Archibald Jordan 2004


Archibald Campbell Mzolisa Jordan was born on the 30th of October in 1906. A renowned novelist, literary historian and linguist, he did much to promote and elevate the status of African languages. He was born at the Mbokothwane Mission in the Tsolo district of the Eastern Cape, the son of an Anglican Church minister. He trained as a teacher at St John's College in Mthatha.

While teaching between 1934 and 1944, Jordan mastered Sotho, became president of the African Teachers’ Association, and then later started his writing career with the publication of poetry in the newspaper Imvo Zabantsundu. After a brief period of lecturing Bantu Languages at Fort Hare University College in1944, Jordan was appointed Senior Lecturer in African Languages at the University of Cape Town in 1946. He worked in that capacity until September 1961 and while there, taught Xhosa to non-mother tongue speakers, which he published as A Practical Course in Xhosa in 1966.

Refused a passport by the South African government in 1961, he was forced to leave South Africa on an exit permit. He became a professor of African Languages and Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles and later the University of Wisconsin–Madison and continued his literary career. He died in exile in 1968.

Archibald Jordan posthumously received an honorary doctorate in literature from the former University of Port Elizabeth in 2004, in recognition of his creative works, his pioneering research and his sustained efforts at preserving and recording, in his writing, the culture and history of the Xhosa people of the Eastern Cape.