Z. K. Matthews

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Zachariah Keodirelang "ZK" Matthews (1901 - May 1968) was a prominent black academic in South Africa, lecturing at South African Native College (since 1955 University of Fort Hare), where many future leaders of the African continent were among his students.

Z.K. was born in Winter's Rush near Kimberley in 1901, the son of a Bamangwato mineworker. Z.K. grew up in urban Kimberley, but maintained close connections with his mother’s rural Barolong relatives. He went to Mission high school in the eastern Cape where he attended Lovedale. After Lovedale he studied at South African Native College in Fort Hare, and in 1923 he wrote the external examination of the University of South Africa.

In 1925 he was appointed head of the high school at Adams College in Natal, where Albert Luthuli was also a teacher. With Luthuli he attended meetings of the Durban Joint Council and held office in the Natal Teacher’s Association, of which he eventually became President.

It was while he was in Natal, in 1928, that he married Frieda Bokwe, daughter of John Knox Bokwe, whom he had met as a student at Fort Hare. His son, Joe, was born in 1929 in Durban.

In 1930 after private study, he earned an LLB degree in South Africa, a degree he was awarded once again by the University of South Africa. He was admitted as an attorney and practiced for a short time in Alice. In 1933 he was invited to study at Yale University in the United...
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