Printer Friendly

Notes on nineteenth century American women missionaries' founding and operation of Inanda Seminary/ Ondokuzuncu Yuzyildaki Amerikan Kadin Misyonerler ve Kurduklari Innanda Calisma Okulu ile ilgili Notlar.


This note provide the significant role played by American women missionaries in the founding and operation of Inanda Seminary, a school for African girls still existent in South Africa today. The school was founded in 1869 by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) based in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States of America. The note is set against Antonio Gramsci's theory of hegemony, "a theory which encompasses both agency and structure" (1971: 56); how human agency challenges dominant structural determinants. I argue that the factors that led to the founding of this school and determined its operation are couched in the strategy of 'seeming passivity' and 'certain activity' (1971: 365)- a strategy understood, respectively, as 'accommodation' and 'resistance' in this article. Although the ABCFM manifested itself as hegemony of racial and gender oppression, it "... [could] not just passively exist as a form of dominance. It [had] continually to be renewed, recreated, defended, modified", as "it was continually resisted, limited, altered, challenged by pressures not all its own" (Williams, 1977: 112)". The note elaborates on the two main constituencies which agentically exerted enormous pressure on the ABCFM as hegemony. These were the African collective and women--both foreign and local. Their powerful agency yielded outcomes that the ABCFM had not anticipated and intended.

Ondokuzuncu Yuzyildaki Amerikan Kadin Misyonerler, ve Kurduklari Inanda Kiz Okulunun Kurulusu ve Isleyisi Uzerine Notlar/


Bu not bugun hala Guney Afrika'da bulunan Innanda Kiz Okulu'nun kurulmasi ve calismasinda Amerikan Kadin misyonerlerinin nasil rol oynadigini tartismaktadir.Okul 1869 yilinda Amerikan Dis Misyonerler Danisma Kurulu (ABCFM) tarafindan Amerika Birlesik Devletlerinde Boston, Massachusetts"te kurulmustur. Bu not Antonio Gramsci'nin hegemonya teorisine yani aktorlerin nasil baskin yapiya karsi ciktigini anlatan "aktor ve yapiyi birlestiren teoriye" karsi koymaktadir. Bu okulun kurulmasi ve isleyisindeki faktorlerin "gorunen edilgenlik" (seeming passivity) ve "kesin aktiflik" (certain activity) stratejilerine bu makaledeki anlamiyla sirasiyla "uyum" ve "direnc" stratejilerine uzandigini tartismaktayim. Amerikan Dis Misyonerler Danisma Kurulu her ne Kadar kendisini irk ve toplumsal cinsiyet bakimindan baskin konumda ifade etse de tipki Williams'in belirttigi gibi "kendisine, kendisinden kaynaklanmayan guclerce direnc gosterildi, sinir konuldu ve degisime zorlandi" (1977: 112) Okul sadece baskici unsuru olarak va r olamazdi. Kendisini surekli olarak yeniledi, yeniden yaratti, savundu ve donusturdu. Bu yazi Amerikan Dis Misyonerler Danisma Kurulu'nun hegemonyasina karsi inanilmaz direnc gosteren iki unsuru ayrmtilandirir. Bunlar Afrikali Kollektif ve yerli-yabanci kadinlardir. Onlarin guclu potansiyeli Amerikan Dis Misyonerler Danisma Kurulu'nun ongormedigi ve niyet etmedigi sonuclari vermistir.


This note explores the role played by nineteenth century American women missionaries in the founding and operation of Inanda seminary, a school for African girls in South Africa. The school was founded in 1869 by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), a missionary body based in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States of America. The first school for white girls was only established in 1878. Inanda Seminary celebrated 140 years of existence in March 2009. Among those present were old Inanda girls, the former Vice-President of South Africa, who is a graduate of Inanda, the great-grand son of Reverend Daniel and Lucy Lindley, one of ABCFM's six missionary couples sent out on a Christianizing mission to South Africa in 1835. Ever since its establishment Inanda has continued to play a significant role in the education of African girls, contributing immensely to the empowerment and emancipation of African women in South Africa. Most women in senior government and other management positions are graduates of Inanda.

Background Notes

Two hegemonies, that is, race and patriarchy, shaped the world of the ABCFM in this missionary enterprise; and thus played a primary role in the ABCFM's founding and operation of Inanda Seminary. Antonio Gramsci's theory of hegemony which encompasses both agency and structure (1976: 56); how human agency can challenge structural determinants, underpins the discussion in this article, "... hegemony can never be singular. It does not just passively exist as a form of dominance. It has continually to be renewed, recreated, defended and modified. It is also continually resisted, limited, altered, challenged by pressures not all its own.... The reality of any hegemony, "... is that it is never either total or exclusive" (Williams, 1977: 112). It is a process of 'accommodation' and 'resistance', which Gramsci speaks of as 'seeming passivity' and 'certain activity', respectively (1971: 365). The ABCFM used race as a hegemony to play a dominant and domineering role in the public and private lives of indigenes, in the name of Christianity, but struggled to maintain that position of power and influence, due to indigenes' human agency.

McCarthy (1993) argues that while, by and large, women are not necessarily "active resistants", they employ various means to subvert their oppression by gender, proving that "[C]onstructions of women ... [that] implicitly assume their passivity, backwardness and ignorance are shallow and erroneous" (p. 349). Against almost insurmountable odds, American women missionaries challenged the hegemony of patriarchy within the ABCFM, thus proving how important [it is] to understand women "as active, not just reactive; creative and innovative, not passive and ignorant; and courageous risk takers, not simple pawns", rightfully calling for "more accurate formulations of the complexity they represent" (P.350).

The American Broad of Commisioners for Foreign Missions Christianization and Imperialist Tendencies

Largue that colonialism with its condescending racist attitude defined and determined the work of the ABCFM in Africa, although when the ABCFM was founded 1812, it was supposed to be a mission of penitence for slavery in America. American missionary work in Africa would be atonement for the slave trade. From the very outset, though, the strong imperialist tendencies and resultant colonization efforts contradicted the ABCFM's mea culpa intent, as it became a colonial mission of further enslavement of African people on the Continent. The first batch of six ABCFM missionaries sent out to southern Africa in 1835, saw their 'work' in Africa as having to Christianize and civilize the indigenes. Christianity and western civilization were made synonymouss. This attitude demonstrated a superiority complex that smacks of a racist perception of the African as the 'uncivilized other'--contrary to the more embracive 'all are one under the Father' teachings of Jesus Christ American missionaries claimed to follow. ABCFM archival documents are replete with derogatory references to the Africans as 'depraved' etc.

Besides the demeaning and condescending attitude towards Africans, exploitation through imperialism was a priority for the ABCFM. Moorhouse (1973) in The Missionaries summarizes how the missionary enterprise manifested itself as colonization in Africa. He writes, "The norm was a desire by pious Christians of Europe and North America, in a movement which gathered momentum as the nineteenth century proceeded, to bestow upon other races of the world the articles of their faith and what they took to be the benefits of their civilization". Moorhouse makes the claim that, "[W]ith the exception of Islam, no other religion has ever produced such motivation, and none has appeared in such a colonizing role". Hinting at the well-documented "hand-in-glove" operation of colonizers and missionaries, Moorhouse further notes that this Christian desire was "so ardent ... that it was sometimes almost indistinguishable from an imposition", so much that "by the end of the nineteenth century it had become inseparable from the purely secular motives of straightforward imperialism. In none of the fields to which white Christians sent their missionaries, "was this pattern clearer, was this enterprise more effective, was the transformation wrought more radical, than in Africa. The dark Continent, was the very paradigm of the missionary story" (p.79). Moorhouse notes that these missionaries "... belonged to a colossal enterprise that was beginning to sweep Africa from end to end." Moorhouse further explains that;

.... The ABCFM had been clear about the grandeur of it all. They had been crudely candid about the nature of the missionary task they had taken in hand. The missionary's duties, they owned, were peculiar. "He was an evangelist. When he gathers churches, he is not to be their pastor; he rises up others to take this charge and burden. True, he may act as a pastor for a time; but it is simply from necessity. His sphere is aggression, conquest (p.79).

During the wars of conquest that ended with the defeat and subjugation of Africans, missionaries' condemnation of colonization is glaringly absent in the literature. It's a deafening silence that demonstrates willing collusion and collaboration with colonizers. In his book Forty Years among the Zulus, the ABCFM's Reverend Josiah Tyler (1891) actually writes of the missionaries' collaboration with the colonists: "Officials have declared that mission work in isolated parts of the colony has helped materially in the government of the natives". He further writes, "Doubtless one reason why the government has [i]ndorsed the labors of the missionaries is the fact that as much as possible they have abstained from entering the arena of politics, rigidly adhering to their own appropriate work" (p. 258). I argue, however, that condemnation of colonization would have been an important and expected part of their work as Christians, instead of being such willing collaborators in subduing Africans, as documentation by Reverend Tyler proves. Tyler writes of how Dr. Newton Adams of the ABCFM talked African chiefs out of a rebellion against the colonial government;

Listening to their complaints, he [Dr. Adams] questioned them as to what would be the result of a rebellion; suggested the loss of life and property that would follow, and opened their eyes to some aspects of the case which they had not considered. Putting their hands to their mouths in Zulu fashion, when new light breaks in upon their minds they acknowledged the wisdom of their teacher and went home resolved to keep quiet, (p. 28)

Later, Reverend Tyler would write of the government's appreciation of Dr. Adams intervention. "I am glad to say that SirTheophilus Shepstone, secretary for native affairs in Natal, took notice of this act, and thanked Dr. Adams most heartily for saving the colony from war" (p. 28). However, that was "seeming passivity" as the Africans saw through the insincerity of the missionaries, and Mr. Robbins, based in the ABCFM's Umzumbe mission had to feign surprise and "ignorance" as he wrote in The Missionary Herald of 1871;

In many places the people are ignorant of the true character and designs of the Missionaries. Prejudices exist, which nothing short of a personal acquaintance can remove. There seem to prevail very generally, among the people, the opinion that the missionary has some connection with the Colonial Government, either as a spy to watch and report their delinquencies, or as an agent to introduce customs subversive of their long cherished practices or to restrain them in some way, their freedom, and thus curtail their prosperity and happiness, (pp. 306-7)

As early as 1846, Reverend Daniel Lindlev had been appointed by the colonial government to serve on a committee that marked out locations for Africans displaced by wars of conquest. However, as the ABCFM missionaries colluded and collaborated with colonialists to uphold the hegemony of race, the agency of indigenes covertly and overtly challenged it. For example, the patronizing attitude encapsulated in "... they acknowledged the wisdom of their teacher, and went home resolved to keep quiet" instead of fighting for their land in defence of their human dignity, would prove, a mere forty years later, to have been a failure of analysis. For in 1912, from among the offspring of those men who supposedly went home "resolved to keep quiet", there arose leaders in ABCFM's own ?nanda mission, John Langalibalele Dube, educated at Tuskegee University, USA, and Pixley kalsaka Seme, educated at Columbia University, USA, and at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. They founded a liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC) that after a long and protracted struggle finally toppled segregationist rule in 1994. 'Seeming passivity' had become 'active resistance'.

Gender Consciousness in the American Broad of Commisioners for Foreign Missions

Given the ABCFM missionaries' zealous collusion and collaboration with colonizers, it could be expected that ?nanda Seminary mission school's founding and operation would be governed by the hegemony of race. But as this was an African girls' school, founded and operated almost single-handedly by American missionary women, the hegemony of patriarchy would be agentically be handled and challenged by the women, as resilient, persistent racism reared its ugly head from time to time.

The ABCFM male perception of women, their generic capabilities and their role in society, governed most of the thinking and policies that defined the work of female missionaries abroad, including the educational needs of indigenous women the ABCFM set out to convert to Christianity.

Etherington in Bredenkamp and Ross (1995) writes in his article "Gender Issues in South-East African Missions" in the book Missions and Christianity in South African History, that the the rule of patriarchy, both in the mission and among northern Nguni communities of nineteenth century, concealed much of what we would now like to know about the role of women in the "the long conversation" that was religious conversion. It did not, however, suppress the centrality of women's issues in the evangelical enterprise, (p. 144)

Gender and American Broad of Commisioners for Foreign Missions Policies

The consciousness about gender that shaped policies of the ABCFM defined and determined the role of women in missionary work in foreign countries. Grimshaw (1989) and Moorhouse (1973 reveal that the ABCFM stipulated that marriage be a pre-requisite for missionary work in foreign countries, after an incident with the London Missionary Society where celibate male missionaries married local women in Tahiti. Missionary wives would provide the necessary checks on male behavior. The ABCFM grudged the expense involved in sending a married missionary couple for foreign missions, but insisted that it be so, in order "to help their agents avoid sexual temptation among the heathen" (1995: 138). The ABCFM wanted to keep its missionary world lily white, I observe. Grimshaw (1989) argues that while Dr. Rufus Anderson, the secretary of the ABCFM at the time, did not fail to acknowledge the importance of women in the mission field, His depiction of the usefulness of a wife displayed somewhat chillingly the male agenda as the basis of men's marriages. Male missionaries needed wives asserted Anderson, because it was not good for men to be alone. The male missionary possessed the same nature as any other man, and his circumstances were not only scarcely fitted to better reconcile him to celibacy, but inclined rather to strengthen 'that powerful law of nature". In short, 'woman was made for man', and as a general thing man cannot be placed where he can long do without her assistance. You cannot educate him so that it shall be natural for him to live alone (p. 5).

Anderson spelt out that a man in those circumstances would need a woman to provide him with food and ensure that he has comfort at home. I observe that 'comfort' was all-encompassing. Etherington also makes the observation that, "it was a strange start for a mission that would concentrate so much effort at stamping out 'forced marriages' among the Zulu" (p. 138). For example, Lucy Allen entered the missionary world by marrying Rev. Daniel Lindley; three weeks after the two had met. After a hasty marriage they immediately sailed to South Africa. They hardly knew each other before getting married.

Last on Anderson's list of the roles and duties of American missionary wives was that they could teach if there was time left over from their daily tasks in the service of their husbands. "Lastly the wife's potential for a separate mission service could be acknowledged .The wife of a missionary could be expected to undertake schools for women and children, a highly useful role, especially if she had learned modern educational practices". But, "of course, the center of her appropriate sphere would remain the domestic circle", and Anderson stressed emphatically that every other concern must of necessity remain secondary to the care of her household (Grimshaw, 1989, pp. 6-7). Grimshaw (1989) states that "the entry of missionaries to active engagement in foreign work during the nineteenth century has been described as a male endeavour, the women who accompanied the men having remained shadowy figures, appendages only, who appeared to have acquiesced loyally in an essentially male enterprise". Although they had accommodated the ABCFM marriage policy "their presence in foreign missions was part of a separate female ambition for an independent career: the entry for which was marriage to a departing male missionary" (Grimshaw 1989: XXI). "... Their presence in the service was the outcome of an independently acquired ambition for an unusual career as Christian teachers on a distant non-Christian frontier. The women, like the men, were prepared for mission service by education, by work experience, by the sense of calling. They entered marriage with the intention of sustaining a significant part in the conversion of the world. There were two marriages, his [the missionary husband] and hers [the missionary woman] (Grimshaw, 1989: 5). Agentically the women made a conscious decision to allow themselves to be strapped by marriage to men they hardly knew (the first marriage), in order to fulfil their own ambitions in missionary work (second marriage). It is thus a hegemonic irony that what was last on Anderson's list was actually first on the women's list. It is another irony that the ABCFM labeled these women as wives of missionaries and not missionaries in their own right, when these missionary women, in contrast, had regarded teaching in foreign lands as one of their priorities as missionaries.

Lucy Allen Lindley bore Daniel eleven children, supposedly to strengthen what Anderson at ABCFM headquarters noted as "that powerful law of nature' and 'woman was made for man'. Juggling the two marriages, the husband's and her own, was a difficult balancing act for any of these women missionaries. In letters home some of them complained of lack of time to fulfil their own ambitions as missionaries. One noted how her own writing had become mere scribbling at times, because of a heavy domestic workload. "[Lucy Lindley] would be most accurately represented with a baby on her lap, pointing out letters to a Zulu kneeling beside her ..." (Tyler 1891).

It is noteworthy that despite the additional wife duties, in line with Anderson's marriage policy "woman was made for man" the women missionaries were pioneers and played a pivotal role in the enterprise, for example, "[writing] school curricula and ... [reducing] the language to writing, to make books..." (The Missionary Herald of October 1869: 319). These initiatives would provide important building blocks for later indigenous languages' developers and education specialists. It is also commendable that with determination the women achieved this despite the challenges of not being as learned as their husbands, in patriarchal America of that period. Grimshaw (1989) notes that;
 [The men] had the male privilege of
 extensive, full-time education for years,
 culminating in the granting of a
 formal qualification. Most women had
 snatched their educational
 opportunities at intervals while supporting
 themselves by teaching or, more rarely,
 from labor or skilled trade. While a
 minority had no formal instruction
 past district school level, such women
 had invariably enhanced their skills through self-education.
 They appeared to be seeking broader horizons than their
 mothers and grandmothers, independence of some kind.... (pp. 19-20)

Green (1979) reported that Charlotte Grout had not even completed her studies at Mount Holyoke before she decided to become one of the first women missionaries, to serve in foreign countries via and through marriage to Rev. Aldin Grout. They formed one of the first of six couples to do pioneer work for the ABCFM in South Africa. Dr. Newton Adams was a qualified physician while Daniel Lindley held a university degree, and according to the records, none of the women had these qualifications. The missionary women, therefore, could have been more sensitive to the question of educational opportunities for African girls. Their own marginal roles as missionary wives may have enhanced their consciousness about limited opportunities for women and led to feelings of sympathy and connection to African girls and women.

The Missionary Wives' Agency

It was not by accident that these wives pressed on, amidst very trying circumstances to fulfil their own ambitions as missionaries. Although perceived a 'mere appendages' by the menfolk, the wives were on their own mission whose agency would soon be clear to a discerning eye, not blinded by patriarchy. Despite the difficult balancing act Rev. Lindley's Lucy, Dr. Adams' Sarah, Rev. Grout's Charlotte Bailey, and Rev. Bridgman's Laura, started primary schools, providing basic education to African children, while the colonial governments of the times generally neglected the education of Africans. Lucy Allen Lindley defied her limited role as wife and mother, and taught even with a small baby on her lap.

Archival documents provide a glimpse into what constituted her focus and resilient commitment to mission, against a stack of odds. When she met Lindley she already had a rich history of political activism in the USA. She was an abolitionist. Born of Quaker parents and a beneficiary of their influence, Lucy would demonstrate her activism for justice in education by teaching literacy and the bible to so-called 'slaves' when the American government dictated that they be taught the bible only. Accommodating the demeaning marriage policies of the ABCFM and bearing Lindley a brood of eleven children belied Lucy's power and potential, which would be manifested as quiet but focused resistance and activism, in line with McCarthy's views on women's type of agency, and Gramsci's human agency as a whole.

Women Missionaries' Struggles in Founding and Operating ?nanda Seminary

The founding and subsequent operation of ?nanda Seminary was a major gender struggle. The women had no vote at Mission meetings, for example. But it would not be long before the wives demonstrated their activism and agency. They formed their own Maternal Association which was not a typical woman's club. The women's activist agenda that of fighting for women's eaualitv would soon loom large, as they soon thereafter advocated for a high school for girls, to match the one missionary man had established for boys, twenty years earlier.

A high school for Zulu girls had never been entertained as a possibility by the men of the mission, for a period of twenty years. The men ridiculed and dismissed the idea of "school learning" for girls, especially Zulu girls, "Teaching] them Christian nurture and home skills" was all that was needed. But Lucy prayed daily for a school for Zulu girls. She may have 'appeared to acquiesce loyally in an essentially male enterprise' (Grimshaw 1989: 5), but the bold step she and fellow women missionaries took to form the Maternal Association, and the resultant post-primary school for girls, demonstrated these women's agency and mettle.

The missionary wives, marginalized and undermined by ABCFM policies, nonetheless provided the basic primary school education to the girls who would become the students at Inanda Seminary. They played an important role in actively recruiting girls to attend the school. Wood (1972) in her book Shine Where You Are: A History of ?nanda Seminary documents that, "The missionary wives, who had been pleading for such a higher school, sought out the likely girls [in their primary schools] and urged the parents to let their daughters go, in some cases paying the fees when the father would not or could not do so" (p. 2).

Wood (1972) also documents how Laura Bridgman, a missionary wife at Umzumbe ABCFM mission, made a long trip by ox-wagon to get five girls from her station to ?nanda Seminary in 1869. The girls would be part of the first class of nineteen. In a letter to her mother in January 1871, Mrs. Bridgman told "... of a long trip she made by ox-wagon, starting out with her little daughter Amy and five Zulu girls from Umzumbe picking up other girls at Umtwalume ABCFM mission, then on to Amanzimtoti ABCFM mission, where there were others with more experience for the last stage to Inanda" (p. 26).

Struggles as Inanda Seminary Officially Opened its Doors

Wood (1972) documents that when Inanda Seminary was finally established the Head of the school, "could not convince the Mission 'Fathers' that ... Zulu girls needed the best education that the best teachers could give them and ... under steadily improving conditions" (p. 23). The Mission "Fathers" fully supported the school for Zulu boys, however, and it got the most financial support from the ABCFM.

The missionary Hyman Wilder claimed that "the purpose of Inanda Seminary [was] not to create a finishing school of American standards, but to provide the simple education necessary to make proper wives and teachers" (Etherington in Ross and Bredenkamp 1995: 144). The atmosphere became tense. The men tightly controlled the money resulting in the period between 1869 and 1876 being a time "of great difficulty and gradual recession" (1972: 23) and with threats of the school's closure from time to time.

Challenges in the American Broad of Commisioners for Foreign Missions' Conversion Drives

Amidst the wrangling back and forth between the missionary men and their wives about the establishment of Inanda Seminary, pitched low by mission Fathers because of low expectations they had of womanfolk, on the conversion front progress was negligible. In the eleven mission stations zealously established, the ABCFM could only boast of a total of 200 converts in a period of ten years. Even for those converted indigenes their sincerity was questionable and unsustainable. In line with Gramsci's theory the indigenes had half-heartedly "accommodated" conversion because of the pecks, namely education for their children but had "resisted" turning their backs on their cultural and religious beliefs. Even among the few converts there was a complaint about the heathenism that was slowly creeping in among the African church members. There was little hope these adults would abandon their customs. A new strategy had to be found, otherwise the entire mission would have had to fold up and return home.

New Conversion Ideas

The saving grace to the embarrassing conversion situation came in the form of an article "Woman's Opportunity" published in The Missionary Herald. The article provided a possible solution to the unsuccessful conversion drives in various non-European countries. Excerpts from letters written by one missionary in China and another in India, both supported the idea of targeting females in all conversion drives. A missionary with the London Missionary Society spelt out the rationale for targeting females:
 We are of the impression that idolatry and superstition in China
 mainly continues through the influence of the women. The mothers
 teach their children, at home and in the temples, various acts of
 religious worship; and so the system is perpetuated from age to
 age. Were the women only converted, we believe that idolatry would
 soon cease out of the land. Now they are to be reached mainly
 through their own sex, alike native and foreign, and we cannot too
 earnestly counsel the employment of such a class of persons in
 connection with missionary work in China, (p. 167)

Thus "... through their sex, alike native and foreign ..." revealed a new perception of female missionaries in foreign countries, and acknowledged the abilities of women, collectively, to fulfil other important tasks outside the domestic sphere. The idea would be that of women teaching girls for change; that when you teach one woman, you teach a nation. The new idea of missionary "women's work" was defined as that of converting women and children in different non-European countries, in order to subsequently convert the men, and finally, the whole population of indigenes. An American Board missionary who had served in India had made a similar observation, and his rationale was,
 The conversion of one woman is worth that of two men, in its
 relations to the progress of the gospel in India. The man often
 fails of bringing in his household, and his character suffers
 from home influence. The woman is almost sure to bring in her
 husband and family, (p. 167)

It is yet another hegemonic irony that when conversion efforts failed, women, foreign and local, would be relied upon to save the missionary enterprise. ABCFM policy changed. Instead of women missionary teachers being last on the list, they were now on the primary agenda. Woman's agency was beginning to be taken cognizance of because of effective resistance to conversion employed by indigenes. In line with Williams (1997:112) elaboration on Gramsci's theory, the ABCFM's hegemony of patriarchy "[could] never be singular. It [could] not just passively exist as a form of dominance. It [had] to be renewed, recreated, defined, and modified. It [was] also resisted, altered, challenged by pressures not all its own. A mission the ABCFM had envisioned as a walk-over, targetted at the depraved, ignorant and uncivilized Africans proved quite challenging, because these indigenes also played their cards agentically.

Admitting failure with adults, missionary hopes were therefore pinned on the young. Inanda Seminary was discussed as follows in The Missionary Herald of October 1869, "... If mothers make the men then this school must be set above all prices" (p. 322) to exercise a Christian influence. It waited to be seen however, if Inanda Seminary, a school for "mere Zulu girls" would in reality "be set above all price". At ABCFM headquarters in Boston, the marriage policy changed, in line with the new thinking about the role of women in conversion efforts. A Women's Board was established in 1868; and for the first time single women would be sent out to the mission field. The first head of Inanda Seminary, Mary Kelley Edwards of Ohio, was one of the first single women appointed under the new marriage policy.

That progressive almost a mea culpa statement from the male camp, "If mothers' make the men, then this school must be set above all price "would be stifled by patriarchal attitudes, however. But as it turned out, Mary Kelley Edwards would prove to be the right person for the job under the prevailing challenging circumstances. She would not leave the persistent hegemony of patriarchy unchallenged. Neither would she leave unchallenge the persistent the hegemony of race. Born of Quaker parents, like Lucy Allen Lindley, Mary Edwards had the consciousness of the immorality of racial inequality and oppression, for she had taught slaves at her house as an abolitionist (Etherington, in Bredenkamp and Ross, 1995). This experience prepared her for service to Africans in a country where the African race was subjugated. Her Quaker upbringing also shaped her attitude towards her African students. On many occasions she would say they were no different from girls anywhere. Wood (1972) documents that in 1869, Edwards wrote in a report to United States, "The girls are generally well disposed and are obedient, but need constant looking after, but all children do" (p. 18). Later that year she wrote, "The school is now in good condition; my girls are not angels but they are as nearly as I should expect to see twenty-one white girls ..." (p.20). She would not put down African girls on account of their race.

Mary Kelley Edwards, as was a woman, had struggled to receive her education and so understood the difficulties and odds that stood in the way of women who wanted to be educated. Given this educational background and her contributions in fighting the demeaning institution of slavery in her own country, it is not surprising that Mary Kelley Edwards arrived at Inanda with high hopes for the school. However, her own hopes and ambitions clashed with those of the men of the mission, who envisioned a low budget school just to prepare women for lives as Christian wives. When she experienced these negative attitudes in the form of the missionary men themselves, she fought for the protection of women's rights to education. The men of the mission, despite recognizing the value of females in the conversion efforts, patriarchal attitudes stubbornly persisted, and so did racism for people like Rev. Daniel Lindley, a man whose vocabulary included "Niggermania" for he perceived missionary women's pro-African attitudes as (Niggermania).

It would be expected then that with these different attitudes towards race as well as his deeply entrenched patriarchal mindset, the relationship between Mary Edwards and Daniel Lindley and other missionary men, would not augur well for wholesome race and gender relations at Inanda Seminary. The school, however, did continue despite serious setbacks that almost led to its closing down on numerous occasions, as missionary men were reluctant to provide the necessary financial support. However, experience as a qualified teacher who served under an administrator husband had prepared Mary Edwards for the difficult task of establishing ?nanda Seminary and shaping it into a school of notable excellence which it still is in 2009. Mary Edwards would work hard against many race and gender-related odds, to bring about the birth of Inanda Seminary, and nurture the school through the difficult early years of its existence. It is not surprising that the Inanda Seminary school song celebrates this visionary and pioneer for women's and human rights, who are buried at the school.

The Reputation of American Broad of Commisioners for Foreign Missions Schools

Although conversion to Christianity was the string attached to education within ABCFM schools, the education provided was good. One could attribute this to the ABCFM as well as to education, the tool the mission used to Christianize indigenes. Education is a double-edged sword, and exposure to it usually yields unintended outcomes. It can be argued that the education the ABCFM provided the indigenes, became an enabler foe human and woman's agency. The negative stereotyping of girls/women's capabilities was unwittingly shuttered thus by the ABCFM itself. According to Etherington (1978) the two ABCFM--founded schools, that is, Inanda Seminary and Amanzimtoti, built a reputation of providing the best education in the Natal province.

Archival documents reveal that Inanda Seminary educators set high academic standards that challenged the students. The outcome, on the whole, was that Inanda graduates gained an advantageous head-start over their counter-parts in other types of schools, and this opened better career opportunities for them. The provision of "higher" education would produce teachers who would go out into the world armed with the status of "professional" which included various possibilities for personal independence. In other words Inanda Seminary helped girls omit the stage of sitting at home and waiting for marriage. It can also be argued that the type of education fought for and provided at Inanda Seminary, was a result of the struggles women missionaries like Mary Edwards had undergone to receive it, on account of being female in patriarchal America of the nineteenth century.

In a letter to Ohio, 50 years after the establishment of the school, Mrs. Edwards wrote, "I think there are not less than 100 [Inanda] girls now teaching in the native schools in Natal" (ISP File). It can be argued, therefore, that the missionaries' letter of request to the ABCFM, for a teacher "suitable" and "qualified" to run the post primary school for Zulu girls, opened the way for an education at Inanda Seminary that would do much more than prepare Christian wives for Christian homes. In 1924 the head of the school, Fidelia Phelps, a graduate of Mount Holyoke, wrote thus about the mission statements at Inanda;

The aim of this school ... was, at the outset to give to the young woman-hood of the Native people an opportunity for advanced education that is, advanced in comparison with the primary schools of that day. The founders of the institution, however, considered this but as means to a greater end. That end was the evangelisation of the Zulu people. (ISP Files)

It can be concluded that the aim of "[giving] to the young woman-hood ... an opportunity for advanced education ..." revealed the aspirations of the women missionaries.As one 1940s graduate noted in an interview, "When you sit down and think of 'firsts', it's usually Inanda Seminary girls". Heather Hughes in Walker (1990), remarks in her article on Inanda Seminary, "A Lighthouse to African Womanhood" that "Inanda 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" (p. 220). White private schools were expensive and very exclusive, however.

The Empowerment of American Missionary Women Abroadand the Women's Board

Although foreign missionary work was not portrayed as of mutual benefit to both missionary women and indigenous communities, Hughes in Walker (1990) makes the point that;
 ... moves were afoot in the United States to encourage greater
 involvement of women in the mission field, as women themselves came
 to realize that "religion provided an outlet for female talent
 denied access to political and economic leadership ....[They] could
 assume positions of power and prestige, influencing not only
 children and other women but men as well." (pp. 204-5)

As mentioned earlier, these women "appeared to be seeking broader horizons than their mothers and grandmothers, independence of some kind ..." Grimshaw (1989:19-20). The argument for female missionary work abroad, advanced by the treasurer of the Woman's Board in The Missionary Herald of March 1870, possibly articulates similar perceptions and sentiments as put forward by Grimshaw and Hughes. In response to a question she claimed to be frequently asked, namely, "Where is the necessity for your Woman's Board of Missions?" She said, "We would simply reply, because it is woman's work, for which she has capabilities, as well as responsibilities, and can work through the organization better than in any other way" (p. 94). Her "capabilities" were possibly undermined at home and she thus did not have "responsibilities" that matched her capabilities. A woman's organization, operational abroad, offered the only channel for self-fulfillment.

Instead of missionaries writing organizations for funding, the Woman's Board prepared a booklet of 96 pages, "The Day Breaking" with stories from nine different fields. For its fund-raising campaign the Board made no mention, however, of the missionary women's own personal ambitions for self-fulfilment, as they portrayed the Converison of indigens as paramount also wrote, "... But how many are still in ignorance, and in all the darkness of heathenism, who might become heirs for life! Will not the friends of missions remember them in their prayers and in their contributions? (p. 147)

The list of Women's Boards gives an indication of the American church women's enthusiastic embrace of the seminaries: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, as documented in The Missionary Herald of June 1870 (p. 201-202). According to The Missionary Herald of April 1869 (p. 137), contributors to the Interior branch known as The Woman's Board of Missions for the Interior were from: Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio. The Woman's Board was supporting 32 missionaries and Bible readers, in Turkey, India, Syria, China and Africa. In The Missionary Herald of May 1870 the ABCFM's Woman's Wing reported a total of thirteen thousand pupils in various non-European countries. The rationale for boarding establishments was: "[Pupils] had been removed from the hurtful influences of their homes, and palced under the care of a Christian family" (p. 145). A record of enrolment figures in girls' schools around the world was kept.

The Role of Woman's Boards at Inanda Seminary

According to Wood (1972: 179) there were three Woman's Boards in the United States, "... but the one centered in New England and the East took the most responsibility for Inanda Seminary". During the early years of the school, when there was a general male missionary reluctance to give support the school, it was the Woman's Boards that came to the school's rescue and guaranteed its survival. The support came in money and in kind. The Boards paid the missionary teachers and donated large amounts of money to the construction of new buildings, repairs and financial support for students. Wood (1972) records some of the contributions;
 In 1869] The Woman's Board of Missions, through the American
 Board had sent 190 pound sterling (p. 21). In 1878 Mrs. Edwards
 had found horseback riding hard in the hot sun and was thankful
 for a carriage paid for by the Woman's Board of Missions (p. 31).
 In 1885 the Woman's Board promised together with the American
 Board 1,000 pound sterling for a [double storey] building, Edwards
 Hall [still standing in 2009] (p. 40). The [total] cost of the
 building was about 6,000 Pound Sterling. Most of the money came
 from America. One of the girls wrote a letter of thanks to the
 Woman's Board (p. 41). In 1914, the Vermont Branch of the Woman's
 Board promised to raise 10,000 pound sterling for another
 dormitory building, Phelps Hall [still standing in 2009] ... and
 the New Haven (Connecticut) Branch promised to raise the same for
 the Industrial building [still standing in 2009] (p. 71). Miss
 Walbridge closed her first annual report (June, 1924) with a list
 of vital things she felt were vitally needed.... She needed
 [among other things] an annual fund of not less than $500 for
 repairs and replacements.... The Woman's Board responded with
 $1,000 for emergencies and a regular annual grant of $500 for
 repairs, (p. 86)

The Role of Mount Holyoke in the Founding and Operation of Inanda

Green (1979), in the introduction of her book, Mary Lyon and Mount Holyoke suggests that Mary Lyon, (the founder of Mount Holyoke woman's institution, Massachusettes, in 1835), "An obscure young teacher, without money, wealthy patrons, or influential friends, ... managed, virtually single-handed, to create from nothing a major new educational institution and to open the way for the rapid spread of higher education for women", (p. 345) According to Green (1979), Mary Lyon's major contribution was, "The proliferation of women's colleges in the second half of the nineteenth century, which she had enthusiastically predicted. Ten "daughter" institutions founded on the principles of Mount Holyoke are mentioned in the book, including one in South Africa, that is, Inanda Seminary", (p. 345)

Cole (1940) in A Hundred Years of Mount Holyoke College, writes that the documentation of the history of this college was, "to reflect to some extent the changing concepts in education and in society throughout a century especially notable for the widening opportunities for women" (p. 9).

It is very important to note that the early missionary wives, like Charlotte Bailey Grout, who advocated the opening of Inanda Seminary as a post-primary school for girls, had been to Mount Holyoke and brushed shoulders with the visionary in women's education, Mary Lyon. In fact, Wood (1972), connects the missionary wives' zeal for girls education, particularly their support for Inanda Seminary, with the influence of Mount Holyoke which some of them had attended. Wood states that, "The missionary wives were kind and helpful, and some, being themselves the products of Mt. Holyoke and similar institutions in the United States, were sympathetic with [Mary] Edwards' aspirations", (p. 23)

It is also noteworthy that some of the later heads and teachers at Inanda Seminary were graduates of Mount Holyoke, and had been influenced by their head and teacher, Mary Lyon. The fact that Inanda Seminary was regarded as one of the "daughter" educational institutions of Mount Holyoke, demonstrates the presence of a strong link between these two girls institutions, in terms of vision and ethos. Wood (1972) mentions the quotation in Miss Clarke's Annual Report written in June, 1920, which read, "This school for girls was opened in 1869 by our beloved veteran, Mrs. Edwards. It has sometimes been called the Mount Holyoke of South Africa." (p. 80)

The following are glimpses of Mary Lyon's beliefs in girls' education. Green (1979) advances the point that Mary Lyon differed from other people in leadership who, after a period of reluctance to educate women, "declared themselves in favor of higher education for women in the course of time". Mary Lyon, however, differed from these people, "in her own overriding sense of urgency but also in the way she managed to communicate her own love of learning. She commended the students who had found delight in using their minds and urged them to protect themselves against family demands that might extinguish the spark", (p. 339)

Mary Lyon would tell her students;
 There are three classes of ladies, who you ought to consider
 well, about striving to gain a superior education. First, the few
 who have studied enough to love to study. They ought to
 beware how they form plans that will interrupt and break off
 their love for study. Second, those that have the elements of
 this love but have never had full opportunity to develop them.
 The social feelings they possess ought to be considered a
 talent to be used for good and with a superior education what
 might they not accomplish! Twenty years of life would be
 worth more with it than forty without it. Third are those that
 can learn if they try long and hard. Their genius, like gold, will
 shine if they hammer it long enough. But ladies are turned
 aside by a thousand things, whenever gentlemen interrupt,
 and if they would build high, they must not be satisfied with
 laying the foundation, (p.339)

Another important contribution by Mary Lyon stemmed from her second passion--missionary work in foreign countries. The bulk of missionary women came from Mount Holyoke ... It means then that most women missionaries who served in foreign missions had Mary Lyon's influence on women's education. Green (1979) documents that

The impetus that Mary Lyon gave to foreign missions lasted long after her death. There is no doubt that Mount Holyoke sent out a remarkable number of young women to Foreign Service straight through the nineteenth century. When she died in March 1849 the number was 35; ten years later there were 60 on the rolls of the ABCFM. At the semicentennial ceremonies in 1887 it was reported that of the women who served under the ABCFM, 261, more than one fifth, 56 in all, had been educated at Mount the time of the centennial in 1937, the total number... was nearly 400. (p. 264) Green (1979) advances the argument that Mount Holyoke had been designed to enable young women to spread their benevolence far and near. Mary Lyon challenged her students to, " willing to do anything and anywhere. Be not hasty to decide that you have no physical or mental strength and no faith and hope" (p. 338).

Charlotte Bailey who married Aldin without even completing her studies at Mount Holyoke, probably demonstrates the zeal Mary Lyon imparted to her students, not so much to Christianize as much as to prove their worth as human beings who happened to be female, and so defend their human and woman dignity Green also adds the point that Mary Lyon seems not to have engaged in public discussion about the capacity of young women to learn and to think; it was too fundamental a tenet of her belief for her to waste time in arguing... [She] did not waste the time of seminary students proving scientifically that the intellectual ability of the sexes was equal; she took it for granted, (p. 341)

As single women who no longer needed to be strapped to missionary men as wives in order to work in foreign missions, they wielded power not only among indigenous women and children but among indigenous men as well. So woman's work changed its definition in foreign countries where missionary women, marginalized in their own countries, carved for themselves a more powerful status among indigenous populations. They assumed dominant roles that were not possible for the female gender in the United States.

African Women's Agency

In her biography, Nokukhanya by (Rule, 1993), Mrs. Nokukhanya Luthuli documents her experiences in her quest for education in a patriarchal African society, in the early twentieth century. She attended ?nanda Seminary in 1918 just fifty-nine years after the school was founded. Her unrelenting pursuit of education and a career demonstrates her agency and that of ?nanda girls as a whole, during that period, thus proving the agentic role aptly played by indigenous females in challenging the hegemony of patriarchy. In her biography, we get a picture of the marriage-related social status of girls in Zulu society and the ambitions some girls had. Mrs. Luthuli writes;
 My father thought that a girl need not be helped much [in acquiring
 an education]. "It's a nuisance trying to help a girl because she
 is going to get married," he used to say. He told me that he would
 not be in the way if I found the means to further it on my own. So
 the burden of my success lay on my shoulders alone. My two brothers
 were given careers. My elder brother was a teacher and my younger
 brother was an office worker. But my sisters only went as far as
 standard 6. Most girls left school at that stage. My sisters became
 domestic workers, (p.29)

This was her agency, against the convictions of a strong patriarchal figure, her father, socialized by partriachal norms and values of his society. Nolukhanya understood the activism she needed to employ. While her two brothers 'were given careers" she had to "get a career" on her own steam and efforts.

Rule (1993) writes that although Nokukhanya could not afford the fees of 5 pounds per term at ?nanda, the principal made an arrangement whereby Nokukhanya would do extra work and earn the money for fees. She writes thus, however, of the difficulty of it all;
 We had no leisure time...When the others were out playing we were
 working. We used to get up early in the morning before the other
 students. We washed dishes, scrubbed pots and baked bread. We worked
 again after school, and even on Saturdays and during the holidays.
 We were paid very little. I was very poor but I didn't care....
 Most of the time I was barefoot and sometimes my clothing would get
 torn to the extent that I could not mend it. But my class teacher,
 Miss Minnie Carter, used to give me some clothing at times. That
 helped me quite a lot. (p.31)

At such a young age, Nokukhanya's understanding of the hegemony of patriarchy and how she could create an escape route, demonstrates her agency in discerning what was paramount in creating a decent future for herself. She explains the reason for her determination thus,
 I wanted an education because I compared the lives of those who had
 an education with those who did not and I saw that they were
 different. The lives of those who had not been educated past
 standard 6 did not match my likes. I thought: "No! I don't want to
 be like that person, I want something better. I will even be better
 educated than my elder sister." (Rule, 1993: 29)

As Mary Lyon had advised her women students at Mount Holyoke, other girls in America, "... if they would build high, they must not be satisfied with laying the foundation," Nokukhanya seemed to have understood that early, in her life as a girl in society ruled by male domination, that a Standard 6 qualification was a mere foundation, and she was determined to "build high". Despite her poverty, Nokukhanya remained "an outstanding pupil" and dedicated to her school work. She stated the reason of her dedication thus: "In my trouble struggling for my future, I was very dedicated to my lessons and concerned about them. Each time I entered a new class, I knew that, I had to work hard enough to pass to the next class the following year" (p. 30). Nokukhanya's teachers were so impressed with her excellent work that the principal recommended her to the principal at Adams College, so that she could pursue the teacher's training course. Even at Adams, she always obtained at least the second highest score in her class. Only one male beat, she remembers. Her husband's friend Dr. M.V. Gumede speaks of Nokukhanya [Khanyo for short], who was "both brains and beauty" (Reddy, 1991, p.149). It so happened that she met her future husband at Adams. Focussed as she was on her education and career, I argue Nokukhanya would have dismissed the suggestion that this love relationship was due to the ABCFM missionaries' clandestine matchmaking scheme for African boys and girls educated in its schools. Her future husband, Inkosi Albert Luthuli would be the first person in South Africa to receive the Nobel Peace prize. He also led the African National Congress in the 1960s. He was banned by the apartheid government and died under mysterious circumstances, with strong allegations that the apartheid regime eliminated him.

According to Rule (1993), Nokukhanya qualified as a teacher and started teaching in a local school. However, "In 1923 one of the teachers at Adams College, Miss Busisiwe Makhanya [also an ?nanda graduate] went overseas, [and ended her studies at Teachers College, Columbia University]. Nokukhanya was invited to take her place" (pp. 36-37). It was at this time that she completed the highest grade for teaching. Rule (1993) highlights the performance of Nokukhanya against the fact that, "Opportunities for African women in the world of work were very limited at that time" (p.32). In other words while Inanda Seminary's work was commendable, it was a drop in the ocean. In addition, the evidence of the good academic performance of some of the Inanda girls, for example, (Busisiwe Makhanya and Nokukhanya Luthuli), disproves the scepticism missionary founding Fathers had about the academic capabilities of Zulu girls. From 1869 ?nanda Seminary graduates have continued to be "firsts" in various fields. As Mrs. Gumede, a 1940s graduate once commented, "?nanda girls like thinking out of the box," and this collective attitude becomes their ticket to success as African women in a patriarchal society. Wood (1972) documents that "White women in South Africa had little or no interest in the education of the Africans, and many were afraid to live in an African area.

Concluding Notes

Human and especially woman agency exerted enormous pressure on the ABCFM as a hegemony of race and patriarchy, forcing it to 'renew, recreate, defend and modify' its tactics from time to time, and would prove, as McCarthy (1993) argues, that "[Constructions of women... [that] implicitly assume their passivity, backwardness and ignorance are shallow and erroneous (p. 349) Lucy Lindley, Mary Kelley Edwards, Mary Lyon, Nokukhanya Luthuli, are only a few apt examples. Adams College, the darling school of the men of the ABCFM was shut down by the apartheid state when the men there chose to be confrontational in their efforts to resist the inferior system of Bantu Education. Inanda Seminary women missionaries skillfully chose quiet resistance and won the day. The school went private and became the only school in the country to continued offering its students a quality education then a preserve for whites. This proved, as McCarthy (1993) argues, the need and importance of understanding women 'as active, not just reactive; creative and innovative, not passive and ignorant, and courageous risk taker, not simple pawns" (p. 350).


Buchanan B. I. (1978). Natal Memories. Pietermaritzburg: Shuter and Shooter.

Etherington P. N. (1978). Peasants and Politics in Southeast Africa (1835-1880): African Christian Communities. In Natal, Pondoland and Zululand. London: Royal Historical Society.

Buchanan B. I. (1971). The Rise of the Kholwa in Southeast Africa: African ChristianCommunities in Natal, Pondoland and Zululand, 1835-1880. Ph.D. Dissertation. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University..

Buchanan B. I. (1971) . Gender Issues in South- East African Missions, 1835-85." In Missions and Christianity in South African History. H. Bredenkamp and R. Ross (eds). Johannesburg: Witwatersrand Univ. Press, 1995, pp. 135-152.

Gramsci A. (1980). Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Hoare Q. & Smith G. N. (Eds.). New York: International Publishers.

Grimshaw P. (1989.) Paths of Duty: American Missionary Wives in Nineteenth Century Hawaii. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Hlongwane L. (1997). The Role of Inanda Seminary in the Education of African Girls in South Africa: Graduates' Views. Ed. D. Dissertation. New York: Columbia University.

Hughes H. (1990). A Lighthouse to African Womanhood: Inanda Seminary, (1869-1945). In Walker C. (Ed.), Women and Gender in Southern Africa to 1945. Cape Town: David Phillip .

McCarthy F. (1990). Development from Within: Forms of Resistance to Development Processes of Bangladeshi Women. In Walker C. (Ed.), Gender and Political Economy: Explorations of South Asian Systems. New Delhi: Oxford Press:349-350

Moorhouse G. (1973). The Missionaries. Philadelphia and New York: J. B. Lippincott Company.

Tyler J. (2006). Forty Years Among the Zulus. Kessinger Publishing LLC

Williams R. (1977). Hegemony. In Williams R., Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wood, A. A. S. (1972). Where You Are: A History of ?nanda Seminary. Lovedale: The Lovedale Press.

Archival Documents

Inanda Seminary (ISP) Files

The Missionary Herald of October 1869; March 1870; May 1870; and June 1870.

Dr. Lynette Hlongwane Director

Cromlyn Consultants

Pretoria-South Africa

COPYRIGHT 2009 Eastern Mediterranean University
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Activities, Notes, and Reports on Women's Studies/Kadin Calismalari ile ilgili Etkinlikler, Notlar ve Raporlar
Author:Hlongwane, Lynette
Publication:Kadin/Woman 2000
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Dec 1, 2009
Previous Article:Ayten Alkan (Ed.) (2009). Cins Cins Mekan.
Next Article:Kadindan yasama destek dernegi.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters