LitBirthdays February 11, 2015

Happy Birthday John Langalibalele Dube!

John Dube

John Langalibalele Dube (born February 11, 1871) South African (Natal) author and minister; first president of the African National Congress (1912) – U Jeqe: Insila ka Shaka / Jeqe, the Bodyservant of King Shaka (1930, first novel in the Zulu language)

Dube closeup copy

Read about John Dube here:

Photos and oral histories of Dube and his school, Ohlange, (in Inanda, Natal, South Africa) are here:

Below is an excerpt of Dube’s 1904 essay “Are Negroes Better Off in Africa?” which compares the situation of blacks in Africa with those in the United States. [Missionary Review of the World, Vol. 27, August 1904, pages 583-586]  [ ]

From a Christian standpoint, the black man of America is highly favored above his African cousin, in that he is born into and is reared and lives in Gospel light — within reach, at least, of the rudiments of Christian education. …The black man is in the United States in large numbers, and is probably there to remain and multiply. He was in Africa before any civilized man came there to gather its riches with superior skill and appliances, and he will remain in his native land.

The great problem here is the same which has for some time been forcing itself to the front in most of the missionary fields of the world—the problem of Christian industrialization. This is a great need in missionary work today among heathen and semi-civilised people. Events have projected this matter to the very front in the case of the negroes in both hemispheres. It is believed to be a means indispensable in saving the black man in heart, head. and hand. The New Testament ideal for every saved man is that he be transformed in heart, instructed in mind, and trained to use his hands for good works. This is the need of the black man as of the white. The Son of Man was a workman with heart, mind, and hand, and both His example and teaching were: “To every man his work” (Mark xiii: 34).

Booker T. Washington, son of a slave, sat at General Armstrong’s feet, received industrial training under his eye, imbibed his philanthropic spirit, and went out to start a little school in the great black belt of Alabama. Tuskegee has grown to a great institution, with over a thousand of pupils. Many schools, carrying out the plan of industrial education, have been planted in the South, and this work for the negroes of America has been carried on long enough to show from actual results what Christian industrial education can do for them. The facts speak for themselves, and can not he disputed.

This same kind of educational training is needed for the African Christians. The times and conditions require it. They are intelligent and capable, and such training has been tried among them sufficiently to show its value and possibilities. The South African makes as good and as skillful a tradesman in the various industries as his American cousin. He has not enjoyed many advantages, but he is eager to learn and improve his opportunity. Industrial schools are greatly needed in Africa, to enable the people to make the most of themselves.

The attempts to keep the black man down will not win ultimately. The negroes of both countries are being Christianised and industrialized as never before, and the good work will go on, until the purpose for which God made them is fulfilled.


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