02 Identity & background
Although Andrew Mlangeni has been a resident of Soweto for more than seventy years, his roots are in the Free State. He was born on 6 June 1925 on a farm in the Bethlehem district, as one of a twin (he has a sister) and grew up as a real Mosotho* farm kid. They moved to the Bethlehem town’s location after his father’s death when he was ten years old.
*Mosotho definition: a member of the Basotho people (Collins English dictionary)
Mathebula, author of his biography, presents Andrew’s life story vividly and with empathy. Free State dwellers can easily identify with the early life of Andrew’s family and the Sesotho culture, as it was ingrained in the description of their everyday living. In the biography we get a glimpse into the experience of urbanisation and how it opened up a different world to Andrew when he attended school and became aware of politics.
His mother assisted him to get an identity document (pass book) in 1947 and told the official that he was born in Prospect location to prevent measures of influx control (which were already in practice at the time) to send him back to the Free State. (In SA History Online it is claimed that he was born in Prospect and we now know why). After school Andrew held a few jobs which gave him experience and skills which he could use for his political work.
Read more about pass books in SA History Online