Dube, Gandhi and how Phoenix was once the poster child for nonviolence

Phoenix has recently become a place name synonymous with death and division, but that’s not how it started out

31 October 2021 - 00:00 By Matthew Blackman

In 1924 the young novelist and poet William Plomer, while running a small trading station in the then Natal, sent some of his early poems to the Rev John Dube. Dube, the first president of the ANC, read them and published one in his newspaper Ilanga Lase Natal. When Plomer began a correspondence with Dube, the Zulu intellectual invited Plomer to visit him. 

In 1901, Dube founded the first large independent school for black children in Inanda, north of Durban, calling it Ohlange. And as Plomer records in his autobiography, he “ambled up to Ohlange through that often very Indian landscape to the north coast of Natal”. Plomer describes sitting up late into the night with Dube and finding him a “kind, fatherly, gentlemanly host”. ..

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