George Houser (1916 - )
The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in
Profile of George Houser
George Houser was born in 1916 as the son of missionaries, spending portions of his early life in the Far East. During his long life, Houser has been at the forefront of the civil-rights movement and of the Solidarity Movement in the United States of America (USA) for the liberation of African people, especially in southern Africa.
Houser started his journey as a young peace activist in the 1930s and then spent the rest of his life as a peaceful warrior for human rights and the liberation of people oppressed by colonialism, racism and apartheid. In the past seven years, he has remained steadfast in the call for the cessation of US military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as for the implementation of peaceful and human solutions to the challenges of the Middle East and Asia.
In the case of South and southern Africa, Houser devoted nearly 50 years to being the executive director and board member of the American Committee on Africa. When others in the USA were either uninformed or silent about colonial, racist and apartheid injustices in southern Africa, Houser and his colleagues raised their voices to awaken and foster solidarity with the oppressed people of the continent.
He was part of the anti-apartheid movement in the USA and supported the efforts of the African National Congress in that country long before the US Government saw fit to permit entry to the country by our greatest advocates abroad such as Oliver Tambo, Johnny Makhathini and others.
Since the defeat of colonialism and apartheid in southern Africa, Houser has continued his mission to create greater understanding and linkages between the people of our region and the USA. In the immediate years following the emergence of democracy in South Africa, Houser brought several contingents of church groups, peace activists and human-rights advocates to witness the transformation in this country.
Houser’s only visit to South Africa prior to the unbanning of the liberation movements in 1990 was at the urging of Professor ZK Matthews whom he met in the USA in the early 1950s. Houser had been in correspondence with Walter Sisulu since 1952 when the Americans for South African Resistance, which raised funds to support the Defiance Campaign, was formed. When he reached South Africa in 1954, Houser met Sisulu, Chief Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo and other leaders.
He thus began his long journey, which he has chronicled in his book, No One Can Stop the Rain, published in 1989, with a foreword by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, first President of independent Tanzania. With his late friend and associate, Herbert Shore, Houser interviewed Sisulu during various visits to South Africa between 1995 and 1997. From those taped interviews, a book emerged with the title, I will go Singing, that recounts Sisulu’s life and the struggle for freedom in South Africa (published in 2002 by the Robben Island Museum in association with The Africa Fund of New York). Houser lived in New York until June 2009 when he and his partner of some 60 years moved to California to be close to their children. Despite his age, he is still a peace activist and vibrant advocate of justice for all peoples.