CEAD prepares for NRF Conference on History of Umlazi

The committee that met to prepare for the conference

Every individual who has recorded the existence of humanity, and its history, has achieved at least one goal: that people were living at a certain point in time, at a particular location, and led a particular lifestyle that made them different from any other people. In some cases, writing history becomes a corrective exercise to change the existing narrative that could be misinformed or written from second and third accounts. This is what the politics of gathering and writing history is about.

At MUT, a group of staff members have come together to gather and write the history of Umlazi Township, where Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) is located.

Addressing the team that assembled on 9 November 2022 at the University, Professor Busisiwe Nkonki-Mandleni, Director: Community Engagement and Development said they were preparing for a hybrid conference that would be held from 6 to 9 December 2022.

The  goals of the conference include “building a network of collaboration and partnerships with all relevant local, provincial, national African and worldwide communities in the quest to recover a lost history, and to reflect the importance of restoration, and transforming and enhancing ways of conduct research with an Afrocentric paradigm and methodologies taking centre stage in African scholarship”.

Among the individuals that attended the meeting were those who are knowledgeable about the township’s origin, and the early years of the University. These individuals have been identified as some of the primary sources of knowledge when the information-gathering exercise starts.

Professor Nkonki-Mandleni said they aimed to write a comprehensive history of the township, from the perspective of those who know it better – they may have been part of the history – or can associate with it in the manner that convinces the writers that they are the correct people to contribute to the narrative.

Professor Nkonki-Mandleni said that was what they would share at the conference, guided by the conference theme,  ‘Engaging the World through the African Perspective’.

The team, which henceforth is now considered a committee, deliberated on the approach to the conference. In the end, they agreed that they would focus on a few, but important areas, and then allocate resources to achieve their intentions.

The areas of focus would be: the early history of Umlazi Township; education; health and lifestyle; economy, and culture. In some cases, the committee has identified individuals who will give a narration on some of these areas. One of these will be an induna (chief) in the Cele clan. The Cele chieftaincy presides over the area where Umlazi Township is located. The Cele tribe is now living in Ngonyameni, on the west of the township.

Professor Nkonki-Mandleni said they have already allocated duties to members of the committee to assemble and prepare material that will be required during the conference.