Thomas Titus Nkobi was born in 1922, the son of a taxi driver, he grew up in Johannesburg. Member of the national executive committee of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1958 and a leader of the 1957 bus boycott in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg. He attended Adams College, Bantu High School in Newclare, Johannesburg, and began study for a bachelor's degree at Pope Pius XII University in Basutoland (now Lesotho). He joined the ANC in 1950, and in 1957, after working for several years as a laboratory assistant, he became full-time ANC national organising secretary. He was detained in the 1960 emergency and at the time of the May 1961 stay-at-home. In 1961 he was placed under ban and in November 1962, under 24-hour house arrest. Five months later he fled South Africa via Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and has since served on the ANC national executive committee in exile, becoming treasurer-general in 1973.