Govan Mbeki

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Govan Mbeki
Born Govan Archibald Mvuyelwa Mbeki
(1910-07-09)9 July 1910
Mpukane Location, Nqamakwe district, South Africa[1]
Died 30 August 2001(2001-08-30) (aged 91)
South Africa
Occupation anti-apartheid activist
Spouse(s) Epainette Mbeki
Children Thabo Mbeki
Moeletsi Mbeki

Govan Archibald Mvuyelwa Mbeki (9 July 1910 – 30 August 2001) was a South African politician, and father of the former South African president Thabo Mbeki and political economist Moeletsi Mbeki. He was named in honour of Edward Govan, a Scottish missionary who founded Lovedale College, the school that he attended in the Eastern Cape.[2]

He attended Fort Hare University, completing in 1936 a Bachelor of Arts degree in politics and psychology and a teaching diploma, and met other African struggle leaders there.

In 1954, he joined the editorial board of New Age, which was to be the only South African newspaper serving the liberation movement for the eight following years. Mbeki played an immensely important role in ensuring that the pages and columns reflected the conditions of the black peoples, their demands and aspirations. In November 1962, the then Minister of Justice, John Vorster, banned New Age. When the editorial board came out with its successor, Vorster went one step further by banning not the newspaper but its editors and writers.

He was a leader of the African National Congress (ANC) and of the South African Communist Party. After the Rivonia Trial, he was imprisoned (1964–1987) for terrorism and treason (1964 – 1987), together with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Raymond Mhlaba, Ahmed Kathrada and other eminent ANC leaders.

On 26 June 1980 the Secretary General of the African National Congress, Alfred Nzo, announced the conferring of the Isitwalandwe Medal, the ANC's highest honour, on Govan Mbeki. Mbeki was not present to receive the award, because he was serving a life imprisonment sentence on Robben Island.

Govan Mbeki was released from custody after serving 24 years in the Robben Island prison on 5 November 1987. He served in South Africa's post-apartheid Senate from 1994 to 1997 as Deputy President of the Senate, and its successor, the National Council of Provinces from 1997 to 1999.

Mbeki's remains were the subject of controversy in 2006 when plans were made to exhume them, and place them in a museum. These plans were called off after Mbeki's family refused the request. [1]

Mbeki received international recognition for his political achievements including the renaming (at Mandela's suggestion) of the recently opened Health building at Glasgow Caledonian University. The Govan Mbeki Health Building was inaugurated in 2001 at a ceremony featuring his son Thabo.

Mbeki received a doctorate of honor in the Social Sciences of University of Amsterdam. His son Thabo attended the ceremony, as Mbeki was imprisoned at Robbeneiland.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Govan Archibald Mbeki". The O'Malley Archives. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Gov'nor". Financial Times (London). 14 June 2001.