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John Mackenzie
1835 to 1899
London Missionary Society (LMS)
South Africa / Botswana


John Mackenzie was a London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary in South Africa. Perhaps after John Philip, he is the missionary with the most influence on South African history. Brought up in a devout Church of Scotland family in northeastern Scotland, he volunteered for service with the LMS in 1855 and in 1858 was sent to South Africa. He served at Kuruman and at Shoshong among the Tswana peoples. Returning from furlough in 1871, he became tutor in the school for teachers and evangelists, first at Shoshong then at Kuruman. The Tswana peoples were threatened with the loss of their land to Afrikaners of the Transvaal or to speculators from the Cape. Mackenzie became a firm advocate of direct imperial rule of native territories to prevent settler takeover of the land so essential to the integrity of an African people. After a very long and complex struggle against the forces of both the Transvaalers and of Cape politicians like Cecil Rhodes, he achieved success when in 1885 the British government declared the present Botswana a British Protectorate and preserved it from white settler occupation. In 1890 Mackenzie left the Tswana and spent his last years as pastor to the Cape Coloured people of Hankey, the last resting place of John Philip.

Andrew C. Ross


Bibliography:

A prolific writer, Mackenzie's most important books are Ten Years North of the Orange River (1871) and Austral Africa (1887). His son W. D. Mackenzie published a full biography, John Mackenzie: South African Missionary and Statesman (1902). See also A. Sillery, Founding a Protectorate (1965).


This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.