Herbert Vilakazi

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Herbert W. Vilakazi (May 18, 1943 in Nongoma–January 26, 2016 in Pretoria) was a South African sociologist.[1] He was known for his opposition to South Africa's apartheid system, which motivated him to try to dismantle it from the inside by becoming a professor at the University of Transkei, despite the protests of the African National Congress.[2] He was also a prominent critic of Western medicine, and promoted ubhejane as a treatment for HIV/AIDS.[3]


Vilakazi was born on May 18, 1943, in Nongoma, Zululand District Municipality, South Africa. In 1957, he moved to Hartford, Connecticut after his father accepted a teaching position there.[1][4] In 1958, at the age of 15, he wrote a letter to Martin Luther King, Jr., in which he praised King's then-recently published book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.[4]

He was educated at Columbia University (B.A., 1966; M.A., 1968), and then taught sociology at Essex County College from 1969 to 1980. He then left Essex County College to become a professor at the University of Transkei,[4] remaining on their faculty until 1984. During his tenure at the University of Transkei, he and several of his colleagues were deported for alleged subversive activities. His subsequent positions included stints teaching at the University of Cape Town from 1985 to 1986, at Wits University during the 1987 academic year, and at the University of Zululand from 1988 to 1998. From 1997 until his retirement in 2004, he was the Deputy Chair Person of the Electoral Commission of South Africa.[5]

He died on January 26, 2016 of prostate cancer.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Herbert Vilakazi: Leading academic and IFP champion". The Sunday Times. 2016-02-07. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  2. ^ Buthelezi, Mangosuthu (2016-02-06). "Funeral Service For The Late Professor Herbert W. Vilakazi". Inkatha Freedom Party. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  3. ^ Specter, Michael (2007-03-05). "The AIDS Denialists". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  4. ^ a b c Vilakazi, Herbert (1958-10-25). "Letter From Herbert W. Vilakazi to Martin Luther King, Jr" (PDF). The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project.
  5. ^ "Biography of renowned sociologist Prof. Herbert Vilakazi". SABC News. 2016-01-31. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  6. ^ Moagi, Christopher (2016-01-29). "Prof Vilakazi loses cancer battle". DailySun. Retrieved 2017-10-10.