Educated at the Catholic Mission School at Mariazell, then at the Mission Institute in Healdtown, Fort Beaufort. Entered Fort Hare University College in 1945 to study for a science degree but had to go in his second year to earn money for educating the rest of the family.
From 1947 until 1958, when his Political activities caused his dismissal, he worked in the municipal health department, rising to be a qualified inspector in the Alexandra township. After joining the ANC in January 1950 he helped organise the May Day strike of 1950 and subsequent protests including the Alexandra bus boycott from January to March 1957. Following his election to the national executive committee of the ANC he received a restriction order banning him from meetings for five years.
After the Sharpeville shootings in I960 he was arrested in the general round-up and kept without trial for five months. In 1961 he spent a further five months in prison for a pass-law offence. On his release he was restricted to the Mofolo African location within the Johannesburg district for five years. In 1962 he was served with a house arrest order confining him to four walls with no visitors. With 40 other “subversives” he was arrested on June 24, 1963, and endured 238 days with solitary confinement under the 90-day clause.
When he was freed in February 1964 the underground committee ordered him to slip out of the country into exile to work with Oliver Tambo, acting president-general of ANC. His first assignment was in Cairo organising funds and international support. In August 1967 he was sent to New Delhi to run the first ANC office in Asia. After his recall in June 1969 to ANC provisional headquarters at Morogoro, Tanzania, as secretary-general he became the liaison officer with the OAU Liberation Committee. In June 1971 he addressed OAU Foreign Ministers at Addis Ababa. In February 1972 he was invited to speak at the special session of the UN Security Council at Addis Ababa.
Nationalist leader in exile since 1964 after suffering house arrest, imprisonment without trial, and solitary confinement under the 90-day clause of South Africa's Sabotage Act. More useful to the black African cause outside the country now as the skilled advocate of self-determination and the moving voice of protest at the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity. A man with a burning sense of the injustice done to his people and an unquenchable passion to persuade the world to put it right.