UKZN hosts the 11th J L Dube Annual Memorial Lecture


             JL DUBE


Dr. John Langalibalele Dube 1871-1946


UKZN, as part of its Research and Community Engagement Project is required to develop and disseminate knowledge through seminars and lectures. Such knowledge must also contribute to the development of social cohesion and citizens’ participation in the development of democracy and Human Rights for all. Education and dialogues are the cornerstones of democracy and good governance and an institution of higher learning like UKZN has to contribute to their development.


Dr John Langalibalele Dube, a firm believer in the freedom of all people and the imperativeness of democracy dedicated his life and work to the struggle for democratisation of the South African society. His writings and speeches as President of the African National Congress, preacher, teacher and journalist suggested that democracy was imperative in South Africa.


Dr Dube, a scholar, politician, an educator who built schools, well read and well written, and, an eminent statesman passed on in 1946 after having founded the African National Congress, Ohlange Institute, and Ilanga LaseNatal, the first Zulu Newspaper and writing a total of five books. His teachings on education, self-reliance and liberation theology blended well with his life of a Political Theologian.  Amongst his many contributions Dube is the promotion of the isiZulu language. This he did through the founding of iLanga laseNatal  which he founded in 1900, the Zulu songbook which he co-authored with his wife Nokuthela Dube (nee Mdima) in 1912, books e.g Ujeqe Insila kaShaka, Isitha somuntu wuyena uqobo lwakhe, Ukuziphatha etc.


As UKZN grapples with the significance of isiZulu in its curriculum, it is imperative that we draw insights from uMafukuzela onjengezulu to see if we can get some insights from him as a pioneer of the written isiZulu as a language. This annual lecture will bring together leaders of religious bodies, delegates from various academic institutions, anthropologists, heritage practitioners (historians, archivists, museum curators), staff and students of UKZN, politicians and cultural activists. This year’s lecture will be organized in conjunction with iLanga laseNatal, Ukhozi FM, the Dube Chair for Rural Education (UKZN), The JL Dube Legacy Project and the Department of Arts and Culture. The J L Dube Memorial Lecture 2013 will be delivered by Dr VVO Mkhize, President and founder of the Umsamo African Institute on the 12 September 2013.


Programme Scope

This project is complementary to an existing initiative. The University of KwaZulu-Natal celebrates 10 years of hosting commemorations on Rev Dr John Langalibalele Dube this year. The first lecture dating back to 2003 was delivered by Dr Wesley Mabuza and was titled, “The Role of the Church in the Development of Democracy.” In 2013 Prof Mkhize will unpack the importance of the IsiZulu language as advocated by Dr Dube in a lecture translated to mean, “Isizulu Language as an Asset in the Development of an African Intellect in Institutions of Higher Learning.”


The overall purpose of these commemorations is to draw inspiration on religion and politics as advocated by the late Dr John Dube. As the University of KwaZulu Natal hosts the 10th Anniversary Celebrations the following milestones as achieved by Dr Dube are emphasized:


  1. 1900- The establishment of the first vernacular newspaper in South Africa, Ilanga laseNatal
  2. 1912- Zulu songbook  (with Nokuthela)
  3.  The first novel for Shembe- “UShembe”.
  4. Ujeqe Insila kaShaka
  5. Ukuziphatha
  6. Isitha somuntu nguyena uqobo lwakhe


The above show just how the great man, father, journalist, preacher, educator and politician contributed to the development of the isiZulu language as a language of resistance during the colonial era. Dr Dube also elevated the Zulu people and instilled confidence in the masses to hold dear their language as bequeathed to them by their forebearers. Previously vilified and looked down upon, the Zulu people could now see themselves elevated and more empowered as they could also read and write in vernacular. Dr Dube brought these and other developments to empower his own “kith and kin,” to update them of their surroundings in a language they could understand, to warn them of the calamitous regime that was in power, to arm them with an education that would invoke thought and action to free themselves from the bondage of the apartheid regime, to free them from mental slavery and abuse by the forces that be.


The same teachings by Dr John Dube has now been adopted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal which from 2014 will be offering isiZulu to every student to every student of the university. The long term objective is that by 2019 the University would wish to see every graduate to have an understanding of the isiZulu Language. This is a first by a South African University to enforce the learning of an African language as a prerequisite. Despite the criticism and negative responses this announcement drew in the educational and public fraternity, the exploration of this idea is a bold step by the University and this lecture will also assist to spread awareness.


To further celebrate the political and educational giant in Dr John Dube and his views on the use of vernacular languages, this year’s lecture will be delivered in isiZulu language. It will then attempt to respond to topical issues that suggest the following:


  1. Is the IsiZulu language a language of progress or a simple backyard language that should simply exist in the townships and social spaces?
  2. Can isiZulu be used as a viable language of the economy and technology
  3. How will bringing the isiZulu language to an institution of higher shape students, and graduate thereof, to understand the previous and current struggles the people of KwaZulu-Natal, specifically, and South Africa in general faced and continue to face in the advent of democracy?
  4. Will this language be popular? If yes, how popular? If not, why?


The 10th Anniversary celebrations through this lecture are again the first ever to be conducted in a vernacular language in the history of the University. The collaboration between UKZN, the Department of Arts and Culture, and Ukhozi FM was deliberate in that Ukhozi FM enjoys a large following or listenership in South Africa with 15 million listeners tuning in to enjoy their broadcast. Ukhozi FM also celebrate their 53 anniversary as one of South Africa’s oldest radio station. Same with Ilanga which has just celebrated 100 years since it was founded.



The lecture will be followed up by a number of symposiums that will continue the discussions on the importance of indigenous languages like isiZulu for the future of our nation.

Details of the lecture


John Langalibalele Dube and his vision for the cultural and academic advancement of the isiZulu Language.

Speaker        :           Dr VVO Mkhize

Date               :           12 September 2013

Venue           :           Conference Room, Edgewood College, UKZN

Time              :           5:pm




Previous Lecturers from 2003-2013





The Role Of The Church In The Development Of Democracy

Dr Wesley Mabuza


The Legacy Of J.L Dube In Education, Politics and Democracy

Dr M Zondi


The Teachings Of Untsikana Ka Gaba

Bishop Lunga kaSiboto


The Role Of Traditional Leaders In A Democracy

Inkosi M. Mzimela


The Role Of Women In Community Development-A Perspective Of The Municipality

Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo


The Prophetic Role Of The Church In A Democracy

Prof Itumeleng Mosala


The Political Legacy Of Pixley Ka Isaka Seme

Mr Mike Muendane


The Nature Of Opposition Politics In South Africa

Dr Mvume Dandala


The Cowboy Turned Renegade Missionary

Prof Cherif Keita


John Dube’s Challenge To The Humanities And Education In The 21st Century

Hon. Minister Paul Mashatile


Isizulu Language As An Asset In The Development Of An African Intellect In Institutions Of Higher Learning.

Prof. V.V.O Mkhize

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