ZK Matthews

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ZK Matthews

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Zachariah Keodirelang Matthews was born on October 20 1901 near Kimberley, Cape Colony, the son of a mineworker. He was educated in South Africa, America and England, the first African graduate in South Africa from Fort Hare College in 1923, the first African headmaster of Adams College, Natal and in 1930 the first African graduate of Law of the University of South Africa. His long association with the University College of Fort Hare began in 1936 when he was appointed Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Native Law and Administration. In 1945 he became Head of the Department of African Studies and during the early 1950's he was Vice Principal. Professor Matthews was active in political affairs, becoming Chairman of the African National Congress. This activity led to his arrest in 1956 on a charge of High Treason. He was tried and acquitted. In 1959 he left Fort Hare, setting up in private legal practice. In 1960 the African National Congress was banned and, following the Sharpeville shootings, he was detained for 135 days and then released.
In 1962 he left South Africa and joined the staff of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, travelling widely in Africa on World Council business. He retired to Botswana, where he was invited to become Botswana's ambassador to the United States and then the country's permanent representative to the United Nations. While engaged on this work he died in Washington, U.S.A. on May 11, 1968.


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