Twenty-five years after the award of the 1936 Peace Prize to concentration-camp prisoner Carl von Ossietzky, the Nobel Committee for the second time chose a prize-winner who was being persecuted by his own authorities.
The South African chief, teacher and trade unionist Albert Lutuli was elected president of the African National Congress (ANC) liberation movement in 1952. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence, he became the spokesman of a campaign of civil disobedience directed against South Africa's policy of racial segregation, and spearheaded several demonstrations and strikes against the white minority government. Together with other opponents of racial segregation, Lutuli was arrested and persecuted, and following the massacre of 69 black demonstrators in Sharpeville in 1960, the ANC was banned.
The choice of Lutuli meant that the Nobel Committee had placed respect for human rights on the agenda, and that it had joined the international movement against apartheid. This was taken a step further in 1984, when Lutuli's countryman Bishop Desmond Tutu won the Nobel Prize for Peace.