Alfred B. Xuma: African, American, South African by Steven D. Gish

By Steven D. Gish

A biography of Dr. A.B. Xuma, the American-educated President of the African nationwide Congress within the Nineteen Forties, and the 1st western-trained black South African general practitioner to perform medication in Johannesburg.

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As he headed toward America, his capacity to undertake this responsibility was about to be transformed. 2 Odyssey Overseas, 1913-27 To an African youth who had never traveled beyond the borders of Thembuland, journeying halfway around the world to the United States must have seemed like the adventure of a lifetime. Indeed it was. Although scores of South African blacks had already made their way to American educational institutions in the 20-odd years before 1913, each new contingent of students left their homeland not fully knowing what lay ahead.

Xuma also wrote to Monroe Work, the Tuskegee-based editor of the Negro Yearbook, for an update on current conditions in South Africa. Work's reply must have been sobering. 35 For the short-term, at least, Xuma decided he would be better off remaining in the United States. Graduation for Xuma came on 17 June 1920. In ceremonies at the University Armory, he received a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Home Economics along Odyssey Overseas, 1913-27 37 with 47 other students who had completed the agricultural course.

Xuma may have enjoyed teaching, but his destiny lay elsewhere. Sometime between his last few years at Clarkebury and the 18 months he spent teaching, Xuma decided to continue his quest for education in the United States. It would be one of the most momentous decisions of his life. American aspirations Xuma first began to think about the possibility of studying overseas as he was finishing his teacher training course at Clarkebury. 55 He was particularly inspired by the accomplishments of five recent returnees who had earned their law degrees overseas: Alfred Mangena, George Montsioa, Richard Msimang, Henry Poswayo, and Pixley Seme.

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