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Alfred Hutchinson (1924 – 1972)

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Alfred Hutchinson (1924 – 1972) Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the struggle against racism in South Africa and contributing to the development of South African literature.
Profile of Alfred Hutchinson

Born in 1924 in the Hectorspruit district of the then Eastern Transvaal, Alfred Hutchinson graduated from St Peter’s Secondary School in Johannesburg and obtained a BA degree and teacher’s diploma from the University of Fort Hare in 1948.

He taught briefly at Pimville High School until his dismissal for participating in the 1952 Defiance Campaign. He served a term of imprisonment and was subsequently victimised by the Transvaal education authorities.

He then took up law at the University of the Witwatersrand but did not complete his degree. In 1953, he attended the World Youth Festival in Bucharest and also toured Britain, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. From 1955 to 1958, he taught at independent Central Indian High School in Johannesburg. He served as African National Congress (ANC) Transvaal provincial secretary, and was co-opted onto the National Executive Committee in the mid-1950s.

In December 1956 until late 1958, he was one of the accused in the Treason Trial. Following his acquittal, he left South Africa without a passport and went to Ghana, where he taught for some years at Accra University College, later making his home in London. Alfred Hutchinson was best known as a writer and many of his short stories appeared in South Africa in magazines such as Fighting Talk and the New Age newspaper banned in 1962 by the South African Government.

As a writer, his short stories described the life of the oppressed African people of his country and dealt with these issues with great compassion and brilliant imagery. His work was also published in collections outside his country. His major work was Road to Ghana, published shortly after he left to go into exile. This book was a reflection of the South Africa of the time, and was also in a way a personal testament.

Unfortunately for the South African literary scene, Hutchinson did not pursue his literary career as fully as would have been hoped while in Europe, and it was anticipated that his return to Africa would stimulate further writing.

With his short life in literature, Alfred Hutchinson showed flashes of brilliance. He braved the apartheid system to speak his mind, especially using literature as his weapon of choice.

Hutchinson died in Nigeria in 1972.