Ohlange Institute

in or near Inanda Township, Durban in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

KwaZulu Natal Tourist AttractionsOhlange Institute

On April 27, 1994, Nelson Mandela, as the president of the ANC (African National Congress), chose to cast his vote at Ohlange Institute, a school founded by John Langalibalele Mafukuzela Dube (he was known as Mafukuzela) - the first president of the ANC.

Not only was this the first democratic election in South Africa, but it was also the first time that Mandela had ever voted in his life. Mandela was 72 years old.

After his vote was cast in the school's chapel, Mandela visited Dube's grave, where he is believed to have said: “Mr President, I have come to report to you that South Africa is free today.”

Mandela's esteem for John Dube was evident. He chose to travel all the way from Pretoria, on one of the most important days in the history of South Africa, to cast his vote in the chapel of a century-old school in the township of Inanda, 28 km north west of Durban.

Dube's grandson, who witnessed Mandela's journey to the graveside of his grandfather spoke of Mandela's connection with his grandfather's spirit that would give him the strength and wisdom necessary to lead the country.

Dube, who was both an ordained minister and a politician, built the Ohlange Institute himself (Ohlange means 'where all nations come together'). It was no ordinary school, but a school built and managed by black South Africans at a time when it was held that black people could neither develop nor manage institutions of their own.

The school concentrated on education and skill development, promoting independence amongst the students.

From the school's chapel Dube preached, for over 40 years, of the day of freedom that would eventually come.

Inanda is regarded by many as the 'cradle of democracy in South Africa'. It is where John Dube was born, and where Mandela cast the country's first democratic vote. It is also believed to have more history per square centimetre than anywhere else in South Africa.

As a result, the city of Durban has designed the Inanda Heritage Route, with The Ohlange Institute ass one of the prominent stops.

Interestingly, at the time Dube set up Ohlange Institute, Gandhi lived but a few streets away. He was to spend 21 years of his life here establishing his philosophy of satyagraha (insistance on truth or nonviolence) and an ashram in Phoenix in the valley just below the school, in 1903. Dube and Gandhi met on several occasions. They had a lot in common.

The two men were born two years apart, and were later to die within two years of one another. Each was educated overseas and both were pivotal in their communities for starting revolutionary social movements.

John Dube was instrumental in founding the precursor to the ANC, the South African Native National Council, and was the organisation's first president. Gandhi did similar with the Natal Indian Congress.

To find the Ohlanga Institute head to King Shaka International Airport, leaving the N2 via exit 177 towards Inanda. Follow signs for R102/Kwamashu/Phoenix/Inanda, which merges with the M25. Ohlange Institute is signposted from the M25.

Photo Credit: Photograph courtesy of and copyright ccarlstead via Flickr.com.

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