The Order of Luthuli in
Profile of Mohammed Tikly
Mohammed Tikly was born on 7 July 1939 in Polokwane (then Pietersburg), Limpopo. He was involved in political activism at the age of 14. He spent many years in exile where he continued to contribute towards the liberation struggle in South Africa. He spent many years at the ANC’s SOMAFCO in Tanzania, where he performed different roles.
Tikly was greatly disturbed by the racial oppression that pervaded the beautiful land of South Africa. While in Johannesburg where he was attending his high school, Tikly became increasingly involved in the anti-apartheid activities organised by the Transvaal Indian Congress and the ANC. He went overseas to pursue his studies as the repressive social conditions in South Africa were disturbing.
While in Europe Tikly participated in the 1963 hunger strike, going for seven days without food, which was meant to draw attention to apartheid injustices, as later epitomised by the Rivonia Trial. The hunger strike received wide international coverage and apartheid excesses were becoming increasingly criticised.
In 1975 Tikly became the secretary of the ANC’s Education Committee, a position he held until 1982. As a member of the committee, Tikly helped formulate the ANC’s campaign of academic boycott against apartheid South Africa. Crucially, he was among the senior officials who developed the curriculum for the influential SOMAFCO. Tikly became the Director of SOMAFCO after its establishment and ensured that the institution fulfilled its main objective, which was to counter Bantu Education. The institution was dedicated to developing South Africans capable of pursuing social justice and non-racialism.
Tikly worked tirelessly, organising donor conferences around the world to raise money for SOMAFCO. As Director of SOMAFCO he oversaw the allocation of scholarships to thousands of students who went overseas to study. Tikly worked closely with the ANC’s longest-serving president, Oliver Tambo, who frequented Tanzania.
As apartheid’s grip on South Africa loosened it was decided to hand over the school, which included many sub-projects such as farms, small industries and a 16-bed hospital, etc., to the Tanzanian Government in 1992.