Molefe Pheto

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Molefe Pheto
ResidenceMagaliesburg, South Africa
  • Musician
  • Teacher
  • Activist
Years active1970–present
Notable work
And Night Fell: Memoirs of a Political Prisoner in South Africa

Molefe Pheto (born 1935) is a former South African musician and music teacher who, as an activist in the Black Consciousness Movement, became a political prisoner in 1975. He was a friend and spokesperson of South African President Nelson Mandela. [1]

Early life[edit]

Pheto was born in 1935 in Alexandra Township, South Africa, where he grew up.[2][3]


Pheto was an active participant in the Black Consciousness Movement since 1970. In 1971 he founded Mhloti, working with others such as Wally Serote, producing music, poetry, and theatrical events and performing speeches by political activists and schools, churches and political rallies.[4] He organised three Black Arts festivals for MDALI (the Music, Drama, Arts and Literature Institute in Soweto), of which he was a founder member and spokesman, and in 1975 he was detained under South Africa's 1963 Terrorism Act for 10 months.[5] He was held in Johannesburg's police headquarters, John Vorster Square.[6]

In 1977, Pheto left South Africa and, after the murder of Steve Biko, began a life of exile in Britain.[7] In 1983, Allison & Busby published his memoir, And Night Fell: Memoirs of a Political Prisoner in South Africa,[8][9] which was banned in South Africa.[10]

After 20 years in Britain, Pheto returned to South Africa and settled on a farm in Magaliesburg, publishing his second book, entitled The Bull from Moruleng: Vistas of Home and Exile, in 2014.[11][10] He is a member of the Azanian People's Organisation (AZAPO).[3]


  1. ^ David Smith (31 December 2009). "Ghosts of South African prison tell what apartheid really meant". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Clarke's Bookshop, 2014 Catalogue 123, p. 33.
  3. ^ a b "Molefe Pheto", South African History Online, 20 January 2017.
  4. ^ John Peffer, Art and the End of Apartheid, Volume 2, University of Minnesota Press, 2009, p. 73.
  5. ^ Peter O. Stummer and Christopher Balme (eds), Fusion of Cultures?, Cross/Cultures 26, ASNEL Papers 2, Rodopi, 1996, p. 186.
  6. ^ Sue Blaine, "Apartheid revisited, for a better future", Business Day Live, 4 October 2012, via The Atlantic Philanthropies.
  7. ^ Wits Oral History Interviews, 20 April 2011.
  8. ^ Moji Mokone, "Book reviews : And Night Fell: memoirs of a political prisoner in South Africa", Race & Class, October 1984, vol. 26, no. 2 103–104.
  9. ^ William F. Schulz (15 May 2007). The Phenomenon of Torture: Readings and Commentary. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0812219821.
  10. ^ a b Phumla Mkize, "Story of a freedom not yet realised", Sowetan, 2 May 2014, via PressReader.
  11. ^ Jane Rosenthal, "Exile's bullish reconnection with his ancestral land", Mail & Guardian, 17 April 2014.