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govan mbeki


Govan Mbeki
(1910-2001), South African political activist, leading member of the African National Congress (ANC) and a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Govan Archibald Munyelwa Mbeki was born in the Transkei region of South Africa (now part of Eastern Cape province), and went to a mission school. He attended the University of Fort Hare, in Alice, on a scholarship, gaining his bachelor of arts degree in 1937. He joined the ANC while a student in 1935. After graduation Mbeki taught at Adams College but was dismissed for political activity. He then managed a cooperative store and edited the Territorial Magazine from 1938 to 1944. In 1943 he was elected to the United Transkeian General Council, or Bunga. That year Mbeki helped the ANC prepare a document called African Claims, which was a response to the Atlantic Charter, the declaration of human rights issued during World War II (1939-1945) by the United States and Britain. African Claims became the basis for the ANC Freedom Charter of 1955. Obliged to return to teaching when his store was destroyed by a tornado, Mbeki was again dismissed for political activity. He became the Port Elizabeth editor of New Age, a left-wing paper, in 1955 and made no secret of his left-wing sympathies.

Mbeki became deeply involved in ANC politics in Port Elizabeth and made it the center of ANC activity in the country. There he implemented the M' Plan, devised by fellow ANC member Nelson Mandela, creating a system of small ANC groups around the country in preparation for the need to work underground. He helped organize the 1955 Congress of the People and in 1956 became the leader of the ANC in eastern Cape Province as well as the national chairman. He joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1961. He was twice arrested and imprisoned in 1960 and 1961 under so-called government preventive measures. While under house arrest in 1963, he went underground to join Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the armed wing of the ANC. He was arrested in July 1963 when the police raided the ANC farm in Rivonia (a suburb of Johannesburg), which was their secret headquarters. Mbeki stood trial with Mandela and others for treason, charged with conspiring to overthrow the government. In 1964 Mbeki was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island. The same year, his book The Peasants’ Revolt was published in Britain and banned in South Africa.

In 1977, while on Robben Island, Mbeki was made an honorary doctor of social sciences by the University of Amsterdam for The Peasants' Revolt. He was released in November 1987 by the South African government, which hoped he would show "moderation" and make it easier to release others, but he at once announced that he continued to be a member of both the ANC and the SACP. He was restricted to Port Elizabeth. His restriction was lifted in November 1989, and after the bans on the ANC were lifted in February 1990 he resumed his place on the executive committee of the ANC. In May 1994, when South Africa's first free elections were held, the ANC became the dominant party in the government, and Mbeki was elected deputy president of the Senate. His son, Thabo Mbeki, was elected deputy president of South Africa, and in 1999 succeeded Mandela as president of the country. Govan Mbeki retired from politics in 1999. (Quoted from Esarta)

Govan Mbeki Isithwalandwe (ANC)
Govan Mbeki (Encarta)
Govan Mbeki is dead (The Hindu)
Tribute to Govan Mbeki (Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality
South Africa: The Peasants' Revolt - by Govan Mbeki
The Struggle for Liberation in South Africa - by Govan Mbeki (1992)