Address by Presisent Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the Adams College Legacy Dinner, Durban City Hall
26 November 2011
The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr. Zweli Mkhize;
The Honourable Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma;
Umntwana wakwa Phindangene Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi
KwaZulu Natal MEC for Education, Senzo Mchunu
Executive Mayor of eThewini, Cllr James Nxumalo
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me a great sense of pleasure to have been afforded the opportunity to celebrate with you on this special occasion that marks the commemoration of the legacy of Adams College.
Established in 1853, this College provided children of new African converts with an opportunity for gaining a good standard of education.
The college is highly regarded by the people of KwaZulu-Natal and beyond because of an important role it has played in the history of the province, country and continent.
Adams College also enjoys special place in the history of the oldest liberation movement in the continent and the country’s ruling party, the African National Congress, which celebrates its centenary on 8 January 2012.
The College produced some of the most outstanding leaders of the ANC and the country, ANC Presidents John L. Dube, Pixley ka Isaka Seme and Chief Albert Luthuli as well as Anton Lembede, the founding president of the ANC Youth League.
The ANC’s founding president John Langalibalele Dube, first attended this school at the age of 10 in 1881.
ANC leaders also served as teachers at the school. We can mention Chief Albert Luthuli who was the first African member of staff while Professor Z.K. Matthews became the first African principal for the College.
Beyond our borders, this school also produced African leaders such as Sir Seretse Khama who became the first democratically elected President of Botswana.
We have fond memories of the support to our struggle provided by Sir Seretse Khama during very difficult periods of repression.
Zimbabwean leader, Joshua Nkomo, who became a founder of the first Zimbabwe liberation movement ZAPU also studied at Adams College.
The school has produced other distinguished persons that went on to make a huge impact in the development and growth of not only South Africa but the entire African continent.
In this regard we also count our Minister of Home Affairs Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma among the former students.
She has contributed a great deal to both the struggle for liberation and the post-conflict reconstruction and development of our country after 1994. She has served as Minister of Health, Minister of Foreign Affairs and now as Minister of Home Affairs.
We are pleased that she is playing such a key role in the revival of the college.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In addition to its investment in sound leadership for the country and continent, Adams College was ahead of its time in terms of the curriculum.
It was the first college to offer the matric syllabus, an arts degree, a building diploma and a teachers training course.
This innovative school was also amongst the first schools to introduce co-education for both boys and girls, to provide matriculation and post- matriculation courses as well as to teach mathematics and science to Africans.
While Adams College has such a rich history, it did not escape the devastating impact of apartheid, like many other mission schools.
The architects of apartheid resented schools such as Adams College which sought to empower African children. For them teaching mathematics and science to African children was not acceptable as Hendrik Verwoerd argued:
“What is the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics if he will not use it in practice? There is no place for the Native in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour”.
Adams College, however, stood the test of time, providing Christian education to Africans even under these unfavourable circumstances that forced other learning institutions to fall by the wayside.
Through its resilience, it made a lifelong contribution to education during the darkest times that our country was once subjected to.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
That resilience is the reason why we are meeting here to celebrate that legacy.
This school must continue to be an incubator that produces outstanding leaders for our country in various fields.
The college is in a good space because in 2007, the Historic School Restoration Project was launched here at Adam’s College.
When this project was launched, retired Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of the Anglican Church said one of the goals was to restore our historic schools to stimulate a renewed pride in South Africa’s cultural, literary, musical and educational heritage.
The intention is to reposition these schools as premier educational, technical, sports, arts, culture and leadership institutions in South Africa and in the continent.
The first part is to restore the physical infrastructure of the schools.
This part of the restoration process will address needs such as adequate water and sewerage infrastructure, the necessary classrooms, laboratories, libraries, restoration or provision of boarding facilities and staff housing.
I am informed that architectural consultants have been appointed and have visited the pilot schools to assess the extent of the restoration needed.
The second part of the restoration process is to restore the quality of the educational and cultural content offered in the schools.
That must include the quality of teachers which must speak to the quality of teaching. If there is quality teaching, there will be quality learning and the results will show.
We therefore express our gratitude to the Board of Trustees of Adams College for their tireless efforts and sterling work you have done so far in leading the Historic Schools Restoration Project.
We encourage former students and friends of Adams College to join Government and the Historic Schools Restoration Project to revive and keep alive our rich heritage of excellence.
We encourage the private sector in KZN as well to invest in this school and others in the province, as part of their social responsibility programmes.
It would be a worthwhile investment in institutions that have contributed so much to leadership development in our country.
Let us today recommit ourselves to work together to nurture the rich heritage of Adams College and reaffirm the school’s position as a centre of excellence.
I will continue liaising with the Ministers of Arts and Culture and Basic Education, as well as the Premier of KZN, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to be appraised on progress.
We wish you all the best with the restoration project.
I thank you.