Lestrade, Gerard Paul

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Lestrade, Gerard Paul

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Gerard Paul Lestrade was born in Amsterdam on 22nd August, 1897 to a French speaking mother and a Dutch father. During his childhood he learnt to speak several languages and continued "collecting" languages all his life. (He eventually spoke more than thirty). His family settled in Cape Town in 1902 where Lestrade was educated at the Normal School and at SACS. In 1917 he obtained his BA in languages and later an MA in Latin and Greek at the University of Cape Town. He studied for two more MA degrees at Harvard in 1922 (Hebrew, Arabic and Chinese) and at London 1923 (African Languages and Phonetics). In 1923 an accident occurred which left Lestrade blind for two years. His sight was partially restored in 1925 but he suffered from poor eyesight all his life. In 1925 he married widow Cornelia Aartes-de Vries (died 1963) and in the same year was appointed as first ethnologist in the Department of Native Affairs in Pretoria. In 1930 he became Professor of Bantu Studies at the University of Pretoria and was, in 1935, appointed to the Chair of Bantu Languages at UCT, which post he held until his death. Lestrade was also associated with the University of South Africa for many years, (as member of the Senate from 1926-1962), where he was concerned with the introduction of new language courses, syllabuses, exams etc. Through his association with UNISA he came into contact with the teaching staff of Fort Hare and promoted communication between black and white academics. Lestrade was also a member of the Joint Matriculation Board and the Place Names Commission (1937-1961). Professor Lestrade died on 6th November, 1962.


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