Book Launch - "Albert Luthuli: Bound By Faith"
Remarks By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party

   

 

 

Umhlanga: 27 November 2010

 

From the time of my birth, I was taken straight from Ceza Hospital to the Palace of my uncle, King Solomon ka Dinuzulu, KwaDlamahlahla Palace. My uncle died at the young age of 40 years. My younger uncle, Prince Mshiyeni ka Dinuzulu, became Regent during the interregnum.

 

During the interregnum, many Zulu gatherings called izimbizo were held at the Regent's Residence at KwaSokesimbone. Many important men attended these imbizos, and at other times just visited the Regent. 

 

Among these important men were my uncle Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, the founder of the ANC, the Reverend Dr Langalibalele Dube, the first President of the ANC, and Dr Edgar Brookes, the Senator who represented the Zulu Nation in the South African Senate and Principal of Adams College. The Rev. Dube and Dr Edgar Brookes were sometimes in the company of Inkosi of Abasemakholweni in Groutville, Inkosi Albert Mvumbi Luthuli.

 

While in my youth I was impressed by the status of the Regent's many visitors, I was awestruck by Inkosi Luthuli, who also attended conferences of Amakhosi convened by the Regent. To me he stood out as a well spoken, widely read man of great intellect. We Zulus often refer to such a man as a man who has "a shadow", unesithunzi. I admired Inkosi Luthuli from the moment I set eyes on him.

 

It is a pleasure and a privilege for me to participate in the launch of the Reverend Dr Couper's book "Albert Luthuli: Bound by Faith", for I enjoyed a long friendship with Inkosi Luthuli and believe that he shaped my own life in many ways. Yet I am somehow hesitant to speak about this history in the presence of Dr Couper, for I know that he feels I have used Inkosi Luthuli's name to "buttress (my) power and influence", and sees something sinister in my view of Inkosi Luthuli as a mentor.

 

Yet, when the Xubera Institute for Research and Development invited me to be a respondent at this launch, it mentioned how history confirms my special relationship with Inkosi Luthuli and that it would somehow be inappropriate to engage this public discourse without my input. As Dr Couper discovered when he researched his PhD, my name comes up with unusual frequency when one considers the life and legacy of Inkosi Albert Luthuli. That is not because I ever tried to steal his thunder, but because he and I shared a faith and a vision during a terribly dark time in our country's history, and we both dedicated our lives to ushering in the light. I am proud to say that he was one of my mentors.

 

I am often accused of using other leaders to buttress my Party and influence. If I mention that I campaigned longer than anyone for the release of Mr Nelson Mandela, or mention our correspondence while he was in jail, absolute upstarts, who do not even belong to our age group, start saying I am using the name of Mr Mandela. If I mention Mr Oliver Tambo, with whom I worked closely up to 1979, the same is said by these latter day pundits.

 

To be frank, if I were a name-dropper politician, what about my own ascendants? Why do I not use the fact that it was King Cetshwayo, my mother's grandfather, whose regiments fought the British in 1879? Why don't I use my maternal grandfather's name, King Dinuzulu, who was exiled to St Helena and who was charged with treason and even on his release was banished to Uitkyk farm in the then Middleburg district in the then Transvaal and who died in exile after the Zulu Rebellion, the last black armed struggle in South Africa?

 

Why do I not use the fact that my great grandfather Mnyamana Buthelezi was the Commander-in-Chief of the Zulu Regiments during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879? Why don't I use the name of my paternal grandfather Mkhandumba Buthelezi who fought at Isandlwana on the 22nd of January 1879 when the Zulu Regiments routed the British army? It must be remembered that the British used an army larger than that which they used to conquer India, in order to conquer the Zulu Nation.

 

When I was rusticated from the University of Fort Hare in 1950 for participating in a political boycott - for I was an active member of the ANC Youth League - Dr Edgar Brookes, the former Principal of Adams College, wrote to Dr Mabel Palmer, the founder of the non-European section of the University of Natal, asking that I be allowed to continue my studies. Having been accepted to the University of Natal, I did not return to Mahlabathini from Fort Hare, but went straight to Durban.

 

Once there, I completed my studies within a year and began work as a Clerk in the Office of the Native Commissioner in Stanger Street. Whenever I had free time, I would visit Lakhani Chambers in Grey Street, the offices of the ANC in Durban, and Inkosi Luthuli and I would have long discussions about politics, religion, servant leadership and the pursuit of freedom. We grew close during this time and I found many of my own beliefs being forged in the fire of his intellect and spiritual maturity.

 

At that time, Mr AWG Champion was the leader of the ANC in Natal. But in 1951 the time came for elections and Inkosi Luthuli contested Champion's leadership. I was intrigued by politics and interested to see how the election would be held. My colleagues, Bill Bengu and Simon Mtimkhulu, who later became attorneys, and Reginald Ngcobo, were equally curious, and together we attended the elections at the Bantu Men's Social Centre in Beatrice Street, Durban. We were all civil servants at the time.

 

But we were surprised by a dramatic turn of events. Mr Champion had packed the hall with his supporters and he stood up and announced that everyone who wanted Champion should stand on one side, while everyone who wanted Luthuli should stand on the other. This was in lieu of a formal voting process by delegates, and it meant that everyone present, whether a card carrying member of the ANC or not, counted as a vote. My colleagues and I went and stood on Inkosi Luthuli's side, and he was elected the new provincial president.

 

It was rather amusing to read Champion's post mortem of the elections in the Illanga newspaper, in which he had a column. He complained that the elections were unfair, as even civil servants had voted for Luthuli. By this, he of course meant us! Unfortunately for him, he was hoisted by his own petard. The following year, in 1952, Inkosi Luthuli became the President-General of the ANC.

 

Soon thereafter, I was faced with a difficult decision. My mother, Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, asked me to return home to take up my hereditary position as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan. I wanted to complete my legal articles in Durban under Rowley Israel Arenstein, the lawyer whom the ANC frequently used at the time. I therefore consulted Inkosi Luthuli about what I should do, and he advised me to return to Mahlabathini. He himself had given up a lucrative teaching position when the community at Groutville Mission Reserve elected him in 1936. Here was a highly educated man who did not consider embracing the institution of traditional leadership as a step down.

 

Leaders of the ANC, including AWG Champion and Masabalala Yengwa, attended my installation ceremony, and Inkosi Luthuli sent me a long letter enjoining me to serve my people with selfless dedication and the wholehearted assurance that this was my calling. Inkosi Luthuli had already shown me how a traditional leader could uplift a community both spiritually and materially. He had set an inspiring example, and I set my heart on following it.

 

It was a blessing to me to be able to seek Inkosi Luthuli's advice and counsel in the years that followed. I often consulted him on the various hardships which the apartheid regime imposed on us. I travelled to Groutville with my uncle, Prince Gideon Zulu, who was a clerk at the hospital in Eshowe. But when our conversation turned to politics, Inkosi Luthuli would silently indicate that his home may be bugged and suggested that we take a walk outside. In this way, we walked and talked on many occasions. Without fail, he would advise me to stand my ground, even when it would leave me standing alone.

 

It is by now a matter of public record that Inkosi Luthuli and Mr Oliver Tambo sent a message to me through my sister, Princess Morgina Dotwana, urging me not to refuse to lead the Government of KwaZulu which the apartheid regime was imposing on us, if the people elected me to such position. They argued that my leadership of this apartheid-created structure would compliment the ANC's work in exile and undermine the apartheid system from within. This later proved effective, when my refusal to accept nominal independence for KwaZulu rendered the grand scheme of apartheid untenable, as former President FW de Klerk later testified when he appeared before the TRC.

 

Before he was banned from leaving Groutville, following Sharpeville and his detention in Durban Central Prison, Inkosi Luthuli also visited me at my home and enjoyed the hospitality of my wife, Princess Irene. He and Mrs Luthuli were brought to our home by an American friend, Ms Louisa Hooper, and they would stay with us for weekends, preferring not to be seen outside too often. It must be remembered that there were many spies and informers at that time.

 

On other occasions, the Luthulis were brought to our home by Dr Wilson Zamindlela Conco, who had been a deputy leader of the ANC in the Province and chaired the Kliptown Congress of the People which produced the Freedom Charter. Dr Conco would park his car in my garage and I would park my car in front of the house, to avoid his number plate being seen. I would also arrange appointments for Inkosi Luthuli to meet with my late first cousin, King Cyprian Bhekuzulu ka Solomon, the father of our present King, in my capacity as his Traditional Prime Minister.

 

During our meetings, Inkosi Luthuli impressed upon me his firm belief in non-violence. In his own words, he insisted that "Our struggle is for the freedom of all and it is for liberty that we struggle. We are not struggling against one another, but towards freedom." I would say, Dr Couper, that this belief in non-violence was ingrained in me through our discussions. But Inkosi Luthuli also explained to me that, even though he believed in non-violence, he was not a pacifist, in that - if he was attacked - he would defend himself. I remember that he said this in response to the views of the Quakers.

 

His being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960 was therefore entirely appropriate. Before making its decision, the Norwegian Committee consulted several people to confirm whether he deserved to receive the Prize. I was contacted by Dr Christopher Hafstad, and took pride in recommending my friend to the Committee. It was a matter of great pride for all of us when Inkosi Luthuli, as the first African recipient, travelled to Norway in 1961 to accept the Nobel Prize.

 

I note that Dr Couper, in his book, expresses some bewilderment over Inkosi Luthuli's "uncharacteristic attire" on that occasion. We had discussed the value of his wearing traditional dress, and I arranged for him to be clad in the regalia of a Zulu warrior. In this way, Inkosi Luthuli expressed the pride of Africa before the world, and struck a blow to the Nationalist Party which sought to portray Africans as savage and uneducated.

 

This reminds me of the insults that were hurled at me in 1954. This happened when I announced to the Zulu Nation that we were all to be clad in our indigenous attire during the unveiling of the King Shaka statue in KwaDukuza by King Cyprian Bhekuzulu Nyangayezizwe ka Solomon. It is a fact that many missionaries who brought us the gospel discouraged African proselytes from using their indigenous attire or their African names, once they accepted Christ. It was unashamed westernization of Africa's indigenes. Everything African was "heathenish".

 

When, in July of 2002, I delivered the keynote address at the 6th Bi-Annual National Conference of Rev. Couper's church, the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, I explained the impact of Inkosi Luthuli being awarded the Nobel Prize. On that occasion, I said: "Inkosi Luthuli pioneered a path of greatness for many oppressed South Africans. The historic reality told us we would never amount to anything and should not seek to rise above our imposed low station.  Inkosi Albert Luthuli, however, became the first South African to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize - and his victory told us that we could be anything our hearts dared to dream."

 

In the year that Inkosi Luthuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the ANC and other political organizations were banned. With Inkosi Luthuli constricted to staying in Natal, the ANC had created the position of Deputy President and had elected Mr Oliver Tambo. It was Inkosi Luthuli that sent Mr Tambo abroad to found the ANC's mission-in-exile.  In many ways, this was the beginning of a new era.

 

With our struggle far from complete and his life's mission not yet fulfilled, Inkosi Albert Luthuli was taken from us in July of 1967. I was contacted in Durban by a journalist by the name of GR Naidoo, who informed me that Inkosi Luthuli had been hit by a train and was dead.  I was devastated.

 

I was humbled when the Luthuli family and the ANC's leadership in exile asked me to deliver the funeral oration, which I did as I delivered my tribute to Inkosi Luthuli. At the time, I was constantly shadowed and hounded by members of the Security Branch of the South African Police. During the funeral service, I was at some point overwhelmed by emotion, and some Security Branch members were overheard by some of the mourners saying that they were not surprised that I almost broke down, because 'my father' was dead today. That of course was not far from the truth. He was, in every sense of the word, 'father' to me.

 

Five years later, the Luthuli Memorial Foundation in London, through Dr Conco, requested that I assist Mama Nokukhanya Luthuli to arrange the unveiling of his tombstone at the Groutville Mission Graveyard, and to deliver the main address. Thus it was that, on the 23rd of July 1972, I said: "Whatever catastrophe overtakes South Africa, whether it is now or in the distant future, South Africa will not escape the harsh judgement that things will have reached a bad pass because what Chief Luthuli stood for was ignored for the sake of political expediency." I also attended a meeting of the Luthuli Memorial Foundation with Mama Luthuli that was held in Swaziland, because members of its board in exile could not set foot in South Africa.

 

When the Organisation for African Unity bestowed a posthumous award on Inkosi Luthuli, Mama Luthuli asked me to accompany her to Maseru to receive the award from King Moshoeshoe II and pass on a vote of thanks on her behalf. There was an official function at Thaba Bosiu to pay tribute to King Moshoeshoe I. It was on that occasion that my wife Irene and I walked up the mountain accompanied by the MK Commander Mr Ndlovu, who later became the South African Commissioner to Lesotho, and a group of MK cadres. I was again privileged in 2001, as the Chancellor of the University of Zululand, to bestow a posthumous doctorate degree on Inkosi Luthuli.

 

The legacy of his teachings shaped the genesis of Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe in 1975. I made this clear when I founded Inkatha, after consultation with the then President of the ANC, Mr Oliver Tambo. Leaders like Inkosi Luthuli, Dr Langalibalele Dube, Rev. James Calata, Bishop Alpheus Zulu and Dr Pixley Seme had forged the African National Congress within the values of non-violence, self-help, self-reliance and human dignity. When the ideologies of the IFP and the ANC diverged in 1979, I made a statement that I believe is still valid and relevant; that in its conduct Inkatha remains more faithful to the founding values of the ANC, as propounded by the Founding Fathers in 1912, than the ANC itself.

 

It is therefore not by any means strange that Inkosi Luthuli's widow joined the IFP. A number of Robben Island prisoners who were released came out and joined us in Inkatha. They told us that Mr Mandela had told them to work with me on their release. These stalwarts included Joshua Zulu, PH Simelane and Wordsworth Luthuli.

 

At the 1972 tombstone unveiling, I warned that: "up and coming generations will get more and more difficult to convince that a non-violent change is, as Chief Luthuli believed, possible. On the contrary, when one looks at the South African scene, one is left in no doubt about the fact that violence is on the ascent and that the chances of a non-violent change are getting scantier by day." I regret that, after Inkosi Luthuli died, the ANC's leadership in exile became increasingly entrapped in the dynamics of the Cold War. Ultimately, the idea of a People's War was birthed.

 

In 1979, Mr Tambo invited me and a delegation of Inkatha to London, where we were informed of the imminent unleashing of an armed struggle and were asked for our support. I could not agree. Inkosi Luthuli had impressed upon me the value of non-violence and passive resistance.  Nevertheless, not once did I ever condemn the ANC for taking that route. I would go so far as saying I perfectly understood why they did it. The ANC was banned. The PAC was banned. But, personally, I could not bring myself to support it.

 

As a result, the IFP was deeply wounded. When the UDF was formed in Cape Town, I issued a statement welcoming its emergence. But in its own statement, the UDF welcomed all organizations against apartheid to come under the umbrella of the UDF, except Inkatha. I was surprised by this opening salvo in what would be a long campaign of vilification against me and the IFP.  It was not surprising that this followed the unleashing of violence.

 

The violence that erupted between the UDF and ANC axis, and members of Inkatha, developed into a low intensity civil war that cost some 20,000 black lives. In her book, "People's War", Professor Anthea Jeffrey unpacks the propaganda and exposes the truth of this dark chapter in South Africa's history. I have often wondered what Inkosi Luthuli would have thought of the nightmare of violence we were plunged into after his death. But it is not hard to guess. In Nelson Mandela's last letter to me before his release, in 1989, he expressed great anxiousness to get together to stop what he called the shaming violence between our people.

 

Mr Archie Gumede, the President of the UDF, and I met once in Ulundi to try to find a way to peace between the UDF and Inkatha. As Chief Minister, I arranged for Mr Gumede to be flown by a charter plane from Virginia Airport to Ulundi. He was flown as "Mr Dlamini". He was quite bewildered by the suggestion of some of his colleagues in Gauteng that the only way to deal with Inkatha was to eliminate them with the gun.  He told me that, when this suggestion was made, he retorted, "maybe you have no idea how many Inkatha members there are".

 

In 1966, Robert Kennedy said, "Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change." To me, Albert Luthuli epitomised moral courage.  He was one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century, whose legacy must be better understood.

 

It is probably true, as Dr Couper asserts, that there is no one who has invoked Inkosi Luthuli's name more often or more fervently than I, and no one who considers Inkosi Luthuli a mentor more than I do. I cannot apologise for this. It is simply a part of my history and make up that cannot be denied or diminished. I am proud to have known Inkosi Luthuli, and I am grateful that the curiosity of a younger generation will be sparked as Dr Couper's book is picked up and read. 

 

"Bound by Faith" is an apt description of the life of a man whom I loved, esteemed and followed. May we seek to better understand his legacy.

 

Contact: Liezl van der Merwe, Press Secretary to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP, 082 729 2510.