jeudi 26 décembre 2013

South Africa: Seme Pixley Ka Isaka Isaac, the first true Black nationalist.

During 1911, a thirty-year-old black lawyer with a growing practice in Johannesburg, South Africa, took the major initiative in organising a nation-wide congress of Black representatives. This was an idea that had already germinated in his mind eight years before while he was still an undergraduate student in New York. His name was Pixley kaIsaka Seme. He was a Zulu barrister-at-law, practising in the Transvaal as an attorney of the Supreme Court of the Union of South Africa. 

In this historic call, he emphasized the necessity for black unity

         The demon of racialism, the aberration of the Xhosa-Fingo feud, the animosity that exists between the Zulus and the Tongas, between the Basutos and every other native must be buried and forgotten... We are one people. These divisions, these jealousies, are the cause of all our woes and of all our backwardness and ignorance today.         
         On January 8, 1912, his hope seemed to be realised when personalities from black communities all over Southern Africa converged on Bloemfontein. Appropriately Pixley Seme, as the initiator, gave the keynote address. 

Who was the first Black South African nationalist?

         Son of Isaka Seme and Sarah Mseleku, born on October 7, 1882 in Daggakraal (now KwaZulu-Natal). Early orphan, his education is supported by the American Missionary S.C. Pixley. After primary school in a Catholic mission, he joined at the age of fourteen years at Amanzimtoti College which later became Adams Training School for Boys. At sixteen, he traveled to New York, where he met his cousin John Dube, a student at the Theological Seminary in Brooklyn. He works as a bellhop at the hotel "The Northfield" in Massachusetts. At this time he is called Pixley, taking the surname of his benefactor. On September 6, 1896, he was admitted to the College of Mount Hermon in Massachusetts with financial assistance from the Reverend Pixley. In April 1902, he graduated before being admitted in September of the same year at Columbia University in New York. He graduated (B.A.) in law 1906. with the help of missionaries, he studied law at Jesus College in Oxford, England. In 1910, he enrolled at the Bar at Middle Temple before returning to South Africa the same year. With Alfred Mangena* he opened a law office in Johannesburg. Among his clients include among others, the royal family of Swaziland. He married
Phikisele Harriet, the king's daughter of Dinuzulu, Zululand. On January 8, 1912 in Bloemfontein alongside of Black Lawyers Alfred Mangena, Richard and George W. Msimag Montsio, he founded the National Congress of Indigenous Africa (S.A.N.N.C.), which became the African national Congress (A.N.C.) in 1925. He was elected treasurer of the movement, which he had given the original name "the South African Native Congress", the first president of the A.N.C. was the Reverend John Dube Langalibale, a son of Chief Zulu.

In parallel with Mohandas Gandhi among South African Indians.

         With financial support from the Queen Regent of Swaziland, Pixley Seme founded "Abantu Batho", the journal of information of S.A.N.N.C. published in Zulu, Xhosa and English and the publication will cover twenty organ. In 1913 Xeme founded the Association of Indigenous farmers in South Africa, which includes farmers in Daggakraal and Drienfontein in the district of Wakkerstroom Transvaal. In 1926, he accompanied the king of Swaziland, Sobhuza II in England argue a case against the land of South Africa. In 1928, Columbia University in New York confers him the title of "Doctor honoris causa". In 1930, he replaces J.T. Gumede as A.N.C. president. He was replaced in 1937 by the Reverend Z.R. Mahabane. In 1946, with Mr. Anton Lembede President the Youth League Congress (C.Y.L.), they founded a trading company "Seme & Lembede" and dedicated to his lawyer until his death in Johannesburg on June 17, 1951. Seme's nationalist organizing among Africans paralleled the contemporaneous efforts of Mohandas Gandhi with South African Indians.
Cfr. Kanyarwunga I.N. Jean, Biographical Dictionary of  Africans (French version) at (

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