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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Gerwel, Gert Johannes 'Jakes'

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Gert Johannes 'Jakes' Gerwel was born on 18 January 1947 in the Eastern Cape, and matriculated at Paterson High School in Port Elizabeth in South Africa. He graduated cum laude with a BA degree from the University of the Western Cape in 1967 and completed his BA (Hons) in 1968. He lectured at the Hewat Teachers' Training College in Cape Town before taking up a Belgian government scholarship to the Free University of Brussels, where he completed a licentiate in Germanic Philosophy in 1971 and his doctorate in literature and Philosophy magna cum laude in 1979.

Gerwel taught at Grassy Park High School in Cape Town when he returned to South Africa in 1971, and later lectured at the University of the Western Cape. He became professor in 1980 and Dean of the Arts Faculty two years later. Gerwel was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the university in January 1987.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Gerwel became involved in the Black Conciousness Movement and served as educational advisor to the South African Students' Organisation (Saso) in the early 1970s. His political involvement raised objections from university authorities and before his appointment to permanent staff he served three probations. Gerwel was detained by police during the 1980 education boycotts.

Gerwel designated the University of the Western Cape as a vehicle for change in South Africa. In September 1989, together with Archbishop Tutu and Franklin Sonn, Gerwel was briefly arrested during a march in the Cape Town city centre.

Gerwel was elected a member of the Western Cape regional committee of the ANC in 1991 and after the April 1994 elections was asked to take over the post of Director-General in the office of State President Nelson Mandela.

Source: Gastrow, S. 1995. Who's who in South African Politics, Number 5. Ravan Press: Johannesburg.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.