A lighthouse for African womanhood': Inanda Seminary, 1869-19451 by Heather Hughes

From the book: Women and Gender in Southern Africa to 1945 edited by Cherryl Walker

Founded in 1869 by American Board Missionaries, Inanda Seminary was the first establishment of its kind in southern Africa, embodying a new concept of educational work among young African women. Mission institutions in the Cape such as Lovedale already accepted female students (see chapter 3) but the Seminary was the first all female boarding 'high' school - 'a complete Christian home' as the - missionaries thought of it - to be established specifically for the daughters of African Christian converts. It represented a model that was to be more widely emulated in the later nineteenth century and early twentieth century at rural missions in Natal and beyond, and was an important influence in the establishment of the Young Ladies’ Collegiate Institution for whites in Durban in 1878 (Vietzen, 1980: 184-5).

This chapter traces the history of the Seminary from foundation until the end of the Second World War, during which time it was gradually transformed from meeting the needs of a local mission into an elite institution, offering academic course to the daughters of a rising African petty bourgeoisie. Correspondingly, the nature of the course changed from an emphasis on an ‘industrial’, practical training to an academic one. While always gender-specific, stressing subjects that would equip students for a life of domesticity or the female professions (teaching and nursing), Inanda did not educate African women for economic subservience, for a life as house servant, for example. In this there is a sharp contrast with institutions such as those described by Cock and Chisholm in this book. Nevertheless, its students were being educated within a racially segregated social order, which its teachers and governors did not challenge. In fact, from the 1920s, there was general support among those in charge of the school for the liberal segregationism being preached by policy-maker such as C. T. Loram. Such policies were perceived to be consonants with the interests of the classes whom the school served.


In the 1860s education in the colony of Natal was not compulsory for anybody, white or black. Such facilities as did exist were extremely rudimentary and erratic - even among the white settler population schooling for all but the very wealthy lasted at most a couple of years and the few attempts at higher education were devoted to the education of boys. There was one contemporaneous effort to open a boarding school for white girls-St Mary’s at Richmond, which opened in 1870, but closed in 1883 because of factionalism within the Anglican Church and financial difficulties (Vietzen, 1980:94,111-20) In this context, Inanda Seminary, which aimed to provide through Christian education for African girls, represented not merely something new: for many, both approving and disapproving it was nothing short of revolutionary.

The structure of Natal colonial society decreed that from the very beginning the provision of education was fragmented along racial class and gender lines, not only in institutional terms but also in subject matter. The colonial state, churches and private ‘academies’ all contributed to white education, which was of very variable quality. In those institutions that offered elementary grades, there was little distinction between what was taught to boys and girls, according to Vietzen (1980: xii). However, 'higher' (a relative term, meaning anything above two or three years of primary schooling) education was different: boys and girls were separated - a legacy which continues in Natal to this day - and, generally speaking, only the upper echelons of colonial society educated their children at this level. Their options were to provide tuition at home; to patronise private ‘academies’ and in the 'ladies' academies' education was intensely gender specific, consisting of embroidery, dressmaking, music drawing and some grammar (Vietzen, 1980: 17-18) - or sons could attend a local boarding school or be sent ‘home’ to Britain to public school. Only after Natal was granted responsible government in 1893, thus giving the settlers greater control over their own affairs, was a more educational system developed for white children.

From the 1870s until the late 1890s, some Indian pupils were permitted to attend white schools. They were mostly from ‘passenger’ (non-indentured) families; Indian children from families relied on missionary or private effort for a basic education.

By the 1890s there were 28 schools for Indians in Natal were exclusively for girls: within the tiny minority of school-goers, girls were a tinier minority still (Maharaj, 1979). Instruction tended to be unashamedly functional: much attention was given number of English phrases in daily use between buyer and seller master and servant' (ibid: 343). However, attendance at school was extremely poor, as a government commission There is hardly a boy or girl of seven years of age whose earnings do not contribute some trifle to their parents' stock, or for whom employment as domestic servants in Europe families might not be obtained if desired (quoted in Maharaj, 1979:342)

Provisions of Indian education grew very slowly, partly because, as already noted in chapter 6, many whites in Natal harboured the hope that all Indians would eventually be repatriated. Only in the twentieth century were the first state-funded high schools opened, and only after the 1927 Cape Town Agreement (according to which the South Africa government agreed to redress some of the deepest grievances of Indians) was Indian education taken more seriously by the state. The gap between male and female attendance was always particularly -wide until the Second World War: for example, in 1936 under carters of boys of school-going age were in classes, while the fraction for girls was under one-third (Maharaj, 1979: 349).

As far as Natal's African population was concerned, it was the mission churches which shouldered the bulk of educational work -indeed, as shall be seen below, education was the principal means of 'avangelisation. Many mission schools were provided with state grants in -aid but these tended to be minimal. In this mission day schools scattered through the African reserves and locations,2 the rudiments of the 'three Rs', as well as religious instruction, were offered to any who wished to attend. Generally, there was only one teacher for each school, classes contained pupils of all ages, and equipment, such as textbooks, was very basic. Again, it does not seem as if there was any distinction between what was taught to boys and girls at this level (Gaitskell, 1986) and the religious content was obviously very strong.

Missionaries attached considerable importance to ‘higher’ education, least as far as their resources would allow. For their evangelical work to spread and bear fruit, they had to train locally of the personnel they required: teachers, lay preachers, clergy, community leaders, all except the first-mentioned being male activities.

The American Board - the most active mission body in Natal – founded first higher boarding institution for African boys, the Amanzimtoti Institute, in 1853, some twenty years before similar school were opened for white boys3.'' Its aim was to train African ministers and (male) teachers, although the number of boys completing the full course of instruction was very small. Adams College, as the institution was renamed in the 1930s, became co-educational in the early twentieth century, and all American Board teachers training, for men and women, was undertaken there after that. Right up until the 1953 Bantu Education Act, virtually churches operated the only secondary schools available to Africans in Natal; one exception was Ohlange Christian Industrial School, founded in Inanda not far from the Seminary by John Dube in 1903. Inspired by Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee, it offered boys a practical training wagon making, saddlery, farming, and so on.4 Thus in the case of African people, it was more a religious impulse than a class one which opened the door to educational opportunities beyond the elementary years. However, it must quickly be said it was from the small communities of amakholwa - 'believers clustered around mission stations all over Natal, that a well-to-do peasantry emerged from the 1860s and 1870s, so that class religious factors were intertwined.5 Any case study of a single institution always throws up complexities than a general sketch (such as presented above) can incorporate. Nevertheless, the foregoing discussion should help sharpen awareness of some of the dynamics of educational change through most of the period under review, as well as provide benchmarks by which to measure the innovatory approach to African female education at Inanda Seminary during its first eight decades of existence.


The founding of the Inanda mission station Although missionaries of the Board had been active in Natal since 1835, it was only after British annexation in the early 1840s that they were able to settle into station life and attract adherents around them. Two of the pioneer missionaries of the Board, Daniel Lindley and Newton Adams, were in fact closely associated with the elaboration of colonial relations in Natal. Both were members of the 1846 Locations Commission, which earmarked a series of large tracts of lands or locations', for African occupation. They were representatives of the view that African producers should not be dislocated from their lands; rather, they should contribute to the development of cash crop economy. For a time officialdom supported this option but with the emergence of sugar production and its possibilities of attracting white settlers, it was less than enthusiastically pursued. As Henry Slater (1980) has pointed out, at issue was the nature of the extraction of a surplus from the indigenous population: in petty-commodity production or labour power. The balance gradually tipped towards the latter as the century wore on.

Within each location a portion of land was set aside for a mission reserve and soon the American Board had established itself leading mission society in the colony, with a string of stations stretching from Umzumbe in the south to Mapumulo in the north. Inanda was, by the mid-nineteenth century, one of the most thriving of these. The Inanda reserve was some 11 500 acres in extent, situated in the location of the same name, some 70 kilometres north-west of Durban. Qadi a person under their chief Mqawe, who was the most prominent chief in the district, mostly inhabited the lands of the reserve. Although the people were permitted to reside on this land free of charge, they were liable for payment of hut tax and for isibalo (compulsory labour) for the state. Residents moving into the reserve later on were charged rent. There is some evidence that by the 1890s men were widely engaged in wage labour in Durban (though usually this was for short periods only) (South African Native Affairs Commission, 1903-5, Natal Evidence: 418). This was not universally the case for all social groups: those associated with chiefly families, for example, used their position in the old order to launch themselves comfortably into the new by acquiring up-to-date farming equipment (having ready access to draught oxen and adequate land to bring under more extensive cultivation), engaging in transport riding, and by skillfully employing the influence of the local pastor, Daniel Lindley, to their own advantage (Smith, 1949: 381). Mqawe himself was on very good terms with the Lindleys and attended church services although he never became a Christian. He sent his heir, Mandlakayise, to America to study and several of his daughters attended the Seminary.

Then there were those living around the mission station itself, the hub of Christian life on the reserve. Together with seven local converts, Daniel Lindley and his wife, Lucy, had founded the church and hence a small Christian community - in 1849. It is worth saying something about this small band, since they and their offspring were to become socially and politically very prominent, not only locally in Inanda but more broadly in Natal and South Africa too. The forebears Natal's most famous African figures of the twentieth century were represented: George Champion, father of A. W. G. Champion, James and Dalida Dube, father and grandmother respectively of John Langalibalele Dube. Dalida was the most senior female member of this early congregation, being the widow of a former chief of the Qadi her son James - who was Mqawe's uncle - was the first ordained African minister at Inanda, succeeding Lindley in 1873. There was thus a particularly close family connection between these leading these members of the Christian community, active in the formation of organisations such as Funamalugelo,6 and the tribal elite. Other members included Jonas Mfeka, the father of one of the staunches Christians and most determined African farmers in Inanda in the twentieth century, and John Mavuma, a veteran of Shaka’s army who became a lay preacher and went to live at Colenso's station Bishopstowe in the 1870

Among them was also a most remarkable woman. Nancy Damon. A daughter of John Cane, one of the first white adventurers at Port Natal, and Rachel, a 'coloured' woman, she was orphaned at the age of 6 and taken by Newton Adams to his mission station on the south coast. Thereafter she was 'adopted' by the Lindley family and became Daniel Lindley's interpreter: she was responsible for some of the earliest translations of the Bible into Zulu. One of the Lindley sons said of her, '[She was] one of the most refined and able women I have ever met' (Smith, 1949: 280). In 1849 she married a Sotho man, Ndamane (of whose name Damon is a corruption). Her younger brother, Charlie Cane, and many African people held her in awe: her achievement as perhaps the earliest black woman in Natal to become, so highly literate seemed to set her apart from 'ordinary' people Charlie once remarked admiringly, 'Nanise had a box full of books (Webb and Wright, 1976: 77).

Early interest in the doings of Lindley's mission was deeper the size of the founding group would suggest: in his Tabular of 1848, Lindley reported an average Sunday congregation of 300, and 22 boys and twelve girls in his school (American Board Papers, file 1849, A/2/27).7 A few became Christians, and over the next decade their number grew sufficiently to require the station to move to a site on the reserve more favourable to the use of ploughs ('-1949: 314).

The establishment of the Seminary

Both Lindleys came to perceive the need for female training of a more formal sort than could be got in either Lucy Lindley's kitchen or the day school. Like their earlier counterparts in the Eastern Cape described in chapter 3, their primary motivation was to mould female converts into Christian wives and mothers, in accordance with own gender ideology. Accordingly, Lucy Lindley exerted much pressure on her husband for an educational facility, since wives had no 'voice and vote' rights in the decision-making forums of the Board Lindley's attitude was summed up in an annual report: 'HOW MANY times have we sighed to see, on our several stations, even one in gent native mother, with a good degree of womanly refinement; one who would be a pattern to others in the keeping of her house; one whose cleanly habits and proper bearing others would feel not above the attainment of a native woman' (cited in Wood, 1972: -22)8

The Lindleys were, by contemporary standards, progressive in their thinking as far as their mission work was concerned. Before marriage, Lucy had taught slaves on a large Virginia plantation, treading the borderline between what was legal (teaching them about God) and illegal (teaching them to read and write) (Smith, 1949: 57). She had thus gained experience which, though very different from the African mission field, did develop in her sympathy for those who were harshly subordinated and dehumanized on the basis of their colour. For his part, Daniel Lindley privately tended to adopt a conciliatory approach - approximating Bishop Colenso's - towards customs such as polygyny and lobola. Official Board policy was that these had to be discarded completely before eligibility for church membership could be entertained. In addition, Lindley was firmly opposed to the objectives of the white settlers who wished to turn as many Africans as possible off lands and onto the labour market (Smith, 1949:301)

From the early 1860s there was broader receptivity for the Lindleys' idea of a female training institution from other Board missionaries. Like their counterparts elsewhere in southern Africa, they had come to realise that training men for Christian roles, as was under way at Amanzimtoti, would produce only half of what was required to propagate a stable Christian community the trainees were having to confront the problem of the unavailability of suitably trained women as prospective marriage partners. One prominent missionary, Bridgman, expressed the hope that the intended institution would be ‘modeled after Mount Holyoke Seminary as far as the will admit’ (Etherington, 1978: 28)8 and a committee to plan it was set up in 1865 (Christofersen 1967:39).

From the missionaries' point of view, the principal aim of an establishment solely for girls was to prepare the daughters of the first generation of converts (and of future generations too) for approximately same kinds of roles as those played by missionary wives. It was training for the kind of domestic work George Bourne (in a rather different context) has described so evocatively as 'the cooking wd cleaning and sewing from which middle-class women seem often to derive so comely a manner' (1984: 21). Emphasis would be very MUCH ON the home, where a wife was to be helpmate to her husband as well as good Christian mother. In the missionaries' view, this was certainly not preparation for a life of servitude but rather a release from it. Control of her own domain would confer upon the women 'a social equality with our men' (Lindley, in Smith, 1949: 386).

But there was more to the investment in young women's education than comeliness of homemaking. Firstly, since primary education was the main means of mission expansion, the success of winning converts was related to the availability of teachers for new schools. There were definite limits to the number that the Board could send from America, especially in the lean post-Civil War period, but in any case it was Board policy to encourage mission churches to become self sufficient. Teaching was an occupation considered suitable for both women and men - women were often general teachers as well as sewing mistress10- and an early purpose for Inanda Seminary was the training of teachers, which at that time meant passing one or two grades above those would teach.

Furthermore, if the tasks of homemaking and teaching were properly learned, new codes, customs and a different conscious had to be instilled in the girls. If 'traditional' social organization, culture and habits turned largely on the roles played by wives, mothers and grandmothers in the homestead, as missionaries believed was the case, so too could and should the new Christian way of life revolve around Christianised women. This was more simply an appropriation of what the missionaries understood indigenous gender relations, since an attempt was also being made to transform men’s roles. The missionaries aimed to put an end to what they perceived as males ‘sitting around under trees’ and involving far more directly in agricultural production. In this sphere, as already described by Meintjes in chapter 5, men were expected to be in control especially since the arrival of the plough.

In order to effect the required transformations among the girls there was to be no place for what Sean Morrow (1986), writing another girls' school, at Mbereshi in Northern Rhodesia, has 'neo-traditionalism'. Examples of such practices at that school included the use of ritual, the incorporation of elements of initiation ceremonies, the organisation of the boarders 'along the lines of a village community' and the use of the mother tongue rather English as the medium of instruction (an important factor in limiting the employment chances of girls as against those of boys) (Morrow 1986:619). As noted, the American Board had from the start of its work in Natal been 'austerely uncompromising' (Smith, 1949:277) in its attitude towards the practices of lobola and polygyny, believing them to be at the root of African resistance to Christianity (Etherington, 1978: 60). The so-called Umsunduzi Rules of 1879 finally co missionaries' repugnance into a strict set of rules governing mission into and exclusion from the church. This attitude was to be reflected in the Seminary code. Girls were not permitted to converse in their mother tongue (except for prayers at weekends), and taking of snuff and belief in love charms and bewitchment –indications of the stress of adjustments from to unknown regarded by their teachers as ‘lapses’ were frowned upon (see inter alia Tyler, 1872 ISP (ap). The women missionaries in charge Seminary were looking for a profound reorientation in the world-view, an exacting task for the teachers and a daunting one of the charges.

At same time as pressure was mounting from local American missionaries for a girls boarding school, moves were afoot in the United States to encourage greater involvement women mission field, as women themselves came to realise that religion provided an outlet for female talent denied access to political and economic leadership”¦[They] could assume positions power and prestige, influencing not only children and other women but men as well ' (Berkin and Norton, 1979:13). Single women missionaries could undertake work which their male counterparts and missionary wives could not, by devoting their energies entirely to working with the women in local communities, untrammelled by the niceties of sexual decorum faced by male preachers or the usually onerous family responsibilities of missionary wives. There was an ambiguity in their position, however: while glorifying the roles of matrimony and motherhood as desirable for African women, they themselves had actively chosen to avoid these roles (Morrow, 1986: 611-12). (It is worth noting that in most years from 1869 until well into the twentieth century, women missionaries outnumbered their male colleagues in American Board employ in Natal (ABP, A608, and V.51.)

The Women's Board of Missions of the Congregational Churches in the United States, a kind of auxiliary of the American Board formed in early 1868, undertook initially to support seven women missionaries abroad. The first one was Mary Kelley Edwards, the redoubtable head of lnanda Seminary from 1869 to 1892, who lived on at the school until her death at the age of 98 in 1927. In the face of family hostility, she had educated herself in Dayton, Ohio, to be a teacher. In 1856 she 'married a school principal; when he died in 1867, she investigated the possibility of mission work. In 1868 she was appointed the first head of the new Seminary at Inanda; she assumed her duties when she was 40 years old (Wood, 1972: 7-8).

For African Christian themselves, there was a far more pressing need for girls boarding school than suitable marriage matches or employment prospects. Jacobus Matiwane of Verulam (the nearest town to Inanda) told the Natal Native Commission in 1881: Our authority over our children is less than that of the raw Natives ”¦ the younger branches of our families think they know more than we do’ (150). Sons no longer deferred to fathers, and daughters’ ’purity’ was harder to preserve. In fact, where church parameters had taken the place of those of kin, sexual relations were altogether difficult to regulate especially in view of the uncertain, twilight legal status of serfs’ own Christian marriages in the eyes of colonial law (Meintjes, 1985). Mission people complained from very early on of the ways in which time-honoured norms had been eroded. Parents recognized that their children and did not always know how to fill the cultural gaps created by their abandonment of old practice and habits. In the words of James Matiwane, another witness before the 1881 Commission: ’We have given up Native dancing, and attend tea meetings and the like. We have no social gatherings except wedding and such like. The boys and girls have no games; the boys do play at marbles sometimes (Colony of Natal, 1881:387).

Though some Christian parents had reservations about the cost involved, in tern-is both of the fees and of doing without their daughters’ help at home, Inanda Seminary was in general looked upon as a place where girls approaching puberty would be protected. Here was a happy coincidence between the rigorous routine deemed necessary by the mission and the control over their daughters' sexuality which Christian parents desired.

FOUNDING YEARS, 1869-c 1885

The first nineteen girls to enrol at the Seminary in March 1869 were from American Board stations at Inanda, Imfume, Umvoti, Umsunduze and Amanzimtoti. All had had at least four years of schooling -and were literate in Zulu (hence the title of 'high' school for the Seminary). The youngest, Talitha Hawes, was about 9 years old and-the daughter of Benjamin Hawes, pastor of Tafamasi station, Inanda Laurana Champion, an older sister of A. W. G. Champion, was’ (one of the most advanced girls' (Wood, 1972: 18). Through the first year numbers fluctuated between 19 and 32 with attendance always with much lower than enrolment - only in the twentieth century did these BEGIN to coincide. At first there was one class in which the following subjects were taught: reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, geography, Bible study, and sewing - 'much attention was given to teaching the girls sewing’ (ISP, file 19a, Phelps, Inanda Seminary’). By 1875, the same classes had increased to five (Wood, 1972: 23-37).

Initially Mary Edwards was the only teacher, assisted by Martha Lindley and Talitha Hawes. Two teachers sponsored by the Women’s Board arrived in 1877, one of whom had been trained at Mount Holyoke. Fidelia Phelps, another Holyoke graduate who was succeed Mary Edwards as headmistress, arrived in 1884. The longevity of service of early teachers provided a degree of continuity and stability in an otherwise very uncertain climate.

There was continual disagreement between Edwards and the mission fathers over how much Board funding could be devoted to her school. Fees, then £4 per annum, were irregular if they came in at all and the financial position was so shaky that it was never clear whether the Seminary would survive into the follow colonial government granted an annual sum of £100, after a visit to school by the Secretary for Native Affairs in 1870. Edwards recalled: I sent two girls to the blackboard and gave them example in addition. The girls did the work so quickly that the visitors were so much pleased, then my pretty schoolroom with its new American school desks and chairs made a good impression and as they were leaving the Sec said ‘’You shall have a grant (ISP (ap), ms attached to letter, Phelps to Lamson, 27.31927).

The grant helped to cover running costs but Edwards believed the Board was not supporting the school extensively enough. Lack of funds was partly the reason for the faltering growth of the early years. Between 1870 and 1876 only 60 new students were admitted; by 1884 some 60 students in all were enrolled, although average attendance stood at only 4] (Wood, 1972: 36).

One way in which costs were kept down, and which dovetailed well with the general training regime at the school, was the use of students' labour, in an effort at self-sufficiency. The girls grew their own vegetables and maize, tended the gardens, fetched water, ground Mize, cooked, chopped wood, cut grass and cleaned the grounds, dormitories and classrooms. Within the world of the boarding school, the daily demands of 'civilisation' were learned, both the physical tasks and the appropriate forms of interpersonal relationships, self-control and association. The education inspector's report of 1885 gives an idea of school life:

The scholars are neat and clean without exception. All are well instructed in Needlework and cutting out; they make clothes in aid of the Mission at Inhambane, wash, iron and receive special instruction in household duties. The school buildings are very suitable. An inspection of the dormitories showed them to be scrupulously clean, and affording ample room for the Boarders. The Inanda Training School may fairly claim to be a model institution (cited in Wood, 1972: 87).

Almost every aspect of the girls' lives was regulated; for example, Mary Edwards vetted all mail and once declared, I shall be able to take the degree of "Professor of Love Letters," instead of Belles Letters (cited in Smith, 1949: 386). Yet for all the internal control, the students were not cut off from the busy life of the mission station or the surrounding community: for example, they attended the mission church and helped with mission work in the area every Sunday.

Despite the efforts of the Lady Superintendent and her assistants, however, the girls seemed apathetic, some even actively uninterested: next to a few names in early registers is written ‘ran away’. This was sticking point for Mary Edwards, which prompted several resignation attempts on her part. In March 1874, for example, she notified the American Board: It is with deep regret that I say it but there seems to be no spirit of the true teacher in any of the girls and I confess I have no power to put it in them’ (ABP, A608, file 1874, A/2/28). Could this have been surprising? As Norman Etherington has printed out, the children of converts ‘were born into station life without experiencing the insecurity and desperate needs which had drawn their parents. Apathy, however, indicated more than this: it was outward appearance of a deeper sense of inner disharmony, a reluctance to pick up and carry the missionaries' cultural baggage unquestioningly. We have a rare insight into the profound ambivalence students must have felt in a short series of essays - the authors' names sadly not recorded- presented to Mary Edwards in 1884. One, entitled 'English in Natal exemplifies this point most strikingly, on a subject clearly of keen interest. It begins by recalling an imagined past of serenity, disrupted by Africans’ 'discovery' by Europeans:

Many years ago this land of South Africa was a quiet land, as I imagine, but it was not so very quiet for some time the people had wars among themselves.... They had no blankets to cover themselves, no bed to sleep on, no flour for bread, no tea, no coffee, no sugar, no whisky, no brandy, no rum, no wine, they had only native foods ... they were not troubled about what they should do with their money for they had none ... they [had] no one to tell them, not to soil their clothes, or to trouble them by calling them in this way the abantu lived till 1498 (ISP, Book 86).

The writer complains bitterly of the grasping ways of English Dutch and coolies'; she is slightly more welcoming of the missionaries, but with qualifications: 'I do not think the missionaries did wrong to come among us for they came to tell us about the Word of God, and they did not want our land, but they have brought the white people, and the white people trouble us' (ibid.).

Having begun by looking back to a reasonably untroubled past, the essay ends by looking forward to a more dignified, if dramatically altered, future. It offers some fascinating insights in to the aspirations and expectations of a young woman student, displaying too prescience:

The time will come when there will be no difference between a black man and a white man, only perhaps in colour and language. Some few people have already left native law and turned white men, although this few are as black ever, and their hearts are as black as ever their faces.... In years to come we may have a Zulu for our magistrate.... We have Zulu preachers now, and why should we not have Zulu lawyers as well. Then will come Zulu newspapers and history - when I think of all these things, it makes me feel first as if I had been born 100 years too soon, and that the good times are coming after my time is gone (ibid.). Through the first two decades of the Seminary's operation, the vast majority of students came from Christian homes all over Natal. By 1885, 216 girls had been enrolled, 79 of whom declared themselves to be active Christians (Wood, 1972:36). Perhaps it was this seeming of headway in instilling more than a 'passive' Christian culture that led to the missionaries' encouragement of the girls to stay longer: in 1881, the first certificates were awarded for five years’ attendance.

Runaway daughters

In the early 1880s the first students from 'outside' (as opposed to mission') homes enrolled at the Seminary. These were mostly young women from the Umzinyathi valley in the Inanda reserve, who were seeking refuge from unwanted marriages: the so-called 'runaways'. Many were under 15 years of age and came with stories of bitter battles with their parents (see ISP, file la, KCM 52091).

In the 1870s Mary Edwards had begun to devote her attention to the hundreds of children in the Location who are yet to learn the Alphabet but who in reply to my salutation say, "Good morning (NA, SNA, letter to SNA, file 112, 1879, 1/1/33)11 She had collected money for books to take into the Umzinyathi valley and received a government grant in 1879 to build two schools there. From 1882 to 1884 she temporarily gave up her duties at the Seminary to devote her energies to establishing more day schools in the location. Clearly, by mid-1880s, missionary teaching had spread far enough to enable at least a questioning of existing marriage arrangements; the very existence of the Seminary enabled girls to exercise a greater degree of choice over their lives, presenting them with an avenue of escape from oppressive social expectations and sexual relations.

From the earliest phase of their operation, missions had attracted not only the displaced and rejected, but those adversely placed in relation to the faultlines of the 'traditionalist' order (Etherington, 1978:59-60), which missionaries and colonial officials consciously or unconsciously widened. The late 1870s were a time when officials were trying very actively to loosen the bonds of polygamy and lobola. The Natal Code of Native Law of 1878 permitted women to sue for divorce on the grounds of ill treatment by husbands. It also strengthen a provision contained in Law 1 of 1869, that women could not be married against their will, by requiring the presence of an official witness at all marriage ceremonies (Welsh, 1971: 84; Beall, 1982: 80). (It should, however, be noted that these provisions allowing greater freedom for women were more than offset by others which kept them minors, under the guardianship of a male, either father or husband, and by sections of the Code which reinforced patriarchal and hierarchical authority.) While some brides made use of this system, it was open to abuse. At marriage ceremonies, a bride's silence could be interpreted by the witness as consent, and in view of the ignominy suffered by a bride who refused to marry, it was ex-difficult for a girl to go against the wishes of her kin. Many who said 'no', or had not answered at all when asked by the witnesses whether they wished to marry, were among the runaways.

Among non-Christian communities there were also social and economic changes under way, more profound than those in the legal sphere. In 1874 the number of ploughs in the Inanda location was 48; by 1884 this had risen to 89 and a decade later to 500 (Natal Blue Books 1874,1884,1894). The new technology enabled those homesteads with access to the necessary resources - draught oxen and ability to purchase or hire implements, for example - to bring more land under cultivation. This led not only to increasing pressure on border disputes and 'faction fights' (including a major disputes between the Qadi and Tshangase in 1892), but also to increased demand for cattle. Additionally, there is evidence that at least homesteads parted with cattle as payment for taxes. Yet others attempted to accumulate more cattle as an insurance policy against uncertainty. Furthermore, after the devastating rinderpest epidemic of the mid 1890s, homesteads had to build up cattle herds almost from scratch. One way to satisfy these various demands for cattle was through the marriage of daughters. This of course had always been the case but from the 1880s there was a way out for girls who did not want to marry according to their fathers' wishes. To some extent, age constrained choice: running away was far easier for women who had not yet borne children, for example.

One might note that the introduction of the plough had much broader implications for gender relations, as officialdom was quick to notice: 'Men and boys work the plough and this is in itself a great revolution of the old idea that cultivation of all necessary crops is the work of the woman, and woman only' (Inanda Magistrate Natal Blue Book on Native Affairs, 1894). Against this observation, it is interesting to consider Absolom Vilakazi's description Christian conversion among the Nyuswa, further up the Umzinyathi valley: 'A peculiar feature of the early Christians was the fact' were all women. The men did not join them and the preachers were the only men in the congregations' (1965: 11). We do not have complete data on the composition of other early congregations, but it is possible that one of the ways in which women responded to displacement from the process of production and also to escape restrictive social relations was to join the church.

Whatever had set in motion the far-reaching changes which resulted in ever-increasing numbers of runaways at the Seminary, one must treat the missionaries' accounts of the phenomenon with caution, since they had a vested interest in stressing the excess of woman slavery in African society. One of less dramatic accounts, taken signed deposition Susiwe Bengu, nevertheless gives some idea of the dilemmas facing a runaway. When Susiwe was a young girl, a very old man named Chief Bulushe negotiated with her father Chief Dhlokolo of the Ngcolosi, for one of the latter’s daughters, and she was the one chosen. She 'refused and kept refusing and eventually Bulushe died. However his son Sidada, 'who had several wives and was old', continued negotiations for her. Reluctantly she went to his homestead but 'I did not stay in his hut'. When she was sent back to her father's homestead with the lobola, she refused to return to Sidada: 'when they wanted me to go back with the beer, I refused till at last my mother went and took it for me.' Her father was by now extremely angry, and fearing the consequences of his wrath, 'she ran away to the Seminary (ISP, file la, KCM 52091).

Susiwe had attended church and school for some time before seeking protection, and the missionaries felt an obligation towards her. They were in a weak position vis-Á -vis the law, which expressly attempted to bolster the authority of chiefs and (male) homestead is. Already in the year of Susiwe's arrival, 1892, Mary Edwards to surrender four runaways and she was determined not to lose another. It took three visits to the Secretary for Native Affairs in Pietermaritzburg, considerable publicity and, finally, a reluctantly pathetic local magistrate before Susiwe was permitted to remain at the school (Wood, 1972: 49).

The issue of runaways was a delicate one, somewhat contradictory in its effects, for it threatened to upset relations with local community leaders: it was, after all, at their pleasure that evangelical work could proceed unhindered. On several occasions angry relatives arrived at their school demanding the runaways back. Fathers seldom came; usually the mothers (who clearly also had some interest in their daughters’ social conformity) and sometimes the brothers were sent. One belligerent mother once threw a stone at Mary Edwards but generally family members tried verbal persuasion and, if they succeeded, a runaway was free to leave with them. But it was school never to 'give up' a girl against her will, unless of course forced to do so by the local magistrate. What minimised the risk of local tension in Inanda was the unusual goodwill expressed towards the mission by the chief, Mqawe. As noted, his own family straddled the divide between 'mission' and outside, and he looked favourably on the work of the mission. Several runaways from among his people sought protection at the school, but he blamed the law rather than the missionaries for the ensuing tension in and between the families concerned: The Law says a girl shall not be compelled to marry against her will. Formerly we could marry our daughters where we liked but now all has gone wrong makes our daughters wander about as prostitutes' (Colony of Natal, 1881:221).

Not all the girls from non-Christian homes were at the Seminary against their parents' wishes, although one can imagine how strange was idea of daughters spending so much time removed from kin, in a large single-sex institution which expected payments for the privilege of keeping them there. There were limits to family’s forbearance, however, and the school had to compromise to some extent with local demands: girls were permitted to leave at hoeing, for example (ISP (ap), Report from Inanda Seminary, 1900-1901)

The incorporation of 'primaries'

To cater for the girls from non-Christian homes who had minimal or no experience of schooling, special primary grades were created. The teacher in charge of them, Miss Price, developed textbooks which were widely used in day schools in Natal for many years after (Christoferson, 1967: 154). In 1886 altogether 12 out of some 60 students were so-called 'primaries'; by 1895 their number had swelled to 125, constituting 70 per cent of the enrolment of that year. Their numbers peaked around the turn of the century - it is noteworthy that this coincided with attempts to rebuild cattle herds in the aftermath of the rinderpest epidemic, when pressure on daughters to marry could have been intense. In 1901, of 312 students, only 72 were not primaries (ISP, file lb).12

Some attempt was made to direct the primaries to Umzumbe Home, founded in 1873 on the American Board station at Umzumbe, some way down the south coast. It too was funded by the Women’s Board but had been aimed specifically at girls from backgrounds, admitting only a few Christian girls in the higher grades. Its philosophy of education was almost identical to that of the term Seminary: 'From early morning till bed-time, all through the school term the girls are kept busy in useful and healthful occupations’, noted a visitor to the Home (ISP (ap)). At one point, in 1916, there was talk of turning the Home into a purely academic school, while the Seminary would offer 'industrial' courses only (ISP, file1b Committee notes). It was not as well endowed as the Seminar however, and being far down the coast from Durban, was never the center of activity that Inanda was. It finally closed in 1919.

The large number of primaries at the Seminary strained the staff’s resources to the point where Edwards had to turn herself into something of an entrepreneur, initiating money-making schemes for the support of the school. Cash crops such as maize and beans were planted and a successful chicken business and unsuccessful venture with silkworms were launched (Wood, 1972: 56). By far the most ambitious scheme was a laundry, opened in 1888. 'Commenced originally for the benefit of married native women on the station ’(A608, file 27,189,1/1/12), the transport costs entailed in the enterprise soon grew too burdensome for the women themselves. The laundry buildings were moved nearer to the school, seven women were employed to oversee the work, and the heavier manual labour performed ('cheerfully', we are told) by the primaries, each of whom was paid one shilling daily during her turn. They worked for two months at a time, in relays of eighteen, for three hours at a stretch. In addition, every week 50 girls carried eight buckets of water each the stream half a kilometre away.

Laundry was processed on a weekly cycle: on Saturday togt (casual) collected clothes from customers in Durban and put the bundles on the train to Duff's Road. They were collected and taken the rest of the way by wagon. On Monday the clothing was sorted, on Tuesday and Wednesday washed and dried and on Thursday it was ironed. It was then ticketed and packed on Friday, ready for the return journey on Saturday In the ten months from July 1889 to April 1890, a total of 30 568 articles were laundered. A government grant of £150 yearly was approved on the basis of the Native Education Inspector's report that the laundry would qualify girls 'for an especially useful branch of service (ABP, A608, file 27,189,1/1/1/12). Through the 1890s the laundry showed a modest profit and in some years brought in more money than did fees. After 1900, however, support tailed off the growth of laundry business in Durban, and profit dwindled only £29 in 1905, for example (ibid.). Finally it was rated into the Seminary as a non-profit training facility.

The attendance of large numbers of primaries turned Inanda Seminary into much more of a local school than it had originally been. Edwards, while always in favour of integrating the school into the local community, recognised that many girls came simply because, despite her efforts, there were not enough day schools. Of course founding more day schools meant training the teachers to run them AND THIS remained an important focus for the Seminary until 1909, when all teacher-training was transferred to Adams College. By 1885 some 66 teachers had been trained. In the following year, an official, standardized syllabus was introduced, and teacher-training up-graded. However, it was not until 1900 that any Inanda Seminary students sat the Third Class Government Teachers Examination. One of the candidates, Evelyn Goba, went on to pass the Second Class Nation in 1903 and topped the list of candidates in the First nation in 1904. She and three other Seminary student-tea-the first fully trained African women teachers in Natal. By this time, mission day schools were no longer eligible for grants unless their teachers possessed government qualifications, an indication of the growing state control over African education.


By 1910 nearly 3 000 students had passed through the Seminary, according to Mary Edwards's calculations (ISP (ap), ms attached to letter, Phelps to Lamson, 27.3.1927). Fees were coming in more regularly, attendance and enrolment had begun to coincide and there was a move away from the students performing the manual work of the school, a staff of cooks and groundsmen gradually replacing them, In 1912 all classes below Standard 4 were dropped on the grounds that these were now fairly widely available. While this meant that the Seminary was beginning to resemble what would today be recognised as a boarding high school, it also opened a gap school and local Inanda communities, which grew wider in the following decades. Several links with local people were strengthened, it is true; yet the requirement that girls should have passed Standard 3 before admission meant that, increasingly, local girls were excluded and pupils drawn from a wider geographical area. From 1923, the principalship of Margaret Walbridge, the organization of the Seminary was further modernized to cope with new changing student population. A house system and form of student government were introduced, an office staff employed, hobby clubs and sports begun, and 'wholesome' Friday night entertainment, such as debates, choral singing and 'moving pictures', laid on Industrial education, the good countryside and segregationism Seminary From about 1915, the educational ideas of C. T. Loram began to influence teaching at the school. For a short time Chief Native Education in Natal and an 'authority' on appropriate education for Africans, Loram was a friend of the Seminary active interest in its welfare. He was a key segregationist in the educational sphere, believing fervently in 'industrial-a synonym for 'practical' - education, an approach which Hunt Davis has shown rested on two premises: 'African education ... should be geared towards entrenching white control and a rural-oriented way of life (1984: 113). The Seminary glided quite effortlessly into the era of industrial education; such had been the stress on the part of teachers for decades. Nevertheless, there were now some important differences from their earlier efforts.

As noted in chapter 7, in these years of South Africa’s industrial revolution, missionaries and officials alike were growing increasingly alarmed at the apparent attractions of town life to African people, and the accompanying problems, as they saw them, of immorality. While urban-based missions did their best to encourage righteous ways rural ones tried to discourage townward drift. As older networks and hierarchies within African polities began to disintegrate in the transformed conditions of industrialization, missionaries saw cause to concentrate more on matters of social control. Correspondence goals of education and proselytisation of the nine promise of liberation from oppression – mutated in the twentieth intoThe need for restraint and authority. Everything which happened at the Seminary in this period needs to be set against this overriding concern.

It is important to note that the tenets of segregationism (as applied at the Seminary) were not perceived as undermining the interests of emerging African petty bourgeoisie, for whose daughters the was beginning to cater. While the purpose of segregationist ideology was to suppress African aspirations for social equality with whites, it did not entail a levelling of class interests to the lowest common denominator. Just as there had been an earlier congruence between the needs of parents and missionaries, so there was now (and both were aligned with Loram's philosophy): parents wished to keep the girls out of the city’s clutches. John L. Dube himself addressed the school on one occasion darkly warning the girls of 'what our sisters do in public in cities and towns, and cautioned us to lead upright lives (Torchbearer, 1,11933:42).

The corollary to presenting the town as evil was to present the countryside -not so much the natural phenomena as the social forms located in it-as good. Shula Marks (1986) has shown that the ideology of the African petty bourgeoisie in Natal embraced a strong royalist-traditionalist sentiment, which in turn was favoured by leading segregationists such as Heaton Nicholls. In a period of massive socially in the 1920s, there were intense efforts at to protect privilege (for example, the African National Congress in Natal, representing the interests of the petty bourgeoisie, particularly landowners) or to win the most basic rights for example the Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union (ICU), appealing to tenants threatened with eviction and to urban workers). African landowners and whites generally were particularly unsettled by the activities of the ICU in Natal, and supported the programme of Heaton Nicholls to project the Zulu royal family and a revived tribalism’ as the best defence against radical, destabilising influences. This will explain the significance of Seminary girls being expected to honour king: Margaret Walbridge proudly declared King Solomon hung in the dining room (Walbridge, 1978:2 letter 27.7.1930) and there was intense excitement when Prince Mshiyeni visited the school in 1936.

In line with efforts not only to reorganise the Seminary internally, but also to turn it into a community centre, 'focusing on the everyday problems of villagers’ (Hunt Davis, 1984: 116), Margaret Walbridge employed a farm manager, Henry Ngwenya. The son of an ex-seminary student, he was born in Inanda and attended Adams, Lovedale and Fort Hare. Not only did he oversee the Seminary’s own fields and crops, but he also started tomato clubs among local boys and with the head of the Industrial Department, Agnes Woods, began a series of clubs for young women of marriageable age from non- Christian homes. They were taught homemaking and numerous rural crafts in the hope that so occupied, they would not be tempted to town.

Perhaps Miss Walbridge's most ambitious project for promoting rural values was the mounting of a local agricultural show at the Seminary (Hughes, 1988). As she wrote in a letter to her family in June 1925, 'it was the first thing of its kind here and forty whites and many Zulus came, even the local chief (Walbridge, 1978: letter 30.6,) The shows, which were held at the Seminary every year in the decade after 1925, were immensely popular among local farmers – mainly but not exclusively from the Christian community - who were trying to maintain a foothold on the land but finding it increasingly do so. Education for domesticity and purity As far as courses were concerned, a more 'scientific' approach was adopted: the theory behind the practice, as well as greater attention to practice itself, and a few 'general knowledge' subjects. The Standard 5 syllabus for 1914-15, while including Zulu, English, geography arithmetic and history - 'pupils to be told about AmaXosa, Moshesh Lobengula, Dinuzulu, Cecil Rhodes, President Kruger, Lord Milner General Botha, Diaz, Cook and Columbus, Victoria, Edward VII and King George V (ISP, file 2a, KCM 53120) - also made provision for needlework, laundry work, housekeeping and industrial course was offered from 1917 to those passed Standard 5. Subjects included 'Plain Sewing, Dressmaking, Gardening, Poultry Care, Housekeeping and Cooking' (ISP (ap) Re port for 1918-1919). An advanced Domestic Arts course commenced in 1919, in the same year that the new Edwards Industrial Building containing kitchens and a model suite of rooms, was opened. The principal at the time. Miss Clarke could record in her annual report the whole school is now an industrial school' (ibid.). Clearly industrial meant a blend of academic and practical subjects, even if the emphasis tended towards the latter.

For all the emphasis on practical work, it still could not be said that the education on offer was for class subservience. Attempts to link the Seminary training with jobs in domestic service met with little success. Miss Walbridge wrote home to America enthusiastically in 1923: 'Inanda plans to give more training in domestic service. Durban is the center of employment and our missionaries then homes and look after the girls when they reach the city’ (Walbridge 1978: letter 18-23.2.1923). There were, however, objection from other members of staff on the grounds of the poor wages and miserable

Living 'conditions offered by white employers, and the scheme petered out. Yet the numerous subjects in the industrial course were popular with the students, for reasons not to do with prospective employment but with women’s expected role in the home. Miss Phelps wrote. The domestic science lessons are very popular with the girls, especially the looking lessons ”¦ even the sweeping and dusting lessons are very much liked’ (ISP (ap) Our World-Wide Work, nd). This seemed to be confirmed by the students, although there is evidence that they themselves made a distinction in status between the industrial course and more academically oriented subjects. (An academic course, offering Latin, English, Zulu or Sotho, algebra, geometry, arithmetic and history and leading to the Junior Certificate, was introduced in 1925, 'first results were so poor that few in those years were attracted to it) The following extract from a student essay captures the patron-attitude towards the industrial course - as well as a home truth: proud of my course, the Industrial Course, though those who don’t take it seem to despise it. I feel pity for those who despise it, especially our young girls. They say: "What is Industrial after all? They can pass their B.A’S or whatever degree they pass, but they will finally be what an industrial girl is. They will have to start learning to cook, sew, etc., but it will be too late' (Torchbearer, 5,2,1937: 41).

Some impression of what students did with their training can be gained from information culled from the 'old girls' section of the school magazine, Torchbearer. A survey of 70 ex-students who attended classes in the 1920s and 1930s reveals the following pattern: ’teacher nurse 21; cook 4; waitress 2; storekeeper 1; office worker 1; dressmaker 1; 'at home' 13 (Torchbearer, 1, 1,1933-6, 1, 1938). It is impossible to say how representative this sample is without a great research. However, it can be noted that the employment prospects ex-Seminary students appear to have been atypical of those for most black women in South African at the time.

The ’at home ’category was composed predominantly of those who had married; conversely, the occupational categories mostly contained those who had those who had not. To some extent, then this distinction reflected different age groups. The evidence here suggests that married women generally gave up their careers, tough they could possibility women generally involved themselves in voluntary activities, such as church work or women associations: a service ethnic was deeply ingrained in them. There were perhaps more women who continued in their careers after marriage than this random sample would suggest, and there also those of an acquaintance is telling of how natural the transition from career to matrimony was considered: 'From teaching she got married' (Torchbearer, 3,1, 1935).

This explains the popularity of the industrial course: a domestic ideology was central to the identity of the 'new woman13 and assisted her, if not publicly and politically, then privately and domestically. The domestic domain was her first priority in which she expected to find fulfilment.

There was more to the making of the 'new woman' than acknowledge of housewifery. Correct conduct in personal relationships was strongly stressed in voluntary youth organizations that started operating all over the country in this period, reflecting concern women's ability to care for themselves after their departure from institutions such as the Seminary: Wayfarers, the Students Christian Association and the Purity League. (There were boys' counterparts to some of these, such as Pathfinders, where presumably some attention was paid to their moral conduct too.) The message being conveyed was broadly similar in all these organization. In Wayfarer, for example: We are taught to be good in all things which we do; and be faithful because we are working for God who knows every secret’ (Torchbearer, 3,1 1935)

The Purity League was formed in the early 1920s by teachers from the Seminary, Ohlange and Adams, and had as its aim to teach girls 'how to look after themselves ... how to nurse their lives... instead of giving up their lives recklessly to boys and so on ... those who would choose to live clean lives' (Walbridge, 1978). A driving force in the League was Sibusisiwe Makhanya, who had been educated and subsequently taught at the Seminary until 1923, when she left to become the League's full-time organizer. From there she won a scholarship to study in the United States, where she qualified as a social worker (Marks, 1987: 31 ff).

School visits by the Ohlange boys were also arranged to enable both male and female pupils to break their single-sex isolation under controlled conditions. Ohlange was for boys only and clearly their visits to Inanda were a social highlight of the year: As we entered the Seminary, A. 1 second to none, we found lined up in front of the Stanwood Cottage, arranged according to the order of the different groups. They welcomed us by singing soul-stirring song of welcome: "We cheer for OHLANGE” After which, we received sweet smiles that made our thoughts... and begin to build castles in the air' (Torchbearer, 1,1,1933,27-5). As the years wore on, the question of 'sex education' had to be addressed ever more explicitly: in 1935 the newly appointed Board of Governors at the Seminary dwelt on this matter in its first deliberations, alluding to the increasing number of the students pregnancies occurring during school holidays. Subsequently they organized a series of talks for the students, delivered largely by African women.

Towards elitism

By the late 1930s, Inanda Seminary had become well known as a school 'where the "elite" of African society could send their teenage girls' (Wood, 1972: 102). This was one of the strongest reasons put forward by, amongst others, the new head, Lavinia Scott, for keeping w school open in the face of economic pressures as a result of depression both locally and in the United States. About one-third of the costs of the school, £1 700, still came from abroad. Many teachers' salaries were paid by the Department of Native Education and fees, £8 at per year, brought in some £1500 (ISP (ap), letter L. Scott to South African Native Trust). Most students by now came from professional homes from all over the country, and some even from the then Rhodesias and Uganda. Most would have been the third generation to receive education.

The status of the school had gradually changed from a local institution to one catering for a national elite as a result of a conscious decision on the part of the missionaries in charge to provide African girls with the sort of educational opportunities which were unobtainable anywhere else. As industrial courses were now available at several institutions, the academic ones - not at all widely available – took precedence. From 1930 Seminary pupils sat the same external examinations in the academic courses as white pupils did (Walbridge, ””" 26.1.1930). As already noted, they had a reputation for being more difficult. In the Junior Certificate, for example, there had passes at the school in 1930, increasing to 34 in 1939 (Wood, 1972: 104). However, results were always better than those from other high schools in Natal. In 1944 a matriculation class was introduced-the first the Union in a school catering for African girls, at a time when a minuscule percentage of school going Africans went beyond the Junior Certificate, of whom most were boys (Marks, 1978: 9) By this time there were a total of 304 girls enrolled at the school number of staff had risen to 24 (Inkundla Ya Bantu, 7.5.1949). There was also a greater stress on professional training. As mentioned earlier, teacher-training had been moved to Adams College but the other profession considered suitable for women, nursing, was developed at the Seminary. Medical work had always been an important component of American Board work in South Africa - Newton Adams was himself a doctor. In the early years of this century, another missionary of the Board, Dr J. B. McCord, moved the head-quarter of the medical mission in Natal from Amanzimtoti to Durban; this was the start of the McCord Hospital. Because of the close mission association, Inanda Seminary had long provided McCord with its trainee nurses. However, in 1936 specialised nurses' training was begun at the Seminary, in conjunction with the newly opened King Edward VIII Hospital. One probationer nurse explained that the course taught them 'the causes of different diseases, and also how to prevent them and how to cure them when they have already developed.... The girls are not only taught these things, but they are also taught to be the leaders of their own people' (Torchbearer, 5,1, 1937). (It might be noted that in the post-Second World War period, the emphasis shifted to the preparation of students for medical school: a large proportion of African women doctors in this country began their training there.) Again, significant reforms were introduced in keeping with these developments: a school library was built, a school uniform was worn from 1938, a school magazine was jointly produced with Ohlange, and a school board was appointed. The last-mentioned put son the most influential Africans in Natal, such as John Dube and Chief Albert Luthuli, directly in touch with the day-to-day running of the Seminary. They indicated that they wished the Seminary to apply strict discipline: that dancing ought to be controlled, the girls' letters vetted, and more attention be paid to sex education. In some as at least, in the preservation of daughters' purity, the role of the school had barely changed over eighty years. Located as it was in a setting, it was considered ideally placed to undertake this task, from the pernicious influences of the city.


All these changes meant that the Seminary gradually lost touch with the communities surrounding it. This did not mean that relations were severed abruptly; however, particularly from the late 1930s local girls were at an even greater disadvantage than before in the increasing national competition for places at the school communities were altering too, as the influence of to Durban spread: a greater dependence on the sale of Iabour power than crops, and the increasing numbers of women moving urban areas being but two examples reflecting the growing difficulties of survival for Africans as independent producers. Local mission people still maintained contact with the Seminary, and some sent their daughters there. On the whole, however, more of them attended the growing number of day schools offering a rudimentary education beyond which few of them would ever be educated. Inanda Seminary had become the premier boarding school for African girls in South Africa, a position it maintained until white private schools began opening their doors to black students in the 1980s.


The first part of the title is drawn from a speech delivered by Mrs. N. Tantsi at the Inanda Seminary 70th anniversary Celebrations in 1939 (Inanda Seminary Papers (ISP), Killie Campbell Library, Durban). The vast bulk of the seminary papers in South Africa is housed in this library. They are referred to hereafter as ISP, for sorted papers, and ISP (ap) for additional papers more recently acquired but unsorted at the time this chapter was written.

Women and Gender in Southern Africa to 1945