Alfred Bitini Xuma
Alfred Bitini Xuma born March 8 1893, was a South African leader and activist and president general of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1940 to 1949.
Working primarily in:
Description of Work:
Bitini Xuma was born in 1893 into an aristocratic Xhosa family in the
Transkei, and rose from humble beginnings to the position of President
of the African National Congress (ANC).
After completing his primary school education, Xuma went on to study teaching
at the Pietermaritzburg Training Institute and then taught at various schools
in the Eastern Cape before leaving South Africa in 1913 to study medicine
in the United States. Upon qualifying as a medical doctor, he decided to
continue his studies in Britain, where he became the first Black South
African to graduate with a Ph.D from the London School of Tropical Medicine.
Xuma returned to South Africa in 1928 to practice as a physician in Johannesburg,
but he soon became involved in political activities.
He married Priscilla Mason (from Liberia in West Africa) in 1931, but she
died three years later while giving birth to their second child. In 1940,
he married Madie Beatrice Hall in Cape Town.
Xumas freelance activities during the early 1930s revolved
around the organization of opposition to the removal of Blacks from the
Cape franchise and led to his election as Vice-President of the All-African
Convention (AAC) in 1935 and as President of the ANC in 1940. He inherited
an organization in disarray and set out to rebuild the ANC against great
opposition. Under his leadership, the ANC constitution was revised and
the organization became more efficient and centralized, thus attracting
a wider following.
Alfred Bitini Xuma
(At a Glance)
Interests: Politique, Culture, Education
Place of Origin: South Africa
In 1943, Xuma and the ANCs Atlantic Charter Committee produced a
politically significant document entitled African Claims, which charted
the path to racial equality in South Africa that they hoped would follow
the conclusion of the Second World War. In 1946, Xuma travelled to New
York as an unofficial delegate to the United Nations, where he lobbied
successfully against the South African Governments plans to incorporate
South West Africa (Namibia) into the Union.
In conjunction with his efforts to revitalize the ANC, Xuma strove towards
unity among the various protest groups and organizations against apartheid.
He reached a working understanding with the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) and on 9 March 1947 signed A Joint Declaration of Cooperation, also
known as the 'Doctor's Pact', with G.M.Naicker from
the Natal Indian Congress and Yusuf Dadoo from the Transversaal Indian Congress. This declaration formed
the foundation of the newly forged united front between Indians and Africans,
but Xumas actions met with some opposition. When more conservative
members of the ANC complained that the Indians were shrewd and
might dominate the ANC, Dr Xuma retorted: if you cannot meet the
next man on an equal footing without fearing him, there is something wrong
with you. You are accepting a position of inferiority to him.
Essentially a moderate and a conservative, Xuma found himself more and
more under pressure from the militant element within the ANC and
the ANC Youth League in particular who demanded radical action
and a closer association with the South African Communist Party (SACP).
Following the National Partys 1948 election victory, the pressure
turned into mutiny and Xuma was ousted as ANC President and replaced by Dr J.S.Moroka.
Xuma died at Baragwanath Hospital, Johannesburg, in 1962. (source sahistory.org.za)