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Mpho, Motsamai (b. 1921)

Wazha Gilbert Morapedi

Subject Social History » Labor History
Sociology » Social Movements

Place Africa » Southern Africa

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics apartheid, bibliography, human rights, nationalism, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01050.x


Motsamai Mpho, a key nationalist figure and champion of social justice, was born to a Bayei peasant family on February 3, 1921, in Maun, northwestern Bechuanaland (now Botswana). The Bayei were a non-Setswana-speaking ethnic group, subordinate to the Batswana majority, themselves dominated by the traditional nobility, the dikgosi , or chiefs. At the time of Mpho's birth, Bechuanaland was a British protectorate, based on indirect rule with a colonial administration that was dominated by the small white population. Although he was from a minor tribe, Mpho was well educated by the standards of Bechuanaland. He attended primary school in Maun, and proceeded to Tiger Kloof, Vryburg, in South Africa, where he matriculated in 1944. He returned to Bechuanaland that year, and was offered a job as telegraph operator. Instead he took a job at Crown Mines at Johannesburg in South Africa in 1948, as secretary to the Reverend Anderson, his former schoolmaster, who was now employed as a welfare officer at the mine. Mpho also worked with the Reverend Arthur Blaxall, secretary of the South African Council of Churches. Blaxall was an advocate of the non-racial and democratic ideals of the African National Congress (ANC), and this introduced Mpho to the local African nationalist movement, which he joined in 1952. The ANC's ideals resonated with Mpho, and he was active in the Congress movement's ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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