Johannes Nkosi

Nick Courtney

Life and Accomplishments

Born on September 3, 1905 in Natal, South Africa, Nkosi spent his early years as a farm laborer. He then attended St. John's Mission School and moved to Johannesburg to become a domestic worker. In 1919, Nkosi was involved with the SANNC, South African Native National Congress, a group behind the anti-pass campaign at the time. Four years later, he became an organizer for the ICU, Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union. He was recruited to the Communist Party of South Africa, CPSA, through a communist night school in Johannesburg. His intelligence, leadership, and dynamic personality led him to Durban in 1929 to be appointed as an organizer. In December of 1930, Nkosi was killed along with many others in a clash between Africans and city police during the burning of passbooks in Durban. His role for the CPSA is celebrated annually by the ANC and SACP on Heroe's Day.


Nkosi's role in the anti-apartheid movement helped expand the communist effort in South Africa. His leadership played a large role when the deportation of A.W.G Champion, the leader of the strongest black organization in Durban, created an opportunity for the CPSA. As a result, most members joined the CPSA, improving the push for a militant approach. Unfortunately, his death served to prove communist activity to the Whites and finished the year for the CPSA poorly. Also, a memorial was built to honor him which was used as a source of inspiration later in the struggle for equality in July of 1953 for the South African Congress of Trade Unions.
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Johannes Nkosi Photograph. Digital image. Pitzer. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

"Johannes Nkosi." Jeeva., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

15 July – 28 July 2011, and Page. Facing the Aftermath of Fires (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.