Archie Mafeje
Archie Mafeje (right) August 1961 with Welsh Makanda in Cape Town

On Sunday South Africans who participated in a protest back in 1968 will gather in London.

We will remember the life of Archie Mafeje – who was refused a post at the University of Cape Town because of pressure from the apartheid government.

He was a towering figure and our protest fifty years ago, when apartheid had a stranglehold on the country, was headline news in South Africa and reported across the world.

We received telegrams of support from the Sorbonne and the London School of Economic – the centres of the student revolt of 1968.

Sadly, our protest failed: Mafeje went into exile and never got the post at UCT that he certainly deserved.

Below is a tribute to him from this year’s University of Cambridge Black History Month.

You can read more about our UCT 1968 protest here.

And there is more about Mafeje here. This is also an excellent site.

Activist from South Africa, regarded as a great scholar and intellectual whose work radically critiqued colonialism and its influence on academia.

He initially studied at the University of Cape Town, where was refused a senior lectureship, due to sustained pressure from the apartheid government, sparking a large protest from students and staff members. He later obtained a PhD in Anthropology from King’s College, Cambridge in 1966, where he served as an assistant lecturer.

Between 1969 and 1971, Mafeje was Head of the Sociology Department at the University of Dar Es Salaam, in Tanzania, before moving to The Hague, where in 1973, Mafeje was made Professor of Anthropology and Sociology of Development at the Institute of Social Studies.

In a long academic career, Mafeje also became a senior fellow and visiting or guest professor at several other universities and research institutions in Africa, Europe and North America.

He returned to South Africa several years after the end of apartheid where he was appointed a research fellow by the National Research Foundation working at the African Renaissance Centre at UNIS.