Restoring a legacy

When Albertina Luthuli visited the 154-year-old Adams College near Amamzimtoti in KwaZulu-Natal three years ago she was in tears.

The school where she was a standard seven (grade nine) learner in 1946, and where her father, ANC president and Nobel laureate Chief Albert Luthuli, spent his academic life as a student teacher and lecturer in the 1920s and 1930s, had turned to dust.

‘Colleges such as Adams College were the hope of the oppressed people, but they were targeted after 1948 [when the Nationalist government came into power and the Bantu Education Act was adopted]. So we lost institutions that were producing excellent leaders for black people,” she said this week.

Restoring Adams College, she added, was the ‘correct’’ thing to do.

This is about to happen as part of the Historical Schools Project.
It will be launched at Adams College next week, targeting about 20 institutions considered to have served as intellectual centres for African education and as being instrumental in producing South African leaders.

Adams College, which was a teacher training and theology college and a school, had former ANC leaders, such as John Dube, ZK Matthews and Govan Mbeki, as learners or teachers. Foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zumi, Chief Justice Pius Langa and Inkatha Freedom Party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi also attended the college.

Another institution that will benefit is Lovedale, today Lovedale FET College, established in 1856 between Grahamstown and East London in the Eastern Cape. President Thabo Mbeki and the late Chris Hani attended the school.

Also identified are Tiger Kloof in North West, with alumni such as Botswana presidents Seretse Khama and Ketumile Masire; Pax College in Limpopo, where the likes of Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and director general of the National Treasury Lesetja Kganyago completed their schooling, and; Morris Isaacson Secondary in Gauteng, which played a key role in the Soweto uprising of 1976.

The project came about after Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan, together with then Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, held a brainstorming session in August this year in which they discussed restoring historical schools; mission schools in particular.

The ministry will work closely with the department of education and Ndungane, who is the executive director of the project and its key driver.

Sandile Memela, spokesperson for the ministry, said this week that no budget had been allocated as Ndungane and his team were still assessing the situation. The government is hoping the private sector will participate in the initiative.

The project will not only emphasise the educational rebirth of the schools, but focus on culture, by establishing community art centres.

Schools involved said they hoped the project would bring about infrastructural rejuvenation, given the age of many of the institutions’ buildings and their neglect as a result of a lack of money.

Thulani Khumalo, principal of Adams College, said the project came at the right time for the school, which was trying to persuade alumni to become involved.

‘Adams College has been people’s source of light. But the standards are not the same. We have to restore the culture and traditions and ensure that the legacy lives on,” Khumalo said.

Tiger Kloof principal Gail du Toit said the school had been visited by Ndungane, who explained the project, but the school had not yet decided what its priorities were.

Lesiba Ledwaba, principal of Pax College, said the school’s governing body would meet soon to identify what it needed. Some of the school’s building were constructed 80 years ago. Ledwaba hoped infrastructure upgrading would make the school’s priority list.

The short list

The Department of Education has identified the following schools as potential pilot schools:

Healdtown Comprehensive School—Fort Beaufort, Eastern Cape

St Matthew’s High School—Keiskammahoek, Eastern Cape

Lovedale College—Alice, Eastern Cape

St John’s College—Mthatha, Eastern Cape

Moroka High School—Thaba Nchu, Free State

Wilberforce Community College—Evaton, Gauteng

St Martin’s School—Rosettenville, Gauteng

Adams College—Amanzimtoti, KwaZulu-Natal

Inanda Seminary—Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal

St Francis College—Mariannhill, KwaZulu-Natal

Ohlange College—Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal

Zonnebloem College—Cape Town

Morris Isaacson Secondary—Soweto, Gauteng

Tiger Kloof—Vryburg, North West Province

Lemana High School—Elim Hospital, Limpopo

Pax College—Polokwane, Limpopo

Glen Cowie Secondary School—Limpopo

St Martin’s High School—Limpopo

St Augustine’s—Nquthu, KwaZulu-Natal

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