01 November 1954
Urging Congress branches to ensure 100 per cent attendance at the forthcoming A.N.C. National Conference, due to begin at Durban on December 16, President Lutuli says that the occasion provides an opportunity to show
“that the bans imposed on our leaders by Minister Swart have not in any way dampened the spirit and enthusiasm of the rank and file, but on the contrary, have fired each member in Congress with a fresh determination to do double time by willingly and happily carrying an extra load of work and sacrificing one’s time, possessions and ability.
“This Conference will give us an opportunity of showing the authorities that our leaders are leading an able and healthy army, in which the lowest `officer` and even a `private` can give effective leadership in times of crisis, when commanding `officers` are incapacitated.
“We must demonstrate that Congress is not a one-man show!…
“Natal is all excitement at the honour of playing host to the Conference of her mother body. It is a long time since Natal has had this honour – over twelve years.”
The Congress president goes on to deal with certain points which, he says, need clarification.
“The African National Congress is a legal organisation. Some people are under the wrong impression that, because leaders of the A. N. C. are being banned by the Minister of Justice, Congress is an illegal body.
“That is not so Congress is still a legal body, and it is no offence in law to be its member. No doubt we are a thorn in the side of the Government, and sometimes the police overstep their bounds by intimidating people against Congress.
“Do not be kept away from your organisation by these unlawful intimidations!”
Dealing with the freedom volunteers, the President says there is some confusion between the tasks of these volunteers and the volunteers of the Defiance Campaign. “Some people think that these volunteers are called upon to defy the law as in the case of the Defiance Campaign. This is not the case.”
Pointing out that the Defiance Campaign, having served a notable purpose, was “brought to a halt after due consultation with our allies, the S.A. Indian Congress,” Mr. Lutuli says the first task of the freedom volunteers of today is to work for the Congress of the People “which will culminate in a great assembly, whereat our multiracial nation, through delegates elected democratically by people in all corners of the Union, will write our Freedom Charter – a South African Declaration of Human Rights.”
The freedom volunteers` task is to visit men and women in their homes, in factories and all over, to explain the objects of the Congress of the People and enlist their support. The freedom volunteers are “field workers mobilising the people for the great Congress of the People.”
A further task of the freedom volunteers is to arouse opposition among the people against the Government’s implementation of its “evil apartheid policy,” as concretely expressed in such measures as the Johannesburg Western Areas removal scheme, the Bantu Education Act and the rent increase in municipal housing schemes. Under the slogan “Resist Apartheid!” this campaign must be carried out as a “twin, inter related task” with the preparations for the Congress of the People.
Reiterating, his call for fifty thousand volunteers, Mr. Lutuli concludes:
“Throughout history no freedom has come to any people without blood and tears. Africans cannot be an exception to this divine test. But take courage in the knowledge that, no matter how dark the future may seem, right must triumph over wrong, and also remember that no national movement has ever failed. Shall yours be the first in history to fail?
Original source: http://www.anc.org.za/show.php?id=4669&t=The%20Early%20Years
Photo source: www.LuthuliMuseum.org