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Anton Muziwakhe Lembede (1914 - 1947)

The Order of Luthuli in

Anton Muziwakhe Lembede (1914 - 1947) Awarded for:
Exceptional contribution to the struggle for a non-racial, non-sexist, free and democratic South Africa.
Profile of Anton Muziwakhe Lembede

Anton Muziwakhe Lembede was born in 1914 at Eston in the former Natal He completed his elementary education at home, being taught by his mother. The family moved to KwaMphephethwa in Mbumbulu in 1927 to enable the children to have access to formal education Lembede, Who had been baptised as an Anglican, converted to Catholicism, which played a central role in his life.

Lembede started in formal schooling at the age of 13 at the Catholic Inkanyezi School He secured a scholarship to train as a teacher at Adams College Durban, from 1933 to 1935.

Through private studies two years later, he passed the matriculation equivalence exams with a distinction in Latin. He taught in Natal and the Orange Free State during which time he obtain BA AND LLB degrees over a six-year period from the University of South Africa (UNISA).

In 1943, he moved to Johannesburg to serve legal articles under Dr Pixley Ka-Isaiah Seme, the veteran African National Congress (ANC) leader He qualified as an attorney in 1946 and become Pixley Seme’s law partner.

Two former acquaintances, Jordan Ngubane and AP Mda, initiated Lembede into the ANC in 1943. Together with other intellectuals, the three worked to form the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) on 10 September 1944.

Lembede was elected the League’s first President. He was central in the drafting of the ANCYL’s March 1944 Congress Youth League Manifesto which first outlined the League’s African nationalist ideology. In 1945, UNISA awarded him an MA in philosophy.

In April 1944, he was elected Provincial Assistant Secretary to the Transvaal ANC. In December 1946, he was elected to the National Executive Committee and become a member of the National Working Committee under A B XUma’s leadership.

Lembede, a profound intellectual, was a leading advocate of more militant strategies and tactics in the ANC, and was later considered an architect of the 1949 programme of Action, even though he died before its adoption.