972) was a leading figure in the ANC, the Communist Party, and the African trade union movement. After being dismissed as a teacher for his political activism, he joined the Communist Party in 1928. He studied at the Lenin School in Moscow. In the late 1940s, he served on the Central Committee of the Communist Party. He was active as well in the ANC, being elected to its national executive in 1946 and as provincial president of the Transvaal ANC in 1950. He was a key organiser of the African Mine Workers' Union and played a central role in the mine workers' strike of 1946. In 1963 he went into exile and worked in ANC offices in Tanzania until his death in 1972.
"To LIVE in hearts we leave behind is not to die."”Š85”‰In these words do I wish to pay tribute to the late Mr. Anthony [sic] Mziwakhe [sic] Lembede, M.A., LLB., who very unexpectedly died in Johannesburg on Wednesday, July 30,1947.
Mr. Lembede was an intellectual giant. He acquired all his degrees through private studies. He was an omnivorous reader. As a lawyer he was an uncompromising fighter. He was one of the few who proved to the world that when given the opportunity, the African could climb the academic ladder and even surpass some of the members of the so-called "superior" race.
In the domain of African politics Mr. Lembede was the embodiment of extreme African nationalism for which he, unlike many other African nationalists, never offered or dreamed of offering any apology. And this was a quality that was admired by his friends and even by those who did [not] see eye to eye with him in his extremist views.
He was founder and President of the present Congress Youth League which has sent a delegate to the world youth rally at Prague, and in the African National Congress, he allied himself very closely with the Left wing. A dynamic personality he was one of the few Africans who would not allow political differences to develop into personal animosity. Lembede was a member of the Executive of the African National Congress.
In Congress circles throughout the four provinces it is known he was in the forefront of the fight for the boycott of all elections under the Natives' Representation Act of 1936.
Those of us who shared his views give him the assurance that what he has left incomplete we shall complete.
To the critics I say let us write the late Lembede's virtues in brass and his vices, if any, on water. Farewell Lembede; Farewell.
44. GOVAN MBEKI, "A Grlevous National Loss," Inkundla ya Bantu, 27 August 1947.
Bom in Nqamakwe, Transkei, Govan Mbeki (1910- ) earned a B.A. at Fort Hare in 1937 and a B.Econ. at the University of South Africa in 1940. He taught for several years at Adams College, where his future wife, Epainette, was a student, before he opened a cooperative store in Idutywa. From 1938 to 1944, he was editor of Territorial Magazine, the forerunner of Inkundla ya Bantu. He was also active in Transkei politics, serving a four-year term in the Bunga and as secretary of the Transkei Organised Bodies. A so-cialist since his student days at Fort Hare, he did not join the South African Communist Party until the late 1950s. In the 1950s he continued his journalistic career, writing for political newspapers. He also was active in the A NC leadership in the Eastern Cape. He became a key figure in the ANC's armed wing, Umkonto we Sizwe, but was arrested in the Rivonia raid in 1963 and sentenced to a life term. Released from prison in 1988, he has remained an active figure in South African politics and is currently serving as Deputy President of the Senate. Among his publications are South Africa: The Peasants' Revolt (1964), Learning from Robben Island: The Prison Writings of Govan Mbeki (1991), and The Struggle for Liberation in South Africa: A Short History (1992).
THE SHOCKING NEWS of the most untimely death of A. M. Lembede has overshadowed the most pressing problems affecting Africans. His death is a grievous national loss in which the African public has lost one of its most zealous and determined sons who dedicated his short span of life to the cause of his people. In his selfless struggle for the national cause he has built himself a monument in the hearts of his people. His name will live eternally in the history of his people. His memory will ever be a source of strength to all Youth to devote themselves as he has exemplified to the most sacred and most sublime of all causes ”” the liberation of their people. We extend deep sympathy to his relatives and friends.
45. A. P. MDA, "The Late A. M. Lembede, M.A., (Phil) LL.B.," Bantu World, 27 September 1947.
Ashby Peter Mda (1916-1993) 'was bom in the Herschel district on the Lesotho border. Educated in Catholic schools at Aliwal North and Mariazell, he moved to the Witwatersrand in 1937, where he took up a teaching position at St. John Berchman, a Catholic primary school, in Orlando Township. In the late 1950s, he became active in the African National Congress and was one of the leading figures in the founding of the ANC Youth League in 1944. When Lembede died, Mda was selected as his successor as president of the Youth League. In 1947 he decided to study for the law. He took up a teaching position at Pius XII College in Lesotho and then moved back to Herschel district. In poor health, he stepped down as Youth League president in 1949, but remained active behind the scenes as an advocate of African nationalism. In 1962, he left South Africa for Lesotho, where he practiced law until his death in 1993.
AN OLD GREEK saying runs: "They die young whom the Gods love."”Š86”‰ Young Anton Muziwakhe Lembede, one of the most brilliant students that this country has produced, died "before his prime." He died at the tender age of 33, on the threshold of a scholastic, legal and political career that might have been unparalleled in Black Africa. The story of his life reads like an epitome from some lost romance; and in this article I am hoping to give the reading public a birds-eye-view of some of the major phases in his life.
Anthony [sic] M. Lembede was born in January 1914, at a farm near Nkambathweni [Camperton] in the district of Georgedale, Natal. His father, Martin Mbazwana Lembede of the AmaChunu Tribe, married Martha Nora Luthuli when the latter was teaching at Mgwarumbe. She had previously taught respectively at Vredeville, Darlington and Umlazi Bridge after passing her Std. [Standard] V, at the Georgedale school. The family then settled at Nkambathweni, where they worked as farm labourers. It is here that Anton Muziwakhe was born. His mother who, as already stated, had had a smattering of education, began to teach her son at home. Under her tuition he managed to pass Std. II after many ups-and-downs. A present of a goat from her husband rewarded her labours.
There were many other families working on this and other neighbouring farms. Children were also employed as farm hands, and they put on sack cloth because of lack of proper clothing. The Lembedes did not like the idea of their children, working from morn till eve, clothed in hessian sacks. So they went to settle at Isabelo, where their children could attend school.
Muziwakhe goes to school
Muziwakhe went to school for the first time at Isabelo. He was then already in Std. III and his teacher, Miss Sibeko ”Š87”‰ (now Rev. Sister Bernadette Sibeko of Mariannhill) ”Š88”‰ did much to make her new recruit at home in school. After passing his Std. III he worked for some time "in the kitchen" at Marievale, in order to get money to buy books and other school requirements. Then he proceeded to the Imbumbulu School where he did his Std. IV under Mr. Mhlongo. There after he did both Standard V and VI at the Imbumbulu Intermediate School.
His tireless energy and zeal for work had already attracted wide spread attention. When he passed his Std. VI in the first class, Mr. Hamilton Makhanya ”Š89”‰ (now Supervisor of Schools) used his influence to get Muziwakhe a bursary tenable at Adam's College,”Š90”‰ Amanzimtoti, where after a brilliant career, Lembede completed his third year teachers' course in 1935. The occasion was marked by the slaughter of an ox at his home, and Reverend Ntansi of the American Board Mission, who was invited to officiate, prophesied thus: "This child will be like manna to his people. Great things are expected of him."
Those who were with him at Adams speak highly of his devotion to duty, and of his amazing brilliance. Mr. Makhanya, who has been like a father and a guardian to Lembede says that he suspected from Muziwakhe's youthful days, that great things were likely to come of his life. These opinions are more than confirmed by Jordan K. Ngubane, the editor of the "Inkundla" and a life long friend of the late Anton Lembede.
Anton faces the world
Although his mother was opposed to Lembede going too far afield, the young school master elected him to teach at Utrecht. Later he transferred to Newcastle.
Here he made a lasting friendship with Father W. Ochs,”Š91”‰.M.L, who was then of the St. Lewis Bertrand's Catholic Mission, Newcastle. It was here that he began to take his studies very seriously. He already had an aim to qualify as a Lawyer. Here also he had his first illness of his life. He was taken to McCords [sic] Hospital ”Š92”‰ in Durban where after receiving his last sacraments of the Catholic Church, he under- went an operation of appendix. Fortunately he recovered speedily. He then transferred to Parys, O.F.S., where he became principal of the Bantu United School. A friend of his, Mr. Victor Khomari, now at the Bantu United School, Batho Location, Bloemfontein, has pleasant memories of their stay together at Parys. At this time Mr. Lembede was already busy at his bachelors degree which, however, he completed when he was at the Heilbron Secondary School, Orange Free State. Here also he made many friends including Mr. B. M. Khaketla,”Š93”‰ B.A., the Basotho [sic] Dramatist-Novelist who now teaches at the Basutoland High School in Maseru.
In 1941, whilst still teaching at Heilbron, he had a major abdominal operation; so that although he made a phenomenal recovery, his digestive system remained weak. That perhaps explains his sudden death after a very brief illness. He had passed his LL.B. (bachelor of laws) when in 1943 he came to Johannesburg to be articled to Dr. P. ka I. Seme, B.A., LL.B. an attorney of long-standing in Johannesburg.
His last words
In 1945 he completed his articles and in that same year, he presented his thesis for his Masters Degree in Philosophy. After a final oral examination before three judges on June 4,1946, he emerged as a fully fledged lawyer. Thus began a legal career that held great promise for the suffering African people.
On the morning of 29 July, 1947, he fell ill at his office in town and was taken to the Coronation Hospital where he died at about 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 30,1947.
Here are his last words recorded by a nurse who attended him during his last hours. "My brother Nicholas ”Š94”‰ should take care of my mother, for I am taking the same path which my forefathers took. My brother Victor should do all the good so that he can lead the African Nation. God bless you all."
His brilliant scholarstic career
When paying tribute to Mr. A. M. Lembede, in the columns of a newspaper in September, 1945, Mr. J. G. Malie ”Š95”‰ called him "a wonder boy" whilst Mr. J. K. Ngubane, in the columns of another paper called him "the best educated African." Nor were these lavish tributes; Lembede has as yet to find a scholastic peer. Certainly a man who at the age of 31, manages not only to pass the LL.B. within two years of his passing B.A. but also to do M.A. (philosophy) within two years of passing LL.B. is undoubtedly and unquestionably an unrivalled genius. In 1937 he passed Matric with distinction in Latin, exactly two years after passing his T4.
He then did his B.A. in three years' time passing it in 1940 with Roman Law and Logic and Metaphysics as his majors. In 1942 he obtained a pass in his degree of Bachelor of Law; and in 1944, he wrote five papers for his Master of Arts Degree.
In June 1945, he submitted his thesis for his Master's Degree on: "The Conception of God as expounded by, and as it emerges from the writings of philosophers from Descartes to the present day."
Professor Forsyth,”Š96”‰ one of his examiners, sent him a congratulatory letter and gave him a book of philosophy for outstanding achievement.
I read through his thesis before he submitted it. I must confess I was taken aback by the breadth of learning and the profundity of so young a man as Anton. He found no difficulty in compassing the immeasurable regions of thought traversed by such intellectual giants as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Hegel, Joad,”Š97”‰ Kant and others. Not only did he summarise their main ideas on the theme, but he drew his own conclusions in a work crammed with closely-reasoned hypotheses and marked with great erudition. Mr. Lembede was also a student of languages. He knew Latin, German and Nederlands, was busy at French.
Anton Lembede the catholic
Lembede was deeply religious. During the funeral service which was held in the Church of Christ the King, Orlando, Rev. Father G. Martin,”Š98”‰ O.M.L paid a glowing tribute to his sterling qualities as a Christian. "He now lies in his eternal rest as a true soldier of Christ," he said.
He was baptised by Father Cyprian on September 10, 1927 at the Catholic Church, Georgedale, on the same day as his father and his brother Nicholas.
Anton Lembede had a deep and almost fanatical love for Africa. He would say, "I am one with Africa. Look at my face; it is black like the soil of Africa."
On another occasion, he would say, "I live for the freedom of my people, and I shall die for Africa's freedom." His ideas on the National Struggle, were crystallized in his doctrine of "Africanism," which embodied the vision of a new Africa emerging great and victorious, out of the turmoil and conflict of the National Liberation Struggle. His outlook was Pan-African, and he believed that Africa had a divine destiny, and that in due time Africa would take her rightful place among the peoples of the earth.
The African National Congress Youth League manifesto, which he drew up jointly with Jordan K. Ngubane and which the National Leader, Dr. A. B. Xuma approved, set down some of these ideas, especially in the creed of "Nationalists" at the end of the manifesto. The motto is: "Africa's Cause Must Triumph."
Lembede made his first important declaration of African Nationalism at a meeting called at the Mooki Memorial School in February, 1944. He made subsequent declarations at the first conference of the Youth League in April 1944 at the Bantu Men's Social Centre, where after an erudite exposition he showed Africa's middle position in relation to the materialistic West and the Spiritualistic Orient.
Another important speech was that delivered at the October conference of the Youth League in 1945, in which he expounded the thesis of "Africanism." But of all these speeches, the most significant was his last address, given at a reception in Orlando, on July 27,1947. In the course of his address he made a powerful attack upon the colour ideology of this country, and proved to the hilt that the African was equal in all respects to any other nation, race or people on the face of the earth. In effect he attacked the inferiority complex from which so many Africans suffer.
Lembede the congress man
Lembede entered Congress politics in 1943. In 1944, he was elected to the presidency of the Congress Youth League in succession to Dr. W. Nkomo, then a medical student at the University of the Witwatersrand. Both as Congress Youth Leaguer and as a member of the Orlando branch of the Congress, and as Assistant-Secretary in the Transvaal Provincial Executive of the Congress, he did a lot to fight for the rights of the people, while attempting to strengthen Congress. At the 1946 Annual Congress Conference at Bloemfontein, he was elected to the National Executive Committee of which he died a member. Lembede was an enemy of all forms of oppression; he did not spare himself in his attempts to strengthen the national movement. In his own writings in the press he taught the people the value of unity. His voice at the people's meetings will be missed. Thus, added poignancy attaches to the words quoted by Arthur Barlow when he commented on an article in which Waiter M. B. Nhlapo paid tribute to the late Lembede: "In the garden of life, a bird sang from the highest branch, and then soared away."”Š99”‰
Lembede the lawyer
At the time of his death, Lembede had practised for at least eleven months. He had already gained prominence along the Reef as a rising lawyer of no mean capability, and his clientele had grown by leaps and bounds. One thing about him was that he took great care in the preparation of his cases. What with his great volume of knowledge of legal theory he might with practice and experience, have risen to the highest position in the legal profession. He won many interesting cases as a result of which he became popular among large sections of the people. Mr. Templeton T. Ntwasa, a practising attorney in Johannesburg, relates an interesting story of how Lembede won the admiration of a Roodepoort Magistrate because of a case which he defended there in fluent Afrikaans. Just before his death, Lembede scored another victory at a Vereeniging Court. Up-to-date, a great number of Springs residents are loud in their praise of Lembede's legal prowess. Yet he was only beginning; he was on the threshold of his career.
Lembede the man
"Lembs," as he was fondly called by his wide circle of friends, was a kind and large-hearted man. Among his friends are numbered some of the humblest and simplest folks. Although he discouraged "beggary," he nevertheless was so generous, that he was known to give alms to the poor, particularly during the winter months. He himself boasted of his humble moments. He would say in some of his happiest moments: "I am proud of my peasant origin. I am one with Mother Africa's dark soil. I am Africa's own child."
His tastes also were singularly simple. The foibles, fads and fashions of sophisticated urban society did not appeal to him. "My heart yearns for the glory of an Africa that is gone. But I shall labour for the birth of a new Africa, free and great among the nations of the world," he would say.
He was, however, sometimes unapproachable on account of a mood of deep gloom, which settled on him at certain times. Some people mistakenly attributed this to arrogance. Personally I do not know what caused the dark cloud to pass momentarily over his life. Whether it was an inner pain gnawing at his very vitals, or whether it was a tragic consciousness of the fate of his downtrodden people, that caused this, the world will never know. But of one thing I am certain, and that is that it was a new thing in him. Possibly his first operation followed in 1940 by the death of his father affected him; and possibly also, his gloom was deepened by the experience of his second and more critical abdominal operation.
These things must be taken into consideration in sizing up his personality. However, these moods were only temporary phases. He was in his nature a happy soul. His dynamic and meteoric personality influenced anyone who knew him well. I have never seen a man with a more hearty laugh; he saw jokes in the most unexpected places. His friends will remember him for his characteristic laugh, which was loud and robust. His humour was the direct, simple and sincere type that went straight to the mark.
The life and death of the late Lembede has some lessons for the growing generation. First we must learn from Lembs, that success is the fruit of labour. Therefore we should apply ourselves to nobler and greater tasks in the cause of Africa's freedom.
Secondly, we must learn the value of religion, especially the christian religion in the life of individuals, peoples and nations. Our national liberation struggle must be strengthened by an unflinching faith in the Almighty God.
That we continue the struggle for national freedom with vigour, inasmuch as "Lembs" himself was a great fighter for the people's freedom.
Fourthly, as the last words of "Lembs" show, it was his desire that his brother Victor ”Š100”‰ who is in J.C. Form I at Mariannhill, should ultimately lead the African nation in one field or another. It is therefore the duty of the nation, especially the Youth of South Africa to see to the education of this boy who is reputed to be as brilliant as his brother.
Lastly, the Youth of South Africa are in duty bound to perpetuate the name of Lembede in one way or another.
"Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime;
And departing, leave behind us,
Foot-prints on the sands of time."
46. J. A. MOKOENA, "Gone Ere his Prime Some Account of the Remarkable Career of the Late Anton Lembede," South African Outlook, I September 1947.
Joseph A. Mokoena was an active member of the Youth League in the 1940s. Born in Johannesburg, he did his schooling at St. Peter's Secondary School and Ft. Hare, where he completed his B.S. in 1941 majoring in physics and mathematics. He followed this with an M.S. at the University of South Africa and a Ph.D. from the University of the Witwatersrand. He taught at Ft. Hare from 1945 to 1957. After he left South Africa, he took up posts in Ghana, Nigeria, England, Rhodesia, and Zambia. He died in 1969.
On the 30th July, 1947, there passed away at the Coronation Hospital, Johannesburg, a young man by name Anton Muziwakhe Lembede. The cause of death was cardiac failure. Our African newspapers contained little or no details about the career of this man whose life came to an abrupt end at the age of thirty-three.
Anton was born in January, 1914 at the farm Nkambathini, or Georgedale, in Natal. His mother (who had only passed Standard V) taught him the elements of the three R's until he reached the Standard II stage. Thereupon he took Standard II with a certain Miss Sibeko who is now a Roman Catholic nun at Mariannhill. He passed Standard IV, V and VI in a country school at Mbumbulu, where his family is at present domiciled. He was able, by virtue of a first class pass in Standard VI, to obtain a scholarship to Adams College. There he entered for the T4 Teachers Course, and decided to pursue by private study the Junior Certificate course concurrently with his teachers' course. In his J.C. curriculum he included Afrikaans, Latin and Sesotho ”” languages all new to him. By dint of diligent application to his studies he passed both the T4 and the J.C. in 1935.
Economic stringency rendered it necessary that he aspire to no further 'schooling' and that he go out to start earning a living as a teacher. While teaching he continued with his private studies and secured the Matriculation certificate in 1937, with distinction in Latin.
The pursuit of a degree course at Fort Hare was not possible for him on account of the dependence of his family upon him. It was at this stage that Anton felt with definiteness the urge to study law. He embarked on a Bachelor of Arts degree course by private study, including as major subjects Philosophy and Roman Law. This degree was obtained at the end of 1940 ”” the lapse of time from the Matriculation being the three years normally taken by our students resident in Fort Hare. Two years Later Lembede obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree.
By this time he had decided to abandon the teaching profession completely and to devote himself to law. He served hts articles under Dr. L P. ka Seme in Johannesburg; and was eventually admitted to the bar in 1946. Meanwhile he had submitted a thesis for the degree of Masters of Arts of the University of South Africa in 1945. The title of it was "The conception of God as expounded by Great Philosophers from Descartes to the present day." The thesis was accepted.
That, in brief, is a description of his academic career. His life's work ”” viz. the legal practice ”” was restricted to barely a year or so. I intend to discuss the significance of this man under one or two heads: ””
1. As a scholar: We may well admire the dogged determination of a man who from the very lowest ranks rises to heights of academic distinction, without the assistance of lecturers to act as his guides.
I make bold to say ”” although it may perhaps be conjecture on my part ”” that several of our present generation of students would find themselves hard put to it to demonstrate that same capacity for mental discipline. Lembede was too preoccupied with the important things in life to find time for trivialities. I do not know how many of our students make serious efforts to rise above the trivial. I trust they realise the importance of their being able to attend a university college. The future well being of the African peoples in this country is inevitably bound up ”” however imperceptibly ”” with the general tone prevailing at Fort Hare and other colleges. While yet we must not set ourselves aloof from the mass of our people, on the other hand we cannot allow ourselves to be dragged into the mire by those not as fortunate as ourselves, and let them prescribe standards of behaviour to us.
There is, however, another aspect that I would like to touch upon. It is often said by many that external students of the university can, by mere "swotting up" of facts, obtain such degrees as they wish to acquire, while remaining themselves quite shallow. I suggest that to achieve distinguished passes in branches of learning such as law and philosophy, a man requires something more than the mere ability to "cram" up notes.
It may also be said that the external student has missed the privilege of moving in the academic atmosphere of the university college. My personal contacts with Lembede marked him out as a man of remarkable breadth of vision and depth of knowledge.
It may be argued by others, then, that he was a mere freak of Nature. We are not unacquainted with the number of "myths" that supposedly surround the scene in which the African gropes in search of learning. There are a hundred-and-one things that are assumed, by those who cannot think deeply, to be beyond the capacity of the "Native mind." When a "Native" does rise to distinction, we must needs pause to consider whether he is not a mere irregularity of Nature, proving the rule that, as a general case, his race is incapable of rising to certain heights.
When we examine the bases on which humanity sets its actions in life, we observe how many are the hypotheses we employ in our reasoning and, how many of these are coloured more by sentiment than by the intention to clarify situations and to present the truth as it stands.
To us in this quarter of the globe, there is at once apparent the striking abuse of racial differences. In this matter we probably all come in for some share of blame. But there does exist the hypothesis that because a man belongs to a particular racial group, it is by that mere fact predetermined what his capacity in all directions will be. And when the hypothesis has been made, it becomes embarrassing to explain away aberrations that subsequently occur.
Only consistent devotion to duty and selfless application to tasks set can establish in the eyes of other groups the fact that we can do certain things. The African will live to demonstrate that he is capable of achievement on a high plane, and for the purpose of gaining this end he must look to himself. Some of us treat with contempt any suggestion that we cannot achieve greatness, and the determination is in us to put in efforts ever higher to justify our claim. Lembede demon strated beyond doubt a mental capacity almost amounting to genius.
2. The second aspect of Lembede views him as a lawyer: He had the advantage, as a practising lawyer, of being able to express himself fluently in both official languages of the country. To those of us who are acquainted with the manner in which state departments conduct their routine affairs, especially in connection with the African, it is at once evident what a powerful tool we had in Lembede. We take pride in the fact that Lembede, already, within so brief a period, was winning respect among the members of the Johannesburg bar.
The young men entering the field of law have embarked on a new venture. The legal profession has only now attracted a fair number; and with the obvious dangers and difficulties that lie before pioneers . in any field, we require men of integrity and strength of purpose to enter the sphere and establish in their colleagues a firm faith, confidence and respect.
Lembede was such a man. He showed promise of establishing a flourishing practice; and he had already convinced his people that they could depend on him.
3. Thirdly, with reference to the African political scene, I would say that no account of Lembede's life would be complete, if it does not include a paragraph or two on his outlook on inter-racial affairs in South Africa.
For what I have said, it would appear, that here we had a man who might have been a powerful instrument to assist in solving the problem of racial differences and animosity.
He was a staunch member of the African National Congress and president of the African National Congress Youth League. In both these bodies he was a vital force with which to reckon. He represents, to my mind, that section of our youth who feel that the older generation at the helm should adopt bolder methods of tackling our problems.
We are, no doubt, aware of the reaction that usually opposes a man with new ideas and vigorous enthusiasm; and I think that in time Lembede would have found himself waging a war for ascendancy in the matter of piloting our African affairs through the deep and difficult waters.
He was a man of an impetuous nature, always determined to see through any scheme to which he set his attention. I formed the impression that he might need some curbing in his impatience if we were really going to get things done. He had strong Nationalistic views in the expression of which he went the whole way.
We may condemn the plea of "African first"; but I am not too sure that in some of us it is not engendered by motives as noble as those that gave rise to "Rule Britannia." National consciousness seems to be a factor that will for ever inspire the peoples of the world. It may be posed that the panacea for the world's ills lies in world government, such as is envisaged in the United Nations Organisation, rather than in national isolationism.
Yet there is still evident the tendency, if not the determination on the part of individual nations to have their voice heard as the voice of a specific unit.
The African is not to be blamed, therefore, if he passes through the same stages of development that have characterized the upward surge of other nations in the past.
Lembede was one of our men who chose the more difficult course of plunging into the heart of the struggle, so as to tackle problems at close quarters. Such a man must necessarily lay himself open to criticism. I am convinced that in addition to, or rather over and above, those of us who enjoy the comparative ease of academic seclusion, such men of mettle are required to engage the enemy in active combat.
It is not necessary for me to carve a legendary figure of this man. His actions speak for themselves. My firm belief is that he would, by our present standards, have made a great leader.
In his death Africa has lost a great son. We trust that others will follow the trail that he has blazed.
47. JORDAN K. NGUBANE, "A Nation's Tribute to a Promising Son," Inkundlaya Bantu, 17 September 1947.
Educated at Adams College and a classmate of Lembede's, Jordan Ngubane (1917-1985) was the editor of Inkundla ya Bantu. He went into exile in Swaziland in 1961 Just before he was to be served with a banning order. Later he lectured at several universities in the United States before returning to South Africa in 1980 to become an adviser to KwaZulu Chief Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Among his publications are An African Explains Apartheid (1963), Ushaba (1974), and Conflict of Minds (1979).
There are blows from which it is possible to recover quickly; there are others which leave a gaping wound in one's soul for a lifetime. This is as true of individuals as it is of nations and in this regard the death of Anton Lembede in Johannesburg a short while ago was a blow to our race which has left a mark for all to see on the outlook of the nation.
He died still a young man ”” just turned thirty-two [sic]. But he had shown great promise within the three and a half years he had spent in Johannesburg. When he died, every section of our community came to pay its respects. The most moving scene of all to me, was the meeting held at the Community Hall, Orlando where representatives from every department of African life spoke in testimony of the value of the late Anton to the community. There was Mr. Sofasonke Mpanza,”Š102”‰ that remarkable figure who embodies in himself the ideals for which Anton lived and fought. Mr. Templeton Ntwasa, a legal colleague, expressed the feelings of the dozens of young men in the legal profession who have lost a trusted friend and colleague. Mr. Joseph Malepe”Š103”‰ spoke for the Youth of our race for he had taken part with the deceased in the formation of the Congress Youth League. Cr. Paul Mosaka ”Š104”‰gave a scholarly address befitting the occasion when we had come to bury one of our greatest scholars. So also did Dr. Wallet B. Vilakazi.
Word of cheer
Rev. O. S. D. Mooki has his own way of speaking to the heart of those he addresses. Lembede's personal friend, Mr. A. P. Mda and the present author said a few words. From Dr. W. F. Nkomo, another promising young man who had started the League with Lembede, came a word of cheer that we can keep the memory of Lembede alive by keeping his ideals alive. I shall not forget Mr. E. Monoangaha ”Š105”‰[sic], a leading figure in the shanty-town movement who, in the liquid Sesotho of the South, there and then launched the Anton Lembede Law Scholarship for Basutoland; Dr. Dadoo ”Š106”‰ too spoke.
But to me, the most moving episode came when Dr. Xuma rose to speak. To him, the death of Anton Lembede was a national calamity in the sense that he had seen in the young man an instance where the African had proved his capacity to overcome obstacles within South Africa and in spite of these to rise to the top. He saw Lembede's death from the perspective of history and as a general in command of a poorly equipped and badly disciplined army. At the head of the African national liberatory movement if an outstanding and capable lie[u]tenant dies, that is a loss to the supreme command of the national liberation army. And as he thought to himself. Dr. Xuma felt the nation cannot afford these losses. When he broke completely under emotional stress, he was expressing the feelings of his people as an oppressed group. Dr. P ka I. Seme, without whom we might not have known of Lembede as a national figure, spoke last.
Over fifty private cars, 25 lorries and six municipal double-decker buses carried hundreds of Africans who, by their presence, paid tribute to one of the most promising sons of our race.”Š107”‰
48. DR. W. F. NKOMO, "Tribute to a Victorious Life," African Advocate, August / September 1947.
Bom in Makapanstad near Pretoria, the son of a Wesleyan Methodist minister and teacher, William Frederick Nkomo (1915-1972) did his schooling at St. Cyprian's, St. Peter's, and Ft. Hare, earning a B.Sc. in Biology, Zoology, and Botany in 1937. He mofed on to a teaching post at Kilnerton Secondary School in Pretoria (1938-41). Nkomo's leftist leanings were evident in the 1930s when he applied for a passport to attend a World Youth Peace Congress in New York in 1939, but the government turned him down on the grounds that his traveling companions. Dr. Max Joffe and Saura Leslie, were known Communists and the Congress was a Communist front. He studied medicine at the University of Witwatersrand. completing his degree in 1946, and set up a practice in Lady Selborne. He was one of the founders of the ANC Youth League, but later broke with the ANC. He participated in the Moral Kearmament Movement and traveled abroad to their conferences. In 1972 he was elected president of the South African Institute of Race Relations, the first African to serve as president.
KINDLY ALLOW me a space in your esteemed paper, The African Advocate, to add a word to the tribute already given in respect of the late Mr. Anton Muziwakhe Lembede, M.A., LL.B.
I knew him rather well in the last years of his life, a period during which we collaborated in the interests of African Youth. He was one of the young men with whom we founded the African Youth League of which I had the honour of being its first President. The work of this movement soon grew to such an extent that someone who could spare the time was required to lead the Congress Youth League. There could have been no better choice than that of Anthony [sic] Lembede. A protagonist of a new philosophy of Africanism, in contradistinction to that of Marcus Garvey,”Š108”‰ Lembede was imbued with the spirit of liberating his people from the chains of oppression. He was a sincere and honest student, one who always sought to learn and know the truth, one who stood on his ground solidly in support of what he honestly considered to be right.
As a scholar, he exhibited rare qualities. A self-made man, he managed to climb the rungs of the ladder of progress until he got to the peak of academic achievement. No wonder he won the admiration of both black and white, as well as that of persons who disagreed with his political and other views.
He was exemplary to the Youth of Africa in many respects. We shall not be able to fill the gap created by his passing. Let us, however, not let his teachings fade ”” his life was certainly worth emulating.
49. ORGANISING SECRETARY, Congress Youth League, Statement, African Advocate, August/September 1947
The death of Anton Muziwakhe Lembede, scholar, philosopher, lawyer, leader and the President of the African National Congress Youth League removes from the earth one of the greatest Sons of Africa. It deprives the African Nation of its foremost champion in the struggle for emancipation.
The late Anton Lembede had a great vision of a new Africa, emerging as a world power out of the turmoil and conflict of struggle. He had an unshakable belief in the divine destiny of Black Africa, and in the ability of the African peoples to rise to a position of greatness among the peoples of the earth. This vision and this deep faith was enshrined in his concept of African Nationalism, which he sometimes referred to as Africanism.
The African National Congress Youth League herewith pledges unalterable devotion and loyalty to this great heritage of ideals which the late leader bequeathed to African Youth. His lamented death does not leave us bereft of hope, however, for though he lies mingled in the dust, his spirit remains, and it will haunt Black Africa for centuries and centuries to come.
The Congress Youth League believes that Anton Lembede's death has an imperishable message to African Youth: "It is a trumpet call to all Youth to gird their loins and carry on the struggle for the freedom of Africa." The best tribute we can pay to the late Lembede is to emulate his great example. The best homage we can pay to his undying memory is to tread the path he trod for many a bitter year.
"The League invokes Almighty God to gi've his soul eternal rest and let perpetual light shine, and calls upon African Youth throughout South Africa to join in spirit with the Congress Youth League in paying their last tribute to Anton Lembede."
50. A. P. MDA, "Tribute to the late A. M. Lembede," Imvo Zabantsundu, 7 August 1948.
ON JULY 26  a year ago, death removed from Africa one of her most illustrious sons. The death of A. M. Lembede, M.A., LL.B. meant a severe loss in the cause of the freedom of the Black People.
He has however left behind him a vivid example of self-application and his self-sacrifice for his people will be long cherished and long remembered. It will remain a constant source of inspiration to the rising hosts of young men and women who want to devote their talents and energies to the service of Africa.
The late Lembede was the first to give clear emphasis to the creed of African Nationalism and he thus crystallized and gave impetus to the forces of African National freedom.
By his brilliant academic attainments he added one more proof of the black man's ability to scale the lofty heights of achievement.
He was a staunch Congress man and he contributed greatly towards rebuilding the Congress firstly as a member of the Transvaal Provincial Committee, and secondly as a member of the National Executive.
Youth must follow suit
In 1943 the A.N.C. Annual conference passed a resolution to the effect that Youth Leagues should be established as integral wings of the National Congress.
The late A. M. Lembede was one of the young men who became responsible for launching the Congress Youth League in 1944. He was its first president.
The Congress Youth League has therefore every reason to be proud of his achievements; it has every reason to look up to him for inspiration.
We African Nationalists of the Congress Youth League salute the dead hero and in doing so we appeal to the African, Youth throughout South Africa to follow suit.
Towards the close of the year we hope to have the first Lembede Memorial Service at which we shall formally launch a Lembede Tombstone Fund to be followed sometime next year by a Lembede Scholarship Fund Campaign.
51. "ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE," Issued by the National Working Committee, Congress Youth League , Inkundla ya Bantu, 13 August 1949.
Anton Muziwakhe Lembede died on 30th July. 1949 is the second anniversary of his death.
The National Working Committee of the Congress Youth League issued the following statement to commemorate his death:”” "Two years ago to-day, death removed from this earth one of the greatest sons of Africa, the late Anton Muziwakhe Lembede. Not only did he leave behind him a record of an unsurpassed scholastic career which will always be an inspiration to the rising generations of Africa Youth, but he also left us a legacy of uncompromising struggle in the cause of a great, free and truly democratic Africa. His political outlook was enshrined in the creed of "Africanism" or African Nationalism which visualised a free Africa marching with the other free peoples of the earth towards progress and happiness for all mankind.
Two years after his death, we witness the forces of African Nationalism gathering momentum. The cry is beginning to be taken up everywhere: "Africa's cause must triumph!"
"This second anniversary is a trumpet-call to African Youth, in the Universities, Colleges and schools, on the mines and in the factories, and farms, in the teaching field, in the ministry and in fact every where, to rally round the banner of African nationalism and 'Unite for Freedom.'"