Dipo Mhlongo, a storyteller, welcomes guests to the Ohlange Institute. Picture: Zanele Zulu.

Johannesburg -  The historic Ohlange Institute, established by the ANC’s founding president John Langalibalele Dube and his first wife Nokutela 118 years ago, has been declared a national heritage site.

The SA Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) announced its decision on Friday in a notice published in the Government Gazette.

Among its reasons for declaring Ohlange Institute a national heritage site, Sahra said the site holds high historical significance in its association with Dube’s life and work as well as the ANC.

Sahra believes the site is of importance in history as well as its association to historical events including late former president Nelson Mandela casting his ballot in the 1994 elections.

Ohlange Institute opened its doors in 1901 in Inanda, eThekwini and it was then known as the Zulu Christian Industrial School and is believed to be the first educational institution  to be founded by a black person in South Africa.

“The site is further significant in its association to the achievement of a particular period, being the first education institution for Africans by Africans and the coming of democracy,” Sahra said.

It now houses the John L Dube House and the John L Dube Interpretation Centre, which is the old school hall, where Mandela cast his vote in April 1994.

Dube’s modest, colonial-styled original house bears testimony to his life, work and aspirations to encourage his people to enter the modern world through education, according to Sahra.

“As the first school established and directed by Africans, the site further testifies to the pioneering of African education in South Africa,” the agency explained.

Political Bureau