Andrew Mokete Mlangeni was born on 6 June 1925 at Prospect township in Soweto. Although Mlangeni started schooling at the age of 10, financial problems drove him to seek work at the age of 12 to assist his mother in maintaining the family. Faced by poverty and financial problems, Andrew was unable to continue with his studies. After 1946 he worked in several industries and factories where he experienced worker exploitation. As a result, when working as a bus driver for Putco he was active in the strike for better working conditions and a living wage. In 1951 he joined the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) and later in 1954 he joined the ANC.