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Interview with Lybon Tiyani Mabasa
South African Students Organisation
AZANIAN PEOPLES ORGANISATION
Interview with Lybon Tiyani Mabasa, a leader in the Azanian People's Organisation (AZAPO) at the time of this interview, was born in 1952 and graduated from Sekano-Ntoane High School in Soweto in 1971. He studied at the University of the North, but did not complete a degree because of his involvement in student politics. In 1976 he began teaching at Meadowlands High School in Soweto, and joined the Black Peopleâ€™s Convention [BPC]. Following the outbreak of the student uprising that year, he was detained for four months. Evading arrest in the crackdown of October 1977, with like-minded colleagues he helped organize the caretaker Soweto Action Committee within days of the banning of all black consciousness organizations. The committee held countrywide consultations that led to the formation of AZAPO in April 1978. Mabasa was elected its treasurer. Detained soon after, he was banned for five years following his release in late 1978. When his banning order was lifted in May 1982, he resumed organizing for AZAPO and subsequently served as its president (1983-84), vice-president for political education (1985-86) and vice-president (1986-87). He was detained again for three months in 1989, and was hospitalized along with other prison hunger strikers. In the 1980s he helped steer AZAPO and its ally the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU) towards advocacy of "scientific socialism," but the organizations gained little ground against their larger, better-funded rivals in the United Democratic Front and the Congress of South African Trade Unions. After the advent of majority rule, Mabasa split from AZAPO and formed the Socialist Party of Azania.
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