96pp., b/w & colour illus., paperback, [Cape Town], 2022
Includes an essay by Professor Chérif Keita, a poem by Siphokazi Jonas, reflections by Dr Heather Hughes and a final word by Dr Gcina Mhlope.
Nokutela Mdima was born in 1873 at a mission station at Inanda, outside Durban. In 1894 she married John Dube, the first President-General of the South African Native National Congress (later called the African National Congress). In 1896 they travelled to the USA and began raising funds to build a secondary school at Inanda. The Ohlange Institute, the first school in the country established by black teachers, was founded in 1900. In 1903 they established the first English-Zulu newspaper, Ilanga Lase Natal (The Sun of Natal).
A talented singer and piano and harp player, she was music teacher and choral director at Ohlange. With John Dube, she-co-authored a book of Zulu choral music, Amagama Abantu (1911). The song Nkosi Sikelel’i Afrika, popularised by the Ohlange Choir, was adopted as the ANC's official closing anthem in 1925 and later became part of democratic South Africa's National Anthem.
The Dubes later separated. Nokutela moved to the Transvaal, where she preached in rural communities before becoming ill with kidney disease. She died in 1917 at the age of 44, and was buried in an unmarked grave. In 2017, Nokutela Mdima-Dube was posthumously awarded South Africa's highest honour, the Order of the Baobab in Gold, for "her exceptional contribution to the upliftment of African communities who were faced with oppression and social injustices". Asanda Sizani