The Mafukuzela Arts Session is a talent workshop established by learners from Ohlange High School. Every Saturday afternoon, up to 100 youths from the area come together in the school library to perform music, poetry, dancing and other artistic expressions. As Siyathemba Makhoba, one of the founding members explains, learners were inspired by the community outreach initiatives run by students and staff from the Cultural and Heritage Tourism Programme at UKZN, especially the ‘Tourism Club’ and the ‘Mafukuzela Development Initiative’. Some of the learners indeed have much talent and have performed at community functions and for tourists.
Mr Praiseworth Sizamele ‘Two Boys’ Shandu is an Ohlange Institute alumni. He took his classes during the times of Principal Bophela who later moved to Rhodesia. today Zimbabwe. S.D Ngcobo became the successive principal and he is seen as a hero of the school. He is the one who salvaged the school after it was about to be closed by the department of education at the time. However an inspector by the name of Mr. Lombard had faith that the school can still be rescued; S.D. Ngcobo who was at that time working as a principal at Sobantu High School was appointed as a new principal of Ohlange Institute. According to Mr. Shandu, “S.D.” is amongst the best principals Ohlange Institute has ever had and Mr Shandu explains why:
One day an incident occurred at school when almost all the boys (us) were boycotting, angry, vandilsing the school due to our unsatisfaction with the quality of the food the school provided. We were so angry, weaving sticks and throwing stones all over that we even threatened to beat the girls as they were not marching with us. As we proceeded towards the principals office singing the struggle and violent songs. The principal came out his office and can came directly to us. I have never seen such a brave man. S.D just stood there in front of us and asked us, where are you heading too? We all spoke at the same time with anger but not answering the question “mumbling”. The principal asked again, where are you heading too? We all answered with fear and respect that was not happy with the food were getting from the school. The principal asked us if what we were doing was the right way to do things. He than told us to kneel down, and we all swiftly went down. He than ordered us to go the chapel kneeling in the gravel yard.
When we reached the chapel the building where the first democratic president of the South Africa former leader of the African National Congress (ANC) Mr. Nelson Mandela casted his first democratic vote, the principal showed us the picture of ‘Mafukuzela’. He asked us if we knew about how he built the school. However the most important question he asked us was, “What is more heavier between the spoon of sugar and a (paper) diploma/ certificate?”. The principal than told us that the spoon of sugar can be vital today but not as vital as the qualification in the future”. Those words got us silent. He than showered us with the loads of cold water and told us to sing J.L Dube’s songs. We all sang with passion, we all sang together to the roof and that the day I will never forget.
Listen to the recording: Memories of S D Ngcobo – Shandu
Interview with Sabine Marschall and Xolani Magwaza, at UCC in eNanda, 14 February 2013.
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