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Dumisani Zondi - Educationist from Inanda

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Baba Zondi

Dumisani Cecil Zondi, former teacher, librarian, archivist and principal at Inanda Seminary,
Baba Zondi at the age of 82 in 2010
was born on 4 November 1928 in the then rural area of Wasbank, kwaZulu-Natal. Also a former teacher at Ohlange High School, former Inspector of Libraries in kwaZulu and former President of the Library Association here in Natal, Baba Zondi has finally retired in 2010 from his last appointment at the school he has given so much of his life to, that of archivist.

Education

His primary education started at Egton Homes, where his father was the school prinicipal. From primary school he went on to the secondary school in Dundee, which was the only secondary school for black students at the time in Natal. Of the principal Mr H Molefe, he remembers …” Mr Molefe didn’t have a degree, but there were people who had degrees, people like Mr Mlasa, people like Mr A.T. Selilo, who came from Durban, [and] Mr Mbata who came from Nkhandla.” After matriculating from Indaleni High School he furthered his studies at the University of North East Illinois, Chicago where he studied for a Masters degree in Education. Before returning to South Africa he received a bursary from one of the supporters of Inanda Seminary, and he went on to do a Masters degree in Library Science at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Career

On his return to South Africa he started his teaching career at Ohlange High School as a physiology teacher and from there went on to teach Biology at Inanda Seminary. During his time at Inanda Seminary in the sixties and seventies, he not only took over the school library and built it up to its present condition but also “… created a night school for teachers so that the teachers could matriculate and earn a better salary; but not only that, but to widen the knowledge of their subjects. In the seventies he was appointed Deputy Principal and later Principal before he left to become Inspector of Schools.

The Beginning of the Seminary

Reminiscing about the history of Inanda Seminary Baba Zondi explains that Rev. Daniel Lindley and his wife, missionaries from the American Board of Missionaries, initiated the founding of the school in 1869 because they realized that while nearby Amanzimtoti College (also and American Board Institution) was for male students only, there were no education opportunities for girls. The Lindleys realized that “… we are civilizing those people at Adams [Mission, but] who are they going to marry? – these naked girls? And then the Board in New York realized that it was actually important to breed people of your same level, and this is what happened. Many of the people who got married at the time, they married between Inanda and Amanzimtoti – you can talk of Chief Albert Luthuli, you can talk of many others…”

Inanda Seminary
As an American founded Institution the Seminary had teachers from America. However, they also tried to recruit local teachers says Baba Zondi, “…but they were not as educated as the white Americans. Later on, I can still recall, they included three black staff members into the staff meetings. Because you see, they didn’t have enough qualified people. Amanzimtoti [College] was yet a young institution and could not produce enough teachers to go around all the missions of the American Board.” The nearby Ohlange Institute was not recognized by the Government because it was run by a Black man, Dr John Dube.. Excluded from Government funding, this forced Dube to appoint black teachers. To keep up the standards of the school he looked further afield than the local, poorly qualified Zulu teachers and appointed people from all over South Africa and even North Africa. This brought qualified educators to Inanda like the Moranes and others.  The first principal, Mrs Edwards came out to South Africa as a 38-year old widow, arriving at Inanda by ox wagon on 18 November 1868. First she had to spend some time at Amanzimtoti College to learn the Zulu language before the school was opened in March 1869.
Photograph from the book 'Shine where you are' by Agnes Woods
She soon formed good relationships with the girls, because she did almost everything with them. After the morning lessons they would spend some time in the fields, where they grew most of the food for the school. In the archive there is still a grinding stone which the girls used to grind corn for porridge.

The Supporters of the School

Baba Zondi remembers some of the great supporters of the Seminary. Ms Lavinia Scott, the longest serving principal, was appointed in 1939 and stayed in the post for more than thirty years. Dr Beyers Naude was a big friend of Inanda Seminary. One thing that Dr Naude will be remembered for was the recruitment of one of the professors of Mathematics at Stellenbosch, Dr Viget. Dr Viget retired and Dr Na
Photograph from the book 'Shine where you are" by Agnes Woods
ude convinced him to come and teach at the Seminary. Both Chief Luthuli and Dr Dube were members of the Board (on the photograph Chief Luthuli is third from the left in the back row and Dr Dube second from the right in the front row) and great supporters of the school. Dube was in fact among the first people on the Board, as Ohlange was started after Inanda Seminary. Dube nurtured a close relationship between the two schools by way of interschool exchanges, either academic or sports and so on and then later on Luthuli was brought in. Both men were members of the American Board as they were members of the Church.
Baba Zondi with Mwelela Cele
Baba Zondi remembers BK Dludla as an exceptional man who came to Inanda as a minister of the church. “Then he was incorporated into the School Board. He was the longest supporter of the Board that I can remember of because
Lucy Lindley Hall
he was chairman of the Board for almost over 20 years; his input into the affairs of the school was too great. Whenever there were problems Dludla would come around.”

Inanda produced people who were not only educated but they had a respect for their culture, people like the Bophelas, the Gumedes, Seme and others. Those and many others have made Inanda what it is today, because of Inanda Seminary, Ohlange and then various local schools.


Photo Gallery

Interview with Mwelela Cele

 

Sources

  1. Interview with Baba Zondi
  2. Wood, Agnes A. 1972. "Shine Where You Are": a centenary history of Inanda Seminary 1869-1969.