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Albert Nzula

Albert Nzula`s life was tragically short - he died in Moscow on January 17th, 1934, at the age of 29. Although his period of activity in the Party was limited to only six years, he made a vital contribution to the Africanisation of the Party which took place at that time, and to strengthening the ties between the Party and the international working class movement.

Born in Rouxville, in the Orange Free State in 1905, his political involvement was stimulated by the popular upsurge which marked the depression years of 1928-1933. After qualifying as a teacher at Lovedale, Nzula took up teaching in Aliwal North, becoming active in the ICU. His entry into the Party took place at a time when the slogan of an Independent Native Republic was being fiercely debated in Party circles.

An avid reader, Nzula had a deep understanding of the role of the national movement in South Africa. He was emphatic that the leadership of the Party must pass primarily into the hands of Africans. Strong and fearless, his influence grew rapidly. He taught in the Party`s night school, was active in the Federation of Non-European Trade Unions, became one of the leading speakers on Party and ANC platforms.

Elected assistant secretary of the Party at its conference in 1929, he soon took over as acting editor of the party paper, the South African Worker. In 1930 he was the chairman at the `all in ` conference held at the Trades Hall, Johannesburg, to launch a campaign to fight repressive legislation introduced in parliament by General Hertzog`s Justice Minister, Pirow. He was in
the chair again at an anti-pass conference held at the Inchcape Hall, Johannesburg which resolved to work for a mass burning of passes, and thousands throughout South Africa burnt their passes on December 16, 1930. Nzula organised mass meetings of unemployed Africans, and he led African workers on a massive May Day demonstration in 1931, which merged
into one huge procession with demonstrating white workers.

Nzula was smuggled out of South Africa and enrolled at the Lenin School in Moscow, the first African from South Africa to do so. While there he wrote a series of articles on the South African revolutionary movement for various communist publications, and co-authored Forced Labour in Colonial Africa with II Pothekin and AZ Zusnianoch. He died in hospital in Moscow on January 17, 1934, of pneumonia.