Chief Albert Luthuli’s conceptualisation of civilisation

This article investigates Chief Albert Luthuli’s views on civilization by utilizing a weekly newspaper column he penned in the ‘Golden City Post’. Luthuli’s ecclesiastic tradition, Congregationalism, primarily sourced his views on civilization. Fundamentally, Luthuli understood that civilization is a synthesis of the most positive elements of all cultures. Luthuli and others of his ilk were historical optimists, New Africans, whose conceptualizations can be traced to George Hegel’s philosophy of history. Using a hermeneutical lens provided by John and Jean Comaroff, Luthuli is viewed as a hybrid who retained indigenous values that contributed toward civilization, adopted aspects of Western culture, jettisoned aspects of his own indigenous culture and improved upon and more accurately practised that which Western culture and Christianity preached. His ability to refashion his consciousness, not of a black Englishman, but as a New African influenced for the better by the scientific and liberal age, provided him with the agency to lead the fight against apartheid. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]

Title: Chief Albert Luthuli’s conceptualisation of civilisation
Author: Couper, Scott Everett
Year: 2011
Periodical: African Studies (ISSN 1469-2872)
Volume: 70
Issue: 1
Pages: 46-66
Language: English
Geographic term: South Africa
About person: Albert John Luthuli (1898-1967)
External link: https://doi.org/10.1080/00020184.2011.557575
Abstract: This article investigates Chief Albert Luthuli’s views on civilization by utilizing a weekly newspaper column he penned in the ‘Golden City Post’. Luthuli’s ecclesiastic tradition, Congregationalism, primarily sourced his views on civilization. Fundamentally, Luthuli understood that civilization is a synthesis of the most positive elements of all cultures. Luthuli and others of his ilk were historical optimists, New Africans, whose conceptualizations can be traced to George Hegel’s philosophy of history. Using a hermeneutical lens provided by John and Jean Comaroff, Luthuli is viewed as a hybrid who retained indigenous values that contributed toward civilization, adopted aspects of Western culture, jettisoned aspects of his own indigenous culture and improved upon and more accurately practised that which Western culture and Christianity preached. His ability to refashion his consciousness, not of a black Englishman, but as a New African influenced for the better by the scientific and liberal age, provided him with the agency to lead the fight against apartheid. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]