Alfred Mangena was born at Estcourt, Natal, about 1879 and grew up with minimum schooling in his early years. He later acquired private tuition in Cape Town. He went to England and after matriculating he studied Law at Lincoln’s Inn and was called to the Bar in 1909. In 1910 he returned to his home and was the first African Barrister-at-Law in South Africa. After some difficulty he succeeded in becoming a solicitor of the Supreme Court of South Africa and opened an office at Pretoria with a branch office in Johannesburg where He became an extremely successful lawyer. There were Courts where natives could not gain admission except as prisoners or witnesses, so as a fearless man and his life in danger more than once because of his success in cases where he defended natives against Europeans, his popularity received invitations from Chiefs all over South Africa. Alfred fought for this and won against all odds.
In 1911 Pixley ka Isaka Seme, arrived from Europe, being the second African lawyer. Together they set about defending their people in the Law Courts. In 1912 Mr. Mangena was appointed Senior Treasurer of the African National Congress. In the same year he published at Pretoria the first issue of the Advocate, a Bantu-English weekly. Owing to some difficulties this newspaper ceased to exist the following year. In 1916 Mangena married Nurse Anna Victoria Ncobela, of Natal and the same year he went into partnership with Pixley ka Isaka Seme, the firm being known as Mangena & Seme, Solicitors. He died at his home in Umtata, Cape Province, in 1924.
Alfred’s wife Anna was a nurse and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Cobela Ntuli. She was born at Mapumulo Mission Station, Natal, and educated at Nanda Seminary in Natal. After completing her education she went to Victoria Hospital, Lovedale, where she qualified as a nurse twenty years ago. She was one of the first qualified African nurses in South Africa. After qualifying she followed her profession at Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
Anna and Alfred lived in Johannesburg where her husband practiced as a solicitor of the Supreme Court. After her husband’s death in 1924 she resumed her work as nurse at Port Elizabeth. She has since returned to Johannesburg where she is following her profession. Nurse Mangena is an experienced nurse, very kind, and has many friends in Natal, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth who highly respect her. She was very hard-working and a good social worker as well as a prominent member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church at Klipspruit Location, near Johannesburg. Nurse Mangena went on to be in the service of the City Council of Johannesburg and did exceptional good work with Nurse Dwane in Klipspruit Location, a place with a population of over 17,000.