Inanda Seminary’s 150th Birthday Celebration

| March 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

BY PETER DE LISLE
The 150th birthday weekend was a vibrant, moving and inspiring celebration of 150 years of commitment to the development of young African women. There was so much to the weekend that included a richness and depth of expression from so many points of view.

Friday 01 March 2019 saw the whole school walking up the hill to the nearby cemetery to pay respect to the founders and others who were important in building the school from its earliest days. Notably, Reverend Daniel Lindley Hatch, the great-great-grandson of Daniel and Lucy Lindley who were the missionaries who started the Seminary in 1869, was in attendance. Standing next to the stone-built grave of Mary Edwards, the first principal of Inanda, Reverend Susan Valiquette, the former school chaplain, visiting from the US, preached on the importance of respecting our ancestors, those who have gone before and prepared the way to enable us to become fully who we are. Each person was given two puzzle pieces, representing themselves and their ancestors, and the necessity for us to join these aspects of our lives to be fully human.

A talk by Dr Lynette Hlongwane, some poignant songs and a play
Dr Lynette Hlongwane, a former student of Inanda Seminary, spoke about her research conducted by interviewing other alumnae. The title of her PhD thesis is: “The Role of Inanda Seminary in the Education of African Girls in South Africa: Graduates’ Views.” She is a celebrated author, teacher and lecturer.
She spoke about her own experience of attending the school, and not realising that she was receiving an education that was special, and that was imparting the Inanda Seminary DNA to her, preparing her for a life of significance. She went on to define what the DNA is. It is a spirit of resilience and determination that leads the women graduates of Inanda to be independent, confident and determined in the face of difficulty.
The Choralaires was a singing group made up of students from Inanda Seminary who were led by Darlene Aylard (now Woodburn) in the early 1970s. They were very successful at the time, and even made a record, Rock-a my Soul. Amazingly, the group reconvened for the 150th birthday and performed some much-loved tunes, led by Aylard herself.
Completing the evening’s entertainment, current members of Inanda performed Trailblazers, a production which blended drama, dance and singing.
Scripted by Kim Simons-Thebe, the storyline featured current students being led to understand the significance of the school and all that it has stood for over the years.

Birthday celebration 
Saturday 02 March was the day of the birthday celebration which was held in the school chapel. Attended by the school, as well as hundreds of alumnae and friends, it was a joyful and moving celebration of the many committed people who over the years have built up the school. There was much glorious singing, and members from all grades spoke eloquently when introducing speakers, giving the school history and reading.
Barbara Masekela, who was due to speak, was unable to be present due to illness. However, a tribute to her was read. In her place, Mavis Mitchell Lambert (née Xulu), who was in the matric class of 1951, spoke with humour about what it had meant to her to be an Inanda student. Her theme was the importance of love, the kind which is found in deeds and action rather than mere words.
She was followed by Esther Sibongile Sangweni (matric class of 1969), who was pivotal in motivating the “Power of 10” group which saved the school when it was faced with closure the late 1990s. She spoke about the many challenges that faced Inanda Seminary over the years. She reflected on the fact that the founders and all who followed based their actions on a solid foundation of prayer. She celebrated the resilience and determination of the many school leaders over the years.
The final speaker was Lindokuhle Ngwenya (matric class of 2010). After studying at Inanda, she received a scholarship to study in the US. She is currently a management consultant with Africawide Consulting. She spoke about her journey from humble origins to where she is now, and praised the Seminary for the way it had moulded her and made it possible for her to make use of the opportunities which it opened up for her.
The Choralaires performed once again to tumultuous applause, as well as the school choir.
At the conclusion of the service, the opening of the newly completed eNtokozweni (place of joy) took place. This is a space where parents and other visitors to the school can meet with students, and where classes can be held when teachers want a bit of a change of venue. Then there was lunch on the lawn for the many guests.

A special chapel service
The final event of the weekend was a Chapel Service at which Reverend Daniel Lindley Hatch (the great-great grandson of Daniel and Lucy Lindley – the founders of Inanda Seminary) preached. He spoke of the Lindley’s courage and determination as they made their way to work in South Africa in the 1830s. He showed us a man who was at home with himself, at one with nature, clear about his calling. He also spoke about Lucy and the difficult time she had as a child, suffering under her abusive step-mother. In bringing them together, God clearly valued their resilience and knew what was needed for the years ahead. He also challenged the conventional view of the Trinity, pointing to instead to a God who is embodied in nature, in our very bodies and our breath.

Category: Autumn 2019

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