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Mr Milner Langa Kabane (Posthumous)

The Order of the Baobab in

Mr Milner Langa Kabane (Posthumous) Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the field of education and the upliftment of the black community during the struggle for liberation. He lived by the courage of his conviction in adverse conditions.
Mr Milner Langa Kabane, son of the Wesleyan Minister William Kabane, was born at the Cwecweni Methodist Mission Station, near Butterworth in the Eastern Cape on 18 June 1900. After receiving his early education at Cwecweni, Kabane went to school for five years at Healdtown where he completed a primary teacher training course in 1918.

He qualified to enter for matriculation at the South African Native College (SANC) – later called Fort Hare University – in June 1920 and matriculated in 1922.

Thereafter, Kabane continued his studies at the SANC and enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, which he completed in 1924 and completed a teacher’s diploma in 1925. Those qualifications paved the way for an almost unparalleled teaching career that spanned from the mid-1920s to the early 1940s in a number of prominent schools.

The first of those was at Lovedale College, where he was later also appointed a principal of that mission school. At the helm of Lovedale, some of his white colleagues took exception to being led by an African and duly conspired for his demotion.

However, Kabane remained steadfast on augmenting his qualifications and went to Yale University in the United States to study the Principles of Education and Psychology of Education. Returning fromYale, he went to teach at the Bloemfontein Bantu High School in the Orange Free State from the late 1930s and it was in that province where he became active in politics.

He served as President of the Orange Free State Teachers’ Association and also became an executive committee member of the All African Convention after its formation in 1936. Kabane became a member of the committee that reported directly to the ANC President Dr AB Xuma during the early 1940s on the findings of the Atlantic Charter.

He and his wife Helena Villa Kabane became critical organising members in the drafting of the document titled Bill of Rights and the Atlantic Charter from the African’s point of view. This mainly agitated for African representation, franchise and Bill of Rights within a segregated Union of South Africa. Unfortunately, he died untimely in 1945 whilst still articulating for such broader rights of Africans within the Union of South Africa.