PIONEER

Allan Kirkland Soga

Allan Kirkland Soga. The Journalist
Allan Kirkland Soga. The Journalist

Politician | South African Native National Congress founder | Political Commentator

Born: 20 November 1861 Died: 1938

“All that the black man need to do is to borrow the best that Western civilisation offers. But we must get rid of the educated black serf who will blindly tie his race to the juggernaut of Western civilisation.”

Who was
Allan Kirkland Soga?

A philosopher and thought leader, he was one of the founding members of the South African Native Convention (SANC) and of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC).

Professions
and Roles

Journalist, politician, magistrate/lawyer, philosopher, and intellectual.

Best Known For

Being a founding member of the SANC and SANNC, and the Bantu Union.

Life highlights

  • Soga was educated in Cape Town and in Scotland, where he studied Law and Humanities at Glasgow University.
  • He chose a career in civil service in the Cape Colony at a time when there was no official colour bar against blacks in ‘responsible’ government jobs. However, he soon found out that there was an unofficial colour bar that favoured whites only.
  • Soga took a post of acting resident magistrate at St Marks in the southern Transkei, and was poised to become the first black magistrate when he was abruptly replaced by a European in 1895.
  • He was then employed as a labour bureau agent and a road inspector in the Transkei.
  • Soga was one of the founding members and prominent leaders of the SANC, founded in 1898.
  • He was also the co-founder (with Walter Rubusana) and editor of the Cape paper Izwi Labantu from 1899 to 1909. When Izwi Labantu was founded, it was financed by Cecil John Rhodes and his deputy C P Crewe. Soga would have had it otherwise, considering his scepticism of British imperialism.
  • After Izwi closed, Soga moved to the Transvaal to become editor of the Native Advocate, launched and published by Alfred Mangena, and based in East London. The paper, which published weekly, did not survive for more than a year.
  • Soga then became one of the founding members of the SANNC, as well as a founder and secretary of the Bantu Union, a Cape voters’ association. He was an influential participant at numerous conferences.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

“All that the black man needs to do is to borrow the best that Western civilisation offers. But we must get rid of the educated black serf who will blindly tie his race to the juggernaut of Western civilisation.”

– Allan Kirkland Soga, In Izwe Labantu

Soga was the youngest son of Tiyo Soga, the first African in South Africa to be ordained as a minister.

EXPLORE THE ARCHIVE

Audio Visual

President Mandela gives his State of the Nation address in Parliament. Mandela ends his address with the words, “Let us all get down to work”.

“We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political and the human rights of all our citizens.”– President Mandela, extract from State of the Nation Address, 24 May 1994

President Nelson Mandela announces his cabinet. It includes members of the African National Congress, National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party.

“There was pride in serving in the first democratic government in South Africa, and then the additional pride of serving under the iconic leadership of Nelson Mandela … [He] represented the hopes of not just our country, but of oppressed, marginalised and the poor in the world.”– Jay Naidoo, then Minister of RDP housing
“We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all.”– President Nelson Mandela, 10 May 1994