The year 2021 marks 150 years since the birth of Dr John Langalibalele Dube. Dube was the grandson of inkosi Dube Ngcobo of amaQadi and son of the first black pastor to be ordained by the American Board in the community of amaQadi. He made a name for himself in politics, amakholwa history and had strong ties with amaQadi authorities. Dube was the first president of the South African Native National Congress, renamed African National Congress in 1923, one of the first black South Africans to establish a school together with his first wife Nokutela maMdima Dube. He was also known as a writer and leader in advocating for equality for black people.
Museum Services of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture in collaboration with Durban Local History Museums decided to remember the life of Dube through a time travel. A time travel can be briefly described as a learning process where participants are challenged to go back to a specific time period, align their thinking to that time period and learn about a specific phenomenon. The time travel may have a scenario / script that may not be factual but influenced by historic facts, it may also have characters and the audience also become participants in the imagined scenario. The time travel on Dube took place on 26 April 2021, in line with Freedom Day celebrations and Dube’s role in the struggle for freedom:
The scenario of the day took us back to 1891; Dube and maMdima had just came back from the United States of America and pitched the idea of an industrial school in Inanda to the community. Key characters such as the then Qadi Chief uMqhawe, Dube, maMdima and John Mdima (brother of Nokutela maMdima Dube) were part of the narrative. The attendees were the community to whom the idea was pitched, consisting of traditionalists and amakholwa. The conversation was centred on the importance of self-reliance education as it was a major objective of the school. The conversation also involved questions from traditionalists about the impact that the school would have on traditions and the community. With the support of the local chief, Dube and maMdima were able to articulate their intentions and the idea of a school was welcomed by the community.
After the time travel ended and people came back to 2021; they deliberated on school education. There was a dialogue about the extent to which our education leads to self-reliance. The audience had to do an introspection and discuss issues of present day school education and impacts. In the end, it was agreed that there are many lessons that we can learn from the past and compare them to the present day. There are many lessons that we can learn from the work of Dube and this leaves room for more programmes of this nature.