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Andrew Mlangeni

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Andrew Mlangeni
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Andrew Mlangeni, February 2019
Personal details
Born
Andrew Mokete Mlangeni[1]

6 June 1925
Bethlehem, Orange Free State
Died21 July 2020(2020-07-21) (aged 95)
1 Military Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa
NationalitySouth African
Political partyANC
Spouse(s)
June Ledwaba
(m. 1950; died in 2001)
Children4 children

Andrew Mokete Mlangeni (6 June 1925Template:Spnd21 July 2020),[2] also known as Percy Mokoena, Mokete Mokoena, and Rev. Mokete Mokoena,[1] was a South African political activist and anti-apartheid campaigner who, along with Nelson Mandela and others, was imprisoned after the Rivonia Trial.

Early life[edit source | edit]

Mlangeni was born in Bethlehem, Orange Free State. After having to give up his studies owing to poverty, after 1946 he experienced worker exploitation as a factory worker. When working as a bus driver, he was active in a strike for better working conditions and a living wage, and in 1951, joined the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). In 1954, he joined the African National Congress (ANC).[3] In 1961, he was sent for military training outside the country, but on his return in 1963 was arrested, after being accused of recruiting and training an armed force. He was found guilty in the Rivonia Trial and sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island, where he was Prisoner 467/64.[3]

Later life[edit source | edit]

Mlangeni was released from prison in October 1989 after having served 26 years of his life sentence.[3] Mlangeni served as a member of parliament for the ANC from 1994 to 1999.[4] He served once more in the National Assembly from 2009-14, when he retired.[5][6] He was close friends with Nelson Mandela and spoke at Mandela's memorial service at FNB Stadium.[7]

In 2015, director Lebogang Rasethaba made a film about Mlangeni, entitled Prisoner 467/64: The Untold Legacy of Andrew Mlangeni.[8]

In 2017, Mlangeni [9] appeared with fellow defendants at the Rivonia Trial, Denis Goldberg and Ahmed Kathrada, along with lawyers Joel Joffe, George Bizos and Denis Kuny in a documentary film entitled Life is Wonderful, directed by Sir Nicholas Stadlen,[10] which tells the story of the trial. (The title reflects Goldberg's words to his mother at the end of the trial on hearing that he and his comrades had been spared the death sentence).[11][12][13][14]

On 26 April 2018, Mlangeni received an Honorary Doctorate in Education from the Durban University of Technology in South Africa.[15] He was also awarded an honorary doctorate in Law on 7 April 2018 by Rhodes University.[16][17]

Mlangeni was awarded the Freedom of the City of London on 20 July 2018 at age 93.[18] On that visit, he was also a guest of honour at the opening of the Mandela Centenary Exhibition at the South Bank Centre, alongside the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. On the Centenary Celebration of Nelson Mandela's birth, he also read Mandela's favourite poem – Invictus – which was aired on the BBC's Newsnight programme.[19]

Personal life[edit source | edit]

He was married to June Mlangeni (née Ledwaba) from 1950 until her death in 2001 from cancer. The couple had four children.[20]

Death[edit source | edit]

Mlangeni died on 21 July 2020 in 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria after complaining of abdominal related issues. He was 95 and was the last surviving Rivonia Trialist. President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his condolences on behalf of the government, stating: "The passing of Andrew Mekete Mlangeni signifies the end of a generational history and places our future squarely in our hands". [21]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Dube's "Backroom Boy": Andrew Mlangeni – the man with many names". uj.ac.za. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  2. Grobler, Riaan (22 July 2020). "Anti-apartheid struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni dies". News24. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Andrew Mokete Mlangeni". South African History Online. 17 February 2011.
  4. Kenneth S. Broun (3 February 2012). Saving Nelson Mandela: The Rivonia Trial and the Fate of South Africa. Oxford University Press. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-19-991312-1.
  5. "Mr Andrew Mlangeni". Parliament of South Africa. Archived from the original on 29 June 2017.
  6. "Parliament's president officers pay tribute to veteran Andrew Mlangeni on his 94th birthday". Parliament of South Africa. 6 June 2019. Archived from the original on 27 May 2020.
  7. Weaver, Matthew; Owen, Paul (10 December 2013). "Nelson Mandela's memorial service: as it happened". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  8. "Prisoner 467/64: The Untold Legacy Of Andrew Mlangeni". Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  9. Mlangeni, Andrew Mokete (31 May 2020). "South African History Online – SAHO".
  10. "Life is Wonderful Q&A" (video). 13 August 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  11. Life is Wonderful trailer on YouTube
  12. Stadlen, Nick (Nicholas) (22 July 2018). "Unsung heroes: the men who stood trial with Mandela". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  13. Green, Pippa (13 June 2018). "Apartheid history: Overlooked Rivonia triallists feted in Life is Wonderful". Business Day. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  14. "'Life is Wonderful' screening reinforces call for such histories in curriculum". Nelson Mandela University. 15 June 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  15. "DR MLANGENI EXPRESSES GRATITUDE TO DUT". dut.ac.za. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  16. "ANC veteran Mlangeni honours Madikizela-Mandela". www.ru.ac.za. 1 November 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  17. "Andrew Mlangeni's inspiring graduation speech". 9 April 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  18. Wintour, Patrick (18 July 2018). "'I did it for freedom' – Nelson Mandela's quiet comrade". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  19. @BBCNewsnight (18 July 2018). "Here is Nelson Mandela's former cellmate Andrew Mlangeni reading Invictus to honour his friend's legacy on what would have been his 100th birthday..." Twitter. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  20. "June Ledwaba and children". University of Johannesburg. Archived from the original on 8 June 2020.
  21. Grobler, Riaan (22 July 2020). "Anti-apartheid struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni dies". News24. Retrieved 22 July 2020.