Albert Luthuli, the ANC Moses: religious prophecy and the turn to armed struggle

Saturday, 3 February, 2018 - 11:30

WISER invites you to join us of for a lunchtime seminar by Benedict Carton.

ANC president Albert Luthuli's views of godless racism, non-violence and armed struggle reflected contradictory religious ideals: his apparent commitment to New Testament love and quiet admiration for Old Testament retribution. As the head of an insurgent movement, Luthuli drew inspiration from transformative Biblical leaders, particularly certain radical Israelites, and their modern exemplars. It is little known that by the mid-1950s, Luthuli had confessed appreciation for the sacrificial "soul" and historical legacy of John Brown, the antebellum abolitionist who waged a holy war against America's slaveocracy. Counter-intuitive questions frame the critical analysis that follows: what if Luthuli, a celebrated adherent of Gandhi’s satyagraha philosophy, was more Moses than Jesus? Can we begin to identify another faith-driven Luthuli, the "Semitic-voiced" crusader who would not "turn the other cheek" as oppressed people expressed "morally defensible” aggression in pursuit of a democratic Promised Land?