Who was the first black African to win the Nobel Peace Prize?
Albert Luthuli was awarded the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the non-violent struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Although the Nobel Peace Prize had been awarded since 1901, it was not until 1960 that it had its first black African recipient. There were two African Nobel Prize winners before Albert Luthuli – Max Theiler for Medicine in 1951 and Albert Camus for Literature in 1957 – both “white” Africans.
Albert John Mvumbi Luthuli (c. 1898 – 1967) was born near Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now in Zimbabwe) where his father, John B. Luthuli was a missionary interpreter. Albert was a Zulu chief, teacher and religious leader, and President of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa from 1952 to 1960.
After graduating from the American Board Mission’s teacher-training college at Adams, near Durban, he became one of its first three African instructors.
In 1936 Luthuli left teaching to become the elected chief of the community of 5,000 at Groutville. He held many elective and non-elective appointments before joining the ANC in 1945. He was elected President General of ANC in 1952.
He was prosecuted several times and charged along with 155 others with high treason in December 1956. His quiet authority and his inspiration to others profoundly impressed foreign observers and this led to his nomination for the Nobel Prize.
On July 21, 1967, as he made a habitual crossing of a railway bridge near his small farm, Luthuli was struck by a train and died.