Frank Chikane grew up in Soweto and enrolled for a science degree at the University of the North in the early 1970s but his studies were interrupted by the protest actions at that time. He joined the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) as a layman and was ordained by the church in 1980. Suspended by the AFM in 1981, he joined the Institute for Contextual Theology, a Christian think-tank of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) and served as Secretary General of the SACC from 1987 to 1994. In 1995 Frank read for a Master of Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School and, on returning to South Africa, was appointed Director General in the Presidency under Thabo Mbeki from 1999 until 2010.