PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT EMERITUS OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
AND FORMER CHIEF MINISTER OF THE KWAZULU GOVERNMENT
I am honoured to have been asked by Mr Gumede and by Ms Sibiya, the Chairperson of the Student Governing Body, to celebrate with you the 50 th anniversary of Dlangezwa High School.
This is a great milestone, not only for this school, but for education in our country. Dlangezwa is unique in many ways, for it holds a history that speaks of hard work, excellence, quality and honour – the very things you are celebrating today.
I have been asked to speak to you about the history of Dlangezwa High School, because I knew its founder and I worked closely with him during the most difficult time in our nation’s history.
Dlangezwa High School was founded in 1969 by a teacher by the name of Dr Sibusiso Bhengu. Dr Bhengu served as the first Principal of Dlangezwa for 7 years and he poured his passion into making this a top performing school. It was a place of high achievement and excellence; a lighthouse in a very troubled sea.
I had come to know Dr Bhengu through a group called “Ubhoko” which was established by Bishop Alphaeus Zulu. Bishop Zulu was the Diocesan Bishop of Zululand, the first black bishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa. At that time, the ANC and the PAC and other political organisations had been banned, and there was no political activity of any sort in our country. Apartheid was firmly in power.
Bishop Zulu believed that we needed to start a sort of “Brain Trust” or “Discussion Group” to keep ideas alive, so that we could find ways to alleviate the suffering of the oppressed majority.
Many great thinkers were part of that group, which we called “Ubhoko”. Dr Sibusiso Bhengu was among them, as was I, and we quickly realized that we shared many values – around education in particular.
We both believed that education was the key to empowering the people. While we needed to remove the shackles of poverty, political oppression and injustice, we also had to remove the shackles of ignorance, because ignorance keeps people in bondage.
That is why the apartheid government was intent on keeping black people uneducated. They saw us as what they called “drawers of water and hewers of wood”, capable only of performing manual labour. It was essential to the apartheid structure that the oppressed masses remained uneducated.
So, when they instituted their homelands policy, dividing our country up and forcibly restricting black people to certain pieces of land, the apartheid Government also instituted what was called “Bantu education”.
The then Minister of Native Affairs, HF Verwoerd, explained – “The Bantu must be guided to serve his own community in all respects. There is no place for him in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour… It is of no avail for him to receive a training which has as its aim absorption in the European community while he cannot and will not be absorbed there. Up till now he has been subjected to a school system which drew him away from his own community and misled him by showing him the green pastures of the European but still did not allow him to graze there. This attitude is not only uneconomic because money is spent on education which has no specific aim, but it is even dishonest to continue with it…. It is abundantly clear that unplanned education creates many problems, disrupts the communal life of the Bantu and endangers the communal life of the European. For that reason it must be replaced by planned Bantu Education.”
I remember speaking at a conference of the Natal African Teachers Union in 1964. I revealed that at that stage the apartheid Government was spending R144,57 per child on education for whites, and only R12,46 per black child. Even that was threatened to be taken away by the Minister of Bantu Education if blacks didn’t pay their taxes.
I was at that point a loyal cadre of the ANC, having joined the ANC Youth League at the University of Fort Hare. The ANC rejected the homelands policy, but we realized that we had no option but to participle in it. So Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Mr Oliver Tambo instructed me not to refuse leadership of the KwaZulu Government, if the people chose me to lead. They knew – they said – that I would undermine the system from within.
When I became the head of the KwaZulu Government, I was able to begin providing services to millions of oppressed South Africans, although we were constrained by the miniscule budget the national government allowed us.
It was clear that we would have to prioritise needs, work very carefully with public funds, and find creative ways to do more with so little. I therefore appointed people to my administration on the basis not only of their skills, but their character. They needed to be people of utmost integrity who were there to serve. They needed to work with government money without wasting a single cent.
The priority I chose was education. I was proud of the way Dlangezwa High School was run, and what it was achieving. It produced active citizens; young people who understood what we were up against and who were ready to make a difference.
So, we got creative. Within the KwaZulu Government, we instituted a Rand for Rand fundraising system where everything the community raised was matched by my administration. With that money, we built schools, and houses, and community centres, and clinics. We built some 6000 classrooms, which is a remarkable achievement, even today.
It would be remiss on my part if I do not pay tribute to Amakhosi of the Mkhwanazi Clan, who were so willing to grant our Department of Education the site on which we
built Dlangezwa High School. I wish to mention Inkosi Mvuzemvuze Mzimela, who was a Regent of the Mkhwanazi Family, and also other Amakhosi of the Mkhwanazi Clan.
It was during this time that I received advice from the Zambian President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda. I was visiting him to thank him for giving sanctuary to all our political exiles, and he advised me to form a membership-based organization to reignite political mobilization towards liberation. I ran the idea past my leader, Mr Oliver Tambo, and he agreed. Thus I founded Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe.
Inkatha’s very first Secretary General was Dr Sibusiso Bhengu. At that point, he was still the Principal of Dlangezwa High School.
Inkatha was just one year old when the 1976 Soweto Uprisings took place, which today are remembered on June 16 th . In the aftermath, the ANC’s leadership in exile chose an aggressive strategy against Bantu education. They launched the slogan “Liberation Now, Education Later” and they called on black students to abandon their classrooms and burn down their schools.
That is what happened, across the country. But in KwaZulu, we disagreed. We believed that education was the means to achieve liberation and that a generation that abandoned education would have no tools to administer a new South Africa once liberation was achieved.
Inkatha therefore launched the slogan “Education For Liberation”. Schools across KwaZulu stayed open. Teachers were teaching, learners were learning, and education was still a top priority.
Looking back, I have no regrets. In fact, I am glad that we did what we did, because many of South Africa’s prominent leaders were produced here at Dlangezwa and in schools across KwaZulu. Among the prominent South Africans who went through the portals of this great institution is Mr Glen Mashinini, our Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission.
I remember how Dr Ntatho Motlana, the Chairperson of the Soweto Committee of Ten, and also Mr Percy Qoboza, the Editor of The World newspaper, came to ask me to make arrangements for their children to attend school here, because there was no decent education available anywhere else.
When Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Mr Oliver Tambo asked me to accept leadership of KwaZulu, it was really an act of genius, because it gave us the opportunity to undermine Bantu Education. We used English as the medium of instruction in
schools across KwaZulu and ensured a high level of excellence. Children, even from the townships, flocked to our schools.
It is a pity that the University of Zululand was mocked by some ANC leaders, who called it a “bush college”. But my cousin, King Cyprian, and I supported it and it too produced many prominent leaders, including Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and the Deputy Chief Justice Mr Justice Raymond Zondo. I served as Chancellor of the University of Zululand for 21 years. Inkosi Mvuzemvuze Mzimela was a member of the Council, and Dr Sibusiso Bhengu served as Director of Student Affairs.
I served with Dr Bhengu again, after 1994, when he became Minister of Education in President Mandela’s Cabinet and I was Minister of Home Affairs.
But Dr Bhengu’s first achievement, Dlangezwa High School, was still producing excellence. And the IFP benefitted from it, because Dlangezwa produced another IFP Secretary General, the Reverend Musa Zondi.
In its 50 years’ history, Dlangezwa High School has stood as a proud institution of learning. Dlangezwa was actually one of the valiant regiments of the founder of the Zulu Nation, King Shaka ka Senzangakhona. Many teachers and alumni of Dlangezwa High School have been exponents of that valour in our new era.
The present generation of students, all of you, are part of something very special. I hope that this anniversary celebration will remind you of your own value and potential. It was because of young people like you that we did what we did when we prioritised education.
It saddens me that the education system we hoped to see in a democratic South Africa has not been fully achieved. The right to education is enshrined in the Constitution and every child is equally entitled to access to quality education. That is a big step forward. But, in reality, South Africa’s children still have vastly different experiences, depending on where they are born.
My greatest concern for learners is the terrible reality of abuse in South Africa’s schools. Over the past five years, reports of sexual abuse by teachers increased by more than 230%. According to the latest Report of the South African Council of Educators, the highest number of misdemeanours committed by teachers against pupils was here in KwaZulu Natal. This includes sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, harassment and defamation. What is happening in our country?
I know that I’ll take some flack for speaking about this, but as a leader I have the responsibility to say what needs to be said, even when some prefer not to talk about it. Our whole nation is in distress. We have learners being assaulted by teachers, and teachers being assaulted and even murdered by learners. In some cases they are fighting over a girl with whom the teacher is involved in immorality.
I am relieved to say that Dlangezwa High School has been exemplary. It remains a beacon of integrity.
When this school was founded fifty years ago, teachers were regarded as in loco parentis. During my own days at school the teacher was regarded as a parallel parent to one’s own parents. One deferred to one’s teachers as we would defer to our own parents. Teaching was a noble profession and we understood the central role of teachers in moulding the character of young South Africans.
I have always believed that my most important formative years were the years that I spent in school. The teaching profession has always been at the centre of the formative years. It is not surprising that the teaching profession has contributed to the liberation of our people more than any other profession that I know.
When I look back in this very country, I remember that in the early years Professor Zacchariah Keodirelang Matthews “ZK” was the first black Principal of a High School at Adams College. Later he taught at the University of Fort Hare, and I was his student there. At the same time he was the Chairperson of the ANC in the Cape Province.
I recall that he and Inkosi Albert Luthuli were colleagues at Adams College where Inkosi Luthuli was a teacher before being called to lead the Amakholwa in Groutville as Inkosi. He was as everyone knows the last President-General of the ANC, who was at the helm at the time of the banning of African political organisations, such as ANC, PAC, AZAPO and others in 1960 after the Sharpeville massacre of our people by the Police.
And when I cast my eyes back, I think of someone Inkosi Luthuli sent abroad to launch the ANC mission-in-exile, Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo. Before qualifying as an Attorney Mr Tambo was a teacher of Mathematics at St Peter’s College in Rosettenville in Johannesburg. Many well-known figures such as Kgosi Lucas Mangope, Advocate Joe Matthews and many others were his students.
Even when I cast my eyes further north, and look at Tanzania, Dr Julius Nyerere, the founding President of Tanzania was a teacher. In fact, throughout his life he was referred to as Mwalimu which is Teacher in Swahili. Even the founding President of Zambia, President Kenneth David Kaunda, at one time was a teacher. And looking back to our own country, the founding President of the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania, Mr Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, was a teacher at Standerton before going on to lecture at Wits University.
I just want us to reflect on our history of the liberation struggle and the crucial role that the teaching fraternity has played. All these were men of integrity. Integrity was at the core of their vocation.
When I led the administration of KwaZulu, we introduced a subject called Ubuntu- Botho into our schools, to teach a generation good citizenship. Sadly this subject was abolished after 1994, on the pretence that it was propaganda for Inkatha.
Long before the creation of the South African Council of Educators, I called on NATU to start an association for teachers, just as lawyers have an association, so that the teaching fraternity could have its own code of conduct that would enable it to self correct.
Sadly the South African Council of Educators has not done enough to protect the profession from being tarred with the brush of immorality, nor has it done enough to protect learners. The Council needs a far better vetting process.
Last year it was discovered that it didn’t even check the Sex Offenders Register when considering applications. The statistics tell us that the majority of teachers
involved in sexual offences are between 45 and 54. So it is not even enough for the Council to check new applications against the Sex Offenders Register. It needs to go back and check all its members.
I am proud of the leadership being taken by the IFP in the fight against gender-based violence. Even as I stand here today, the IFP is marching to City Hall to petition Government to listen to the cry of the people.
In a situation where we are failing the basic responsibility of protecting learners from abuse, is it just a dream to believe that tablets and digital textbooks will be in every school within the next six years, as our country’s President has told us?
Dreams are good and very important. But dreams without plans amount to nothing.
I want to encourage you to dream with wild abandon. Dream big. But make sure you prioritise your education, because it’s here, at school, that you will be equipped to come up with a plan, and through that plan, your dreams can be realised.
I want to honour the many teachers who have served at Dlangezwa High School over the past half a century, such as the first Principal of Dlangezwa High School, Professor Sibusiso Bhengu, Professor Jabulani Maphalala, the late Mr Thabani Mthiyane, the late Reverend Canaan Ntuli and many of their colleagues during their tenure of office. These were men and women of integrity. And I have no doubt that they would have been quite eager to do something about the gender-based violence
and violence against children which are at the centre of our national discourse at this time.
It is the teachers who have maintained the reputation of Dlangezwa High School. This is a place of excellence because of them. So keep leading this generation towards a love of learning. It is the greatest service you can give to our beloved country.
As this great institution reaches its 50 th anniversary, we pay tribute to its past members of staff and its alumni. I am grateful that two of my late children, Lethuxolo and Nelisuzulu, were alumni of Dlangezwa High School. In tribute now to all our past staff and students, who have passed on, I request that we observe just two minutes of silence.
I thank you.