Clements Kadalie

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Biographical information

Synopsis:

Founder of the ICU and National secretary. Trade Unionist and Political Activist.

First name: 
Clements
Last name: 
Kadalie
Date of birth: 
1896
Location of birth: 
Nkhata Bay District, Nyasaland, (now Malawi)
Date of death: 
28-November-1951
Location of death: 
East London,Eastern Cape,South Africa

Clements Kadalie was born in April 1896 in Nkhata Bay District at Chifira village near the Bandawe Mission Station in Nyasaland, presently Malawi. He was the second born son of Mr and Mrs. Musa Kadalie Muwamba.He was born into chiefly family,in or shortly before 1896, his education was overseen by an uncle after Kadalie's father in 1904. 

In 1912, graduated from Livingstonia Missionary Institute with an honours and at age sixteen he was a qualified teacher, and he was already assigned by Dr. Laws to run district schools.After  teaching for a year,he set out to see the world,workin as a clerk in a succession of jobs in  Mozambique and Southern Rhodesia.In 1918 after a journey which him through most of Southern Africa countries arrived and settled at Cape Town. He befriended Arthur F. Batty an emerging trade unionist and political activist. With Batty's advise Kadalie in 1919 founded the Industrial and Commercial Union (ICU), later renamed the Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union of Africa. In December of the same year, Kadalie gained prominence with the success of the dockworker's strike, which prevented the export of all goods through Cape Town Harbour facilities. This was in accordance with basic employment rights of the workers, who had to work long hours without the remunerations they deserved. Despite the strike being called off at a latter stage due to the lack of support within other well established labour organisation, in a way it helped to launched Kadalie's career as a trade unionist. In 1923, Kadalie was replaced by James La Guma as the administrator of the union and he was released to do the most propagandistic part, that of the secretary general.

On 20 November 1924, Kadalie was arrested and issued with a deportation order, naming him a prohibited immigrant and ordering him to leave the Union of South Africa within three days. In May 1927, Kadalie represented the ICU at the international Labour Conference in Geneva of which the trip was sponsored by advocate Crech-Jones. For five months he toured Europe,lecturing  to symphetic and winning wide publicity.In 1928, internal fighting within the union saw Kadalie being sacked by William G. Ballinger with the full backing of the executive committee of the ICU. He later formed an independent ICU in East London on top of that Kadalie was a provincial organiser of the African National Congress (ANC). He never returned to Malawi and stayed in East London with his wife Emma and five children until he died in 1951.


References:
• Karis, T. & Carter, G. M. (1972). From Protest to Challenge: A Documentary History of African Politics in South Africa, 1882 ”“ 1964, Vol. 2, Hope and challenge , Hoover Institution Press: Stanford University, California.
• Clements Kadalie Biography: Encyclopedia of World.[online]. [Accessed 30 January, 2009]
•  M. Gerhart, Teresa Barnes, Antony Bugg-Levine, Thomas Karis, Nimrod Mkele .From Protest to Challenge 4-Political Profiles (1882-1990) http://www.jacana.co.za/component/virtuemart/?keyword=from+protest+to+ch... (last accessed 25 February 2019)p>

Last updated : 25-Feb-2019

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

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