Archibald Campbell Mzoliza Jordan, Xhosa writer and linguist, dies

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Jordan Mzoliza

Monday, 21 October 1968

Archibald Campbell Mzoliza Jordan Xhosa writer and linguist died in the United State of America in Madison Wisconsin. Jordan was born on 30 October 1906 at the Mbokothwana mission station in the Tsolo district of Pondoland. He did his education at Mbokothwana mission before moving to St John's College in Umtata where he qualified as a teacher. After qualifying, he began his teaching career at St Cuthbert where taught for a year and also excelled as choirmaster. Jordan then moved to teach at Kroonstand High School where he taught for ten years and was elected president of the African Teachers' Association.

Jordan went on to study at the University of Fort Hare where he obtained a BA degree in 1934. During his period at the University of Fort Hare he authored poetry that was published in Imvo Zabantsundu a newspaper that aired the views of Black people. One of his Xhosa poems that dealt with the invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) by Italian forces under Benito Mussolini became popular among his peers.  In 1942 Jordan received his MA Degree from the University of Cape Town.  In 1945 Jordan began teaching in the Department of African Languages at Fort Hare. After receiving his doctorate in 1957, he was appointed as a lecturer in African languages at the University of Cape Town.

Jordan became an outspoken critic of the apartheid government's racial policies. As a consequence the government refused to issue him with a passport when he was offered the Carnegie bursary to conduct research work in the United States of America. He then left South Africa on an exit permit. He was made a professor in African Languages and Literature at the University of California's Los Angeles campus where he worked. He then moved to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and it was in Madison where he died in 1968.

After his death his novel Ingqumbo Yeminyana (the The Wrath of the Ancestors) was published in English as The Wrath of the Ancestors in 1980, translated into Afrikaans as Die Toorn van die Voorvaders and Dutch as De Wraak van het Voorgeslacht in 1990 and in 1999 respectively. Jordan also authored a critical study of Xhosa literature which was published in 1972. The following year his collection of short stories Kwezo Mpindo zeTsitsa, in Xhosa was translated into English under the title Tales from Southern Africa. In recognition to his literary contribution to South African literature, Jordan was posthumously awarded a doctorate in Literature by the University of Port Elizabeth in 2004. In 2005 the South African government also awarded him the Order of Ikhamanga in Gold for exceptional contributions in literature.

References:
• Phyllis N., (1993), A life's mosaic: the autobiography of Phyllis Ntantala, (University of California Press), pp. 106-115
•  Kirsch B., Skorge s. & Magona S., (2001), Clicking with Xhosa: a Xhosa phrasebook, (David Philip Publishers), p.72

Last updated : 21-Oct-2013

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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