Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe


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(b. 5 Dec. 1924, d. 26 Feb. 1978).

South African opposition leader. Born in Graaf Reinet, Cape Province, Sobukwe went to the University of Fort Hare, where he joined the ANC Youth League, whose secretary he became in 1949 on a radical platform. He became a university lecturer, and from 1957 he edited The Africanist newspaper. On 6 April 1959 he became the first leader of the newly established PAC (Pan-Africanist Congress), believing that Blacks should liberate themselves to establish a democratic society. The charismatic leader proceeded to organize demonstrations which led to the Sharpeville Massacre, whereupon the PAC was banned and he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment with hard labour. Just before his release was due in 1963, the government passed a law allowing his further detention (without trial) for incitement to violence. He used his time in prison to gain an external BSc degree in economics from the University of London. Released in 1969, his movements were restricted to Kimberley, where he qualified as a lawyer in 1975. He died of cancer.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — African Studies.

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