Dr Oshadi Mangena was born in a toilet on 12 June 1931 when her father’s employer refused to allow her mother to wait for an ambulance inside her home, as she was Black. She was a trained nurse before she became involved full time in the liberation struggle.  

In the late 1960s and early 1970s Oshadi was the executive director of the Association for the Education and Cultural Advancement of South Africa. She was concurrently elected as president of the Transvaal region of the world-affiliated Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). From 1974 until it was banned in 1977, she was the national president of the YWCA of South Africa.

She became a member of the Christian Institute of Southern Africa (CI) in 1968 and left her career as a nurse in 1973 to become a staff member of the institute, to which she was elected regional director in 1976. Dr Mangena worked closely with anti-apartheid activist, the Reverend Beyers Naude.

In the early 1970s she joined the Black People’s Convention, the political wing of the Black  Consciousness Movement and collaborated actively with the Pretoria branch of the South African Student’s Association (SASO).

In 1976, Dr Mangena was detained after the June 1976 uprising, and spent months at The Old Fort prison, now Constitution Hill and eventually banned and restricted to Mamelodi Township in Pretoria. In April 1977 she went into exile. In June that year she was appointed the European representative for the CI, a position she held until 1980 when the institute closed down. She also worked closely with the Black Consciousness Movement in exile.

Whilst in exile, she completed her BA degree in political science and public administration at the University of South Africa. In addition she obtained a master’s degree in development studies from the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague (Netherlands), and her PhD in social sciences from the University of Amsterdam. She lectured in development studies at the University of Amsterdam from 1984 to 1996.

Since her return to South Africa in 1998 she has worked as a consultant in development studies. Oshadi is one of the founding members of Pitseng Trust Women’s Fund (an organisation that makes grants to support women’s initiatives) and is a member of the National Working Committee of the World Affiliated YWCA of South Africa.


Sun. (2011 ) Honouring a heroine from The Midweek Sun, 13  October. Available at www.themidweeksun.co.bw . Accessed on 29 September 2013|

HSRC Press. (2000). Women Marching Into the 21st Century: Wathint' Abafazi, Wathint' Imbokodo online. Available at www.books.google.co.za . Accessed on 29 September 2013|

TSDP. (2011). Dr. Oshadi Mangena  .  Available at www.freedommedia.co.za . Accessed on 29 September 2013.  

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