Onkgopotse Abraham Tiro

Title Student Leader
Other Names
Date of Birth 1950-00-00
Date of Death 1974-02-10

Updated 12 Oct 2016

Onkgopotse Abraham Tiro.
Born 1950, died February 1974. Tiro was born and raised in Dinokana, where he attended Ikalafeng Primary school.  He complted his schooling at Barolong High School in Mafikeng. Tiro's rural unbringing had a profound influence on his politics, especially the need to ' restore land to the dispossessed".  He is considered to be one of the five founding members of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) in South Africa, alongside Steven Bantu Biko and Barney Pityana and others.  He attended the University of the North (Turfloop) in 1970. He became President of the South African Student Movement in 1972 and on the 29th April of that year gave a now famous speech in which he denounced the  system of Bantu education and laid out the theoretical framework for the BCM. It sparked off a prolonged protest on the campus and influenced a number of students who later became political leaders in the country. 
He was expelled from Turfloop and was recruited as a history teacher at Morris Isaason HighSschool in Soweto, where he was involved in supporting scholars in the Soweto uprising of 1976.

He was fired from his job went into exile in Botswana towards the end of 1973. From Botswana, he continued to play a prominent part in the activities of SASO, SASM and the Black People's Convention (BCP). He was killed in a parcel bomb explosion in Gaborone on 1 February of 1974. The parcel bore a Swiss post-mark and was addressed to the Director of the International University Exchange Fund, all of whose mail at that time was routed via South Africa. Though suspicion for his death lay with the South African apartheid security apparatus, it was denied, at the time, by the deputy Minister of Police, Jimmy Kruger, who described the allegation as "too vague to warrant any criticism". Ironically, one of those who did express his condolences at the time of Tior's death was Professor Boshoff who had expelled him from Turfloop. Nobody owned up to Tiro's murder during the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation hearings, but the murder was attributed to a unit known as the "Z squad" and bore the imprint of the work of apartheid spy Craig Williamson who has infiltrated the International University Exchange Fund in Geneva.  Tiro's remains were disinterred in 2000 and he was re-buried at his home at Dinokana.  

South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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