Introduction: Power and Public Discourse: Umvoti Mission Reserve and the Politics of Economic Experiments in Nineteenth Century Natal, 1860–1900

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Seminar Date
October 10, 2012
When John Langalibalele Dube returned from his studies in the United States [WHAT YEAR?] full of energy and vision for transforming his homeland, he embarked on a journey to an old settlement—emzini omdala ka Grout, as it was commonly referred to among Isizulu-speaking people in Natal. He sought to know what might have happened to one of the leading African settlements in Natal. On his way to Umvoti, Dube was informed that the area had changed. The stories he heard told a similar ‘narrative of decline’. For some, the settlement had lost all its economic enthusiasm and promise. The second generation of mission station residents were blamed for having abandoned the pioneering spirit of their fathers. But Dube was not deterred; he wanted to establish the facts for himself. What he saw was a settlement full of promise and one that still inspired the current generation to move forward. Perhaps what Dube sought to do was to disturb an emerging ‘public’ discourse on land ownership and land use in Natal that eventually had far-reaching implications for politics in general.
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