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Michael Stephen was born in Aberdeen on November 26th 1949. His early archaeological interests took him to work at the British Museum and then to Southampton for his first degree. In the early 1970s, he was involved in the Workers Education Association and a member of the Communist Party when he was recruited to work as a teacher for Frelimo, the liberation movement in Mozambique, after it had formed a recognised government.
In 1979, he moved to Swaziland, with his second wife June (he was married three times), where he combined teaching with reconnaissance work for Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed forces section of the African National Congress. He displayed considerable courage in helping to smuggle ANC leaders across the border into South Africa, then still very much controlled by the apartheid state.
He took a doctorate at Oxford on the history and politics of Swaziland and then became senior university lecturer in development studies in Staffordshire. He wrote extensively on southern African themes, especially latterly on the plight of post-apartheid South Africa, and had remained a Communist when he died of cancer, aged 50 in 1999.
Source: Guardian 14th January 2000