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John Langalibalele Dube (1871 - 1946)

The Order of Luthuli in

John Langalibalele Dube (1871 - 1946) Awarded for:
His exceptional leadership and contribution to the struggle for equal rights and a democratic South Africa.

Profile of John Langalibalele Dube

John Langalibalele Dube-scholar, gentleman, leader, farmer, teacher, politician, patriot and philanthropist –was born in 1871 in the former Natal. He was educated at lnanda and Amanzimtoti (later Adams College). In 1887, he accompanied the missionary W C Wilcox to the United States of America (USA), where he studied at Oberlin College while supporting himself through various jobs and lecturing on the need for industrial education in Natal. He returned to Natal, but soon moved back to the USA for further training and to collect money for a Zulu industrial school -as he called it – modelled along the lines of the Tuskegee Institute.

In 1901, he established the Zulu Christian Industrial School on 200 acres of land at Ohlange in the lnanda district. Three years later, he also launched the IsiZulu/English newspaper llanga lase Natal (Sun of Natal), through which he began to establish his political reputation.

On this return from his third visit to the USA in 1905, llanga lase Natal had attacked the decisions of missionaries, among others, on land allocation rent and their failure to defend African interests. Dube protested and petitioned the Government against proposed legislation. He used his newspaper to amplify the need for African unity and African representation, and to air more specific grievances. He particularly emphasised the need for education and financial help from white philanthropists.

Among his sources of influence, Dube was drawing on the prevalent thinking among blacks in South Africa at the time, and this in turn was influenced by some trends in black thought in the USA. In Natal, this African-American influence was due to the American Zulu Mission.

Thanks to Dube's interventions, printing, shoe-making, blacksmithing, bee-keeping, bricklaying, bookkeeping and other vocational courses were taught for the first time at Amanzimtoti.

Dube's African industrial school and newspaper were a direct challenge to the colonial authorities and the white workers, who feared 'competition' from African and Indian artisans in the 1890s.

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. The Natal Government attempted to suppress llanga lase Natal before and during the Bambata Rebellion. Dube publicised Dinizulu's arrest, and his relationship with the Royal House became so strong and enduring that by the 1930s he was acting as their chief adviser.

In 1909, Dube was a member of the delegation to Britain to protest against the Act of Union and in 1912 he actepted the Presidency of the African National Congress (ANC).

In 1914, Dube was one of the ANC delegates who went to London to protest against the 1913 Land Act. In 1935, he became a member of the All African Convention and represented Natal on the Natives' Representative Council from 1936 until his death in 1946, when he was replaced on the Council by Chief Albert Luthuli.

John Dube fought all his life for the unity and liberation of all Africans.