Professor Gert ‘Jakes’ Johannes Gerwel

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Biographical information


Author, teacher, leading intellectual, member of the ANC and Director-General in the presidential office of Nelson Mandela.

First name: 
Gert “Jakes”
Middle name: 
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
Location of birth: 
Kommadagga, Eastern Province (now Eastern Cape)
Date of death: 
Location of death: 
Kuils River Hospital, Cape Town, Western Cape

Gert Johannes “Jakes” Gerwel was born 18 January 1946 in the town of Kommadagga in the district of Somerset East, Eastern Province (now Eastern Cape). While growing up on a sheep farm, Gerwel attended a church-based farm school, followed by secondary school at London Missionary Society Institution, and he eventually matriculated at Paterson High School in Port Elizabeth. Gerwel then attended University of Western Cape (UWC), where he began his passionate foray into his studies of the Afrikaner language.

• Davis, R., (2012), 'Remembering Jakes Gerwel', from Daily Maverick, 29 November [online], Available at [Accessed: 29 November 2012]
Gerwel, J., 1991-1998. Padraig O’Malley’s Political Interviews, interviewed by Padraig O’Malley, Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
Gerwel, Jakes, (2000) ‘National Reconciliation: Holy Grail or Secular Pact?’ in Looking Back, Reaching Forward: Reflections on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, ZED Books, pp. 277-286
• Gruchy, John W. de, (2002), Reconciliation: Restoring Justice, (SCM Press: London), pp. 14-15 & 43.
• Trailblazer’s: South Africa’s Champions of Change, (Double Storey Books: Cape Town, 1999), pp.110-115.
• Independent Online News, (2012), ‘Prof Jakes Gerwel dies’, from Independent Online News, 28 November [online], Available at [Accessed: 28 November 2012]
• Mail & Guardian, (2012), ‘Mandela presidency’s DG Gerwel dies at 66’, from Mail & Guardian, 28 November [online], Available at [Accessed: 28 November 2012]
• Mail & Guardian, (1999), ‘A leading player on all fronts’, from Mail & Guardian, 19 February [online], Available at [Accessed: 28 November 2012]
• Monash University, (2012), ‘Prof Gerwel awarded Honorary Doctorate by Monash University’, 15 February [online], Available at [Accessed: 28 November 2012]
• news24, (2012), ‘The Life of Jakes Gerwel’, from news24, 28 November [online], Available at [Accessed: 28 November 2012]
• Palestine: Information with Provenance, ‘Gert Johannes (Jakes) Gerwel’, [online] Available at [Accessed: 27 November 2012]
• South African History Online, ‘Jakes Gerwel is born’, [online] Available at [Accessed: 27 November 2012]
• Sowetan LIVE, (2012), ‘Prof Gerwel dies, aged 66’, from Sowetan LIVE, 28 November [online], Available at [Accessed: 28 November 2012]

Last updated : 16-Apr-2018

This article was produced for South African History Online on 28-Nov-2012