Johannes Nkosi

By: Emily Burton

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About Nkosi:

Johannes Nkosi was born September 3rd 1905 in Natal, South Africa. He grew up on a farm and attended mission school. He worked as a farm laborer before he moved to Johannesburg where he became a domestic worker. In 1919, he began his fight for equality when he became involved in the anti pass book campaign organized by the SANC. He began his social work by organizing public meetings for African dock workers and teaching at a communist night school. By 1930 Nkosi was an active member of the Communist Party of South Africa and the ANC.


Nkosi was a significant leader because despite his youth, by 1930 he had become the most influential African leader in Durban. Due to his efforts, the burning of the passbooks effort which was spread throughout the country, was most successful in Durban. During the burning of the passbooks in Durban, Nkosi was unarmed and attacked by a white police force and was martyred fighting for equality in his country. To this day, he is considered an African hero and is celebrated every year on Heroes Day (Dec. 16).

Primary Source

"The ANC pays tribute to these heroic struggles of the Zulu people to combat oppression. And we are very proud that from the ranks of the Zulu people have emerged outstanding cadres of the ANC and national leaders like Dube, Seme, Lutuli. We remember another son of Natal, the young and talented Communist Party organiser, Johannes Nkosi, who, with three others, was brutally murdered in 1930, when he led a march into Durban to protest against the hated pass laws."

-Nelson Mandela


full speech can be found here: http://www.mandela.gov.za/mandela_speeches/1990/900225_dbn.htm