Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr

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There are a number of influential people by this name in the South African cultural landscape.

(1) Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr (1845-1909). Also known as "J.H. Hofmeyr", or "Onze Jan", his nom de plume. (1845-1909). Cultural leader, journalist and politician.

(2) Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr (1894-1948), often referred to as "Slim Jannie" Academic and politician, one time Minister of Education under the Smuts government.

(3) Jan-Hendrik Servaas Hofmeyr, generally known in artistic circles as "Jannie Hofmeyr" (1953-) Academic, biochemist, musician, composer and actor. See Jannie Hofmeyr

(4) Hendrik Pienaar Hofmeyr , generally known as Hendrik Hofmeyr (1957-) Academic and composer. See Hendrik Hofmeyr

Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr (1845-1909). Cultural leader, journalist and politician

Also known variously as "J.H. Hofmeyr", "Jan Hofmeyr", or by his nom de plume, "Onze Jan".


Born in Cape Town, he was educated at the South African College, and at an early age turned his attention to journalism and politics.

Contribution to South African culture

Besides his political role in the Cape , he also played an important cultural role as the editor of two journals - De Zuid Afrikaan[1] and the Het Zuid Afrikaansche Tijdschrift - and as a leading member of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Taalbond[2] (1883-1906) by championing Cape Dutch as a language for the country.


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928: p. 6.


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Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr (1894-1948), Academic and politician.

Often referred to as J.H. Hofmeyr, or as "Slim Jannie" ("Smart Little Jan")


Born in Cape Town, he was an intellectual giant who graduated from University of Cape Town, with an M.A. at the age of 17, and went on to Balliol College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Became the Chair of Classics at the South African College, Cape Town, and in 1917 professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and later its Rector. He left the University in 1924 to become Administrator of the Transvaal till 1929. Then entered active politics and soon became the closest advisor to Jan Smuts. He acted as Prime Minister several times during the Second World War, in which Smuts was heavily involved, and till his untimely death in 1948, held the portfolios of became Minister of Finance and Minister of Education.

Contribution to South African Theatre

It is in his capacity as Minister he is of importance for South African theatre, for it was he – through the offices of J.P. Op 't Hof - who approved a government grant and a loan to the Federation of Amateur Theatrical Societies of South Africa, in order to found the National Theatre Organisation in 1947.


Percy Tucker, 1997

Rinie Stead, 1985b.

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