Address by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile, on the occasion of the Sod turning event to mark the start of phase two of the JL Dube Heritage Legacy Project, Enanda, Kwa-Zulu Natal

Programme Director,

Members of the Dube family,

The Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Joe Phaahla,

The Executive Mayor of the City of Ethekwini, Councillor James Nxumalo,

The Deputy Mayor of Ethekwini, Councillor Nomvuzo Shabalala,

Community leaders here present,

Representatives of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government,

Mphakathi wase Nanda.

Just over a year ago, on the 25th of February last year, we converged here eNanda as part of honouring the founding President of the oldest liberation movement in Africa, the African National Congress, Dr John Langalibalele Dube, uMafukuzela onjengezulu.

In particular, on that day and as we did early this morning, we laid wreaths at the refurbished and restored graves of Dr Dube, his wife Angelina Sophia Dube, the eldest son, Sobantu Douglas Dube, his youngest son Sipho James Dube, his infant daughter Laura Dube and his infant son Mziwamandla Dube.

Our presence here last year marked the beginning of an elaborate programme through which we will not only celebrate the life of Dr Dube, but also tell his story of inspirational and visionary leadership; through a monument befitting of his stature and contribution to our country.

Last year we also declared as a national heritage site the grave of Mama Nokuthela Dube in Johannesburg.

The monument we are building in honour of Dr Dube is part of our ongoing work to immortalize the memory of those who played a significant role in our struggle for liberation. It is part of ensuring that their stories are included in our country’s narrative, history and heritage.

Honouring those who came before us is an integral part of our ongoing work to promote social cohesion, nation building and national healing. This work draws significance particularly this year as we mark the historic milestone of the twentieth anniversary of our freedom and democracy; an occasion where as a nation we are required to pause and reflect on where we come from.

Programme Director as we meet here today to launch the second phase of the J.L Dube Heritage Legacy Project, we are taking forward our programme of honouring the sacrifices of those men and women who brought us the freedom we today enjoy.

During this phase of the Project, we will start with the construction of an amphitheatre, access driveway and parking at Ohlange Institute. This is in addition to the fencing of Dr Dube’s homestead that is currently underway. The total amount to be spent on this project is R65 million.

It includes the building of an interpretative center, turning the house of Dr Dube into a museum and the construction of a pedestrian bridge linking the Ohlange Institute with the new house museum. We are delighted that this project continues to yield significant socio-economic benefits to the community of eNanda.

We envisaged that the project will create one hundred and eighty five contract and thirty five permanent jobs. In addition, fourteen small, medium and micro enterprises are expected to benefit at various stages of the project.

We are also confident that this protect will be a major boost for local tourism, providing further employment, training and economic opportunities for the people of this area, including the youth. Collectively the benefits of this project prove, once more, that heritage is a powerful catalyst for local economic development and community advancement.

In many ways through the JL Dube Heritage Legacy Project, we are creating a public space not only for reflecting on our past but also for facilitating all-round community development.

This can be seen from some of the initiatives that are part of this project. They include initiatives to support youth empowerment, arts and culture training as well as entrepreneurship development.

They also include the establishment of a community newspaper and radio station to be house at what will be called the “Tower of Hope”.

Programme Director it is fitting that we are honouring Dr Dube in this way. This we say because Dr Dube was a community activist, a politician, a man of the cloth, a newspaper editor, a teacher, an author and an intellectual, among others.

He left us a proud legacy African Unity, self-reliance, a quest for excellence in education and an un-wavering commitment to human dignity, freedom and equality for all. In this regard I am reminded of the words of Dr Dube himself who wrote in a pamphlet in 1892 that; “Then shall Africa take her place as a nation among nations, then shall her sons and daughters sing aloud… Let us a rise and Shine, for our light has come.”

Dr Dube was a leader par excellence.

This we know because, in his absence, he was elected the founding President of the South African Native National Congress, which later became the African National Congress. Two other equally capable candidates; Edward Tsewu and Sefako Makgatho, could have led the ANC but they opted not to do so and gave this fitting honour to Dr Dube.

To us this is an indication of the respect that Dr Dube as a leader enjoyed among his peers. Among what was said in praise of Dr Dube are the words of a fellow poet and author, Dr B.W. Vilakazi who wrote in 1946 that Dube was “a great if not the greatest, black man of the missionary epoch in South Africa.”

Up to this day, long after he passed on, Dr Dube’s memory maintains a towering presence in our midst. This monument must therefore inspire the emergence of more leaders and community activists of the calibre of Dr Dube. As this generation of South Africans, we are indeed proud to be standing on the shoulders of giants such as Dr JL Dube.

Let us carry forward the legacy of these great leaders of our nation. Let us preserve and promote the heritage they left for us. And let us draw lesson from their lives. Through the JL Dube Heritage Legacy project and many other such projects, we will ensure that this heritage of our country does not fade into a distant memory but that it is brought to life and continues to be our guiding light as we build the South African nation.