National Chairperson



Cde Nelvis Qekema is the current National Chairperson of the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO), elected at the Biennial National Congress held in Meadowlands, Soweto in May 2017.

He was born on 3 September 1965 in Kirkwood but grew up in PE where his mother worked as a domestic worker before she obtained a house in Kwazakhele in 1973.

Both his parents, Phumelele Nkumanda and Nontombi Qekema, have since transcended to the Spiritual World.

Because his father was not married to his mother, Cde Qekema virtually grew up as a single-parent child in the loving arms of his mother. But he got to know his father as a minor; and that relationship grew stronger.

He tasted a good deal of village life before he joined his mother in PE. He did his Sub-A in 1973 at the Presbyterian Church (Rhabe) corrugated zinc building in Kirkwood. In 1974 he relocated to PE and studied at the following schools: Mzomtsha Lower Primary, Mathodlana Higher Primary and Loyiso High.

Cde Qekema did not return to school after the 1980 School Boycotts. During that school play-off, he joined AZAPO in 1982 and worked with senior Comrades towards the launch of the first AZAPO Branch in PE in 1983. In 1985 he got caught up in the UDF-AZAPO Feud, which led to the burning down of his home. He was fortunate to escape necklacing while he was in the hands of his would-be killers.

He has been detained a number of times under the white settler-minority regime.

In 1986 he was elected the AZAPO Branch Secretary under the Chairpersonship of the late Cde Ngcobo Nguna. He also served as the General Secretary of the trade union BAWUSA before he returned to school and got elected as AZASM President in 1991.

He enrolled with the Vista University in 1993, and in later years with UWC. During his university years he joined AZASCO and served in positions of Eastern Cape Provincial Chairperson, Deputy President and President. It was under his leadership that AZASCO protested against the unveiling of the Steve Biko statue by President Mandela in 1997 in East London.

He also served as the AZAPO Western Cape Provincial Political Commissar before he was elected into the National Political Commissar in 2002, a position he kept for 8 years. After that he was elected the Secretary for Youth.

One Azania ! One Nation !
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