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Adams College

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Title: Adams College  
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Subject: Herbert Isaac Ernest Dhlomo, Zephania Mothopeng, South Africa
Collection: Schools in Kwazulu-Natal
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Adams College

Adams College
Adams College before the 1947 fire
Arise and Shine
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal
South Africa
Religious affiliation(s) Christian
Founded 1853
Founder Rev. David Rood
Chair Mrs Mkhungo
Principal T.E. Khumalo

Adams College is an unaccredited school in South Africa. It was founded in 1853 at Amanzimtoti a settlement just over 20 miles (32 km) south of Durban by an American missionary. The settlement there is known as Adams Mission. The college's alumni include Presidents of Botswana and Uganda, several ministers and leaders of the African National Congress. It is recognised as a historic school. It has been called Adams School, Amanzimtoti Institute and the Amanzimtoti Zulu Training School.


  • History 1
  • Music 2
  • Sport 3
  • Today 4
  • Alumni 5
  • Notable staff 6
  • References 7


The school was founded in 1853 by the Reverend David Rood, missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The school was located on the glebe of the Amanzimtoti mission and was initially named the Amanzimtoti Institute. Rood had arrived in Natal 20 January 1848 and subsequently established the Ifafa mission station. Rood then transferred to Amanzimtoti following the 16 September 1851 death of mission founder the Reverend Newton Adams, M.D. Adams was much revered and in the 1930s the school was renamed Adams College in his honour.[1]

Adams had arrived in 1835 with two other missionaries, but after being rebuffed by the local chief they had each set out to establish three complementary missions. Adams had chosen a site south of Durban where he founded a "family school" within months of his arrival. The school attracted both adults and children. He was helped by an early convert called Mbalasi who was the widow of Duze Ka Mnengwa KaKhondlo. He had been a Chief of the Makanya killed during the wars with Shaka leaving Mbalasi to care for herself.[2] She and her son Nembula became part of the Adams home.[3]

A historic meeting took place here in 1881 when the Reverend William Cullen Wilcox was asked to talk to a fatherless student called John Dube about his poor behavior at the school. John was the son of the Reverend James Dube who was the Congregational minister in Inanda.[4] In 1887 John Dube was "adopted" by the Wilcoxes and taken to America to study at Oberlin College.[1] Wilcox was to be eventually awarded with a medal by the South African government and Dube was to open his own school, his own newspaper and to be the first leader of what was to become the African National Congress.[1]

In 1888 Dr. John Mavuma Nembula, a student from Adams, returned to the College from America. He had been sent to America to help with translating a Zulu Bible but he had stayed there and he had become a physician. He was the first Black South African to do this and for a while to taught physiology at the college.[5]

In 1924 Z.K. Matthews was appointed to be the first black head of Adams College[6] where the activist Albert Luthuli was already a teacher. Both of them were active in politics and Matthews was later to be the Botswana Ambassador to the United Nations and Luthuli was to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Between 1933 and 1945 Edgar Brookes was the Principal of Adams College. He worked closely with John Dube of Ohlange High School to achieve common objectives opf improving the lot of native Africans. The school became one of the most important schools for black education.[6]

In 1945 the school lost Edgar Brookes, and there was a period of unrest and poor discipline and in 1947 the main building of the school burnt down. A new headmaster Jack Grant a white academic arrived from Trinidad in 1948 to refocus the school. The school faced legal opposition from the government as the [8]

The school was renamed the Amanzimtoti Zulu Training School as the Bantu Education Act finally came into effect. Bantu Education was a clearly divisive and paternalist racist campaign that was designed to educate black children for their lowly place in society. Academic subjects were not encouraged as this might deny the country the (black) manual labour it required. The schools name returned to "Adams" when Bantu education was abandoned.[9]

During this period the school was poorly cared for during the Apartheid period and buildings were demolished. The school requires some work to achieve its previous successes but in 2007 the school achieved a 93% Metric pass rate in line with Thulani Khumalo the heads priority of "academic excellence".[3]


The Lucky Stars

Both what is now Ohlange High School and Adams were involved with a move to return music to its ethnic roots. The move to a traditionalist approach was backed by John Dube who was at Ohlange and Brookes who was the headmaster here. Esau Fika Mthethwea who was a teacher formed the "Lucky Stars" in 1929 as an ethnic Vaudebville troupe of typically eight young teachers who had been trained at Adams. Esau died in 1933 but others took over and the Lucky Stars toured throughout the country and they nearly had a tour of Europe.[10]


The "Shooting Stars" are one of the oldest football teams in the Durban area. Football was introduced by the missionary schools and the Shooting Stars were able to challenge similar teams at Ifafa, Umbumbulu and Inanda. All of these teams were well established by 1902.[11]

Ohlange High School already had an established team. Grant raised the status of the game around Durban and made Adams the centre of this new school sport. Cricket was the sport popular with the Indian immigrants to South Africa and the local Durban Indian Cricket Union dated from 1894.[12]


The mission station is called Adams Mission[13] and it had a population of 600 in 2001.

In 2007 Adams College was amongst several schools recognised as "historic schools". Funding of six million rand a year was earmarked for Adams, Ohlange High School, Inkamana High School, Inanda Seminary School and Vryheid Comprehensive High School to make them academies focussing on Maths, Science and Technology. Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane said that they still needed funds and "little has been achieved since democracy".[14]


Notable staff

  • - West Indies bowler and cricket captain[12]
  • John Dube - started his own school and newspaper
  • Albert Lutuli - Nobel Peace Prize winner
  • Z.K. Matthews - was a notable headmaster who became the Ambassador to the United States for Botswana[21]
  • Edgar Brookes - transformed the school and was an ambassador to the United Nations
  • Ms. Zondi-Shibe - is a Geography teacher who joined the school in 2010. She continues to nurtue the young ones and produces quality results.


  1. ^ a b c John Dube timeline,, accessed 3 August 2013
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e Adams College, Historic Schools Restoration Project, accessed 3 August 2013
  4. ^
  5. ^ John Mavuma Nembula,, accessed 8 August 2013
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Luise White, ‘Chitepo, Herbert Wiltshire Tfumaindini (1923–1975)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, May 2009 accessed 7 Aug 2013
  16. ^ Keith A. P. Sandiford, A Black Studies Primer: Heroes and Heroines of the African Diaspora, Hansib Publications, 2008, p. 150.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Zephania (Zeph) Lekoame Mothopeng,, accessed 5 August 2013
  20. ^
  21. ^ Christopher Saunders, ‘Matthews, Zachariah Keodirelang (1901–1968)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 11 Aug 2013

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