General Jan Christiaan Smuts

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Biographical information

Jan Christiaan Smuts


Politician, world-famed statesman, soldier, naturalist, philosopher and former Prime Minister of South Africa

First name: 
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
24 May 1870
Location of birth: 
Bovenplaats, Riebeeck West, Cape Colony, South Africa
Date of death: 
11 September 1950
Location of death: 
Doornkloof, Irene, Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa

General Jan Christiaan Smuts was born near Riebeeck West in the Cape Colony on 24 May 1870. His mother taught him the elements of reading and writing in English, and he only entered school at the age of 12, when his elder brother Michiel died.

After only five years of formal schooling, he matriculated with distinction at the Victoria College in Stellenbosch. His time at Stellenbosch is considered significant, as there he embraced the political philosophy of J.H Hofmeyr “Onze Jan”, the leader of the Afrikaner Bond.

• [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 July 2009]
• Giliomee, H. and Mbenga, B. (eds) (2007) New History of South Africa. Tafelberg Publishers: Cape Town. p. 274
• Great South Africans (2004) Penguin Publishers. p. 38- 43
• Kruger, D.W. (ed) (1972) Dictionary of South African Biography, Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council, v. 1, pp. 737-758
• Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds) (1970) Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v. 10, pp. 15-22.

Last updated : 10-Aug-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 11-Oct-2011