A Brief History of the First President of the ANC

Dr John Langalibalele Dube
On January 8 1912, the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) was formed. The organization later changed its name to the African National Congress (ANC). After one hundred years they remain the leading political party in the country.

The founder and first president of this party was a remarkable man who left behind a strong legacy; one which the ANC should have continued to embrace.

Dr John Langalibalele Dube, a selfless patriot and pioneer, who was a teacher, historian, and preacher among other relentless activities. His legacy summarizes African unity, self-reliance, quality education and the ongoing struggle for freedom and equality. He led the ANC with enthusiasm, humanity and dignity.

Nelson Mandela could easily be compared to this great leader, and it is the similarities of the two presidents that keep the focal point of the ANC.

Dr Dube, was born in Kwazulu-Natal in 1871 to a highly respected family of the Amagadi people, who were ruled by the Ngcobo clan. Growing up among missionaries, he remained a deeply religious man and was ordained as a minister in 1897. He viewed religion as an instrument of emancipation, equalization, success and fulfillment, and that is how his leadership of the ANC progressed during his reign: A strong foundation rooted in truth.

During his lifetime, he was strongly influenced by the American environment. He visited America during the civil rights struggle of African-Americans. Booker T. Washington, the Afro-American educator and politician, had a profound impact on Dr Dube. The emphasis on education to improve the quality of lives for African-Americans made a massive impact on Dube.

Dr Dube a brilliant man, remained a pioneer in the education sector during adverse conditions in South Africa. He was elected ANC president based on his abilities, understanding and respect. He succeeded because of his determination. Throughout his life, he remained a man of peace. The emphasis on peaceful means came from American civil rights movement experiences.

During 1913 and 1917 Dr Dube was part of the ANC delegation that went to London to petition the British parliament for a resolution to the South African problem.
After serving as the first president, he was replaced by Sefako Mapogo Makgatho, and thereafter remained a member of the party and continued working to improve the lives of the underprivileged. He always tried to foster better relations between the different racial groups in South Africa, and create racial harmony within the communities. Dr Dube passed away in February 1946.

The ANC was formed on an impressive foundation of selflessness and sacrifice, which many of its presidents continued to improve upon. Nelson Mandela could be considered one of the most striking presidents who portrayed many of the selfless traits of the founder and first president Dr Dube.

Today South Africa is free, and prosperous. Education is compulsory, yet there remains a continued need to expand access to education in many impoverished places.

Written by Laura Oneale

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