Dr Silas Modiri Molema

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Biographical information

Dr Silas Modiri Molema


Teacher, medical practitioner, National Secretary of the ANC, author.

First name: 
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
Location of birth: 
Mafikeng, South Africa
Date of death: 
Location of death: 
Mafikeng, South Africa

Dr. Silas Modiri Molema (Silas Modiri) was born in 1891 in Mafikeng, South Africa. His father was a member of the Royal family of the Barolong chieftaincy and was secretary and chief advisors to Chief Montshioa of the Barolong boo Ratshidi in Mafikeng. Dr Molema was educated at Lovedale Institution , where he matriculated. Prior to this, he had spent some time in Kimberly where he was a teacher until 1914 when he moved to Europe. There he was admitted into the Medical School of Glasgow University.

Before returning to South Africa, Dr. Molema wrote an acclaimed history book title Bantu-Past and Present.Though the book was about Black South Africans in general, the primary focus was the history of the Batswana. On his return to South Africa he commenced his practice in Mafikeng and from the beginning he distinguished himself as a medical practitioner of exceptional ability with a large practice serving both White and Black South Africans at Mafikeng and distant towns like Johannesburg. Molema is the author of some useful pamphlets on health. Dr. Molema was a good speaker and one of the foremost African scholars. He married the daughter of Rev. M.J. Moshoele, one-time secretary, councillor and friend of the late Chief Montshioa.

Since the 1940s, Dr Molema was involved in the African National Congress (ANC) and he became its National Secretary in December 1949. He also served on the African Advisory Council, Joint Advisory Council, and the Constitutional Committee that set the Bechuanaland Protectorate on its road to independence as a Republic of Botswana. He also served as a member of Legislative Council established by the British government as a transitional body sharing power with the Colonial government. Dr. Molema died in Mafikeng in 1965 at the age of 74. He was survived by his wife Lucretia (late) son Rene Lesedi (late) and daughter Warada.

His publications include:

  • The Bantu Past and Present: An Ethnographical and Historical Study of the Native Races of South Africa, (1920)
  • Montshiwa 1815-1896: BaRolong Chief and Patriot, (1966: posthumous)
  • Chief Moroka: His Life, His Country and His People, (1987: posthumous)

• Verwey, E.J. (ed)(1995). New Dictionary of South African Biography, v.1 , Pretoria: HSRC Publishers
• Molema, S. M. (1966). Montshioa: Chief and Patriot, Struik: Cape Town.

Last updated : 04-Nov-2016

This article was produced by South African History Online on 01-Sep-2011

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