Wits University Press mourns struggle hero, Andrew Mlangeni

MEDIA RELEASE – 22 July 2020

Struggle hero, Andrew Mlangeni, has passed. 6 June 1925 – 21 July 2020.

Wits University Press is deeply saddened by the loss of the loved and respected struggle hero, Andrew Mlangeni, the last of the Rivonia trialists without whose sacrifices democracy would not have become a reality.

Andrew Mlangeni will be remembered as a man of integrity, a loyal and disciplined member of the SACP and the ANC. When the June and Andrew Mlangeni Foundation approached Wits Press in 2016 to publish Mandla Mathebula’s biography of him, we realised that we knew less about him than we did about most of the other leaders of the struggle. He was a man who rejected the limelight in spite of the immense contribution he had made. And yet, when they proposed the title, The Backroom Boy, we were unsure – it did not seem to fit a biography celebrating the life of a humble but inspiring fighter for the freedom of his people! However, we came to realise that it perfectly captured the essence of Tata Mlangeni, who worked tirelessly, in the background, against the apartheid regime for the freedom of all South Africans.

Author of Mlangeni’s biography, Mandla Mathebula said: “In Andrew Mlangeni, a tree of integrity has fallen. He was a beacon of hope to principled leadership from the time he was a junior activist until his last breath. He will be remembered for his loyalty to the struggle and the people of his country.”

May he rest in peace.

The Backroom Boy: Andrew Mlangeni’s Story  a biography written by Mandla Mathebula was published by Wits University Press in 2017. It is available for sale from all good bookstores and online retailers.

Also available as e-book.

Andrew Mlangeni signing a copy of his biography at the launch of his book in Johannesburg, 20 April 2017.
The Backroom Boy: Andrew Mlangeni’s story together with the Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung

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