Dr. Motsoko Pheko is a historian, political scientist, lawyer, theologian, writer, publisher and researcher. He is a former Member of the South African Parliament. During the liberation struggle against colonialism and apartheid, he had the distinction of a freedom fighter that was imprisoned in South Africa, Rhodesia and detained in Mozambique by the colonial regimes in these countries, for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid activities. He was in exile for thirty years.  Among the many activities he was involved in was Representative of the victims of apartheid and colonialism at the United Nations in New York and at the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, calling for release of political prisoners such as Robert Sobukwe, Nelson Mandela, Jafta Masemola, Zephania Mothopeng and Walter Sisulu.

Pheko lost his parents at the age of nine. He and his only brother Ramauoane were brought up by their mother’s eldest sister, Mohau Emily Moerane and her husband Daniel Mokhakala Moerane. Daniel was the eldest brother of Mmamotseki  Epainett  Moerane who married Govan Mbeki. Pheko grew up a shepherd and herd boy in the rural areas of today’s Eastern Cape in South Africa. This is at a place called Mangoloaneng. He looked after 360 sheep, 120 cattle and 77 horses.

He showed signs of a determined learner when he completed a Three-Year Cape  Junior Certificate Course at Mariazell College in two years in subjects such as Typing, Short Hand, Bookkeeping, Commercial Arithmetic and Commerce. Pheko was later taken notice of by an apartheid magistrate who tried him in court for his opposition to apartheid and colonialism. He was already at his early age been promoted to the position of Managing Editor of OUR AFRICA, a monthly magazine which circulated in Southern Africa.

When the prosecutor denied Pheko bail, the court magistrate ruled, “The accused is a man of standing with an excellent personal record in his community. Owing to the seriousness of the charge, however the court cannot impose bail of less than two hundred and fifty pounds.” This was a considerably high sum of money those days.

Pheko was earning fifteen pounds a month.

Pheko was educated at the University of South Africa with a B.A. degree majoring in Political Science and Systematic Theology and reading sociology and history, LL.B from the University of Zambia and a one- year course diploma course to practise law and LL. M. degree in international law at the University of London. He studied with Kensington University for a Doctorate. His Doctoral Thesis was “SOUTH AFRICA: A FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION OF COLONIALISM AND SELF – DETERMINATION CLOUDED BY RACISM MUTILATED HISTORY AND MANIPULATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW.”

Pheko did all these studies by correspondence or part time. There was no time to be full time university student. Even his Matriculation he acquired by distance learning.

Pheko believes strongly that Africa cannot develop economically and advance technologically without massive education tailored to the needs and interests of Africa. While in exile, therefore, he co-founded Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya with his long time friends Dr Donald K. Smith and Dr. Faye Smith. This University has trained students from many African countries in various vital professions to serve Africa. Pheko had originally founded OUR AFRICA Magazine with the Smiths in South Africa. Dr. Pheko holds that the greatest damage colonialism did in Africa was on the mind. Therefore, mental decolonisation through appropriate and liberatory knowledge is an imperative.

Dr. Pheko was admitted to the High Court of Zambia as an Advocate. The Supreme Court of South Africa, too, admitted him as Advocate on the 8th August 1996 in Pretoria.

His favourite quote is: “The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching our goals, but in having no goals to reach. It is not a calamity to die with ideals unfulfilled, but it is a calamity to have no ideals to fulfil. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars. But it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach.”


Dr. Pheko writes, “To restore Africa to her destroyed power and honour among the nations of the world; Africans must acquire knowledge. African epistemology and general science of knowledge must be part of Africa’s present development economically and technologically.

Africa is the richest continent in the world both spiritually and materially. The material resources of Africa are not benefiting Africa, and will not benefit Africa’s people as long as her people do not hunger after knowledge for capacity to control their own resources, including high technology for capacity to process her raw materials, export them as finished goods and achieve economic liberation which is true liberation and genuine national independence.

Prophet Hosea was not joking when he told his own people in 735 B.C. ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge….’ (Hosea 4:6).”