'What am I fit for?': Negative Manifestations of Bantu Education at the Inanda Seminary during the 1970s

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Seminar Date
October 26, 2011
This paper is a sequel to “‘At the Expense of Its Own Soul’: Bantu Education’s Threat of Closure to Inanda Seminary”, published in the Journal of Gender and Religion in Africa as “Fearing for Its Future: Bantu Education’s Threat of Closure to Inanda Seminary”. “Fearing for Its Future and “What Am I Fit for?” will contribute to a prospective book entitled Shining through the Darkness: A History of Inanda Seminary from 1970-2010. Shining through the Darkness will be a sequel to the publication ‘Shine Where You Are’: A Centenary History of Inanda Seminary (1869-1969) by Agnes Wood. Shining through the Darkness will chronicle three decades of institutional dysfunction (1970-1999), much of which were indirectly caused by Apartheid (1948) and directly by Bantu Education (1953), and a subsequent decade of ‘resurrection’ (2000-2010). “Fearing for Its Future” will serve as an introductory ‘flashback’, a fly on the wall observation of the 1956 negotiations between the American Board’s Inanda Seminary and the Apartheid functionaries within the Department of Native Affairs who sought to close the school, or at a minimum, render it so wounded as to be little educational threat to white supremacy. From the brinkmanship, the school escaped the legislative gauntlet and in 1957 became the only boarding school of its kind to remain in southern Africa. “What Am I Fit for?” will serve as the first chapter narrating how the long tentacles of Bantu Education negatively manifested themselves a generation after Inanda Seminary (the Seminary) obtained its ‘independent’ status as a Christian mission school for black females. By 1970, the Seminary no longer remained a pedagogical island. The students and indigenous faculty of the Seminary were products of Bantu Education and the political crisis caused by Apartheid gradually infiltrated the school sowing hardship and dysfunction for the next three decades. In December 1997, the school succumbed, closing its doors due to institutional rot. Only beginning in 2000 did the Seminary rise like a Phoenix from the ashes.
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