South Africa’s Struggle for Independent Education

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Height: 235MM

About the book

The Struggle for African Independent Education focuses on the Wilberforce Institute, one of the first major independent African schools in segregationist South Africa.

It became the epicentre of the independent school movement in the Transvaal in the early twentieth century, demonstrating how newly urbanised mission-educated Africans, despite profound linguistic differences and regional backgrounds, shared far-reaching educational aspirations in the rapidly growing cosmopolitan, gold-driven Johannesburg after the South African War (1899-1902).

The book examines how their common histories of oppression, segregation, displacement, dispossession, as well as despair and disillusionment with the mainstream missionary education, incited the new urban dwellers to wage the struggle for African independent education, and tells the story of how their determination led to the formation of the Wilberforce Institute.

About the author

Vusumuzi R. Kumalo is a Senior Lecturer in History at Nelson Mandela University and editor of New Contree, A Journal of Historical and Human Science for Southern Africa, He has published on economic history and the politics of knowledge production, with a focus on independent African initiatives, including the AME Church and trans-Atlantic links between the USA and South Africa.

He recently authored From Plough to Entrepreneurship: A History of African Entrepreneurs in Evaton 1905-1960s (Langaa RPCIG, 2020). With Benjamin N. Lawrance, he co-edited a new edition of Dugmore Boetie’s Familiarity is the Kingdom of the Lost, published by Ohio University Press in 2020. Together they are coauthoring a biographical study of the writer and musician. He also published a booklet on the History of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU 2014) with Dineo Skosana.




About the Author



Map showing the location of Wilberforce College in Evaton

Map showing the location of Evaton in Gauteng Province


  1. The beginnings of western missionary education in South Africa
  2. The state, education and the demand for labour: Grey’s policy of educating and simultaneously subjugating Africans
  3. Skilled workmen, honest clerks and reliable domestic servants: Stewart of Lovedale and industrial education for Africans.
  4. The ‘school people’ resist and start asserting African independence, 1880s to 1890s
  5. The Ethiopianists’ and their struggle for religious and educational independence in the ZAR, 1880s to 1900 (56-59)
  6. The USA and AME Church connections
  7. The South African Native Affairs Commission reveals dissatisfaction with white missionary education, 1903- 1905
  8. Edward Tsewu and local activists challenge the state and win lands rights for Africans in the Transvaal Colony, 1905.
  9. Land and Opportunity: The formation of Evaton, 1905.
  10. The long walk of J.Z. Tantsi: The beginnings of Wilberforce Institute, 1905-1914
  11. Tolityi Magaya and the growth of Wilberforce, 1917-1924
  12. ‘Up from Slavery’: The colourful Rev Francis Gow junior takes charge, 1924-1934
  13. ’Born for leadership’ but dragged down by patriarchy and the depression: The Eva Morake years, 1934-1936
  14. Dr A.B. Xuma dips into his own pockets
  15. Doing Wright: The Reconstruction of Wilberforce, 1938-1940
  16. The tenures of Dr Jacob Nhlapo and the sacrificing superintendent, Dr. Rev Josephus Coan, 1940-1947
  17. Dr Nhlapo on national duty: The unification of African languages The Atlantic Charter and Africans’ Claims, 1942-43
  18. End of an era: The arrival of Bantu education, 1948-1955
  19. The Wilberforce Legacy: Alumni during and after apartheid