Pictured at the Dube Memorial Lecture: left-right:
Mr Zenzele Dube, grandson of JL Dube; Mr Paul
Mashatile, Minister of Arts and Culture, Ms Thobeka
Dube, granddaughter in-law of JL Dube; Professor
Relebohile Moletsane, the JL Dube Chair of Rural
Education at UKZN; Mr Langa Dube, grandson of
JL Dube; Professor Joseph Ayee, DVC and Head
of the College of Humanities; and Dr Raymond
Kumalo from UKZN’s School of Religion,
Philosophy and Classics.
Minister Paul Mashatile presented the College of Humanities’ 9th annual John Langalibalele Dube Memorial Lecture on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus recently.
Dedicated to celebrating and honouring the life and legacy of Dube who was the founding president of today’s African National Congress, the lecture was titled: John Dube’s Challenge to the Humanities and Education in the 21st Century.
‘I am humbled to be delivering this lecture in the year in which we celebrate the centenary of the African National Congress; the oldest liberation movement in Africa,’ said Mashatile.
It was most appropriate for Mashatile to deliver this lecture as his department is actively involved in issues around national heritage. In addition, he was an active member of the struggle and participated in the underground structures of the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP). With the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, he also played a leading role in re-establishing the structures of these organisations.
Mashatile urged the country to learn from Dube, a pioneer in education who created the Ohlange Institute, the first school in South Africa founded by an African person, ‘that there is no substitute for education’.
He emphasised the importance of education and knowledge in equipping the country to compete with the rest of the world and said the state must intervene and make more resources available for education.
‘In preserving the vision and legacy of Dr Dube, we must continue to condemn any actions that undermine our programmes aimed at providing quality education and teaching in our schools and institutions of higher learning,’ said Mashatile.
On the subject of the humanities, Mashatile highlighted the drop in student enrolments for disciplines in the humanities, as well as the drop in graduations of students from the humanities.
The Africa Competitiveness Report of 2011 which argues for a move away from the social sciences and humanities to an emphasis on science, engineering, mathematics and entrepreneurship, does not help the situation, said Mashatile.
‘It is through the humanities that we are able to record our past, with an understanding of it, make sense of our present and plan better for our future,’ said Mashatile. He further explained that Dube ‘saw the humanities as part of a broader set of skills needed to enhance an individual’s contribution to society’.
Mashatile said he was encouraged by a recent study on the state of the humanities in South Africa which was conducted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) which recommended greater emphasis on the humanities, including an increase in funding for advanced degrees.
Mashatile said these recommendations have been embraced and included in the National Planning Commission which ‘agrees that the humanities are important in understanding some of the difficult challenges our country faces such as transformation, violence, corruption, the gap between the rich and poor and the issue of race.
‘Indeed, humanities contribute to the development of a well-rounded individual…and equip learners with important skills such as critical thinking, deep and thorough analysis of events, the ability to view various incidences and occurrences as part of a whole.’
In concluding, Mashatile assured the audience that the ANC was committed to defending and deepening the legacy of Dube and his colleagues and to upholding their values and principles.
‘The Department of Arts and Culture will continue to partner with the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Dube Foundation on some of the initiatives that you are currently working on to keep the legacy of Dr JL Dube alive,’ said Mashatile.