John Knox Bokwe’s Grave

Rev John Knox Bokwe was one of the pioneering community leaders who raised funds in the early 1900s to create the South African Native College – today’s University of Fort Hare. He was an evangelist, intellectual, educator and composer. He is buried here alongside his second wife Maria (née Sopotela). This gravesite also acknowledges the descendants of this distinguished South African family, which include the accomplished educator, physician and politician Dr Roseberry Bokwe, admired educationist Frieda Bokwe and prominent politician Naledi Pandor.

Rev JK Bokwe as a young man, posing with other members of the Lovedale Missionary Institution, date unknown (possibly the early 1870s). Rev Bokwe is the last man on the right. The men to his left are (from left to right) Rev Elijah Makiwane and Rev Pambani Mzimba. Dr Jane Elizabeth Waterston is seated last on the right. The names of the other women in the photo have not been recorded. Rev Mzimba was the first black minister of the Presbyterian Church to be trained in South Africa. In 1898 he broke away to found the Presbyterian Church of Africa, driven by the ideal of an independent church for black people. Rev Makiwane was a teacher and journalist who became the second black minister of the Presbyterian Church to be ordained in South Africa – after Mzimba. Makiwane’s daughter, Cecelia, would become the country’s first black nurse. Dr Waterston was a Scottish missionary who established Lovedale’s Girls’ School, which Cecelia Makiwane would later attend. Waterston was one of the first students at the London School of Medicine for Women. She returned to the continent after qualifying, becoming the first female physician in Southern Africa. © Cory Library / Rhodes University / Africa Media Online