Alfred Nzo (1925 - 1980)
The Order of Luthuli in
Profile of Alfred Nzo
Alfred Nzo was born in Benoni in 1925 into a poor family. He matriculated in the Eastern Cape and enrolled for a Bachelor of Science degree at Fort Hare University in 1945.
He became active in student politics after joining the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League. Nzo was active in organising the Defiance Campaign in the 1950s and took part in the consultative campaign to canvass the views of people on the kind of society they wished to build. This campaign culminated in the Congress of the People in 1955, at which the seminal Freedom Charter was adopted.
In 1958 he was voted onto the regional and national executive committees of the ANC. In 1964 he left the country to work for the ANC in exile. He was posted to various places, including Egypt, India, Zambia and Tanzania. Nzo served as the Secretary-General of the ANC from 1969 until 1991, and also served as an ANC delegate in the CODESA talks with the Nationalist government that finally led to the interim constitution.
Nzo served as the first Minister of Foreign Affairs in a democratic South Africa. In this capacity, he laid the groundwork for continental conflict resolution processes, which have in recent years begun to bear fruit.
Alfred Nzo dedicated his entire adult life to the struggle for liberation and human rights in South Africa.