Former President Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki

Thabo Mbeki was born on 18 June 1942 in Idutywa, Transkei. Both his parents were teachers, intellectuals and political activists. His father was a university graduate, a fact that encouraged the young Thabo Mbeki’s interest in books. Owing to the uncertainty of his family circumstances caused by constant political harassment and detention, his parents enlisted the help of relatives and friends in raising young Thabo.

He attended primary school at Idutywa and Butterworth and high school at Lovedale, Alice. While a student at the Lovedale Institute he joined the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). He was expelled from school as a result of student strikes (1959) and forced to continue his studies at home. He sat for matriculation examinations at St John’s High School, Umtata in 1959. He completed his British “A” level examinations (1960 and 1961) and enrolled for an economics degree as an external student with the University of London (1961 – 1962). He then registered for a Masters of Economics degree at the University of Sussex in 1966. Upon completion of his studies he relocated to Johannesburg, where he met Walter Sisulu and Duma Nokwe: the two names that were to have a critical impact on his political life before exile. He was involved in underground activities in the Pretoria-Witwatersrand area after the African National Congress (ANC) was banned in 1960. Maturing politically, he went on to mobilize the students and youth in support of the ANC’s call for a stay-away in protest against the declaration of the Republic of South Africa in 1961.

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