msizi dube.jpg

Msizi Dube Road, Lamontville
Formerly Hull Road


Msizi Dube, a Lamontville based activist and antipoverty campaigner, was born in Glencoe in 1933. When his family moved to the Durban area in the 1940s, Dube enrolled at Lourem Secondary School in Somtseu Road. The school was closed when the then Durban City Council moved blacks from the “white area” and settled them in townships, including Lamontville. Because there was no high school in Lamontville at the time, Dube was sent to the Roman Catholic Inkamane High School in Vryheid, where he was described in a school report as disruptive, asking too many questions and never satisfied with the answers.

He was asked to leave the school despite a plea from his father. His sister Daphney said Dube had already joined the ANC at the time but had asked her not to tell his parents. He could not hide his true colours for long, though, and soon started coming home late from political meetings. His mother tried to discourage him, but his interest in politics only deepened when he was admitted to Adams College in Amanzimtoti, the alma mater of political heavyweights such as Albert Luthuli, Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Joshua Nkomo.

When Dube completed matric in 1952, his grades were so good he was offered a government bursary to study medicine. He turned it down, describing it as a “bribe”. Instead, he teamed up with Lamonville struggle stalwart Florence Mkhize to form the ANC’s Lamontville branch in 1953. For two years Msizi worked in the government’s Native Affairs department, but left after questioning why he was paid less than his white colleagues. A few months into his new job as a Department of Justice clerk, he again questioned the unequal pay system and was transferred to Bergville in an attempt to shut him up. Instead, he resigned, against his father’s advice.

He played a key role in the Durban potato campaign, which encouraged people to boycott potatoes, and was part of a team that fought the introduction of the Bantu Education curriculum to Lamontville schools.

He became a community leader of note, and was the founder of the Joint Residents Association, which included residents from Lamontville and Chesterville. He is perhaps best known for his role in founding the famed “Asinamali” rent boycott campaign. In 1959, when the Council forcibly moved black people from Cato Manor to KwaMashu, Msizi and other ANC members tried in vain to resist. He was a great opponent of the Advisory Boards established to control black townships. Dube was shot by unknown assassins in Lamontville on 25 April 1983.

kleinbooie@durban.gov.za