Johannes Theodorus Vanderkemp

1747-1811. Missionary to South Africa. Born in Rotterdam, he revealed in his early career as army officer, doctor, and amateur philosopher a blend of intellectual ability, unconventionality, and stubborn independence. He was converted from Deism* in 1791 shortly after the drowning of his wife and daughter, and offered his services to the London Missionary Society in 1796. In 1799 he reached the Cape as leader of the pioneer LMS party. After an unsuccessful period among the Xhosa, he began work among the Hottentots and established a missionary institution at Bethelsdorp (1803). Conditions here were poor, and discipline weak. This drew criticism from the colonists, as did Vanderkemp's simple manner of life and marriage to a Malagasy slave. But his chief offense in their eyes was his defense of Hottentot interests in the face of widespread injustice.