John Langalibalele Dube

John Langalibalele Dube was born in Natal in 1871. He was the son of Rev. James Dube one of the first ordained pastors of the American Zulu Mission. John Dube's grandmother was one of the first Christians to be converted by the American Daniel Lindley. There are many contradictory views and judgements on Dube's life. Let us take a few samples:

Significance of Ohlange

Dube was educated at Inanda and Amanzimtoti (later Adams College). In 1887 he accompanied the missionary W.C. Wilcox to America. There he studied at Oberlin College while supporting himself in a variety of jobs and lecturing on the need for industrial education in Natal. He went back to Natal but soon resumed to the U.S. for further training and to collect money for a Zulu industrial school - as he called it - along the lines of the Tuskegee Institute. In 1901 he was able to achieve his ambition on 200 acres of land in the Inanda district where he established the Zulu Christian Industrial School at Ohlange. Ohlange is within a stone's throw of Phoenix settlement where Gandhi started the newspaper, Indian Opinion, and not far from the dense religious settlement of AmaNazarethi, the Nazareth people, founded the prophet Shembe. One of Dube's achievements at this time was the establishment of a Zulu/English newspaper Ilanga lase Natal (Sun of Natal). He began to establish his political reputation.

Dube and the Bambata Rebellion

Dube bitterly opposed the arrest and trial of Dinizulu in connection with the 1906 Bambata rebellion and actively assisted in raising funds for his defence. Dinizulu, son of the last Zulu king was,.for Africans in South Africa, the symbol of past independence and at their identity as a people - and this is something which Dube, with his recollections of and pride in his African past, was to remain acutely aware of for the rest of his life. The Natal government attempted to suppress Ilanga lase Natal before and during the Bambata Rebellion - it was the object of constant suspicion. Dube publicised Dinizulu's arrest. His relations with the Royal House were to be strong and so enduring that by the 1930's he was acting as their chief adviser, and worked closely with the Regent, Mshlyeni. In 1909 Dube was a member of the delegation to Britain to protest against the Act of Union and in 1912 he accepted the Presidency of the ANC in spite of the pressures put on him by his preoccupation with education. It is said that in 1912 Dube addressed a group of Africans in Zululand to explain the new movement (the ANC) and appeal for unity. A member of the audience shouted: "I thank Bambata. I thank Bambata very much. Would this spirit might continue! I do not mean the Bambata of the bush who perished at Nkandbla, but I mean this new spirit which we have just heard explained".

Dube's Political Role

When Dube came back from the States in 1905 (after his third visit) there were signs of tension between him and the white missionaries. Ilanga lase Natal attacked the decisions of missionaries on land allotment on the Reserves, and the Mission Reserve rent, as well as the social aloofness of missionaries and their lack of trust for the converts, inadequate selection of African officers and failure to defend African interests. In 1908 he resigned from the pastorate of Inanda. The tension between Dube on the one hand and the government and missionaries on the other hand was resolved in 1907 but he was constantly warned that he was "playing with fire". But in the columns of Ilanga and as part of many delegations of Amakholwa he protested and petitioned the government against the proposed legislations.

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