The reputation of Anton Lembede as one of the critical and outstanding figures of the New African Movement has generally gained acceptance over the last two decades of the twentieth-century. The recent publication of his writings, Freedom in our Lifetime: The Selected Writings of Anton Muziwakhe Lembede (editors, Robert R. Edgar and Luyanda ka Msumza, 1996), has unquestionably solidified his position in the upper echelons of the New African intelligentsia. Lembede made major contributions in history, politics, and culture. In these achievements Anton Lembede was building on the legacy of the New African intellectuals such ass Pixley ka Isaka Seme, R. V. Selope Thema, Z. K. Matthews and others. The most apparent connection to his predecessors within New Africanism is the fact that he served his articles for attorney under the guidance of Seme, who launched the New African Movement in 1905 and founded the African National Congress (then the South African African Native Congress) in 1912. It is not surprising therefore that Lembede felt the New African historical project of modernity in a central way. Politically, Lembede was the principal thinker in the launching of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) in 1944 at the Bantu Men’s Social Centre in Johannesburg. His cohorts in this historic venture were: Jordan Ngubane, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Ellen Kuzwayo, Albertina Sisulu, David Bopape, Dan Tloome and A. P. Mda. The fundamental aim of the Youth League was to dynamize and modernize the activist political structures of the ANC parent body in challenging the oppressive forces of the white minority government. Jordan Ngubane and Anton Lembede were the principal authors of the Youth League Manifesto which read in part: “South Africa has a complex problem. Stated briefly it is: The contact of the White race with the Black has resulted in the emergence of a set of conflicting living conditions and outlooks on life which seriously hamper South Africa’s progress to nationhood. . . The majority of White men regard it as the destiny of the White race to dominate the man of colour. The harshness of their domination, however, is rousing in the African feelings of hatred of everything that bars his way to full and free citizenship and these feelings can no longer be suppressed. . . The African National Congress is the symbol and embodiment of the African’s will to present a united national front against all forms of oppression, but this has not enabled the movement to advance the national cause in a manner demanded by prevailing conditions. And this, in turn, has drawn on it criticisms in recent times which cannot be ignored if Congress is to fulfill its mission in Africa. . . The formation of the African National Congress Youth League is an answer and assurance to the critics of the national movement that African Youth will not allow the struggles and sacrifices of their fathers to have been in vain. Our fathers fought so that we, better equipped when our time came, should start and continue from where they stopped” (ANC Youth League Manifesto- 1944: found the ANC Website). Continuing on where his predecessors within the New African Movement had left off, Lembede theorized a more modernistic ideology of African Nationalism which should be the driving force of the modernized ANC. In their intellectual forum, Inkundla ya Bantu newspaper, which was edited by one of the Youth Leaguers Jordan Ngubane, Lembede wrote the following: “The African natives then live and move and have their being in the spirit of Africa, in short, they are one with Africa. It is then this spirit of Africa which is the common factor of co-operation and the basis of unity among African tribes, it is African Nationalism or Africanism. So that all Africans must be converted from tribalism into African Nationalism which is a higher step or degree of the self-expression and self-realisation of the African spirit. Africa through herspirit is using us to develop that higher quality of Africanism. We have then to go out as apostles to preach the new gospel of Africanism and to hasten and bring about the birth of a new nation. Such minor insignificant differences of languages, customs, etc. , will not hinder or stop the irresistible onward surge of the African spirit. This African spirit can realise itself through and be interpreted by Africans only. Foreigners of whatever brand and hue can never properly and correctly interpret this spirit owing to its uniqueness, peculiarity and particularity” (“National Unity Among African Tribes”, Second Fortnight, October 1945). In another context Anton Lembede had this to say about African Nationalism: “The history of modern times is the history of nationalism. Nationalism has been tested in the people’s struggles and the fires of battle and found to be the only effective weapon, the only antidote against foreign rule and modern imperialism. It is for that reason that the great imperialistic powers feverishly endeavour with all their might to discourage and eradicate all nationalistic tendencies among their alien subjects. . . All over the world nationalism is rising in revolt against foreign domination, conquest and oppression in India, in Indonesia, in Egypt, in Persia and several other countries. Among Africans also clear signs of national awakening, national renaissance, or rebirth are noticeable on the far off horizon” (“Policy of the Congress Youth League”, Inkundla ya Bantu, Second Fortnight, May, 1946). Lembede was well aware that Nationalism by itself could not be of assistance to the liberation of the African people from white domination if it was not guided by Knowledge of African people, their cultures and societies. It was for this reason that he supported Jordan Ngubane’s idea of the necessity of establishing An African Academy of Art and Science. Concerning this matter, he wrote: “This grand suggestion ought to receive a country-wide approval and support and it should be translated into action without any further waste of time. . . We need science to assist us in our present stage of transition and we shall need it more increasingly thereafter. To the question: What knowledge is of most value---the uniform reply is: science. . . It is science that will help us to adapt ourselves to the Western standards of life and to dispel the fogs of ignorance and superstition. . . Our Art (including literature) can also receive a great impetus and fillip, from a cultural society or academy of art. . . We need artists to interpret to us and to the world our glorious past, our misery, suffering and tribulation of the present time, our hopes, aspirations and our divine destiny and our great future; to inspire us with the message that there is hope for our race and that we ought therefore to draw plans and lay foundations for a longer future than we can imagine by struggling for national freedom so as to save our race from imminent extinction or extermination. In short, we need African Artists to interpret the spirit of Africa” (“An African Academy of Art and Science”, Inkundla ya Bantu, July 31, 1947). It was this profound awareness by Anton Lembede that African Nationalism must be undergirded by Africanist oriented epistemological systems that made his historical vision so compelling to others. His sudden and totally unexpected death at the age of 33 in 1947 was profoundly shocking to the younger generation of New African intellectuals. The immediate response of Jordan Ngubane in an Editorial is indicative of this: “The sudden death of Anton Lembede in Johannesburg has come as a crippling blow to the progress of the African community at a time when the demand is greatest for trained young men willing to surrender themselves completely to the service of their people. . . Lembede is dead, but the free Africa he always saw in his visions is a reality which will always live and those of us he has left behind can pay no better tribute to his memory than to resolve once more to carry on the fight in which he lost his life with renewed strength” (“Anton Lembede”, Inkundla ya Bantu, August 7, 1947). A few weeks later, A. P. Mda wrote the most compelling sketch of his best friend ever written: “There is an old Greek saying that they die young whom the gods love. Young Lembede, one of the most brilliant students that this land has produced, died ‘before his prime.’ He died at the age of 33, on the threshold of a scholastic, legal and political career, that might have been unparalleled in Black Africa. The story of his life reads like a romance. . . In June 1945, he submitted his thesis for his Master’s Degree on : The Conception of God as Exponded by, and as it Emerges from the Writings of Philosopgers from Descartes to the Present Day. . . I read through his thesis before he submitted it. I must confess that I was taken aback by the breadth of learning and profoundity of so young a man as Anton. He found no difficulty in compassing the immeasurable regions of thought traversed by such intellectual giants as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Hegel. Joad, Kant and others. Not only did he summarise their main ideas on the theme, but he drew his own conclusions in a work crammed with closely-reasoned hypotheses and marked with great erudition. Mr, Lembede was also a student of languages. He knew Latin, German, Dutch, and was busy at French” (“The Late A. M. Lembede, M. A. (Phil.), LL. B.”, Ilanga lase Natal, September 27, 1947). What is extraordinary is that the distance of 50 years has not dimished the recollection of the remarkable intellectual power of Anton Lembede by those who were in his immediate circle, as Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk To Freedom (1995) testifies: “ Walter’s [Sisulu] in Orlando was a mecca for activists and ANC members. . . One night in 1943 I met Anton Lembede, who held master of arts and bachelor of law degrees, and A. P. Mda. From the moment I heard Lembede speak, I knew I was seeing a magnetic personality who thought in original and often startling ways. . . Lembede said that Africa was a black man’s continent, and it was up to Africans to reassert themselves and reclaim what was rightfully theirs. He hated the idea of the black inferiority complex and castigated what he called the worship and idolization of the West and their ideas. The inferiority complex, he affirmed, was the greatest barrier to liberation. He noted that wherever the African had been given the opportunity, he was capable of developing to the sameextent as the white man, citing such African heroes as Marcus Garvey. W. E. B. Du Bois, and Haile Selassie. . . Lembede declared that a new spirit was stirring among the people, that ethnic differences were melting away, thay young men and women thought of themselves as Africans first and foremost, not as Xhosas or Ndebeles or Tswanas. . . Lembede’s views struck a chord in me. . . Like Lembede I came to see the atidote as militant African nationalism. . . Lembede’s Africanism was not universally supported because his ideas were characterized by a racial exclusivity that disturbed some of the other Youth Leaguers.” Despite his later reservations towards Lembede’s exclusivist Africanism, it can be argued that during his presidency from 1994-9, Nelson implemented a modified form of Lembede’s Africanism or African Nationalism.