Former UWC scholar and historian Jatti Bredekamp dies

Jatti Bredekamp. Credit: Iziko Museums

Jatti Bredekamp. Credit: Iziko Museums

Published Sep 21, 2023


Cape Town - The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is mourning the loss of Professor Henry “Jatti” Bredekamp, a leading scholar and former director of the Institute for Historical Research at the university. He was 78.

Bredekamp was born at the Genadendal Mission Station in the Overberg region of the Western Cape, South Africa. He began his career as a farm schoolteacher near Leeu Gamka in the Great Karoo. He later joined UWC, where he would work for the next 27 years.

Bredekamp held two Master’s degrees in history, obtained as a Fulbright scholar from the Wesleyan University in the US, and then UWC. In 1976, he was appointed lecturer-researcher at UWC’s Institute for Historical Research. In 1992, he was appointed associate professor and, in 1995, director of the Institute.

Bredekamp published extensively on historical issues. He was an authority on Khoisan identity as well as slavery and human rights. He was also a dedicated teacher and mentor. Many of his students have gone on to become leading scholars.

After leaving UWC, Bredekamp took on leadership roles of great magnitude, including as CEO of the Iziko Museums of Cape Town and President of the South African National Committee of ICOM (International Council of Museums). He also served as Interim CEO of Robben Island Museum.

Bredekamp was a passionate advocate for social justice and equality, and his work has helped to shape our understanding of the country’s history. He was also a beloved friend and colleague, and he will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

“The UWC community is in mourning, but we are also grateful for the life and legacy of Prof Bredekamp.

“He was a giant tree in our community, and his branches have reached far and wide. He will be remembered for his unflinching commitment to education, his dedication to social justice, and his warm and caring personality,” said UWC spokesperson Gasant Abarder.

He said UWC would release details of memorials and funeral service as they become available.

Cape Argus