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Selope Thema

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Selope Thema

Richard Victor Selope Thema
politician, journalist and newspaper editor
Personal details
Born 1886
Ga-Mamabolo, Pietersburg
Died 1955
Orlando West, Johannesburg

Richard Victor Selope Thema(1886-1955) was a South African political activist and leader. He was a member of the South African Native National Congress deputation sent to Britain and Versailles in 1919 to intercede on behalf of black South Africans, many of whom had fought for Britain in the First World War [1]


  • Early years 1
    • Political career 1.1
    • Legacy 1.2
  • References 2
  • Notes and references 3

Early years

Richard Victor Selope Thema was born in Ga-Mamabolo, Pietersburg district, in 1886. Both his parents were Pedi speaking but not originally belonging to the Mamabolo tribe who, through early contact with missionaries, were already Christians.[2]

Thema attended mission schools, he interrupted his education when he ran away from school in 1901 and joined the British troops stationed in Pietersburg during the South African War (1899 - 1902). After peace was declared he went to Pretoria where he first worked as a waiter in a boarding-house and then at the Imperial Military Railway Dispensary in Pretoria. In 1903 he resumed his education. From 1906 to 1910 he studied at Lovedale Institution at Alice in the Eastern Cape where he completed the Junior Certificate in 1907 and then qualified as a teacher. [3]

Political career

From the end of 1910 he taught in the Pietersburg district for a year, but then started working as a clerk, first at the Pietersburg mine recruiting office for three years, and from 1915 in Johannesburg in the office of the attorney Richard W. Msimang. Msimang was chairperson of the committee that had to draw up a new constitution for the South African Native National Congressd (SANNC) .[4] Thema acted as Msimang's secretary on the committee. This led to Thema's increasing involvement in the affairs of the congress and in 1915 he was elected provincial secretary of the Transvaal branch of the SANNC. Thema was also known for his writing abilities. [5][6]


Kwa-Thema township outside Springs was named after him, as well as the Selope Thema Community School in Orlando East.[7] 


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Untitled Document". Retrieved 2015-09-16. 
  4. ^ "Gauteng honours struggle stalwart Selope Thema, 19 Sept | South African Government". Retrieved 2015-09-16. 
  5. ^ "Untitled Document". Retrieved 2015-09-16. 
  6. ^ """Browsing Archives and Special Collections by Author "Thema%2C Richard Victor Selope. Retrieved 2015-09-16. 
  7. ^ humans.txt. "RV Selope Thema". The Journalist. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 

Notes and references

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