SOUTHERN AFRICA: Archbishop Ndungane spearheads move to restore historic schools

March 25, 2007

Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town is championing a project to revitalize South Africa's historic schools. While visiting Kwazulu Natal during the week of March 19, he met principals, learners, staff, governing bodies and alumni of four historic schools in and around Durban and discussed the project with Kwazulu-Natal Premier, Sibusiso Ndebele.

Ndungane, who is an alumnus of Lovedale College in the Eastern Cape -- along with leaders such as South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, Dr. Hlope Bam and Chris Hani -- said he is very excited about this initiative.

"When Bantu education was introduced during the apartheid years, these wonderful schools, which were the breeding ground for the Black intelligentsia and many of our struggle leaders, were sidelined or taken over by the government," he said. "Many had to shut their doors and their beautiful historic buildings are now in a state of collapse. Some struggle on, still managing to produce good matric results despite inadequate resources. This is a denial of an important part of our culture and heritage in this country."

Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Ndungane said it is essential that the schools are restored and preserved for future generations. "We want them to be centers of cultural and educational excellence, rooted in their communities, feeding into the universities, a source of pride and leadership for our children and our children's children," he said.

South Africa's minister of Arts and Culture, Dr. Pallo Jordan, has conceived and kick-started this venture as part of the celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of the African prophet Ntsikana, who following visions from God, preached Christianity, educated himself and encouraged other Africans to learn to read, thereby providing a fertile ground for the establishment of historic mission schools by churches around the country.

"We are already working closely with the Departments of Arts and Culture and Education, as well as teachers and academics, other church denominations and members of the business community and civil society, many of whom are themselves alumni of the schools," said Ndungane.