KwaZulu Natal Tourist AttractionsInanda Seminary
Where? M25, Emachobeni, Inanda Mission, Inanda, 4310
How? Call +27 (0)31 510-1011
Founded by the American Board of Missions (ABM) in 1869 the Inanda Seminary is one of the oldest girls' schools in South Africa, a private all-girls independent Christian boarding school. It was one of the first, and only, schools for black women in southern Africa at the time . At the turn of the century black women's education was not deemed important.
A missionary couple to South Africa, Daniel and Lucy Lindley, created the seminary for girls in response to the Adams School at the Adams mission in Amanzimtoti, which was already educating young black men. Their aim was to educate women to be these men's equal.
The Adams mission was notable not only for its school, but also for its role in the country's history, for it was here that another American missionary to South Africa, William Wilcox and his wife Ida met, and later 'adopted', the 16 year-old John Dube, whom they took to America to study.
The Wilcoxes, who also arranged for black South Africans to own land, were driven out of the country. They were awarded the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo, in 2009, for having given so much for the South African people. John Dube went on to open his own school, start his own newspaper and become the first leader of what was to become the ANC.
The Inanda Seminary opened to educate its initial 19 girls at the cost of the American Missionary Board. Mary Kelly Edwards, the headteacher, served the school for almost sixty years.
When the Lindleys left the country four years after opening the school, they left the mission to Reverend James Dube, the son of one of the first converts of the mission. Dube died when his son, John Dube, was young.
A series of interviews by historian Meghan Healy-Clancy with alumni of the Inanda Seminary reveal how the values of the school – honesty, loyalty, respect, self-discipline, sociability and responsibility – were a way of life for students.
The apartheid years were difficult for the school. The government tried to enforce Bantu Education, then pulled visas of non-South African staff, forcing the large majority of American missionary teachers to leave. The school almost closed as a result, surviving only because of the support of the United Congregational Church of South Africa, giving the church a great deal of sway in the running of the school.
Inanda Seminary was taken back into private management by old students of the Seminary in the 1970s only to face further closure during the 1990s. A few of the school's 'old girls' approached Nelson Mandela, who convinced Sappi to invest in the school.
Today the school's beautiful old buildings and manicured gardens take on students from predominantly black upper class families, even though the school covers the cost of girls who cannot afford schooling. It is one of the better schools in the province.