From Cattle-Herding to Editor's Chair | Autobiography: Historical, Political & Military
Richard Victor Selope Thema
“The ill-treatment of Africans affected my heart and stirred my soul. I went back to Lovedale determined to drink deeper from the fountain of knowledge so that after I had left Lovedale I would be of some service to my down-trodden people.”
Richard Victor Selope Thema was one of the most influential black figures in South Africa in the twentieth century – yet he is largely forgotten today.
Thema was a member of the ANC from 1912, serving for many years on its National Executive Committee. He was a founder of the All-African Convention, was elected to the Natives Representative Council, and was in constant demand as spokesperson and advocate for African rights. He was the first editor of Bantu World, which today is the Sowetan. In the twenty years that Thema was the editor, Bantu World became the leading voice of the black middle class in South Africa. An implacable enemy of segregation, he was an ‘Africanist’ before the term was popularised, and an intellectual forefather of both the Youth League and of the Pan-Africanists of the 1950s.
This is his story, in his own words.
“Thema distinguished himself as one of the leading African intellectuals in the country.” -- Xolela Mangcu