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HSRC Press :: Africa :: African Intellectuals in 19th and early 20th Century South Africa

African Intellectuals in 19th and early 20th Century South Africa
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African Intellectuals in 19th and early 20th Century South Africa

Mcebisi Ndletyana (ed)

Format148mm x 210mm (Soft Cover)
ISBN 100-7969-2207-1
ISBN 13978-07969-2207-6
Publish Year2008
RightsWorld Rights
DescriptionRelated ProductsEmail To A FriendProduct RatingCustomer Reviews

African Intellectuals in 19th and early 20th Century South AfricaFree DownloadAfrican Intellectuals in 19th and early 20th Century South Africa


An introduction to the lives and works of five exceptional African intellectuals based in the former Cape Colony in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this unique work aims to recount and preserve a part of African intellectual heritage which is not widely known. Ntsikana, Tiyo Soga, John Tengo Jabavu, Mpilo Walter Benson Rubusana and Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi were pioneers within the African community, contributing their thoughts and intellect to various fields, including literature and poetry, politics, religion and journalism.

Accounts of Cape frontier history tends to be exclusively about wars, and present the modernisation of South African society, with Africans as subjects of the process, and the settlers as the main agents of change. This modest intervention, intended to close this gap, focuses on the pioneering role played by the early African thinkers as co-architects of South African modernity.

The authors, specialists in heritage, history and literature, hope that readers will find inspiration to continue in the tradition of intellectual activity that has always been the hallmark of African communities.



  1. Introduction
    Mcebisi Ndletyana
  2. Ntsikana
    Vuyani Booi
  3. Tiyo Soga
    Mcebisi Ndletyana
  4. John Tengo Jabavu
    Mcebisi Ndletyana
  5. Mpilo Walter Benson Rubusana
    Songezo Joel Ngqongqo
  6. Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi
    Mncedisi Qangule

Picture Credits

About the Author/s

Dr Mcebisi Ndletyana is a senior research specialist in the Democracy and Governance research programme at the HSRC. He has taught at various universities in the US, including the City University of New York and the State University of New York, and has worked as a researcher for the Johannesburg-based Centre for Policy Studies and the Steve Biko Foundation.

Contributors include Vuyani Booi, a heritage specialist at the National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre at the University of Fort Hare; Songezo Ngqongqo, an historian and a co-author of the biography of W.B.M. Rubusana; and Mncedisi Qangule, a poet and writer.


Extract from review by Christopher Merrett (The Witness, Pietermaritzburg) in African Book Publishing Record, Vol. XXXIV/2/2008 p.103:

"Five very different, but interconnected, lives are described in this short volume. Their common thread lies in geography – the Eastern Cape of South Africa; and in the extent to which they bridged the gap between traditional society and the Christian and modernizing influences of colonizers. The tensions of complex times produced some remarkable personal histories that were subsequently sidelined. ...

This publication is intended as popular history and the notes and bibliography are therefore brief. The text is well and plainly written, illustrated by well-chosen photographs and a simple map. African Intellectuals in 19th and Early 20th Century South Africa is recommended for all collections of South African history and libraries interested in African intellectual history."

Extract from review by uMgobhozi waseNtabeni in Wordsetc (Dec 2007):

"[T]his is an important overture in the exercise to revise South African history. The book is a welcome addition to our country's literature."

Professor N. Barney Pityana, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of South Africa

"The benefit of these studies is that they give insight into a period in our country which has been all but lost through the intervening 50 years of apartheid rule. Even more important, the intellectual traditions represented here, far from being uniform, expose the heterodoxy of those early intellectuals in our country."

Click on the links below to read the reviews:

M & G 20 March 2008

Mdantsane Dispatch 03 October 2007

The Weekender 29 Sept 2007

Daily Dispatch 27 Sept 2007

Star 21 Sept 2007



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