Aaron Mosibudi Mangena was born on 7th of August 1947 in Tzaneen, in the Northern Province (now Limpopo) to Tlodipyane Makwela and Tebele Rephard Mangena.The youngest of seven children of farm workers,who later purchased their own land.Mangena completed his primary school education and Lethabo Primary School in Wallmansthal, near Pretoria in 1964. Subsequently, he attended Wallmansthal Secondary School from 1965-1967, where he obtained his Junior Certificate with distinction. Mangena then proceeded to study for his secondary education at the Hebron Training College where he matriculated in 1969. He then enrolled at the University of Zululand for a BSc degree in 1970.

While studying at the University of Zululand, Mangena began his political activism when he joined the Student Representative Council (SRC) which was affiliated with the South African Students Organisation (SASO). At the end of 1971 he was forced to discontinue his studies at the university due to his political activities. He then moved to Pretoria where he found work as the head of quality control at a laboratory in a brick-making factory at Olifantsfontein in 1972.Mangena continued with his anti-apartheid political activities and became involved in a local branch of SASO known as the Pretoria Students Organisation (PRESO). He was then elected as chairperson of the branch in 1972. That same year, he also participated in the SASO literacy campaign in the Winterveld area. 

Mangena was instrumental in organising the interim structure of the Black People’s Convention (BPC) before its official launch. In December 1972, at the BPC’s founding congress, he was elected as the organisation’s National Organiser. As a consequence of his political involvement, Mangena was arrested by the Apartheid government in June 1973 at Johannesburg Offices of the BPC. He was detained for three months in Port Elizabeth under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act. He was sentenced in October 1973 to five years in prison which he served on Robben Island. Mangena became the first Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) member to serve a prison sentence on the Island.

After his release, he was banned for five years and placed under house arrest in Mahwereleng Township. In August 1981 Mengena and his family left the country for exile in Botswana. He was then elected as Chairperson of the Botswana Region of the Black Consciousness Movement of Azania (BCMA) that same year before relocating to Zimbabwe. He also served as a member of the central committee from 1982-1994. Mangena returned to South Africa in July 1994 after the first democratic elections. Later, in October of the same year, he was elected as President of the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO). In July 1998, he was re-elected as president of the party and, after the 1999 country’s general election Mangena became AZAPO’s only Member of Parliament (MP).

In January 2001, he was appointed as the Deputy Minister of Education. During this period he became the founding chairperson of the South African National Literacy Initiative (SANLI) and Masifundesonke Reading Campaign. He also became the first Patron of Sowetan-Telkom Mathematics and Science Teacher of the Year Awards. In 2004 he was appointed as the Minister of Science and Technology. He served in the portfolio until his resignation in 2009.In 2008 Mangena received an Honorary Doctorate (Technologaie Doctoris) in applied sciences in recognition of his service and invaluable contribution to the social upliftment of both our country and region. In 2010 Mangena stepped down as President of AZAPO and was succeeded by Jake Dikobo.

Mangena is the author of four books:

On Your Own (1989)

A Twin World (1996)

A Quest for True Humanity (1996)

My Grand Mother is Permanent (2004)


Leadership Profile for National President - Mosibudi Mangena, from the Azanian Peoples Convention  [online] Available www.azapo.org.za [Accessed 29 September 2012]|

Minister of Science and Technology: Mosibudi Mangena, Mr, from the South African Government Information, [online] Available www.info.gov.za [Accessed 29 September 2012]|

Mr Mosibudi Mangena [online], from the SabinetLaw, Available www.sabinetlaw.co.za  [Accessed 29 September 2012]|

Kgolong, A, The Black People’s Convention, from Africa Today, Vol.19 (3) [online] Available https://www.jstor.org/stable/4185246  [Accessed 29 September 2012]|

Mosibudi Mangena from Who’s Who Southern Africa, [online] Available www.whoswho.co.za [Accessed 29 September 2012] |Gail M. Gerhart, Teresa Barnes, Antony Bugg-Levine, Thomas Karis, Nimrod Mkele .From Protest to Challenge 4-Political Profiles (1882-1990) http://www.jacana.co.za/component/virtuemart/?keyword=from+protest+to+ch... (last accessed 04 July 2019)

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