Rev. John Joseph Doke was a Baptist pioneer and writer. He was born in Chudleigh (Devonshire) on 5 November 1861 and died in Umtali (Rhodesia) on 15 August 1913. He was raised in a family of religious workers and missionaries and he came to the Cape in 1882. For health reasons settled in Graaf-Reinet, where he established a Baptist church. Four years later, after a study tour to India, he married Agnes Hannah Biggs, a South African. He continued his work in England and then worked in New Zealand from 1894 to 1902. Doke was called to Grahamstown in 1903, was president of the Baptist Union of South Africa during 1906, and served in Johannesburg from 1907 to 1913. He will be remembered for his heroic fight to save the Baptist Church in South Africa from financial ruin. He was also an artist and author. His articles on India, illustrated by his own sketches, appeared in Baptist publications as early as 1886.
Rev. John Joseph Doke wrote the first biography of Gandhi, with whom he was closely associated and whom he nursed in his own house: M. K. Gandhi- an Indian patriot in South Africa (1909), and also edited Gandhi’s journal, Indian Opinion, for some time. Doke also wrote two adventure novels: The secret city – a tale of the Karroo (1913) and The queen of the secret city (1916). He was an intellectual with a passion for missionary work and a gifted orator. But it was his great kindness that made him a leader of men. He died on his way home from a visit to Lambaland with the intention of founding a chain of mission stations, thus connecting the South African with the Congo Baptists. His son Clement Martyrs served the Lamba people as a missionary from 194 until 1921, when he left to study Bantu philology in London.