Sefako Mapogo Makgatho

Related articles

Sefako Mapogo Makgatho Timeline 1861-1961

1861
Sefako  Mapogo Makgatho is born at Ga Mphahlele, Pietersburg district in Transvaal (now Limpopo province).
1870
The death of the King of the Baostho Moshoeshoe I.
1878
Sekhukhuni at war with the Transvaal and British colonial administrations.
1879
The battle of Isandlwana between the Zulu and the British.
c1880
Makgatho enrols at the Wesleyan Mission Teacher Training Institution of Kilnerton at Pretoria.
1882
Makgatho goes to England to study theology at Ealing College, Middlesex, England.
1885
Makgatho returns to South Africa to take up a teaching post at the Kilnerton Institute in Pretoria.
1886 -1895
Gold is discovered in Johannesburg. Deep level mining is instituted for the first time in South Africa with far reaching consequences for labour on the mines. Pedi chiefs continue to send young men to work in the mines as migrants as the Witwatersrand overtakes Kimberley as the preferred destination for migrants.
1899 - 1902
The South African War between the Afrikaaner Republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State breaks out. The war ends in 1902.
1902 - 09
Pedi chiefdoms, seeking to take advantage of the South African War and the uncertainty that resulted from it, try to reassert their autonomy. The formation of the Union in 1910 undermines these efforts. 
The British Colonial administration, having defeated the Afrikaner republics in the war, set out on a programme of reconstruction in South Africa. Sir Alfred Milner is appointed governor during this period and his main responsibility is to oversee the process of creating a single state out of the two independent Boer republics - the Transvaal and Orange Free State - on the one hand and the British colonial governments of the Cape Province and Natal on the other.
1906
Makgatho is instrumental in the formation of the African Political Union (APU). He is elected as becomes president APU, a position that he holds until 1908.
The Transvaal is granted Responsible government and political parties in the province contest elections for a Legislative Assembly. The Het Volk, a party of the Afrikaners in the Transvaal wins the election and forms a government to take part in the Convention negotiating the formation of the Union of South Africa.
1907
Makgatho and several other teachers establish the Transvaal African Teachers’ Association (TATA), which becomes the first union of teachers established by Africans in South Africa.
1908
Makgatho establishes an undenominational school at Ga-Mphahlele, the first such school in the area.
Makgatho becomes president of the Transvaal Native Organization (TNO) and serves until 1912 when both the TNO and APU merge with the SANNC in 1912.
1909
Makgatho witnesses the Imperial (British) Parliament enact the South Africa Act, which brings the Union of South Africa into being. He is revolted by Clause 35 (1) of the Act, which provides that henceforth no Black man can become a Member of Parliament, no Black man can vote for others to represent him in the all-White South African Parliament, and that the handful of Black voters who had acquired franchise rights in the 19th century in the Cape Province and Natal Province will remain on the common voters' roll until disfranchised by a two-thirds majority obtained at a joint session of the two houses of Parliament sitting together. That outcome was achieved by General Hertzog, leader of the first Afrikaner Nationalist government in South Africa, in 1936.
1910
The Union of South Africa is established.
1912
The South African Native National Congress (SANNC) is established in Bloemfontein following a Convention that includes a wide range of political formations representing Africans. APU and the Transvaal Native Organisation all merge with the SANNC. The Convention also includes a sizable number of chiefs.
The Native Advocate, a political journal is launched by Alfred Mangena and Makgatho. It published weekly in English in Pretoria.
1913
The Land Act of 1913 is passed. The Act is yet another piece of legislation that enrages Makgatho, and he later condemns its savagery.
1914
January, The South African National Party (SANP) is formed under General Herztog following a rift between the English parties and Afrikaner parties over South Africa’s relations with Britain.
August: Germany declares war on Britain in what became World War I. White South Africa is divided over whether the country should enter the war in support of Britain or remain neutral. This division is often considered to reflect a division between English and Afrikaans speaking South Africans.
Makgatho and some in the SANNC considered “moderates” call for the suspension of all criticism of the British Government for the duration of the war. This was seen as pledging support for Britain in the war.
1917
Makgatho succeeds John Dube as President of the SANNC. He remains President of the Transvaal Congress.
1918
December, Following the end of the war, Makgatho calls an SANNC meeting in Johannesburg with the city’s mayor giving an opening address. At the end of the meeting a petition is drawn up to be presented to England’s King George. Numerous demands are made in the petition, including concern about the fate of British Protectorates considered for incorporation into South Africa.
Municipal sanitary workers in Johannesburg go on strike in what becomes known as the “bucket strikes”. The Transvaal branch of the SANNC, still under Makgatho’s leadership, is fully behind the action.
1919
Makgatho supports a massive anti-pass campaign in Johannesburg. Again in this campaign, Makgatho is sympathetic to the plight of the under classes in African society, in contrast to the SANNC. As President of the Transvaal Congress, Makgatho provides organizational support to those demonstrating against the pass laws. About 700 demonstrators are arrested.
The Industrial Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) is established in 1919 two years into Makgatho’s presidency. Makgatho possibly encourages cooperation between the ICU and SANNC.
1920
In 1920 a miners’ strike breaks out. Yet again, the Transvaal branch of the SANNC gives active support to the striking workers.
1922
The Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) is formed. In the beginning it establishes a working relationship with the ICU because it is partly an initiative of labour activists. In 1924 communists are expelled from the ICU, and they turn to the SANNC.
1923
The SANP and the Labour Party form PACT government. With SANP influence, legislation affecting Africans is tightened. This is reflected in the Native Urban Areas Act of 1923 which regulates the influx of Africans into urban areas. It establishes the rule that Africans are temporary sojourners in the urban areas.
The SANNC is renamed the African National Congress (ANC).
1924
Faced with the threat of wholesale replacement of African workers by whites, Makgatho calls a conference of a wide range of political formations loosely referred to as the African Association and pledges ANC support for a united response to the government’s new legislation. During his address Makgatho condemns the Urban Areas Act passed in 1923.
December, Makgatho steps down as President of the ANC. He is succeeded by Zaccheus Richard Mahabane. He remains President of the Transvaal Congress.
1925
In his capacity as President of the Transvaal Congress Makgatho leads a campaign against the introduction of uniform tax for Africans across the Union’s four provinces. Until then poll tax for Africans was the responsibility of provincial governments. Poll Tax for Africans in the Transvaal was considered the most onerous.
1926
The Balfour Declaration is adopted and the Union of South Africa, along with Canada, Australia and New Zealand become British dominions.
1927
Mahabane steps down as President of the ANC, and is replaced by JT Gumede, who is known to be particularly sympathetic to the CPSA. Gumede’s presidency is marked by a rift with the “Nationalist” faction within the ANC.
Makgatho addresses a group loosely referred to as the African Associations on matters relating to new draconian measures contemplated by the PACT government formed by  the South African National Party (SANP) of Hertzog and the Labour Party.
1930
Makgatho is appointed National Treasurer of the ANC. He acts in this position until 1933.
1931
Makgatho resigns from the Wesleyan church to and moves to establish a United Bantu Church of all African sects.
1933
January, Makgatho attends Seme’s ANC conference in Bloemfontein which is boycotted by leading figures in the Transvaal Congress.
17 June, At a Transvaal National Congress provincial conference President Sefako Mapogo Makgatho loses his position to Simon Petrus Matseke by 73 votes to 52.
Makgatho writes a letter to Umteteli wa Bantu and laments that the "The nation is disintegrating because of famine"
Makgatho continues to be active particularly in the Transvaal ANC, but not at national level.
1934
3 February, The Transvaal branch of the ANC meets at Inchcape Hall and an exchange of words between Matseke and Makgatho raises tensions in the meeting leading to its cancellation.
A notice signed by Mkgatho for a Plenary National Conference scheduled to take place on 30-31 March is circulated in Umteteleli waBantu.
30 March, Makgatho opens the Plenary conference of the Transvaal National Congress (TNC).
1951
Makgatho passes away aged 90.
1961
The ANC celebrates the 100th year of Makgatho's birth.

References:
• Sonderling, N. E. (ed), (1999), New dictionary of South African biography, Volume Two, (Pretoria), pp86-7
• Giliomee, H and Mbenga, B. (eds), New History of South Africa, (Cape Town), p238, 242
• Trewhella, C and Spies, S. B. (eds) An Illustrated History of South Africa, (Cape Town), p. 243
• Sefako Mapogo Makgatho: A biography, [online], Available at: http://www.anc.org.za/showpeople.php?p=47 Accessed on 5 December 2011
• Presidential Address by SM Makgatho, South African Native National Congress 6 May 1919, [online], Available at: http://www.anc.org.za/show.php?id=4292
• An Address by SANNC President S. M. Kakgatho to the African Association in 1924, [online], Available at:  http://pzacad.pitzer.edu/NAM/newafrre/writers/makgatho/makgathoS.htm, Accessed on 8 December 2011

Last updated : 04-May-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 21-Dec-2011