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Authority record

Champion, Allison Wessels George

  • Person

Champion, A.W. George - Mahlathi (African politician and entrepreneur) 1893-1975

Alison Weasels George Champion, born in Natal in 1893, was named after an American missionary who had adopted his father. After an abbreviated schooling at Amanzimtoti Zulu Training College - later Adams College he became a policeman in Johannesburg, Natal and Zululand until World War1 then a mine clerk and first President of the Transvaal Native Mine Clerks Association; by the early 1920's he was becoming increasingly prominent as an African spokesman, particularly by means of the forum provided by the Johannesburg Joint Council.

In 1925 Champion met Kadalie and shortly thereafter joined the ICU, first as its Transvaal, and subsequently, Natal Secretary. Under Champion, the Natal branch soon became the strongest. However, a personality clash - amongst other reasons - with Kadalie, led to a split within the ICU, Champion forming the ICU Yale, Natal. In 1930, having been accused of fomenting unrest at the time. of the Durban Boer Protests of 1929, Champion was banished from Durban until pardoned in 1933.

Champion meanwhile, had become active in the African National Congress, siding with the more progressive faction within the Congress in the late 1920's and serving as Minister of Labour under J.T. Gumede. A right-wing backlash against Gumede's policies brought Pixley Seme to the fore and simultaneously cost Champion his position in the inner councils of Congress. In 1937 Champion returned to the executive of Congress, where he remained for the next 14 years.

The Natal Congress under Dube's leadership since its inception, had become increasingly stagnant and insular; when Dube resigned in 1944, a power struggle developed between Mtimkulu, his designated successor, and Champion. A Congress Youth League had been formed in Natal in the course of 1944 and, seeing in Champion a character capable of bringing the aberrant Natal Congress back into the main stream of Congress politics, the younger members of Congress backed Champion.

He served as President from 1945-1951. Relations with Xuma deteriorated in this period; aware of Champion's power to command popular support, Xuma had been prepared to make compromises and concessions to avoid any antagonism developing between them. However, as Congress gradually began to move in a more progressive direction, swayed by the Youth League and the broad left, concessions to Champion became Increasingly difficult as his rear-guard actions intensified. Convinced that the Youth League was 'driving the train against the red light' he warned that precipitate action would be fatal for Congress. In 1451 he was succeeded as Natal president by a less controversial figure, Albert Luthuli.

Champion had been involved in other forms of political activity in this period. In 1942 he had been elected to the Natives Representative Council, and was re-elected in 1945 and 1948 - eventually becoming one of the last people to remains a member of the discredited council. In addition, Champion chaired the Durban Combined Advisory boards for many years, a portfolio that complemented his essentially reactionary beliefs.

One dimension to his popularity lay in his appeal to Zulu ethnicity. Indeed, he devoted much time to establishing a National Fund in the name of the Zulu nation, aimed at promoting economic development by stimulating entrepreneurship with loans. The sums collected were small however, and after his death were incorporated into the Luthuli Memorial Fund. Of more lasting impact was a scheme he claimed to have instigated - the Bantu Investment Corporation, established in 1959 to promote African enterprise in the reserves.

Champion died in 1975.

Chaskalson, Arthur

  • Person
  • 24 November 1931 - 1 December 2012

Justice Arthur Chaskalson was the President of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from 1994 to 2001 and Chief Justice of South Africa from 2001 to 2005.

Chetty, Shunmugam Nganasamantham

  • Person

Shun N. Chetty was born in 1941 in Durban. He was educated in Kwazulu-Natal and graduated in 1968 from the University College in Durban with a Law degree. He has been admitted to practice as an attorney in 1971. From 1974 up to 1979 Chetty practiced under the name of Shun Chetty and Company. During this time he was involved in political activities and acted on behalf of various members of the ANC, the PAC, the Black Consciousness Movement and in the Trial after the 1976 uprisings. In 1979 he fled South Africa, leaving the country illegally without a passport which was seized earlier by the police. In 1980 at the instance of the Law Society of the Transvaal, his name was struck off the roll of attorneys by the High Court of South Africa. While living abroad S. Chetty applied to the High Court of S. A for reinstatement as an attorney albeit unsuccessfully.

Chetty worked for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Geneva. He was also the Legal Advisor for Asia and Thailand. In 1995 Chetty moved to Australia where he was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Refugee Review Tribunal. In 1998 he returned to South Africa and was the Regional Representative in Pretoria of the International Organization for Migration.

A year later he once more applied to the High Court of S.A. for reinstatement as an attorney in order to pursue a career within the legal profession. Chetty died in 2000 and was only reinstated posthumously in 2006.

Christ the King Anglican Church

  • Corporate body
  • 1935-

Christ the King Anglican Church was originally designed by Frank Flemming and built in 1935 in Sophiatown. The church is a simple but beautiful building and its most distinctive feature was a mural painted between 1939 and 1941 by Sister Margaret with the assistance of 12 apprentice students, who worked under patronage of the Gerhard Sekoto Foundation.
The church is closely connected to the anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Trevor Huddleston the forced removals around Sophiatown, which started in 1955. In 1967 the church was deconsecrated and sold to the department of community development, after which the building was badly vandalized including the beautiful mural. The Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk bought the building in the 1970s and used it for Sunday School. The Christ the King Church changed hands again when the Pinkster Protestante Kerk bought it and made significant changes to the building.
It was only in 1997 that the Anglican Church acquired the building again, and restored it as best as possible to its former state. The tower of the Christ the King Church was declared a national monument. In 2004 a mural was restored on the northern exterior wall of the church, depicting Archbishop Trevor Huddleston walking the dusty streets of Sophiatown with two children on each hand.

Christopher John Bird

  • Person
  • 1855-1952

Natal historian, Assistant Colonial Secretary Natal 1888-1893, Principal Under Secretary for Natal 1893-1912, Chairman of the Civil Service Board.

Civic Theatre

  • Corporate body

The construction of the Civic Theatre was approved by the Johannesburg City Council in the early 1960s. The theatre was completed in 1962 and its main goals were based on education and promoting the public interest in drama, opera, ballet, music, painting and other kinds of arts as well as subsidizing these productions and performances. The official opening of the theatre took place on the 27th of August 1962. The first manager and administrator appointed by the City Council, Michal Grobbelaar served as the head of this institution until 1993. One of the first performances included opera followed later by dramas, ballets and musicals. For a long time the theatre was unfortunately segregated and the performances were accessible mainly to white South Africans. This situation only changed in the 90s. A very important fact in the history of the theatre occurred in 1964 with the establishment of the puppet Marionette Company to offer performances for children. In the mid 1980s the complex needed renovation and reconstruction. The reopening of the newly renovated theatre took place in 1992. The Johannesburg Civic Theatre had been transformed into a body more representative of the whole population of the city. The newly appointed director Janice Honeyman in 1996 launched an ambitious programme of productions brought to the theatre by promoters and outside producers. International musicals and works of local artists were presented at the theatre. The children's theatre, an art gallery and a series of restaurants provided a high standard of entertainment to visitors at the theatre. At a later stage continued financial pressure forced management to implement painful cost-cutting exercises. The City of Johannesburg made some important decisions concerning the future of the Civic Theatre which included: separating it from the City Council, appointing a new Independent Board of Directors and reconfiguring the theatre into a house able to accommodate productions brought in by the independent producers. The Main Theatre was renamed in 2001 as a Nelson Mandela Theatre. At present the Johannesburg Civic Theatre has seven five-star venues of which three are private dining rooms available for hire. The Civic Theatre is one of the best venues of live entertainment and is rated amongst the best theatres of South Africa.

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