Alfred Mangena was born in Escort in present day Kwazulu Natal circa 1879. He managed to acquire little formal public education, and eventually began to study privately in Cape Town. Later he went to complete his schooling in England and after matriculating he studied Law at Lincoln's Inn. He was called to the Bar in 1909. In 1910 he returned home as the first Black African in South Africa to qualify as an attorney.Founding member of the African National Congress (ANC).After some difficulty he succeeded in becoming a solicitor of the Supreme Court of South Africa, and opened an office in Pretoria with a branch in Johannesburg. His practice became very successful.The Natal government tried to slander Mangena,who was forced to return to SA to defend himself.He succefully sued for libelandwasawarded damages.
Mangena fought against courts that did not allow black people access, save for if they were brought to the court as prisoners or witnesses. Mangena became very popular African activist and received invitation from chiefs all over South Africa.He was a fearless man, putting his life in danger more than once to defend Black South Africans against Europeans in court. He presented a petition to the British government on behalf of those facing trial after the 1906 Bambatha rebellion, and laid a charge against the Natal governor for illegally declaring a state of emergency. He was also prominent in the protests against the proposed Act of Union, passed by Britain's parliament in 1909.Pixley Seme, D.D.T.Jabavu, M.K.Gandhi and others,Mangena accompanied the Schreiner delegation in the visitor's gallery when Parliament approved the South Africa Act without amendmenton August 19,1901 and set May 31,1910,as the unification date of the four colonies into the Union of South Africa.Pixley returned from Britain the following year.
In 1911 Pixley Seme, came home to South Africa from Europe, qualified as South Africa’s second Black African attorney. Together the pair defended their people in the Law Courts.In 1912 Mangena was appointed Senior Treasurer of the African National Congress. In the same year he published the first issue of the Advocate, Bantu-English weekly, in Pretoria. The newspaper faced difficulties and ceased to exist the following year.Mangena was a member of South AfricanNative National Congress (SANNC) deputation to Cape Town in 1913 to protest against the Native Land Act.In 1916 he Seme formed a legal partnership which lasted until Mangena's early death.The firm was named Mangena and Seme solicitors,Mangena was legal advisor to Thembu paramount chief Olivier Dalindyebo and maintained a residence in Umtata.In 1916 Mangena married A.V. Ncobela, a nurse from Natal. He died at his home at the age 45 in Umtata ,Eastern Cape in 1924 apparently of a weak heart.
Joyce, P (1999). A concise Dictionary of South African biography. Francolin Publishers, Cape Town, p 162| E.J. Verwey (ed), New dictionary of South African biography. Pretoria, 1995, pp 154.|Gail M. Gerhart, Teresa Barnes, Antony Bugg-Levine, Thomas Karis, Nimrod Mkele .From Protest to Challenge 4-Political Profiles (1882-1990) http://www.jacana.co.za/component/virtuemart/?keyword=from+protest+to+ch... (last accessed 04 July 2019)