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Marian Aguiar

In a 1965 interview, Nadine Gordimer assessed her political consciousness with a self-scrutiny that characterized much of her political writing: “I have come to the abstractions of politics through the flesh and blood of individual behavior. I didn’t know what politics was about until I saw it all happening to people.” In her novels and short stories, Gordimer has captured the “flesh and blood of individual behavior” in minute and sentient detail, chronicling daily life in South Africa under Apartheid and portraying the human face of resistance.

Gordimer grew up in a small gold mining town near Johannesburg South Africa the daughter of a Lithuanian Jewish father and an English mother Although she read voraciously as a child she was removed from school at age ten because of a perceived heart ailment and had little formal schooling Trailing her mother to afternoon teas the lively Gordimer spent her time observing ...

Article

Stephen Clingman

South African novelist, short story writer, essayist, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was born on 20 November 1923 in the small gold mining town of Springs east of Johannesburg Both her parents were Jewish immigrants her father Isidore was a watchmaker and jeweler from the Lithuanian Latvian border her mother Nan came from England Her father with his foreign accent and ways was disparaged in the family he also absorbed the dominant racial models of the time while her mother took more readily to anglicized colonial mores Gordimer grew up in a nonreligious environment though she attended a convent school for the sake of its superior education Early on she was a dancer and sometimes a truant exploring the physical possibilities of veld and mine dumps with innate energy and relish At the age of eleven however her mother withdrew her from school on the putative ...

Article

Godwin Siundu

Much of Nadine Gordimer’s writing has been inspired by apartheid, once a political ideology and practice in her native South Africa. Apartheid as a system of social engineering was blatant in its exploitation of race as a basis of segregation and oppression, often grading people on the basis of their supposed intelligence or lack of it, borne solely out of their racial belonging. The struggles to implement this system by the Afrikaner political elite and the persistent attempts at resisting and subverting this system are what dominate the themes and style of Nadine Gordimer’s writings.

Nadine Gordimer was born to Isidore and Nan Gordimer 20 November 1923 in Springs, South Africa. She was schooled at the Convent of Our Lady of Mercy and studied for a year at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Among her earliest writings are Face to Face a collection of short stories that was ...

Article

Born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Albert John Luthuli was educated at the mission school in which he later taught (1921–1936). The son of well-respected Zulu parents, Luthuli was elected chief of the Zulu Abasemakholweni ethnic group in Groutville in 1936. He joined the African National Congress, a black political group, in 1946 and took an increasingly active role in campaigns to abolish Apartheid, the system of racial segregation in South Africa. In 1952 he was removed as chief by the South African government, which opposed his activities, and was forbidden to enter major South African cities and towns for one year. That same year he was elected president-general of the African National Congress. Because of his continued political activities, he was restricted to his farm in Groutville for two years in 1953, and again in 1959 for five years For ...

Article

Dorothy C. Woodson

South African teacher, Zulu chief, political leader, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born in Rhodesia around 1898 of South African (Zulu) parentage. His mother, Mtonya Gumede, was born and raised in the Royal Kraal of Cetshewayo, the Zulu king. His father, John Luthuli, was the elected chief of Groutville, home of the Umvoti Mission, an American Board of Commissioners station near Stanger, north of Durban, in what is now Kwa-Zulu Natal. He attended various local schools and was later awarded a two-year teacher-training scholarship at Adams College. Luthuli remained at Adams as a teacher, becoming one of only two African teachers at the school, the other being Z. K. Matthews (1901–1968). He married Nokukhanya Bhengu in 1927, and they had seven children.

In 1936 Luthuli reluctantly left Adams College and returned to Groutville after being elected to the chieftainship of the Umvoti Mission Reserve during which time he ...

Article

Peter Limb

Albert John (“Mvumbi”) Lutuli (1898–1967) was a distinguished South African political leader who led opposition to apartheid in the 1950s and early 1960s. He was President of the African National Congress (ANC), a Zulu chief, teacher, and the first African awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His political thought combined Christianity, African nationalism, and liberalism in a form typical of the ANC of the time.

Lutuli was born in 1898 to Zulu parents in Bulawayo in what is now Zimbabwe but moved back to South Africa where he received a mission education at Groutville School and Ohlange Institute near Durban Natal The young Lutuli soon became imbued with the Christian ethics that would guide his life His early years were also marked by commitment to the teaching discipline and his love of Zulu culture and soccer After qualifying as an elementary school teacher from Edendale Methodist ...

Article

Peter Limb

Nelson Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela was born in 1918 in the rural Transkei of South Africa. Here he absorbed Xhosa and African culture, notably the ideas of honor and ubuntu humanness or a feeling of fellowship and compassion From his parents and clan the young Mandela also heard stories of the historical resistance of Africans to white invasion From an early age he was groomed for a leadership role given that his father was descended from a minor house of royalty of the Thembu people a branch of the Xhosa nation The Thembu Paramount Chief Regent Jongintaba looked after Mandela following the early death of his father who had been the Paramount s chief councilor but who after resisting white domination had been deposed as headman by the government Mandela s given name was Rolihlahla troublemaker and his clan name Madiba reconciler would remain a praise name and term of ...

Article

The first black president of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela became a worldwide symbol of resistance to the injustice of his country’s Apartheid system. Imprisoned for more than twenty-seven years, and before that banned from all public activity and hounded by police for nearly a decade, Mandela led a struggle for freedom that mirrored that of his black compatriots. After his 1990 release from Victor Verster prison, his work to end apartheid won him the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize (which he shared with South African president F. W. de Klerk) and then the presidency itself a year later.

Mandela’s father, Chief Henry Mandela, was a member of the Thembu people’s royal lineage; his mother was one of the chief’s four wives. Mandela was born in Mvezo, Umtata, but grew up in Qunu, a small village in what is now the Eastern Cape Province At the age of ...

Article

former president of South Africa (1994–1999), African National Congress (ANC) leader, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born on 18 July 1918 in the rural village of Mvezo near Mthatha in rural Transkei The youngest of four sons he imbibed ideas of honor and humaneness and stories of resistance to white invasion from his Xhosa culture clan and family Descended from a minor or Left Hand royal house of the Thembu people his father Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa served as councilor to the Thembu paramount chief but after protesting aspects of white domination was deposed as village headman by the government After his father s early death Mandela was groomed for a local leadership role by the paramount regent Jongintaba Mandela s given name was Rolihlahla troublemaker and his clan name Madiba reconciler would remain a praise name and term of affection in years to come symbolizing his ...