John Campbell

Title Missionary
Other Names
Date of Birth 1766-00-00
Date of Death 1840-00-00

Edited 12 Oct 2016


REVEREND JOHN CAMPBELL. Born 1766, died 1840.

Campbell was a Director of the London Missionary Society (LMS). In 1820 he was sent on an inspection of missions in South Africa, which included an exploratory visit to the country north of the Orange River to scout for possible new sites for mission stations. He spent several years among the Griqua/Kora people and the town of Campbell was named after him. However, he also spent time among firstly the baTlhaping, visiting their former main town of "Latakoo", near the Mashowing river, and their capital at the time, Dithakong.
 He then moved north-east and visited the baHurutshe. The sight of Campbell arriving, resplendent in a pair of blue and white trousers and an umbrella, accompanied by a retinue of Griqua on horses, terrified the residents of Kaditshwene, most of whom had never encountered a white man before.

Apart from reporting back to the LMS, Campbell wrote of his travels in a two volume account, entitled Travels in South Africa Undertaken at the Request of the Missionary Society. The book offers one of the most interesting and perceptive accounts of the baTswana in the pre-colonial era, and of conditions at that time. In addition, his sketches of Dithakong and Kaditshewene particularly, offer a fascinating picture of the nature of BaTswana towns at that time, which were extensive and well ordered. He also provides information on the economic activities of the people he visited, from which historians have made important deductions regarding the pre-colonial economy and political organization of the baTswana.    

South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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