About Dr Dubois

Please note new email address: duncanldubois@gmail.com


About Duncan Du Bois



Letters to Newspapers



Current Issues



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Issues of the time


 Du  Bois resigns from Democratic Alliance

 “Effective 3 August 2016, I resigned from the DA having been a member since 29 November 2000. My decision to leave the DA was very much part of my decision not to stand for a fourth term as Bluff ward councillor..........".  Read more


Du  Bois reviews his term of office

 In terms of length of service, my four terms as ward councillor 1991-1996 and 2001-2016, constitute the second longest period in office for a Bluff representative after the late Louis De Beer who represented the Bluff on Council for 22 years – from 1966 to 1988.       Read More

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.

In May 2018 I was granted Honorary Research Fellow status at UKZN.




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 copies.fm@baynesfield.co.zaTel 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: duncanldubois@gmail.com

Portraits is available on amazon.



For more information on these publications contact duncanldubois@gmail.com


Book Reviews By Dr Duncan Du Bois

by Matt MARGOLIS and Mark NOONAN:  published by Victory Books, 2016 (Margolis is an architectural developer; Noonan is a Navy veteran. Both are long time US bloggers) Book available from amazon.com also as an e book.

The book is reviewed by Dr Duncan Du Bois - What follows is a limited review of some of the 200 reasons the authors posit in making their case against Barack Obama. It is derived from 25 pages of handwritten, raw notes I made in a cursory read of this highly documented book which runs to 350 pages and contains more than 1,100 references.




BOOK REVIEW: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon (New york, 1978) - Reviewed by Dr Duncan Du Bois

 Memoirs often tend to be hagiographies. Richard Nixon’s Memoirs do not fall into that category. His 1,090 page account of his life up until his final day in the White House is a compelling read and a necessary counter to the malevolent and vitriolic campaign against his character and his family which destroyed his presidency. READ MORE




Bluff Peninsula: a random history and road name register

This 81 page book contains 34 historical images, several of which were sourced from the Local History Museum in Aliwal St. Durban. Although by no means an exhaustive account of the Bluff's  annals, the book attempts to provide a perspective on the evolution of the Bluff  from the time when it was a backwater outpost to its evolution as a suburb of the City of Durban from 1932. As such, the book provides parameters for future research to fill out and expand upon. The contents follows a chronological direction from colonial times to the 1980s. The information provided was sourced from the Pietermaritzburg Archives and the Killie Campbell Library. In researching and compiling the book, historian Duncan Du Bois points out that, like any history, the book constitutes a modest footprint without which our heritage would be poorer.  

A limited number of copies have been printed and are available at R100 per copy.

Contact Duncan for delivery details: duncanldubois@gmail.com