Albert Lutuli

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We have no intention whatsoever of abandoning our divine right, of ourselves determining our destiny according to the holy and perfect plan of our Creator.

Albert Lutuli (c. 189821 July 1967) was a South African teacher, activist, and politician. Luthuli was elected president of the African National Congress (ANC), an organization that led opposition to the Apartheid government in South Africa. He was awarded the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the non-violent struggle against apartheid and his advocacy of peaceful reconciliation.


  • I do not hate the white man; you see, his position of domination has placed him in a position of moral weakness.
    • As quoted in Guy Arnold (1976), The last bunker: a report on white South Africa today, p. 192.

The Road to Freedom is via the Cross (1952)[edit]

  • In so far as gaining citizenship rights and opportunities for the unfettered development of the African people, who will deny that thirty years of my life have been spent knocking in vain, patiently, moderately and modestly at a closed and barred door?
  • I have joined my people in the new spirit that moves them today, the spirit that revolts openly and boldly against injustice and expresses itself in a determined and non-violent manner.
  • "Laws and conditions that tend to debase human personality - a God-given force - be they brought about by the State or other individuals, must be relentlessly opposed in the spirit of defiance shown by St. Peter when he said to the rulers of his day: "Shall we obey God or man?" No one can deny that in so far as non-Whites are concerned in the Union of South Africa, laws and conditions that debase human personality abound.
  • My only painful concern at times is that of the welfare of my family but I try even in this regard, in a spirit of trust and surrender to God's will as I see it, to say: "God will provide." It is inevitable that in working for Freedom some individuals and some families must take the lead and suffer: The Road to Freedom is via the CROSS.

Resist apartheid! (1954)[edit]

  • We meet here to express our deep resentment at the claim made by South Africa though its governments and parliaments since the union, to determine and shape our destiny without consulting our wishes, and arrogantly to assign us a position of permanent inferiority in our land, contrary to the plan and purpose of God our Creator, who created "all men equal." And into us too, not to whites only, He breathed the divine spirit of human dignity. And so we have every human and moral right to resist laws and policies which create a climate inimical to the full development of our personalities as individuals, and our development as a people.
    • July 11, 1954.
  • The laws and policies of white South Africa are no doubt inimical to this development. And so I call upon our people in all walks of life ministers of the Gospel of Christ, who died to save human dignity, teachers, professional men, business men; farmers and workers to rally round the congress at this hour to make our voice heard. We may be voteless, but we are not necessarily voiceless; it is our determination more than ever before in the life of our congress, to have our voice not only heard but heeded too. Through gatherings like this in all centres, large and small, we mean to mobilize our people to speak with this one voice and say to white South Africa: We have no designs to elbow anyone out of South Africa, but equally we have no intention whatsoever of abandoning our divine right, of ourselves determining our destiny according to the holy and perfect plan of our Creator. Apartheid can never be such a plan.
    • As quoted in Voices of Liberation: Albert Lutuli (1993).
  • The fate of Africans in the cities of the nation rests on the stand we take against this tyrannical action of the government. As leaders we shall do all in our power to consolidate the country to oppose the carrying out of this outrageous tyrannical scheme.

Africa and Freedom, Nobel Lecture (1961)[edit]

Lecture delivered on December 11, 1961. Available at
  • a Christian and patriot, [I] could not look on while systematic attempts were made, almost in every department of life, to debase the God-factor in man or to set a limit beyond which the human being in his black form might not strive to serve his Creator to the best of his ability. To remain neutral in a situation where the laws of the land virtually criticized God for having created men of color was the sort of thing I could not, as a Christian, tolerate.
  • The mitigating feature in the gloom of those far-off days was the shaft of light sunk by Christian missions, a shaft of light to which we owe our initial enlightenment. With successive governments of the time doing little or nothing to ameliorate the harrowing suffering of the black man at the hands of slave drivers, men like Dr. David Livingstone and Dr. John Philip and other illustrious men of God stood for social justice in the face of overwhelming odds.
  • It is fair to say that even in present-day conditions, Christian missions have been in the vanguard of initiating social services provided for us. Our progress in this field has been in spite of, and not mainly because of, the government. In this, the church in South Africa, though belatedly, seems to be awakening to a broader mission of the church in its ministry among us. It is beginning to take seriously the words of its Founder who said: "I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly."

Nobel Prize acceptance speech (1961)[edit]

  • Scientific inventions, at all conceivable levels should enrich human life, not threaten existence. Science should be the greatest ally, not the worst enemy of mankind. Only so can the world, not only respond to the worthy efforts of Nobel, but also ensure itself against self-destruction. Indeed the challenge is for us to ensure the world from self-destruction. In our contribution to peace we are resolved to end such evils as oppression, white supremacy and race discrimination, all of which are incompatible with world peace and security. There is indeed a threat to peace.
  • May the day come soon, when the people of the world will rouse themselves, and together effectively stamp out any threat to peace in whatever quarter of the world it may be found. When that day comes, there shall be "peace on earth and goodwill amongst men", as was announced by the Angels when that great messenger of peace, Our Lord came to earth.

Quotes about Lutuli[edit]

  • Chief Albert Luthuli was a man of universal wisdom, and exceptional integrity: a man of deep compassion, motivated into political action by his deep Christian commitment. The African National Congress is proud today to list him among its Presidents.
  • A man of peace and one who believed passionately that inter-racial strife was an evil, destructive and totally wasteful force.
  • All those people across the world who value courage, decency and compassion, have lost one of their noblest champions...I shall always remember my visit. For 5 years his own people had no direct word from their leader, yet his patient and compassionate devotion to the future of his country became a model of courage and dedication for all of us."
  • ...On the same day, the Prize for 1960 was awarded for the first time to an African – Albert Luthuli, one of the earliest leaders of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. For me, as a young African beginning his career in the United Nations a few months later, those two men set a standard that I have sought to follow throughout my working life.
  • Every time I take a flight, I am always mindful of the many people who make a successful journey possible - the known pilots and the unknown ground crew. So you honor the dedicated pilots of our struggle who have sat at the controls as the freedom movement soared into orbit. You honor, once again, Chief Lutuli of South Africa, whose struggles with and for his people, are still met with the most brutal expression of man's inhumanity to man. You honor the ground crew without whose labor and sacrifices the jet flights to freedom could never have left the earth. Most of these people will never make the headline and their names will not appear in Who's Who. Yet when years have rolled past and when the blazing light of truth is focused on this marvellous age in which we live - men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization - because these humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness' sake.
  • I only regret that circumstances and spacial divisions have made it impossible for us to meet. But I admire your great witness and your dedication to the cause of freedom and human dignity. You have stood amid persecution, abuse, and oppression with a dignity and calmness of spirit seldom paralleled in human history. One day all of Africa will be proud of your achievements.
  • I have been moved by the award to you of the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize and I join with many others from all parts of the world in extending sincere congratulations to you. This high recognition of your past and continuing efforts in the cause of justice and the advancement through peaceful means of the brotherhood of man is applauded by free men everywhere.
    • President John F. Kennedy regarding Luthuli in congratulatory telegram to him, 15 November 1961[5]
  • We join two distinguished South Africans, the late Chief Albert Lutuli and His Grace Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to whose seminal contributions to the peaceful struggle against the evil system of apartheid you paid well-deserved tribute by awarding them the Nobel Peace Prize
    • Nelson Mandela at his Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Address (10 December 1993).
  • Lutuli is primarily a mediator... he sought to reconcile tribal values with Christianity... and bridge the gap between traditional tribal organization and the system of parliamentary democracy
    • Callan, E. "Albert J. Lutuli and the South African Conflict, p. 16.

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