Bernard Makhosezwe Magubane

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Prof. Emeritus Bernard Makhosezwe Magubane, a South African who was a long-time anthropology professor at the University of Connecticut, and renowned author of several books, died last Friday in South Africa.

Born August 26, 1930 on a farm near Colenso in Natal, Magubane rose to become one of South Africa's leading scholars, teaching at Connecticut for 27 years. As a representative in the United States of the liberation movement, the Africa National Congress, Magubane led the successful, anti-apartheid divestment campaign in the state of Connecticut, and helped coordinate similar activities throughout the US.

Upon hearing of Magubane's death, South African President Jacob Zuma bemoaned the country's "loss one of its best historians and an outstanding academic."
Born to un-schooled farm workers in rural Kwa Zulu Natal, Magaubane's first opportunity to attend school came at the age of ten, when his parents enrolled him at Mazenod primary school in Chesterville. In 1949 he obtained his T3 Teaching Certificate and returned to Mazenod as a teacher in 1950. In 1953 he entered the University of Natal and registered for the Sociology honours programme. Two years later, while completing his M.A., he was awarded a scholarship from the Institute of International Education, which allowed him to enroll in the PhD program in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He departed for California on December 21, 1961 where he completed his PhD in 1967. Professor Magubane's dissertation was on African American Consciousness of Africa and it became the basis for his award winning book, The Ties That Bind.

While lecturing at the University of Zambia from 1967-1970 he worked closely with the leadership of the ANC. In 1970 he accepted a faculty position as a professor of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut where he taught for 27 years. During his long career he published The Political Economy of Race and Class in South Africa, the book for which he is best known as well as articles about the political economy of South Africa which appeared in such publications as Contemporary Sociology, African Studies Review, Journal of Modern African Studies, Critical Anthropology.

After returning to South Africa, Professor Magubane joined the Human Sciences Research Council as a Chief Research Specialist. In September 2000 he was appointed project leader and Director of the South African Democracy Education Trust, a project organization set up to study the political history of South Africa since 1960. The Trust produced ten volumes of The Road to Democracy in South Africa, a comprehensive history of the country. Amongst his many honours, he was conferred with the Order of the Star by former President Mandela.


Magubane married Thembelihle Kaula in 1952 and they were blessed with four daughters, Gugu, Bongi, Vukani and Zine. Professor Magubane passed on peacefully in his home on 12 April 2013. He is survived by his wife, four daughters, ten grandchildren, and a brother and sister.
Published on NYTimes.com from Apr. 18 to Apr. 19, 2013
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