Archibald Jordan, educator, novelist, writer, scholar, author, poet.
Archibald Jordan was honored by the state with the Order of Ikhamanga in Gold in September 2005.
1 Amatola Row, King William's Town, 5601, South Africa
Archibald Jordan received a Junior Certificate and a Teacher's Diploma from Lovedale College.
50 Callaway St, Umtata Central, Mthatha, 5100, South Africa
Archibald Jordan studied at St. John's College.
University of Fort Hare Alice Campus, Ring Road, Alice, 5700, South Africa
Archibald Jordan received a Bachelor of Arts from Fort Hare University.
Preller St, Muckleneuk, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa
Archibald Jordan received a Master of Arts from the University of South Africa.
Rondebosch, Cape Town, 7700, South Africa
Archibald Jordan received a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Cape Town.
Archibald Jordan went to St. Cuthbert's Primary School under Mbokothwana Mission in the Eastern Cape. After finishing his primary school education, he was awarded the Andrew Smith bursary as an outstanding student. He went to Alice to further his education at Lovedale College (now Lovedale Public TVET College) where he got a Junior Certificate, also known as Standard Eight (now Grade Ten). In 1923, he moved to Umtata to study at St. John's College. After being awarded a scholarship, he began his academic studies at Fort Hare University College. Then later went back to Lovedale College to enroll for a teacher's diploma, obtained in 1932.
Jordan received a Bachelor of Arts majoring in literature and linguistics, from Fort Hare University in 1934. In 1944, he received a Master of Arts from the University of South Africa after completing a thesis on the phonetic and grammatical structure of the Baca language, one of the subdivisions of the Nguni family of languages, entitled "Some features of the phonetic and grammatical structure of the Bhaca focusing on the Tekela Nguni language." In 1957, Archibald Jordan followed up at the University of Cape Town with his doctoral dissertation, "A Phonological and Grammatical Study of Literary Xhosa." He was the first African-American man to achieve a Doctor of Philosophy in phonological and grammatical study from the University of Cape Town.
Archibald Jordan launched his academic career as a teacher at Bantu High School in Kroonstad, Orange Free State, South Africa, where he worked in 1936-1944. In Kroonstad, he also became involved in teachers' political activities. He also began to engage in creative writing for the Imvo Zabantsundu newspaper. In 1945, he accepted a teaching position in the Department of African Languages at the University of Fort Hare, following the retirement of Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu. It was a short-lived association.
In 1946, Jordan came to the University of Cape Town (UCT) as a senior lecturer, a career that lasted until 1962. According to his wife, Phyllis, Jordan was criticized for leaving Fort Hare for UCT. His response was: "I am going to UCT to open that [UCT] door and keep it ajar so that our people too can come in. UCT on African soil belongs to us too. UCT can and never will be a true university until it admits us too, the children of the soil. I am going there to open that door and keep it ajar." At UCT, Jordan was a lecturer in Lestrade's Language section of the School of African Studies. He had by then published his classic, Ingqumbo yeminyanya (The Wrath of the Ancestors, which Jordan himself translated into English). There he evolved a new method of teaching Xhosa to speakers of other languages and became an inspirational teacher of Xhosa culture and language, as his students were later to testify. He codified this method and published it in 1966 as A Practical Course in Xhosa. But his tenure was brief. Like many others, Jordan became involved in opposition to the government's racial policies, and when he took up a Carnegie bursary for research work in the United States, he was refused a passport.
In 1962, he was a professor in African Languages and Literature at the University of California Los Angeles. The following year, he joined the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, at Madison. He was appointed a full professor in the newly formed Department of African Languages and Literature in 1964, holding this position until his death in 1968.
Archibald Jordan's literary works deftly integrated African traditional beliefs with the experience of cultural dispossession to create an explosive and penetrating literary style. He wrote a series of articles entitled Towards an African Literature, which originally appeared in the periodical Africa South and were later published in book form. They discuss such topics as traditional praise poems, riddles and proverbs, the history of Xhosa literature, and various important individual Bantu writers. In developing his theme of the conflict between traditional and Western ways, Jordan denies any easy solution.
His most notable work, Ingqumbo Yeminyanya, portrays a young "modernized" Mpondomise ruler and his wife who disregard tradition with tragic results. As pointed out by Daniel P. Kunene in his essay in African Literature Studies: The Present State, Jordan's novel Ingqurnbo Yeminyanya follows the tradition of African oral narratives that feature "child heroes" who must flee their village or homeland, grow up in another culture or setting, and then return home. In this case, the hero Zwelinzima is rescued from being killed by his uncle Dingindawo, who wants to usurp Zwelinzima as the future king. Zwelinzima goes away, grows up in another culture, and eventually returns to be installed as king. Nevertheless, the novel is tragic and reflects the difficulties faced by oppressed people. Having received a Western education before he returns to his village, Zwelinzima tries to develop a new life for his people. Although he only wishes the best for his people, Zwelinzima is doomed to failure. Many of his friends who read his manuscript tried to persuade Jordan to change the ending so that modernity and Christianity would win in the end over traditional religion and beliefs. Jordan refused to change the end and its implication. The novel was written in Xhosa, a language spoken by approximately 6.5 million people in southeastern South Africa. In 1980, more than a decade after Jordan's death, Ingqumbo Yeminyanya was published in English as The Wrath of the Ancestors. Translated by the author with the help of his wife, the book is the result of several attempts at a translation by the author and ultimately ended up with new characters and several alterations to the story.
Jordan published an informative series of articles in English in Africa South between 1957 and 1960. The series was titled "Towards an African Literature" and was published posthumously in book form by the University of California Press in 1973, as were his translated, Tales from South Africa. Jordan also wrote poems and short stories in Xhosa which, except for his Kwezo Mpindo Zetsitsa, have been published in English translations. His militant stance on the rights of native Africans is often reflected in his poetry, including the poem Uthi mandiyeke (You Tell Me to Sit Quiet). Among his noteworthy works in Xhosa are Ulubhelu-Ndongana, Imhobe, and Ooketshe babha zalele, which contain poignant poems depicting the conditions of the oppressed African people of South Africa. Before his death, Jordan had completed two more novels and a collection of short stories; the stories were published in 1975 under the title Kwezo mpindo ze Tsitsa (Along the Bends of the Tsitsa). His collection of verse, Imihobe, was never published, and he wrote two more novels in Xhosa that were never published.
Both Archibald Jordan and his wife were highly active in campaigns against the Group Areas Act of 1950, the Bantu Authorities Act of 1951, the Jan van Riebeeck celebrations at the Grand Parade in Cape Town in 1952, and the Bantu Education Act of 1953. They were active members of the Non-European Unity Movement (NEUM). Like many other teachers and lecturers of the University of Cape Town involved in opposition to the Apartheid state, Jordan and his wife were targeted by the apartheid Security Police. During the state of emergency instituted by the government after the Sharpeville massacre and Langa protest of March 1960, Jordan was arrested and assaulted. The family had reached the end of the road in terms of legal space for opposition and for unbridled academic activity and decided to go abroad. As a high-profile opponent to the Apartheid regime, he was refused a passport. He decided to leave South Africa on an exit permit with his son Zweledinga Pallo Jordan, using the "liberationist route," via Botswana and Tanzania to London.
In 1937-1942, Archibald Jordan was a vice-president of the Orange Free State African Teachers' Association. In 1943-1944, he served as president of the Association. He was a founding member of the Society of Young Africa and a member of the Cape African Teachers Association.
Quotes from others about the person
Harold Scheub, a scholar and Archibald Jordan's student, said: "He loved his students, and his students reciprocated with an affection that was profound and respectful. In the classroom and outside, Professor Jordan was able to create and exploit a remarkable rapport with his students, a relationship that was compounded of his brilliance, his warmth, and his accurate insights. Wit, charm, scholarship, a splendid combination of gentleness and selfless interest, a richly romantic man of vision, a deeply contemplative man who belonged to no routine, who seemed limited by no physical time. He was that rare teacher who knew how to listen, not because he had perfected the art of listening, but rather because he was genuinely interested in, excited by, the ideas of others."
In an article on Archibald Jordan, an academic Phil Ndlela said: "Jordan ranks as one of those value-oriented intellectuals who were maligned by the establishment for daring to speak the truth. He consciously deployed his scholarship to advance the cause of the underdog, the voiceless and the marginalized."
In January 1940, Archibald Jordan married Priscilla Phyllis Ntantala, a writer, feminist, and activist. They had four children. The Jordan family first took up residence in Moshesh Avenue in the Langa township but they later wrote to Governor-General Brownlee, to ask for permission to purchase land from a Mr. Guttman in Fleur Street, Lincoln Estate, Cape Town. The permission was granted and they established their home, "Thabisano" (a place of rejoicing), in Lincoln Street in Athlone. Their children were sent to St. Marks Church School in Athlone, Rosmead School, and Livingstone High School in Claremont.