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Africa’s cause must triumph

The Class of ‘44’, the founders of the African National Congress Youth League (CYL) in 1944, includes a remarkable list of names: Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Anton Lembede, and Ashby Peter (A.P.) Mda. While much has been written on the others, relatively little attention has been paid to Mda, the Youth League president from 1947 to 1947 whom his peers regarded as the foremost political intellectual and strategist of their generation. He was known for his passionate advocacy of African nationalism, guiding the ANC into militant forms of protest, and pressing activists to consider turning to armed struggle in the early 1950s. In his late teens Mda began leaving a rich written record—through letters and essays in newspapers, political tracts and speeches, and letters to colleagues—that allows us to chart the evolution of his views throughout his life not only on politics but also on culture, language, literature, music, religion, and education.

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