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AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS

SOUTH AFRICA'S NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT

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Author : Albert Luthuli

Message by Albert Luthuli to the National Conference of the African National Congress Women`s League

Message by Albert Luthuli to the National Conference of the African National Congress Women`s League

1 August 1959

Here I am, caged in, in the Lower Tugela District, by the oppressor`s ban on me. The confinement resulting from this ban is a painful reminder to me and to you all also that apartheid laws deny us freedom of movement.

Feudal days in Europe could not have been worse.

Fortunately, the oppressed people, here and elsewhere in Africa, are becoming increasingly aware of their plight, and are making heroic efforts to free themselves. It is gratifying to record that African women are playing an admirable part and, in close co-operation with their sisters of other races, are showing a growing aggressive opposition to serfdom.

Ever since the mighty anti-pass protests to the Union Buildings African women have joined Congress in large numbers and have increasingly played their part in it.

Many successful local demonstrations have been organised against the issue of the "Dom" Pass to African women.

In the attempts to boycott Bantu Education schools, women were there. As managers in the home they have contributed significantly to the recent Potato Boycott.

To the admiring surprise of many of us, including many outside Congress circles, African women in Natal for the last two months have engaged in spontaneous Natal-wide local demonstrations.

The demonstrations have highlighted many important current issues affecting Africans in urban centres and in rural areas alike. What a challenge to our Congress! The only jarring note in these demonstrations has been the appearance of violence in some areas.

Violence does nobody any good, but does our cause much harm.

We are indeed in the women`s era in the liberation struggle in the Union.

The freedom road is likely to be long and weary. We shall need all the stoic fortitude and wisdom to face and surmount mountains of problems, troubles and miseries that are generally met with on the march to FREEDOM.

With the heroic contribution of our dauntless women we shall succeed, I have no doubt.

May South African women continue to play their noble and heroic part in our liberation struggle.

I charge them to use their womanly influence and tactics, to win increasingly into Congress and into the struggle, growing numbers of men. If gentle persuasion should prove unavailing, goading them to it by derisive words and actions may be used. Women are generally masters at this!

Women of other races and groups including our own, have used this tactic from time immemorial when a crisis demanded it from us.

May this Conference inspire all of you to present a dauntlessness that will enable you to defy all the fiery darts of the oppressor and even his Saracens.


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