High praise for 'parents'

TRIBUTE: Premier Zweli Mkhize flanked by John Dube's grandson Zenzele Dube, KZN's first lady May
Mashigo-Mkhize, Cullen's great-granddaughter Madeline Hood and grandson Rev Jackson Wilcox in Los Angeles yesterday. Pic: Siyabonga Mosunkutu. 10/11/2009. © Sowetan.
TRIBUTE: Premier Zweli Mkhize flanked by John Dube's grandson Zenzele Dube, KZN's first lady May Mashigo-Mkhize, Cullen's great-granddaughter Madeline Hood and grandson Rev Jackson Wilcox in Los Angeles yesterday. Pic: Siyabonga Mosunkutu. 10/11/2009. © Sowetan.

KWAZULU-NATAL premier Zweli Mkhize has paid tribute to Reverend William Cullen and his wife Ida Belle Wilcox, the "adoptive" American parents of liberation stalwart John Langalibalele Dube.

KWAZULU-NATAL premier Zweli Mkhize has paid tribute to Reverend William Cullen and his wife Ida Belle Wilcox, the "adoptive" American parents of liberation stalwart John Langalibalele Dube.

Mkhize was speaking in Los Angeles yesterday, where he led a South African delegation to pay tribute to the heroes of South African liberation struggle, particularly Cullen and Wilcox.

The two had settled in Inanda, north of Durban, in 1881 as missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners.

"The struggle for liberation in South Africa was supported by people all over the world. This was because of many friends such as Wilcox and others.

"During the difficult days when all legal protests and liberation organisations were outlawed, our struggle survived with the support of the international community,"Mkhize said.

The couple became the "adoptive" parents of Dube.

Mkhize said that in 1887 they accepted a desperate Zulu mother's plea to take Dube to America to give him a decent education.

"They honoured this responsibility at a great cost to their family," he said.

"They raised and guided John Dube to become one of the most talented leaders in great times of adversity."

A giant, well ahead of his time, Dube was an intellectual - a visionary trained at Orbelin College in Minnesota in the US.

"He was a courageous man who believed in employing education as a tool for political and economic emancipation in the face of brutal dispossession and oppression by the colonial masters of the time," Mkhize said.

His stay in the US coincided with the rise of the spirit of Pan-Africanism, as espoused by many African intellectuals and leaders such as Marcus Garvey, WEB du Bois, Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Patrice Lumumba, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Dube's cousin and African scholar Pixley ka Seme.

X