As part of a series on the heroes honoured in eThekwini’s new streetand building names, Andile Mnyandu profiles Moses Kotane.

INTELLECTUAL: Moses Kotane was able to master the most abstruse political writings

Moses Kotane Street Formerly Sparks and Abrey roads MOSES Mauane Kotane was born on 9 August 1905 in Tamposstad, now called Madikwe, in the North West Province, the eldest son of a family of nine boys and two girls. His father was Samuel Segogwane and his mother was Sipora Mmadira. Kotane spent his early years as a herd boy and began school at the the age of 15. At 17 he left school to seek work on the Witwatersrand. He worked as a photographer’s assistant, domestic servant, miner and a bakery assistant. As a young worker he enrolled in the communistrun night school in Ferreirastown, Johannesburg, where he became known for his ability, to master the most abstruse political writings. In 1928 he joined the ANC and the African Bakers Union, an affiliate of the new federation of Non-European Trade Unions then being built up by the Communist Party. The Party sent him to Moscow in 1933 to further his studies.

Kotane played a vital role in building the ANC and was elected to its executive committee, a position he held until the 1950 banning of the Communist Party forced his nominal resignation. Next, Kotane opened a furniture business in Johannesburg’s Alexandra Township. He was arrested in 1952 for his part in the defiance campaigns. In 1955 he attended the Bandung conference of Third World leaders as an observerand remained abroad for the better part of the year, travelling widely in Asia and Eastern Europe. In 195 he was charged with treason but charges were droppped in 1958. In 1960 he was detained for four months and in late 1962 he was placed under 24-hour house arrest. In 1963 he left South Africa for Tanzania where he became the treasurer-general of the ANC in exile. In elections held in Tanzania in April 1969 he was returned to the ANC’s National Executive Committee.

He later suffered a stroke and went to Moscow for treatment, where he remained until his death in 1978 at the age of 73. Kotane has been remembered in the naming of streets, public buildings and institutions, including the Moses Kotane Institute, which was established by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, in January last year to address poor school results in science, technology and mathematics. A district municipality, a primary school, a hospital and streets all bear his name.