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Inanda Seminary; its history and significance

April 7, 2009

Currently, our family is in the United States after completing a term.  We will be visiting churches in the Florida and Ohio Conferences.  We hope that we will be able to be with many of you during our time in the United States.  It is a privilege to bring the stories of mission home to you.  Susan will be returning to South Africa in March to participate in the 140th Birthday celebration.  This newsletter will focus on Inanda Seminary; its history and significance. 

Inanda Seminary has graduated more than 8000 students that have gone into the world exemplifying the school's motto, "Shine Where You Are" (Philippians 2:15).  Inanda Seminary was founded 1 March 1869 by the American Board of Missions (ABM) as a Christian school for black girls in Durban, South Africa. The Rev. Daniel Lindley and Mrs. Lucy Lindley came to South Africa in 1835, as one of six couples sent by the ABM to start mission work in the country. Inanda Seminary became the first secondary school exclusively for African girls in southern Africa. For 140 years Inanda Seminary has maintained the Christian values and African ethos it was founded upon.  Inanda Seminary believes in developing and growing the whole child: spiritually, intellectually, socially and physically.  Inanda Seminary provides a solid grounding for its students and as a result has produced the core of black female leadership in South Africa.  The current vice-President of South Africa, Baleka Mbete, received her start at Inanda Seminary.  During the Apartheid years, Inanda Seminary continued to educate and motivate black females to rise up against oppression and racism.  This continues today in the current climate of crime, violence and HIV and AIDS where infection is highest among women.  Currently, Inanda Seminary is a church school of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA), a partner denomination with Global Ministries.  

Embracing a Bar of Soap

The students of Inanda Seminary are learning the value of outreach and service.  Each class has adopted an outreach project and two students in the class serve as the organizers.  During one meeting of the class coordinators, we were discussing how we could respond as a school to the immediate needs of those left displaced by xenophobia attacks.  A few suggestions surfaced.  One student raised her hand and asked, 'But what do they need?'  How wise to first ask what their needs are rather than give them what we think they need.   This was a very insightful question that framed future outreach meetings.  This is also the same spirit that guides many local church mission boards and Global Ministries.   Yes, there are times when mission means material and financial assistance, but far more often the needs are relational.   The grade 10s of Inanda Seminary have learned that you do not need any money to be in service to others.  They visit an old age home every Sunday afternoon and share stories and songs with their adopted grandparents.  When they did something monetary, it was minimal.  The grade 10s decided to give their adopted grandparents a gift.  They donated from their personal toiletries:  soap, toothpaste and lotion.   As one student handed her bar of soap to her adopted granny, she lifted it up to her nose, took in a deep breath, exhaled and then brought the soap to her bosom and embraced it.  It wasn't the soap that caused the reaction, but the relationship behind it.  Someone cared for her, loved her and wanted to gift her.  Often the most heartfelt gestures are simple gifts.  These are the values that Inanda Seminary instills in its students.   Through visiting this old age home, another exchange resulted.  One student sat next to her granny watching her hands twist and turn as she took yarn to needles.  Soon the Inanda student took her turn and learned this antiquated trade.  Several of the grade 10 students learned to knit from this granny and their class teacher, Mrs. Muzira.  The knitting was a new skill learned and a creative emotional outlet for the students.  Inanda Seminary also received a suitcase full of yarn from Lillian Moir which enabled the project to continue.  By the end of the school year, the students had knitted slippers and wrapped them as Christmas presents for their grandparents at the old age home. 

Revs. Scott Couper and Susan Valiquette

Scott Couper serves with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) as a pastor of a UCCSA congregation in the Kwazulu-Natal Region.  Susan serves with Inanda Seminary, Durban, South Africa as the chaplain.

 

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