Go to the Labyrinth of East London Lore

Walter Benson

Clergyman, Humanist and Politician

Keith Tankard
Updated: 14 October 2009
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It is with great sadness that we have to announce that the creator of The Labyrinth of East London Lore, Dr T., has passed away. Helping people through his website gave him no end of pleasure. If you had contact with him and would like to leave a message, please send us an e-mail here.

Walter Benson Rubusana was born in the district of Somerset East in 1858 and was educated at Lovedale College.

After serving as teacher and assistant pastor at Peelton, he was ordained in the London Missionary Society in 1884. He gained a PhD from McKinley University.

He was a founder member of the Native Educational Association (1879) to improve and elevate the position of the "native races" by means of education.

He was also a member of the Union of Native Vigilance Societies and was prominent in the establishment and administration of East London's African newspaper, Izwi Labantu (1898).

Simultaneous with the creation of Izwi was the formation of the South African Native Congress of which Dr Rubusana was an Executive Committee Member. In 1909 he became President of the South African Native Convention, elected to study the drafting of the Act of Union.

He was also one of the delegates who journeyed to England that year to carry the voice of Black protest against the Union before the King but, once Union had been accomplished, Dr Rubusana decided to exert pressure from within the system and was elected as the first Black Member of the Cape Provincial Council to represent the Tembuland constituency.

Dr Rubusana's work as a pastor at East London began in about 1888, when he was posted to the Congregational Church at Newsam's Town.

He quickly became caught up in the need to uplift the social conditions of his people, especially after the forced removals of 1890 and the establishment of the East Bank Location. For this reason he founded the East London branch of the Native Vigilance Association in 1892.

He died on 19 April 1936 at the age of 78, and was buried at East London.

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