Raymond Mhlaba

Eric Juliano

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Life and Accomplishments

Raymond Mhlaba, born on February 12, 1920, was very accustomed to protests and movements. In his first job, he joined a trade union to protest the unfair treatment himself and the other employees were getting. This being the case, it was no surprise when he joined the SACP in 1943, and the ANC shortly thereafter. His entire life was devoted to standing alongside Nelson Mandela in the struggle to end Apartheid. He was elected Chairman of the ANC National Executive and SACP Central Committee, as well as SACP National Chairman, and South Africa's High Commissioner to Uganda and Ambassador to Rwanda and Burundi. In 2004, he retired from all of his positions of leadership and became the chairman of a black economic power consortium. Not too long after, he was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer. He died in a hospital in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on February 19, 2005.

Anti-Apartheid Significance

Raymond Mhlaba spent a majority of his life helping the struggle for the end of Apartheid, and it seemed he was next to Nelson Mandela nearly the entire time. He joined the ANC in 1944, and was quickly thrust into the lead role in the non-violent protests. When the MK was formed, Mhlaba was one of the first to go to China for military training. He also helped Mandela form the constitution for the MK shortly before he left. In 1963, Mhlaba was tried in the Rivonia trial alongside the other Anti-Apartheid leaders. He went to Robben Island Prison, and helped Mandela form the ANC High Command in the prison. The ANC High Command disciplined the prisoners, and educated them. In 1982, he was transferred to the Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison, where he would negotiate with the government alongside Nelson Mandela over their release. In 5 years, the government would finally give them their freedom.


  • "Raymond Mhlaba Biography - Began as a Trade Unionist, Sentenced to Life Imprisonment, Continued the Struggle from Prison." - South, Anc, Mandela, and Africa. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2015