Madimetja Laurence Phokanoka (1938 - )
The Order of Luthuli in
Profile of Madimetja Laurence Phokanoka
Madimetja Laurence (Phokes) Phokanoka was born in 1938 in Sekhukhuneland in the former Lebowa. He was a student at the University of Fort Hare in the late 1950s when he was a wanted man for his involvement in student activities. Realising the broader patterns of oppression, of which student governance was but one, Phokanoka, fired by idealism, cast his sights beyond student affairs. He went underground and, under the command of Walter Sisulu, joined Umkhonto we Sizwe. He soon became a commissar and was involved in the Wankie- Spolilo Operation, after which he was arrested and sentenced to 18 years on Robben Island. On his release, he was involved in peace negotiations with the security forces of the former regime in the then Northern Transvaal. He declined nomination to Parliament and preferred to work as a junior official in the then Northern Province Department of Safety and Security.
He is now blind, retired and living in the rural areas of Sekhukhuneland. Madimetja Laurence Phokanoka has made an outstanding contribution to the struggle for democracy. He is a true nation-builder, actively involved in nurturingbasic democracy and human rights, and is a pioneer of justice and peace as well as conflict resolution.