John Dube

A flyer by Nick Leahy

John Dube's Life and Accomplishments

John Dube was born in 1871 and is one of the most important figures in South African history. Dube was born in Natal of a royal Zulu lineage and was raised as a Christian. However, this Christian upbringing often came in conflict with his Zulu ethnic roots. As a youth, he traveled to the Oberlin College in the United States with a fellow Zulu missionary named William Wilcox. Here, Dube studied and worked in order to pay for his tuition. From 1890 to 1892, Dube lectured throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. In 1891, Dube completed a short book named A Talk Upon My Native Land. The thirty-five page book discussed Dube’s desires to bring agricultural and industrial reforms to his fellow indigenous Africans. In 1892, Dube returned to South Africa and taught as a high school teacher in Amanzimtoti. It is here where he met his future wife, Nokeutela Mdima. In 1894, Dube and his wife moved to the Incawadi village and began to convert the village to Christianity. Dube also began a small day school within the village to teach English and basic mathematics. In 1897, Dube returned to Brooklyn Heights, New York and attended multiple lectures by Booker T. Washington. After listening to Washington’s lectures, Dube returned to South Africa with special interest in spreading education in South Africa. After Dube’s return to South Africa in 1901, he founded the Zulu Christian Industrial School which was later renamed to the Ohlange Institute. This institute prepare its students to be skilled laborers. This was very important for Black South Africans at the time for as they were limited to unskilled labor. Later, in 1903, Dube co-founded the first Zulu language newspaper, Hanya Lase Natal (The Natal Sun). Dube later became editor of the paper. Finally, in 1912, Dube became the founding president of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) which later became known as the African National Congress (ANC). During his lifetime, Dube was an educator, an orator, a writer, a newspaper editor, and an international civil rights leader.

John Dube's Role in the Anti-Apartheid Movement

In 1912, John Dube became the president of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) which would later be renamed to the African National Congress (ANC). John Dube conducted a paper through the SANNC named the Abantu-Batho from 1912 to 1933. In this paper, Dube urged the need for a congress to work closely with the Coloured people and for the representatives of this congress to meet atleast once a year. Dube also promoted the unity of the black population through the SANNC. In 1914, Dube was a one of the delegates that went to protest the Natives Land Act of 1913. However, it was believed that Dube had made compromises on the principle of segregation while at the meeting in London. Because of this, Dube was removed from the presidency spot of the SANNC in 1917. Later, Dube openly considered the Hertzog’s bills in the hope that it might provide some additional funds for development in 1930. Although this bill would give funds to the blacks, it promoted segregation which was against what the vast majority of natives wanted. Finally, in 1935, Dube attacked the government’s policies seen through the pamphlet, Criticisms of the Native Bills. In this pamphlet, Dube showed his nationalism by rejecting African inequality and he showed his desire for African representation.

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John Dube Speech Primary Source


Dube, John Langalibalele. (n.d.): n. pag. African National Congress. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

"John Langalibalele Dube." South African History Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

"John L. DubeA Biographical Sketch." Dube Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

"Pictures of John L. Dube and Family." ENanda. ENanda, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.