John Dube

Philip Sherwin

Life and Accomplishments

Born: February 22, 1871
Died: February 11, 1946

John Dube was raised as a Christian by his converted father, and grew up in Natal. He was the founder of the South African Native National Congress which later became the African National Congress. He was president of the organization from 1912 to 1917. This was only one of his accomplishments in life. He and his wife founded the Zulu Christian Industrial School (now Ohlange High School). Dube attended Oberlin College in the United States after traveling there with a missionary. While at Oberlin College he studied science, mathematics, and classical Greek works, but it is important to note that he did not graduate. Dube had difficulty maintaining a job to pay for his education while attending college but eventually became employed at a printing firm and developed skills he would later use to produce a Zulu newspaper in South Africa.
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Significance in the Fight Against Apartheid

John Dube first began his fight against apartheid in 1900 by joining with the NNC. He published numerous newspapers which he used to expose injustices against black Africans imposed by the harsh government. He was at one point accused of inspiring resentment of the government with his publications. His newspapers primarily focused on laws, taxes, and social and political developments. When Dinizulu, the son of the last Zulu king, was arrested and put on trial for being connected with the Bambatha Rebellion, Dube supported and helped fund his defense. Dube wanted to protect Dinizulu because he represented the former freedom of blacks and was important of the people of South Africa. In 1912 he became the president of the ANC and continued to promote the unity of South Africans against the apartheid government. Despite his fighting against the government through his numerous publications, in 1930 John Dube seemingly supported segregation and made an alliance of sorts with Heaton Nicholls, a prominent segregationist. Although this episode was questionable, he was still elected as the Executive of the All African Convention in 1935 and again assaulted the government for its scheming and harsh policies.
University of Lincoln Research Showcase: First President (of the ANC, John Dube)


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