Professor Harry Ranwedzi Nengwekhulu with President Cyril Ramaphosa, receiving his award for his lifelong contribution to the fight for freedom. Photo supplied.

Black Consciousness 'father' dedicates award to others


One of the founding fathers of the Black Consciousness Movement and a retired academic, Professor Harry Ranwedzi Nengwekhulu, says the award bestowed on him by President Cyril Ramaphosa is not for his personal glory but for all who fiercely fought for the liberation of the African masses.

Nengwekhulu, who, together with activists of the time - Barney Pityana, Hendrick Musi, and Steve Biko - formed the South African Students Organisation (SASO), received the Order of Luthuli in Gold from National Orders Grand Patron President Cyril Ramaphosa. This was during the National Orders investiture held at the Sefako Makgatho Guest House on 30 April.

The chancellor of the National Orders and Director-General in the Presidency, Ms Phindile Baleni, said he was given the award for his gallant fight for the liberation of the people of South Africa. “He has straddled academia and political activism with the goal of a free South Africa always in his mind and has served as a source of inspiration for many Black Consciousness activists and others,” she said.

About the honour, Nengwekhulu, who hails from Lunungwi outside Thohoyandou, said he was excited that the honour came during his lifetime. “One is happy, of course, after being honoured by the president. It had been a long journey, starting from my high school days at Tshakhuma in the former Venda homeland. It has not been easy, but with the support of all who wanted to see a free South Africa and ascribed to the Black Conscious Movement ideology, we are what we are today. This is not for my personal glory, but I dedicate this honour to all my comrades and all who contributed to the advancement of democracy, some even having paid the ultimate price,” he said.

Harry Ranwedzi Nengwekhulu’s activism in the struggle began in the 1960s. Nengwekhulu, alongside Steve Biko and others, broke away from the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) and formed the South African Students Organisation (SASO) in July 1968.

At its launch, Nengwekhulu was elected as the permanent organiser. After his election, he was in charge of the Reef SASO (REESO)’s local branch in Johannesburg, which had student affiliates at the University of South Africa and other institutions in the then Transvaal.

He was elected as president of the student representative council (SRC) at the University of the North (known as Turfloop). During the crackdown on activists in 1973, he crossed to Botswana, where he lived in exile and also lived in many other overseas countries before returning home. He took up positions at different institutions before he retired. He is presently running a consultancy on national traditional leadership, based in Pretoria.



Date:10 May 2024

By: Elmon Tshikhudo

Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and was a permanent part of the news team until 2019.

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