Alfred Bitini Xuma came from a poor but aristocratic Xhosa family in Transkei, a former bantustan, or black homeland (now part of Eastern Cape province), in South Africa, and received his early education at Clarkebury Mission. He saved money to travel to the United States where he put himself through high school and then studied agriculture at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University, Alabama) for blacks. Xuma obtained a bachelor of science degree in 1920 and then graduated from medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago in 1926. He went on to gain further medical qualifications at Edinburgh University in Scotland before returning to South Africa to establish his own successful private practice in Johannesburg. Xuma became involved in politics and served on the Board of the South African Institute of Race Relations. In 1940 he was elected president general of the African National Congress (ANC). He revised and modernized its constitution and worked closely with the South African Indian Congress, staging protests and strikes calling for improvements in the rights of nonwhites.
From Encyclopedia of Africa in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: African Studies.