Ramaphosa was born in Johannesburg, South Africa's capital, on 17 November 1952. He was the second of three children of a police officer. He attended elementary and secondary school in Soweto. He attended Mphaphuli High School in Sibasa, Limpopo, where he was voted head of the Christian Student Movement shortly after his arrival, demonstrating his Christian values.
He studied law at what was then known as the University of the North (Turfloop) and was a member of the South African Students' Organization, which was associated with Steve Biko's black mind theory. He was an active member of the Christian Student Movement at his institution, which was steeped in Black liberation theology and the black consciousness movement.
After completing his law degrees, the Black People's Convention supported Ramaphosa's political activism, for which he served a six-month prison sentence. He also served on articles and was appointed by Ramaphosa as the first Secretary General of the Council of South African Trade Unions, which was tasked with the task of establishing the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). He was instrumental in growing the NUM into the country's largest syndicate, serving as its general secretary for just over a decade.
Aspects of business and politics
When he was elected secretary general of the ANC in 1991, his celebrity and public status skyrocketed. He also played a critical role in South Africa's transition and became one of the country's primary architects of constitutional democracy.
He became the ANC's senior negotiator in the post-apartheid negotiations under the Democratic South Africa Convention (Codesa).
He then chaired the ANC team charged with drafting the country's new constitution. It is now regarded as one of the most progressive constitutions in the world.
In 1994, Ramaphosa was unsuccessful in his bid to become President Nelson Mandela's deputy. Ramaphosa entered business following Thabo Mbeki's appointment as a blow, but was persuaded by Mandela.
For the next two decades, Ramaphosa focused his efforts on building a massive Shanduka investment holding company with assets in the mining and fast food industries. The group's success established its reputation as an astute dealer and negotiator.
Throughout this two-decade commercial career, Ramaphosa had extensive relationships in South Africa's corporate sector.
This brought him into conflict with sections of the ANC, who considered that the post-apartheid arrangements were about political power, not economic freedom. Under President Jacob Zuma's leadership, these voices have become louder, pushing for drastic economic transformation and action to confront white capital control.
Ramaphosa will strive to address these concerns by forging a more inclusive social contract in the country while also addressing chronic corruption in the public and private sectors.
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