Born in 1947 in Tzaneen, Mangena began his tertiary education at the University of Zululand, where he enrolled for a BSc degree. In an interview with the Financial Mail in 2005, he explained his passion for science, “Science taught me to question everything, to interrogate things until you find their essence; to recognise that accepted reality may be wrong.”
While at university, he became involved in various student organisations, which led to the discontinuation of his studies. In 1972 he was elected as the first national organiser of the Black People’s Convention and was later sent to Robben Island for five years. While there, he completed his BSc and BSc Honours (cum laude) through Unisa.
In August 1981 Mangena and his family left South Africa to go into exile in Botswana. They returned in 1994.
As the first minister of Science and Technology, Mangena worked on the reconfiguration of the South African science sector and as the Deputy Minister of Education, he initiated the Dinaledi Programme, which created specialist schools for mathematics and science and intended to address South Africa’s shortage of skilled technologists and scientists of all kinds.
A husband and father, Mangena has also authored four books.
Mr Mangena is a worthy recipient of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, honoris causa, in recognition of his contribution to the advancement of mathematical knowledge as well as developments in science and technology in South Africa.
Source: Yvonne Kgame, Executive Manager, SABC Innovation and Editorial.