By Nomali Cele
In his book “The Land Is Ours,” Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi investigates the lives of and honours the black lawyers that came before him and paved the way for the laws and freedoms South Africa (and the world) enjoys today. Ngcukaitobi endeavours to prove that these black lawyers of the late 19th and early 20th century did most of the work leading up to what we now know as “the bill of rights.” ANC founder Pixley ka Isaka Seme is one of the names Ngcukaitobi honours in the pages of the book.
Who was Pixley ka Isaka Seme?
Seme grew up in Inanda in the then-Natal
Seme’s next significant move would be to the United States where he did his secondary schooling while living with his cousin, Joh Langalibalele Dube. During his time in the States, he also studied at Columbia University.
He spent four years in England where he studied Law at Jesus College, Oxford and read for the London Bar.
While at Columbia University, Pixley ka Isaka Seme won the highest oratorical honour, the George William Curtis medal. His presentation had been on the topic of “The Regeneration of Africa”
In Bloemfontein, on 8 January 1912 Seme, Alfred Mangena, Richard Msimang and George Montsio, formed the South African Native National Congress (SANNC). This organisation would later be renamed the African National Congress (ANC) in 1923 and go on to be one of the leaders in the struggle against apartheid.
Seme founded the SANNC-affiliated newspaper “Abantu-Batho” which were published for 20 years
Before the Natives Land Act of 1913 was passed Seme established the South African Native Farmers Association.
In 1930, Seme was elected the President-General of the ANC and was replaced in 1937 in this position.
Read an excerpt from “The Land is Ours” here