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In December 1961, Albert Luthuli, leader of the African National Congress (ANC), arrived in Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Journalists in Norway noted how apartheid crackdowns failed to poison the new laureate's ‘courteous’ commitment to nonviolence. The press never reported Luthuli's acceptance that saboteurs in an armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe (MK or Spear of the Nation), would now fight for freedom. Analyzing recently available evidence, this article challenges a prevailing claim that Luthuli always promoted peace regardless of state authorities who nearly beat him to death and massacred protesting women, children, and men. We uncover his evolving views of justifiable violence, which guided secret ANC decisions to pursue ‘some kind of violence’ months before his Nobel celebration. These views not only expand knowledge of ‘struggle history’, but also alter understandings of Luthuli's aim to emancipate South Africa from a system of white supremacy that he likened to ‘slavery’.
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