Alex La Guma

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Biographical information

Alex La Guma


Writer, member of the SACP, leader of the South African Coloured People's Organisation (SACPO) and a defendant in the 1956 Treason Trial, chief representative of the African National Congress in the Caribbean

First name: 
Last name: 
La Guma
Date of birth: 
Location of birth: 
District six,Cape Town,South Africa.
Date of death: 
Location of death: 

La Guma was a writer, a leader of the South African Coloured People's Organisation (SACPO) and a defendant in the Treason Trial. Born in 1925 in Cape Town, the son of James La Guma. After graduating from the Trafalgar High School, he joined the Young Communist League in 1947 and became a member of the Communist Party a year later. He helped organise the Congress of the People. He was chairman of SACPO in the Western Cape in the 1950s and an executive member of the SACPO (later called the South African Coloured People's Congress) in the 1960s. He wrote for New Age from 1955. He wrote many articles for Fighting Talk in which he captured the atmosphere of the trial proceedings. He was placed under 24-hour house arrest in 1962, and then detained again in 1963. He left South Africa in 1966. He wrote four novels and many short stories, and received the 1969 Lotus Prize for Literature, awarded by the Afro-Asian Writers' Conference. He edited Apartheid: A Collection of Writings on South African Racism by South Africans (1972).

Alex La Guma is considered one of South Africa's major twentieth century writers. His first book, A Walk in the Night (1962) was followed by And a Threefold Cord (1964), The Stone Country (1967), The Fog at the Season's End (1972) and Time of the Butcherbird (1979). A native of District Six, Cape Town, La Guma was also an important political figure. Charged with treason, banned, house arrested and eventually forced into exile, he was chief representative of the African National Congress in the Caribbean at the time of his death in 1985.

(Liberation Chabalala: The World of Alex La Guma)

• From Protest to Challenge, Political Profiles Volume 4, p52

Last updated : 12-Mar-2018

This article was produced by South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011

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