About Dr Dubois
Duncan Du Bois(1953-)
A lifelong resident of the Bluff area of Durban, he retired from school teaching in 2010 after 34 years. In 1989 he completed a MA thesis titled ‘Sir John Robinson, the Mercury and the Indian Question’ at the University of Natal. 2011 saw the publication of his book Labourer or Settler? Colonial Natal’s Indian Dilemma 1860-1897. In 2011 he returned to UKZN as a fulltime student and completed his Ph.D dissertation in 2013 titled ‘Sugar and Settlers: the colonization of the Natal South Coast 1850-1910.’ After reworking the thesis and adding additional material, it was published in 2015 as Sugar and Settlers: A History of the Natal South Coast 1850-1910. In recent years he has had academic articles published in Natalia, Historia, Nidan – Journal of Hindu Studies and in New Contree. Besides his involvement in education, he has served four terms as a municipal councillor representing the Bluff in both the former Durban City Council and the eThekwini Metro.
With the exception of a number of hagiographies, that is, works that are generally uncritical about an individual or a family, the colonial South Coast is a largely unstudied region. As such it made an ideal Ph.D topic in terms of its scope and relevance. I was also inspired to undertake the study as a consequence of many happy times spent on on the South Coast as a child.
I commenced background reading in the latter part of 2010 and worked almost daily on it from the beginning of 2011 until late November 2013 when I submitted the completed dissertation at UKZN. A work of this nature involves performing three tasks virtually simultaneously: ongoing research in either the Archives or at a repository such as Killie Campbell, collating information already gathered and drafting it into a new chapter while revising drafts returned by my supervisor for correction or refinement. The bulk of my research findings were gleaned from unpublished records housed in the Pietermaritzburg Archives
After completing the dissertation, I re-worked it by adding a chapter, removing theoretical material which is required for higher degrees and including additional material as well as images and illustrations. The manuscript was accepted by Sun Press Media in Bloemfontein for publication. It then took nearly a year of editing, adding material, proof reading and tweaking before the book emerged in printed form in September 2015.
I have always been academically inclined and have a lifelong interest in history. Once retiring from school teaching in 2010, I was able to plunge headlong into research and writing which I still pursue on almost a daily basis.
Labourer or Settler - Colonial Natal's Indian Dilemma 1860 - 1897
by Duncan Dubois ...R190
Labourer or Settler addresses the question of how, neither by accident nor design, Natal became home to over 50,000 Indian Immigrants during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Duncan Dubois recounts how, from 1860, at the request of fewer than 50 sugar planters, colonial Natal embarked on a labour dispensation which significantly transformed its character
Comments by:Tony Leon and Prof. Goolam Vahed
Sugar and Settlers by Dr Duncan Du Bois
From a wealth of archival sources, Du eruditely narrates what is arguably the seminal chronicle of the South Coast's development. He comprehensively unravels the kaleidoscope of personalities and unpacks the various interests that impact on this otherwise parochial backwater. Black Africans, white settlers, Indian labourers competed for the agrarian "playing field" that was dominated by sugar cultivation.
- Dr Scott Everett Couper -Author of Albert Luthuli: Bound by Faith
Duncan Du Bois provides a detailed and fascinating history of a hitherto much neglected part of what was the colony of Natal. Based primarily on original archival research, he traces the southward advance of the white settler frontier settler and its sugar-based economy from Isipingo to the Mzimkulu river and, without the sugar engine, to the Mtamvuna.
This study, highlights challenges faced by the settler enterprise which were not unique to that particular region, but crucial in shaping history. These included rugged geography, slow infrastructural development, insufficient investment capital and a heavy demand for labour to meet the needs of plantation agriculture. The settler economy's relations with the reliance on indigenous African people and imported Indian workers therefore constitute further dimensions of the book.
As such it is a valuable addition to the history of white settlement and its impact, both human and environmental, on southern Africa -
W.R.(Bill) Guest - Professor Emeritus Historical Studies, University of KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg
RACE RELATIONS PIONEER- The legacy of Joseph Baynes
Written by Duncan Du Bois
Commissioned and published by the Baynesfield Trust in 2016, this 56 page booklet reveals that not all Natal’s colonial figures were indifferent to the plight of Africans and Indians.
Contact the Baynesfield Trust for email@example.comTel 033 251 0044
In this age of anti-colonial sentiment. Duncan Du Bois' research has unearthed evidence of colonial Natal agriculturist, Joseph Baynes' evolution as a pioneer in the liberalisation of race relations and a fearless proponent of humanitarian values.
Records demonstrate that Joseph Baynes was a formidable opponent of injustice. He did not shy away from defending the rights of those who were marginalised. As Chairman of the Indian Immigration Trust Board and as a member of the Natal Parliament, he fought for justice and fair play.
Although his extensive farming operation would not have allowed him the time, with his understanding of African affairs and his rapport with Africans, it might be said the he was the best Secretary for Native Affairs Natal ever had
Portraits of Colonial Natal - Written by Dr Duncan Du Bois
At a time when a leading politician’s future and footprint has been blighted and disparaged because she attempted to make objective remarks about the legacies of colonialism, the publication of Portraits of Colonial Natal spurns the ‘decolonisers’ and without fear or favour provides a wide-ranging account of pioneers, places and prejudices.
Comprising of twelve chapters, Portraits balances settler enterprise, initiatives and hardships with accounts of encroachment on the lands of indigenous peoples and human rights abuses. It also includes a ground-breaking study in the liberalisation of race relations. As stated in its Introduction, all periods of history contain stains of tragedy and legacies of ill-considered policies. As the repository of knowledge and understanding, history can be reviewed and opinions revised but it cannot be erased.
For residents of the South Coast and those interested in that region, Portraits has detailed sketches of life in Umzinto, Umkomaas and Port Shepstone. Anecdotal detail gleaned from colonial newspapers and unpublished correspondence in the Pietermaritzburg Archives revives bygone times and characters.
Portraits also features brief biographies of two pioneers of sugar plantation, Michael Jeffels of Isipingo and James Arbuthnot of the Umzinto district, whose lives and contributions to the fledgling years of Natal have hitherto been neglected.
While the sugar industry was the engine of economic growth on the coast, the role of indentured Indian labour was crucial to that enterprise. Two chapters focus on the experiences of Indians. One examines the abuse of the indentured labourers while the other charts the evolution of prejudice against Indians as settlers and commercial entrepreneurs.
Of particular relevance to those who brand all colonial figures as irredeemable bigots, the chapter on Midlands agriculturist and politician, Joseph Baynes, challenges that view.
Portraits of Colonial Natal is a collection of scholarly articles several of which have been published in academic journals. It features a map and images and carries endorsements by the former editor of Natalia – Journal of the Natal Society, Jack Frost, and UKZN Professor of History, Goolam Vahed. It is published by Reach Publishers of Westville.
The book is available at R220 per copy including postage and packaging within South Africa. Email orders to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Portraits is available on amazon.
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