Letter: Award for ANC leader in 1961

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your editorial, 'Mandela dignifies the peace prize' (16 October), failed to mention the award, 32 years ago, to Chief Albert Lutuli. How remarkable that two presidents of the African National Congress should be thus honoured. Lutuli, who for years had been heavily restricted by the South African government, at the time of the announcement was not even permitted to take part in the jubilant celebrations in his neighbourhood. However, illegally, he joined a small, happy party hosted by Indian friends at which Alan Paton recited a praise poem which began:

You there, Lutuli, they thought your world was small

They thought you lived in Groutville

Now they discover

It is the world you live in . . .

Allowed to fly to Norway to receive the award from King Olaf, Lutuli, on 11 December 1961, in a magnificent address pointed out that in South Africa, despite long oppression by a white minority whose power rested on a heavily armed and equipped military machine, the ANC had always set itself against 'racial vaingloriousness'; its leaders stood for non- racial democracy where colour was irrelevant.

That ideal, which is shared by the third black South African to receive the award, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, shines like a beacon in the darkness of racism spreading through our world.

Yours etc,

MARY BENSON

London, NW8

17 October

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