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  • Writer's pictureForgotton Voices

Clements Kadalie

Clements Kadalie was the first national black trade union leader of South Africa.

He created the ICU union and inspired the exploited and fragmented black workers into a very powerful political protest movement.

The Cape Town Strike of 1919 and the court victory when he challenged the 1927 passing of the Native Administration Act (making it illegal to criticise the whites) were significant events in the struggle for South Africa’s freedom.

Kadalie was a great orator and was hailed as the man who shook South Africa. He also mentored Walter Sizulu , who then played a crucial role in the African National Congress.

Without the foundation provided by Kadalie and the ICU, the ANC and Mandela would have been as organised or as effective. Kadalie paved the way. He died in 1951. He has been honoured by a statue in The Long March To Freedom collection in Cape Town, South Africa.

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