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Anthony Butler

South African lawyer, trade unionist, politician, and businessman, was born in the Western Native Township close to Johannesburg on 17 November 1952. His father, Samuel Mundzhedzi Ramaphosa (d. 1987), who hailed from eastern Venda, became a police sergeant in Soweto in the year Cyril was born. His mother, Erdmuthe Muti Ramaphosa (d. 2001), was raised in western Venda and became a Johannesburg domestic worker and later an administration clerk. Ramaphosa was preceded by a sister, Ivy (b. 1948), and followed by a brother, Douglas (b. 1957).

The Ramaphosa family was forcibly evicted under racial residence legislation in 1962 and relocated to the Tshiawelo area of Soweto. Ramaphosa’s parents were active in the community and in the Lutheran church in which Cyril was raised. He was educated at Tshilidzi primary school and Sekano-Ntoane high school, where he was increasingly influenced by black consciousness ideas. In 1969 he moved to ...

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Peter Limb

Albert (Albie) Louis Sachs, a constitutional judge, lawyer, and human rights activist in the African National Congress (ANC), is an important figure in both South African law and the struggle for national liberation. He helped shift ANC thinking toward constitutionalism and played a central role in the crafting of a new democratic, nonracialist constitution. Sachs was born in 1935 in Johannesburg South Africa to Jewish parents his father Solly Sachs was a radical trade union leader whose revolutionary practices and involvement in strikes and politics had an impact on him from childhood He found nonracialism the norm at home his mother worked as a typist for ANC leader Moses Kotane As a law student Albie Sachs quickly perceived the anomaly of a justice system staffed by whites in a country in which the majority black population was denied even elementary justice Influenced by his parents activism and his ...

Article

Shane Graham

justice on the South African Constitutional Court, attorney and legal scholar, author, cultural critic, and human rights activist, was born 30 January 1935 in Johannesburg. The older of two sons born to Emil “Solly” Sachs, a trade union leader, and Ray Ginsberg, his full name was Albert Louis Sachs. Both of his parents were associated with the Communist Party in the 1920s; as Sachs wrote in his 1966 book The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs he grew up in a political home a home of books of ideas and of stimulating people His parents separated when he was young his father stayed in Johannesburg while Albie and his mother moved to Cape Town where she worked as secretary to Moses Kotane a leader of both the Communist Party and the African National Congress ANC Sachs attended South African College Schools an exclusive institution in Cape Town from which he ...

Article

Peter Limb

Joe Slovo was a central figure in the national liberation movement of South Africa, chiefly as a theorist and leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and African National Congress (ANC). His importance lies in the way he adroitly combined Marxism (as applied in the South African situation) with national liberation ideology, as well as his ability as a strategist of armed struggle and then as a flexible, yet principled, negotiator for democracy.

Slovo migrated to South Africa at age nine to join his working-class Jewish family. He joined the Communist Party of South Africa at age sixteen and became a National Union of Distributive Workers’ shop steward. After serving in the army in World War II, he was active in the radical veterans’ Springbok Legion. Qualifying as a lawyer, he defended Africans arrested during the 1950s for opposing apartheid. In 1949 Slovo married radical journalist Ruth ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

Lithuanian-born Joe Slovo moved to South Africa at the age of nine and grew up in a working-class Jewish neighborhood in Johannesburg. In 1942 he joined the Communist Party of South Africa (later renamed the South African Communist Party) and, shortly thereafter, the South African Army, with which he fought in World War II (1939–1945). After the war he studied law at the University of Witwatersrand, where he befriended Nelson Mandela, who was then the university’s only black student. When Mandela and others formed the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League in 1944, Slovo argued for the multiracial cooperation that became an ANC trademark.

Slovo acted as Mandela’s lawyer in his first trial for treason in 1956 a trial in which Slovo was also a defendant In the early 1960s he helped found Umkhonto we Sizwe the ANC s covert military wing and served for a ...

Article

Raymond Suttner

leading South African communist and antiapartheid activist, was treated by the apartheid regime as its key enemy. At the same time he had a heroic image among the oppressed black majority as a white person totally dedicated to liberation.

Slovo, whose birth name was Yossel Mashel, was born into poverty in Obel, a village in Lithuania, the son of Yiddish-speaking parents, who were isolated from the Lithuanian community by their language and by anti-Semitism. His father left Obel when Joe was two years old to find a better environment. Settling in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a fruit hawker, it was six years before the father could send for his family. Joe arrived in 1936 then ten years old According to his daughter Gillian the Slovo family were on the lowest rung of the newly arrived Jewish community but the color of their skin opened a world of opportunity denied ...

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Kate Tuttle

Oliver Tambo was eulogized at his funeral by longtime friend and partner Nelson Mandela as the man who had made the African National Congress (ANC) “the strongest political force in the country.” Born into a devout Anglican farming family in Bizana, in the Transkei region of South Africa, he described his childhood as politically sheltered. While a student at the University of Fort Hare, however, Tambo led protests against the administration, resulting in his expulsion in 1942. At Fort Hare Tambo also met Mandela, then a fellow student.

Tambo was teaching science and mathematics at Saint Peter’s University (he had received a bachelor’s degree in science before his expulsion) when he and Mandela helped form the ANC’s Youth League in 1944. The Youth League energized the historically conservative ANC and facilitated the elections of Tambo and Mandela to the ANC’s executive body in 1949 In the 1950s ...

Article

Peter Limb

African National Congress (ANC) leader in South Africa, was born 27 October 1917 in Nkantolo village Mbizana district Mpondoland South Africa His parents were Julia a Christian convert and Mzimeni Tambo a prosperous but illiterate farmer who christened his son Kaizana after the German Kaizer in defiance of recent British colonization Childhood in a harmonious extended family emphasized Amapondo cultural consensus and cattle herding but migrant labor drew off relatives who suffered tuberculosis and mine deaths aiding his father s ruin Renamed Oliver at Ludeke Methodist School he proceeded to Holy Cross School Flagstaff where fees were paid by church benefactors in England and his older brother Scholastic brilliance saw him graduate from St Peter s Secondary School in Johannesburg then secure a bachelor of science degree from Fort Hare University where additional study for a teaching diploma was cut short when he was expelled for leading student demands ...