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UConn Advance

Magubane to retire; lecture planned April 10
April 4, 199

After 27 years of teaching anthropology at UConn, Bernard Magubane has decided to retire and head home to South Africa in June.

Magubane, who shared the same political views as Nelson Mandela, came to the United States in 1961 because he would be better able to campaign for an end to apartheid.

His experiences with racial discrimination will be the focal point of a lecture at a retirement reception at 4 p.m. April 10 in the H. Fred Simons African-American Cultural Center.

As a black South African, Magubane had limited access to education. Despite those restrictions, he earned his teaching certificate in 1950.

While teaching full-time during the day, Magubane took classes in the evening at the University of Natal, the only institution of higher education then open to blacks.

It was during a protest against a curfew that restricted the movement of blacks and Asians that he met an American recruiter who was offering scholarships for South African students to the United States. Magubane applied and was admitted to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

After spending four years on the west coast, he found a job at the University of Zambia. Magubane returned to California in 1970 as a visiting professor at UCLA. He then headed east for the first time, to interview for a faculty position at UConn.

When he arrived on campus it was covered with snow. "It was the first time I had experienced snow," Magubane says. "That was really great."

There were just a handful of black faculty members at that time, but Homer Babbidge, then president of the University, had a keen interest in integrating the campus.

Also during the early 1970s, students were very politically active. Magubane recalls a student protest in 1972 when the foreign minister of Portugal lectured on campus. At the time, Portugal was at war with Mozambique and Angola. To get their point across students stood up and clapped every time the foreign minister tried to speak.

"I think one of the most important things I will miss about teaching is coming into contact with different generations of students," Magubane says, "most of whom have never been taught by a black person, let alone an African with an accent like mine."


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