Black History Month, October 2021

Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu (20 October 1885 – 3 August 1959)

Professor Don Tengo Jabavu an academic and writer was born in King William’s town, Cape Town, South Africa. He was educated in South Africa, in Wales, and at the universities of London and Birmingham.

Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu (20 October 1885 – 3 August 1959)

Jabavu’s links to Wales were through his training at The African Training Institute, known locally at the time as ‘Congo House’. It was founded in 1890 by Rev William Hughes after he returned from work as a missionary in the Belgium Congo. During the period 1890–1912 over one hundred students from the African Continent attended the Colwyn Bay institute for training in a wide range of academic subjects and practical skills, which they then took back to their own communities to support them.

“Oluewole and Jabavu provided the most lively cricket of the day”, African Institute v Colwyn Bay Cricket Match.
Welsh Coast Pioneer 3 August 1906

Probably the most influential student was Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu who proved to be a star pupil from 1903-1906 and went on to gain a BA. in English at  University College London in 1912 and a  Diploma in teaching at Birmingham University in 1914. Jabavu later returned to Africa, where he set up the hugely influential South African Native College at Fort Hare in the Cape Province. It was there he would teach a young Nelson Mandela. The South African leader acknowledged Davison Jabavu as one of his most important mentors who helped shape his attitudes on equality.

Jabavu helped to organise groups defending African rights in the 1920s and in 1935 he became president of the All African Convention a position he held until 1948. In recognition of his contribution towards the creation of a just South African society, in 1953 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Rhodes University. He died six years later in 1959, aged 73.

Sales Particulars, African Institue, 1912 (DD/PO/1103)

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