Tag Archives: John Dube
November 19, 2014

Interview with Irina Mthembu about life in Inanda

Irina and PhumlaniInterview summary in English

Irina Mthembu is an old citizen at iNanda, who was born and raised at Piet Retief, Mpumalanga. She did not have that fortune of staying with her father at her younger age. Born around the 1930s to 40s, she lived at her mother’s home with her mother. Simelane was her mother’s surname. His father was working away from where they resided. Her father passed away and they had to move to Durban with her mother. In Durban, iNanda, that is where her mother got a site from Shembe whom she strongly believed in. Irina attended lower grades at primary school and she recalled that her educators were Miss Gumede and Miss Nene. She has been living at iNanda for many years. Politically and socially, she says that the standard of living was good. Peace and sharing were the good philosophies characterising the people of iNanda during apartheid periods. The reason behind is that John Dube was appointed as a person responsible for governing the place. He was a Christian that was against violence. Supporting him were people like Mahatma Gandhi and others who fought for peace in their area. The only problem that Irina stressed about John Dube is that he was against their Shembe belief. Notwithstanding this critic, she says that all citizens of iNanda were happy with Dube’s leadership.

Having asked her about what it means to her to be the citizen of iNanda brought an interesting story. Irina says that she strongly believes in Shembe, so living at iNanda means living with God next to her because that is where the religion on Shembe is. ‘Leaving iNanda will mean distancing me from God and Shembe’, Irina says. Additionally, she also mentioned the fact that iNanda is where her ancestors rest and she will rest with them when she dies. As a black person, she believes that dead people are not really dead but watching them spiritually and also that Shembe is the way to communicating with God as does Jesus to Christians. In terms of marriage, Irina got married to Mdunge, a man from Dlangezwa, North Coast. With Mdunge, they got four sons. Additionally, as an old person she says that going to church is her favourite thing that she fully enjoys. She also said there is nothing that keeps her happy more than seeing her children and grandchildren following at her footsteps of worshiping Shembe. Lastly, Irina mentioned that she will be happy if her body rests next to her ancestors at iNanda because that will make her soul rest in peace.

Interview and summary by Phumlani Mfekayi, 24 October 2014



February 20, 2013

Ohlange – Inanda Heritage Route Development

The Ohlange Institute site is very significant because it demonstrates the dreams and achievements of it’s founder, the remarkable Rev Dr John Langalibalele Dube or ‘Mafukuzela’ and the site where President Nelson Mandela recognised Dube’s achievements by casting his vote during South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994. Born in the Inanda Mission where his father James was one of the first Black pastors, John Dube went to Oberlin College, Illinois in the US during the 1890’s to study to follow his father to the priesthood. Here he was influenced by the ex-slave Booker T Washington who espoused social emancipation through self improvement, academic learning, practical skills and Christian morality Dube returned to found the Ohlange Institute to put these into effect in 1901. He also founded Natal’s first African newspaper ”IlIange lase Natal” in 1903 and went on to co-found the Natal Native Congress and later became the first President of the African National Congress.

To celebrate the life and achievements of Rev Dr J L Dube
To enhance the African Renaissance Centre.
Record the struggle for Democracy in South Africa
To reintroduce Dube’s ideals about practical skills
Create definition between the school and the heritage precinct
Enhance the landscaping

Provide a moving experience at the Nelson Mandela voting site including struggle songs.
Reintroduce Dube’s founding objectives of self improvement and practical skills in classrooms flanking the former chapel.
Enhance the site of the original humble Dube homestead, family graves and the first classroom.
Provide overnight accommodation in the original dressed sandstone boys hostel.
To provide an opportunity for visitors to experience a large high school in operation.
Restore the elegant final homestead for visitors.
Project centre – the site as the centre of the implementation – project capacity located on the route – community based
Sort out the school – reinstate close relationship between ideals of the Institute with the school

On the upper part of the campus the original house, built of earth, has already been restored as a Museum with Mafukuzela’s statue seated on the veranda. The graves still need to be suitably celebrated and the foundations of the original mud classroom nearby, consolidated.
The former chapel is now the African Renaissance Centre and houses the Mandela voting site. When the school expands as a result of the ‘Historic Schools Restoration Project’, the flanking classrooms will become vacated and used for teaching various practical skills to fulfil the founding objective – ie extension of the African Renaissance Centre founding vision
Ownership and control of these sites within the overall campus needs to be resolved as well as the provision of services prior to any further development.


Ohlange – proposed development