Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu was born in the Cape Colony in British southern Africa on October 20, 1885, when a few African men could vote and the prospects for black equality with the ruling whites seemed promising. He died on August 3, 1959, in the Cape Province of the Union of South Africa, eleven years after the apartheid state had begun stripping blacks of their rights and exorcising the ‘ghost of equality’ with a completeness unparalleled in the country’s history. The ‘ghost of equality was the last vestige of the Cape liberal tradition — itself best summed up by the dictum ’equal rights for all civilized men‘ — finally erased in 1959 with the passage of legislation that would, the following year, remove from parliament the last elected white representatives of Africans.…
If D.D.T. Jabavu’s life reveals anything about South Africa’s political history, it is that this history was not monolithic. It was not simply a lengthly confrontation between a black elite represented by the African National Congress and the white segregationist state. Rather, there was a range of black political opinion and activity, of which Jabavu, an active participant in virtually every government-sponsored and every major extraparliamentary conference between 1920 and the late 1940s, represented one prominent historical strain.
This book, however, is about more than D.D.T. Javavu’s politics; it is about his public life, or perhaps more accurately, his public lives. The book is arranged thematically, divided according to the parts Jabavu played: student, teacher, Methodist, and politician.
— from the introduction by the author