[Protest meetings were held in South Africa in February 1955 denouncing the government's use of force to remove African people from the Western Areas. Chief Lutuli sent this message to the people from his sick-bed.]
There are no guns or bullets or clubs which can destroy courage and unity, and as long as the people are courageous and united in their just struggle to save their homes, victory must be theirs.
Non-Europeans and Europeans in every part of South Africa must join in this struggle of the people of the Western Areas, not only to save their homes, but to end the spread of the evil and fatal disease, apartheid, which we are bitterly learning can bring only chaos, destruction, strife and disaster to all the peoples of our country.
Peace is indissolubly interwoven with the question of freedom, for peace without freedom is a mockery& Freedom cannot flower to its best except in a climate of peace. For oppressed people such as we are, it would be futile and unrealistic to speak of peace outside the context of the struggle for freedom.
Chief Lutuli spoke of the "unprecedented human suffering being brought about by apartheid" and said:
"But yet we are not despondent. We are encouraged in our struggle for freedom by seeing our stand of opposing apartheid vindicated by the justice of our cause and the undoubted growth of the freedom front in our country."
Do you consider that Communism is a serious menace to South Africa?
No, I do not. The nature of our own movement at present is Nationalist rather than Communist. There should be room for all political parties among us. At the moment we are only concerned with rescuing ourselves out of the mire, and we cannot yet say which direction we shall follow after that. For myself, I would wish for Socialism, in the British sense - if I were in England I would vote for Attlee. But in Congress we have people of many different political beliefs - Capitalists, Socialists, and the rest&
Is there a danger of extreme nationalism in Congress?
There is no sign of it at present, and the fact that we have welcomed co-operation with other races shows that it is being avoided. We recognise the danger and are guarding against it.
Do you think there is hope for South Africa?
Yes, I do. But a bitter conflict can only be avoided if those in power can adjust their thinking to accept the sharing of power with others. Otherwise there will be no real peace in this country.
I firmly believe that the different races can live together amicably: but first they must abandon selfishness and fear. Most of the difficulties that the Europeans are now facing are the result of selfishness. We are like members of a family, who cannot live together if they are selfish or jealous of one another.
Will your Presidency mark a change in Congress policy?
Not necessarily. Our elections are not party elections. Anyone accepting the presidency of Congress should do so because he believes in the objectives of Congress. Any man worthy of being president by his ability and prestige should make his influence felt in the organisation so that what he says is given due consideration by his colleagues; but the final decision in any matter is the collective will of the executive or the National Conference, as the case may be. It should be clear from this that in general the policy before my election remains the same.
Will the policy of Congress be affected by the party in power?
As the Nationalists themselves have said, the laws we oppose were not passed by them alone. One which we consider most unjust, for instance, the Land Tenure Act of 1913, was passed by the South African Party, from which the United Party has evolved.
Do you think that there is a common cause between Indians and Africans?
Yes&.. rest of the world, it would be absurd and contradictory if we were to shun working closely with Indians in our country. I therefore would oppose most strenuously any African who acted tyrannically and discriminatingly against other racial groups, including Indians.
Can Congress claim to be truly representative?
Yes. We genuinely represent organised African opinion in this country, and we are not influenced by any single clique. The fact that the last three Presidents have been in turn Xhosa, Basuto and Zulu, shows that there has been no tribal bias.
Are Africans still prepared to accept leadership from the Whites?
Since the 1936 Hertzog bills the African peoples have lost faith in the good intentions of the Whites to improve their conditions, and the Congress movement has become more and more a liberatory one. It is no longer possible for an African leader to appeal for better conditions only: what the people demand is political rights. By joining Natives' Representative Council the African leaders gave the Whites a last chance to prove their good faith, but they have not done so.
1. New Age, Cape Town, February 17, 1955
2. New Age, Cape Town, November 1, 1956
3. New Age, Cape Town, February 14, 1957
4. Drum, Johannesburg, May 1953