Alternation Special Issue

Call for Papers

Dr. J.L. Dube 150 Years: The African Intellectual Project


Prof Lebo Moletsane

Prof Simangaliso Kumalo

Thandi Ngcobo PhD cand.

J.L. Dube Chair in Rural Education

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Institute of Religion, Governance, & Environment 

University of KwaZulu-Natal  

J.L. Dube Institute

University of KwaZulu-Natal

The Reverend Dr. John Langalibalele “Mafukuzela” Dube (1871 – 1946) can rightly be regarded as a central figure in the evolution of African intellectualism and modernity. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, and early twentieth century, he was one of thé top intellectuals in South Africa’s history.

The legendary statesman was born in Inanda on 11th February 1871, which is the exact same date on which he passed on, seventy-five years later, in 1946.

From an early age, Dr. Dube distinguished himself from his peers by developing a keen passion for the advancement of South Africa’s marginalised people, a cause as close to his heart as his Christian beliefs. Further to his many ideals, Dr. Dube was active as a religious minister, community and traditional leader, an academic, a journalist, a writer and publisher, and a politician of note. These well-known attributes, saw him elected, in absentia, as the founding president of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC), on 8 January 1912, later re-named as African National Congress (ANC) in 1923.

During the latter part of the nineteenth century, his travels and studies took him to Oberlin College and Tuskegee Institute in the United States of America, where he was greatly influenced by William Wilcox (Oberlin College) and Booker T. Washington (Tuskegee Institute). These two academics motivated his motto dubbed “Learning and Labour” which was the greatest inspiration for establishing the Ohlange High School upon his return from the USA in 1901. This school stood head and shoulders above its peers of the same era for its unique approach of not only developing learners through academic knowledge, but also through equipping them with practical skills of trade so that they were effectively ready to enter the formal work economy by the time they completed their schooling.

At a time when the education of black girls was not a priority, Dube strongly advocated that Ohlange Industrial Institute, as the School was known then, admits girls. He also abolished gender roles in the school arguing, that children must be taught to play roles without associating them with gender. His success is also owed to his wife, Nokutela Dube (née Mdima), who was instrumental in the establishment of the school and was head of the home economics department.

Dr. Dube’s unique approach in South Africa, was complemented by the global icon’s establishment of the Ilanga laseNatali (1903), a vernacular (isiZulu) newspaper which was unapologetic in its advocacy for Black unity and empowerment through access to education.

Against this brief background about a few of the facts of Dr. John Dube’s life, and legacy, and since he was such a remarkable intellectual who was unflinching in the pursuit of the realization of his ideals, we have decided to invite scholars and intellectuals to make substantial contributions to the topic: Dr. J.L. Dube 150 Years: The African Intellectual Project.

The over-arching objectives of this research project is to not only contribute to scholarship on Dr. Dube, and the continued intellectualising of his legacy and the foundational and vital contributions he made to knowledge production and dissemination in his time and context. It also seeks to provide an opportunity for established as well as emerging academics to develop and contribute knowledge on seminal topics in Dube-orientated as well as contextually relevant and value-adding research. Ultimately, this research should contribute to a vibrant and scholarly discourse with the aim of enriching the country’s research capacity as well as contribute to a modern African intellectualism.  

Proposed Topics

The issue aims to publish papers focusing on two broad areas:

1) Papers that celebrate and study the life and intellectual legacy of Dr. John Dube. In this regard, scholars are invited to critically, and constructively engage Dube’s own publications, the significance of the newspaper, Ilanga laseNatali, the Ohlange Institute, and the wide variety of existing research focusing on Dr. Dube and his life, work and legacy. 

2) Papers focusing on contemporary issues that reflect on Dr. Dube’s intellectual concerns in our contemporary contexts. For this purpose, papers could focus on any of the themes below

  1. Relational Epistemologies and Sustainable Development in Rural Communities
  2. Research-Led Community Engagement as Social Change
  3. Rural Health and Education in the Age of Pandemics
  4. 4. The Influence of Rurality and Urbanity in Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Services  
  5. Teaching and Learning for Self-reliance and Self-respect
  6. African Intellectual and Political Culture
  7. Human Dignity (Ubuntu), Land and Economics
  8. Land Justice, Rural Self-help and Subsistence
  9. Broad-based Land Restitution/ Redistribution and Sustainable Development
  10. Self-reliance and Economic Emancipation/ Independence
  11. The Intellectualisation of Isizulu in Institutions of Higher Learning
  12. Community Engagement and Community-initiated Programmes
  13. Critical and Constructive Leadership from the Ground-Up in local and Regional Socio-cultural Development
  14. The Intersection of Religion and Politics
  15. Gender Equality in Educational Institutions
  16. Emancipatory Pedagogy and the Role of Independent / Black Institutions

Please note that all submissions must be research-based articles. In some select cases, leading intellectuals may also submit an opinion piece, which will also be considered for publication. These will be subject to the discretion of the editors in consultation with the Alternation Editor-in-Chief, Prof. J.A Smit.

We plan to edit and publish the articles that pass the review process, and to then launch the Dr. J.L. Dube Alternation issue on the event of what would have been his 150th birthday, 11 February 2021.

Please submit the proposed titles of your articles, as well as a brief abstract of between 250 - 400 words, to: Dr. Thandi Ngcobo, at:; and cc, Prof. Lebo Moletsane at:; and Prof. S. Kumalo at:

Submission dates:

  1. Abstract of 250 - 400 words: 13 November 2020
  2. A short bio of contributors: 13 November 2020
  3. Title and Abstract acceptance notification: 18 November 2020
  4. Full article due: 21 December 2020
  5. Review reports: 21 January 2021
  6. Projected publication date: 05 February 2020
  7. Dr. J.L. Dube 150 Years launch date: 11 February 2021

Please submit your abstract in the following format: Author and Affiliation; Title; Theme; Abstract; Keywords.

The Guidelines for Authors are available at:

You may also register on our Alternation Online Management System if you wish to receive automated notices and future Calls for Papers, as well as be willing to review manuscripts for Alternation, with this url link:

ALTERNATION (est. 1994)

Alternation is a fully accredited, peer-reviewed South African Department of Higher Education and Training journal, and published on an open access platform. It is edited by Prof. J.A. Smit, current Chair of the Humanities Institute, and Regional NIHSS Mentor, former Dean and Head of School, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, and published at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

All articles are subject to peer-review by at least two independent peer reviewers.

All articles that pass the review process, and that are accepted for publication, will be published online, at:

The Alternation homepage is available at:

For any general inquiries, please email Prof. J.A. Smit at: or whatsapp him at: 0848104392.


Bibliography (Abridged)

Dlodolo, A. 2017. J.L. Dube Institute Land Colloquium. Keynote address: Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration. 13 February 2017. Available at:

Hughes, H. 2011. First President: A Life of John Dube, Founding President of the ANC. Auckland Park, South Africa: Jacana Media. 

Dube, J.L. n.d. John L. Dube: A Biographical Sketch. Oberlin College. Available at:

John Langalibalele Dube. South African History Online. Available at:

Kumalo, S.R. & R. Moletsane n.d. On the J L Dube Annual Memorial Lecture. Distributed online and at Memorial Lectures.

Kumalo, S.R. & R. Moletsane 2020. Annual John Langalibalele Dube Lecture. Distributed online and at the 2020 Memorial Lecture.

Makhanda, L. 1982. Heroes of our Revolution: Dr. J.L. Dube (1871 - 1945). Dawn 1 January: 28 – 32. Available at:  

Mashatile, P. 2012. Speech by Minister Paul Mashatile at the Annual Dube Memorial Lecture, University of Kwazulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg. 29 August 2012. Available at:  

Moletsane, R. 2010. J.L. Dube Chair in Rural Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Official document from the UKZN Repository.

Oberlin. Oberlin 175 Years: John Dube. Available at:

Vennard, M. 2014. The Pioneering Woman the World Forgot. BBC News. Available at: