He was not perfect. No human being is. But he did the best he could under the circumstances to take the struggle forward and keep the ANC together.
Langa Dube, who still lives in a house built by the late ANC leader in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal, said the honour brought great pride to the family.
“That the ANC dispatched President Zuma to deliver a lecture on our grandfather is a greatest honour. Initiatives have been taken by the government to preserve his name, and we are also grateful for that,” Dube said.
Delivering his lecture in a packed hall, Zuma said the ANC was happy to have had a selfless patriot, teacher, historian, preacher, editor and author as its first president.
He spoke highly of Dube, whom he said was elected president in absentia and only accepted the position in February 1912.
“Records show that the nomination of Dube was based on an understanding of his ability and experience as an educationist and a respected politician.”
Zuma said Dube’s involvement in national politics was not an easy decision as he had other demanding tasks.
“Ohlange (school) and Ilanga (newspaper) both needed his time.”
Dube’s presidency faced its major challenge when the vicious Natives Land Act of 1913 was enacted.
“Dube was angered by this sheer callousness,” he said.
Zuma said though Dube was replaced by Sefako Mapogo as president, he remained an active member of the party.
“He was not perfect. No human being is. But he did the best he could under the circumstances to take the struggle forward and keep the ANC together.”
Zuma announced that the Kings House residence in Durban, used by him and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, would be renamed Dr John Dube House.
Chairman of the Dube Foundation, Zamani Jali, said Dube had a keen interest in education and youth development.
“We cannot neglect our youth, they are our future leaders,” he said.