Site Name
    Onkgopotse Abram Tiro’s Grave
    Site History

    Onkgopotse Abram Tiro (1945-1974) was a student activist and black consciousness militant. He was born in Dinokana, a small village near Zeerust. He started his schooling at Ikalafeng Primary. The school was closed during the anti-pass revolt that engulfed Lehurutshe in the late 1950s. Tiro’s early life story is indicative of the continued impact of the Hurutshe resistance on the formation of political consciousness for younger generations of political activists After a short spell at Naledi High School in Soweto, Tiro matriculated from Barolong High in Mafikeng. He then enrolled at the University of the North (Turfloop) in what was then the Northern Transvaal and was elected President of the Student Representative Council in 1970- 71. In 1972, he made a famous speech at the university graduation ceremony for which he was expelled. In his speech Tiro openly attacked the system of Bantu Education and the university authorities in particular, and concluded by exhorting his fellow black graduates ‘to bear greater responsibilities in the liberation of our people’. Tiro’s expulsion from Turfloop triggered a series of strikes in solidarity across black campuses in the country. After he left Turfloop, in 1973, Tiro was recruited as a history teacher at Morris Isaacson High School in Soweto, which was to play a prominent role in the Soweto uprising of 1976. Tsietsi Mashinini, who was an integral part of the uprising, was one of Tiro's students. He was also involved in the formation of the South African Student Movement (SASM) in 1972 and of the Black People’s Convention (BPC) in 1973. He also travelled throughout South Africa, as well as Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho, to speak to students about Black Consciousness. The apartheid authorities, however, were keeping a close watch on all of these activities. First they had Tiro fired from Morris Isaacson, and then decided to arrest him. Tiro, however, managed to escape arrest by going to Botswana in late 1973, where he found employment as a teacher at a school in Kgale, near Gaborone. From Botswana he continued to play a prominent role in the activities of SASO, SASM and the BCP. He was, however, in discussion with the ANC in exile and some sources suggest he had switched his alliance to the ANC. On 1 February 1974, Tiro was killed by a parcel bomb allegedly coming from the International University Exchange Fund. His death was executed by the Apartheid spy Craig Williamson and others who had infiltrated the IUEF. In 1998, Tiro’s remains were exhumed from Botswana and reburied in his home village of Dinokana. His influence on the youth of Soweto and the rising of 1976 was considerable.

    Record Administration
    Last modified
    Monday, February 12, 2024 - 11:35
      North West
      Site Address

      South Africa

      Location notes
      Dinokana, Lehurutshe.
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