JOSIAH TSHANGANA GUMEDE, 1867-1946, 4th President of the African National Congress, 'in search of freedom, liberty, justice and fair play'

: van Diemel (R.)

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240pp., illus., paperback, Reprint, Johannesburg, (2001) 2013


A biography of Josiah Tshangana Gumede. Gumede was born in Natal in 1867 and attended school in Grahamstown. He taught for a while, before returning to his home town where he became adviser to Natal and Orange Free State chiefs. In 1899 he played a significant role in the formation of the African Political Organisation and in 1900 was one of the co-founders of the Natal Native Congress, where he was Secretary General for several years.

In 1906, Gumede was part of the delegation to Britain to address the land laws of the Orange Free State. He represented the Basotho chiefs and many of them served under him as scouts in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. In 1907 he was a co-signatory of the Constitution of lliso Lesizwe Esimnyama (The Eye of the Black Nation), an organisation of Wesleyan Methodist converts and chiefs formed in the Dundee and Newcastle area. He was one of the founding members of the South African Native National Congress, which in 1923 became the African National Congress (ANC).

Gumede was elected ANC president between 1927 and 1930. In December 1943 in Mangaung, he was conferred as an Honorary Life President of the ANC. It was under his presidency that the ANC and the Communist Party of South Africa formally signed an agreement to work together, laying the foundation for what would become known as the Tripartite Alliance. In 2012 he was posthumously awarded the Order of Luthuli in Gold for his contribution to the struggle for democracy and freedom.

Raymond van Diemel is an educationist at the South African Military Academy. He is currently Chair of Interactive Telematic (E-Learning) Education, Faculty of Military Science, Stellenbosch University.