Julius Malema (Julius Sello Malema) was born on 3 March 1981, in Seshego, Limpopo, and raised by a single mother who worked as a domestic worker in Seshego Township. He went to Mohlakaneng High School in Limpopo. Malema began his political career at a young age. He joined the Masupatsela (Trailblazers), a movement of the African National Congress (ANC) at the age of nine, where, according to Malema, their main task was to remove National Party posters placed outside police stations.
At the age of 14 Malema was elected as both chairperson of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) branch in Seshego and the regional chair in 1995. Two years later in 1997, he became the chair of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) for the Limpopo province. In 2001, he was elected as the national president of COSAS.