THE LION OF AZANIA, a biography

: Hlongwane (A.)

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248pp., illus., paperback, (Johannesburg), 2021


Zephania Mothopeng (1913 - 1990) was a founding member of the ANC Youth League. In 1959 he left the ANC with Robert Sobukwe and became a founding member of the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC).

In 1976 he was arrested under the terrorism act after mobilising and organising students in Soweto, charged with conspiracy and treason, and sentenced to two 15-year terms of imprisonment on Robben Island. While in prison, he was elected as President of the PAC in 1986. He was unconditionally released by President de Klerk in 1988.

"Ali Hlongwane has succeeded to make his hero simultaneously tragic, vulnerable, likeable and believable. Drawing support from a rich collection of memoirs, documents and letters, he has created a moving portrait of a sacrificial life. And occasionally in Hlongwane’s luminous text, we catch a glimpse of another man, a humane and gentle personality as fond of everyday sources of joy and comfort as you or me. But this is mainly the story of a warrior, a saga of a life lived for posterity with all its fulfilments and all its costs. Certainly this biography will cement Mothopeng’s place in South Africa’s national pantheon but in its empathy and affection for its subject, Ali Hlongwane’s book will find for the old lion new followers in fresh places." Professor Tom Lodge

Dr Ali Khangela Hlongwane is a researcher in the History Workshop of the University of the Witwatersrand. He is co-author (with Sifiso Mxolisi) of Public History and Culture in South Africa: Memorialisation and liberation heritage sites in Johannesburg and the township space (2018), and author of the biography We Are Going Home Armed or Unarmed: A biography of John Nyati Pokela (1921 – 1985).