Kunene’s legacy lives on

2011-12-05 00:00

TRANSPORT Minister S’bu Ndebele opened the R2,4 million Mazisi Kunene Centre of Excellence yesterday in Amahlongwa near Umkomaas.

The centre boasts a state-of-the-art library and a computer centre for the use of local children, who previously had to travel 25 km to the nearest library.

Speaking at the launch, Ndebele touched on Bantu Education. “Apartheid dehumanised people and Mazisi Kunene was one of those icons that brought back the value of human beings. His works in Zulu and English are known throughout the world. He was a universalist.”

The centre is a project of the Mazisi Kunene Foundation, in partnership with the private sector and governments.

Kunene, a poet laureate and anti-apartheid activist, fled into exile to the U.K. in 1959, where he represented the ANC, becoming the ANC’s financial director in 1972.

He was also professor of African literature at the University of California, Los Angeles until 1992, when he returned to KZN teach at the University of Natal.

His bibliography include 10 poetry collections and his Emperor Shaka the Great is considered a seminal work.

Speaking of Amahlongwa, Ndebele said, “A humble place like this has created such a world icon. The centre is an example of academic excellence and one of the best in the country. The community needs to actively support it and take ownership. You must not allow it to disintegrate.”

The U.S. consulate in Durban also sponsored books for the library. Taylor Ruggles from the consulate said: “We are proud to be part of this legacy and keep the connect between the USA and this place alive.

“This legacy should serve as a model for the rest of South Africa, Africa and the world.”

Communications director for the foundation and Mazisi’s eldest son, Zosukuma Kunene said, “The centre is not just a library. It is for the development of the community and the area.

“We have hired unemployed graduates from the community to tutor pupils and have increased the matric pass rate from 33 % to 45%.”

The foundation’s next project is to upgrade the existing sports field and to fence the facility.

The foundation also launched two other projects in line with re-green my village and COP17.

“We have a perma-culture garden and introduced the culture of solar energy. We want this to be a catalyst for development,” he said.

A group of students and facilitators from Detroit will be spending a week at the school to interact and share ideas on solar energy and re-greening with pupils and the community.

Blair Evans, a founder of the project in Detroit, said, “We want to share information on building the environment and at the same time sustaining a community. It is about empowering communities to use local resources and become self reliant.”

As part of the launch, 30 women from the eThekweni region received certificates for their commitment to greening their villages.

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