Josias Ratshilumela Madzunya was born in the Sibasa area of the northern Transvaal in about 1909, a member of the Venda tribe,the son of a polygamous Venda-speaking peasant farmer near Thohoyandou in the northern Transvaal,Madzunya came to Johannesburg in 1931, eventually establishing himself as a peddler. He joined a night school to earn a Standard 7 certificate, and sought to educate himself politically by attending Communist Party meetings.In 1947 he became a  member of the African National Congress(ANC).

In 1951 he allied himself with Selope Thema's National-minded Bloc in opposition to left-wing and interracial trends in the  ANC. He thereafter became chairman of an Alexandra branch of the ANC and played a leading role in the Alexandra bus boycott of 1957. The press seized on the flamboyant Madzunya and portrayed him as a leading Africanist. The Africanists declined at first to accept him, then later decided to run him for the Transvaal Congress presidency in 1958 on a platform of opposition to the Congress alliance. He lost and also failed to win a seat on the executive committee of the Pan Africanist Congress when it was formed in April 1959. Following the Sharpeville emergency he served an 18-month sentence for incitement; on his release in 1962 he was endorsed out of Johannesburg.He returned  with his family to Sibasa where he found work with a bus company.


Gerhart G.M and Karis T. (ed)(1977). From Protest to challenge: A documentary History of African Politics in South Africa: 1882-1964, Vol.4 Political Profiles 1882 - 1964. Hoover Institution Pres: Stanford University.|Gail M. Gerhart, Teresa Barnes, Antony Bugg-Levine, Thomas Karis, Nimrod Mkele .From Protest to Challenge 4-Political Profiles (1882-1990) (last accessed 28 May 2019

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