A Film About the Iconic Nokutela Mdima-Dube Makes History Ahead of Its Premiere. “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History.” This famous quote does not mean that women should break rules or misbehave in order to make history, it just expresses frustration that history overlooks the lives of many exemplary women. One of those exemplary women is without a doubt, Nokutela Mdima-Dube.
Although she moved many mountains, not a lot of people know about this iconic woman. Nokutela was the first wife of Reverend John Langalibalele Dube, the first President General of the South African Native National Congress (later renamed the African National Congress ANC). She and her husband tirelessly raised funds in the United States of America between 1896 and 1899 to build the Ohlange Institute, the newspaper Ilanga Lase Natal and many other ground-breaking institutions that have furthered the cause of multiracial democracy in the country since the early 20th century.
It is said that she inspired Lillian Tshabalala and others to found the club movement called “The Daughters of Africa”, in Natal in 1932, modeled on the African-American women’s club movement. The school that she co-founded with her husband was chosen by Nelson Mandela as the place where he wanted to cast his first vote in the first democratic elections in South Africa. Sadly her contribution to South African education and the growth of what was to become the African National Congress was not well known.
In 2012, Professor Chérif Keita of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, made a film about her, Ukukhumbula uNokutela – Remembering Nokutela, and campaigned to raise awareness of her work. A headstone was erected on her grave after it was located by Keita with the help of the Johannesburg Parks Service in 2009.
Today marks 100 years anniversary of Mam’ Mdima-Dube’s passing, and another film made about her is premiering. Her story is being highlighted and brought to life in a Legacy Creates project titled Amagama kaNokutela, a collaboration with magazine editor, stylist and creative director Asanda Sizani, produced by award winning actresses Florence Masebe, Masasa Mbangeni and others. The film stars poet Siphokazi Jonas, and actress Nokuthula Mavuso as Nokutela.
The great news is that the film is sold out ahead of its premier in Cape Town!