Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu

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Biographical information


Academic and writer

First name: 
Middle name: 
Don Tengo
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
20 October 1885
Location of birth: 
King William's Town, Cape Colony
Date of death: 
3 August 1959
Location of death: 
East London

Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu (D. D. T) Jabavu was born in the Cape Colony in 1885. He was the eldest son of John Tengo Jabavu, a politician turned journalist who founded and also became the editor of the first Black-owned newspaper in 1884, Imvo Zabantsundu (Black opinion). His father was also a founding member of the South African Native College (later renamed the University of Fort Hare). He attended the Lovedale Institute, in Cape Town, Morija and Colwyn Bay in Wales (Britain).

John Tengo Jabavu and his son Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu, around 1903

After gaining Bachelor of Arts (B. A) Degree at London University and teacher's certificate at Birmingham University in Britain, Jabavu returned to South Africa and took up a teaching position in languages as the first Black professor at the University of Fort Hare. He remained at the university for more than thirty years and also founded a Black teachers' association, which advocated better farming methods, stressed the value of manual work, and pleaded for racial co-operation. He was President of the All-Africa Convention (AAC), an umbrella organisation that consisted of several organisations that were opposed to the segregation legislations passed by the Hertzog Government in 1936.

Rhodes University conferred an honorary doctorate on him in 1954. Among his literary publications were The Black Problem (1920), The Segregation Fallacy and Other Papers (1928) and The life of John Tengo Jabavu, editor of Imvo Zabantsundu (1922) and IziDungulwana (1958)

• Potgieter, D. J. (1972). Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa, Vol.6, Nasou: Cape Town, p. 169.

Last updated : 01-Nov-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011