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
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.