Congress of the People starts in Kliptown

Saturday, 25 June 1955

The historic multi-racial convention called The Congress of the People started in Kliptown, near Johannesburg. The proposition for this form of gathering came from Prof. Z.K Matthews at the African National Congress (ANC) Queenstown regional conference in 1953. It was endorsed by the ANC national conference held in December. The convention was attended by approximately 3,000 delegates from different racial groups in South Africa. Hundreds of delegates were blocked on their way to attend the convention by the police, who were also present at Kliptown. The convention was co-sponsored by the ANC, the South African Indian Congress (SAIC), the Coloured People's Organisation (CPO) and the Congress of Democrats (CoD). It brought together national liberation movements from diverse ideological orientation. These organisations set up a Joint Action Committee to coordinate the work of drafting the Freedom Charter, which was adopted by the convention the next day, 26 June 1955. The Freedom Carter is a corner stone of the Constitution of South Africa. At the meeting three prominent liberation leaders, Chief Albert Luthuli, Dr Yusuf Dadoo and Father Trevor Huddleston were awarded the ANC's highest honour, Isitwalandwe/Seaparankoe, bestowed on those who contributed immensely to the liberation struggle. Chief Luthuli and Dr Dadoo were unable to receive the honour as a result of restriction orders put on them.


• ANC The Freedom Charter and the United Nations [online] Available at: [Accessed on 25 June 2013]
• SAHO Freedom Charter 1955 [online] Available at: [Accessed on 25 June 2013]

Last updated : 23-Jun-2015

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

Support South African History Online

Donate and Make African History Matter

South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history.

Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content.