Will You Be Remembered By Your Descendants Six Removed From You

Great-great-great grandfather was an old man who told funny stories

Vuyo Ngcakani
Blue Insights
Published in
5 min readSep 13, 2021
large family photo
Photo by Rajiv Perera on Unsplash

How often do you contemplate the legacy of those you a leaving behind? I’m not talking about greatness like Nelson Mandela or Gandhi. This is not about being known by the world for outstandingness. Yes, I made it up.

I’m talking about being remembered by your family tree well beyond 3 generations after your death.

Think about this. How far back in your family tree can you go where you have some good knowledge of your ancestors? For most of us it’s grandparents, maybe great-grandparents. How far back can you go where you don’t even know their names?

I can go further back on my maternal side than my paternal side. This is because my maternal side has prominent South African citizens.

My maternal ancestry.

maternal family tree by author

My great-grandfather, John Knox Bokwe, was a well-known composer/musician/journalist/educator/pastor. His Wikipedia page lists the names of my maternal great-great-grandparents. That’s good to know but no stories about them were ever told to me by my Mom or Grandmother. John Knox Bokwe, however, was mentioned many times.

ZK Matthews, my maternal grandfather, was also a prominent educator, political activist, and lawyer in South Africa. He lectured at Fort Hare University where one of his students was Nelson Mandela. He was also one of the architects of the South African Freedom Charter, a document used today in a free South Africa.

His wife, Frieda Matthews, was the first African woman to earn a degree from a South African institution. I lived with her until I was 10 years old so she was well known to me and her death hit me hard.

My paternal side lived less well-known lives.

My paternal grandfather was a Methodist pastor. Though not known countrywide, he was well regarded in his community. This is highlighted by naming the street where he and the family lived after him.



Vuyo Ngcakani
Blue Insights

writer, husband for 28 years, father of 3, grandfather of 2. I write about fatherhood, parenting, Christianity, & other topics. https://vuyongcakani.com