Adams College is a Public School situated in Adams Mission which is 8 km inland from Amanzimtoti and 35 km South of Durban. Established in 1853, Adams College is the second oldest Institution for Africans in South Africa. For nearly 160 years Adams College has produced an impressive list of former students who have gone on to become icons in the fields of education, politics, business and have helped liberate and develop Africa. Adams College is a former Mission School originally founded by Dr Newton Adams from the American Board of Missions. It was first named; 'Amanzimtoti Institute' and it was later named after him in the 1930's. During the implementation of Bantu Education from 1953, its name was changed to Amanzimtoti Zulu Training School. Its name was reverted to Adams College after the abolishment of Bantu Education. Adams College provided Africans with an opportunity for gaining a good standard of Education. It was the first College to offer the matric syllabus. An art degree, building diploma and teachers training course were also offered.
In 1922 Inkosi Albert Luthuli became the first African to be employed on the teaching staff at Adams, teaching isiZulu and Music and later being put in charge of school organization.
In 1925 Z.K. Matthews was the first African to be appointed head master of the high School with white staff under him.
In 1925 Robbins Guma was made a member of staff at the teachers’ training school; he was later to be the first African to act as the head of the training college of African teachers
Adams College was amongst the first African schools to: • Introduce co-education (education for both boys and girls in 1910); • Teach mathematics and science to Africans; • Provide matriculation and post- matriculation courses (1931); • Introduce sport development programme; • Give responsible posts to Africans.
There mission is to become the preferred educational institution for learners from all walks of life, irrespective of race, religion, culture or creed, with the best academic and extracurricular facilities and resources and to excel in administration and management. Adams College upholds the established values of truthfulness, humility, Faithfulness, Realness, Responsibility, Hard work and going the extra mile to “Arise and Shine”.
The oldest foreign Mission Society in America, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, was formed in 1806 with the main goal of spreading Christianity to the ‘heathen lands’. The American Board, found its strongest supporter to be the Congregational Church. The Board employed many qualified men and women to work in religious educational, publishing, industrial and medical fields. In 1835 the first American Board missionaries arrived in South Africa with the aim of bringing ‘to the native people of South Africa knowledge and the Christian religion.
In 1834 Dr Newton Adams, a medical missionary and his wife embarked upon their missionary endevour. They sailed from Boston, the head office of the American Board, along with five other Missionaries and their wives. The Missionaries were part of a contingent which was divided into two groups. Three missionaries known as the maritime group were sent to the Coast to Dinganes people near Port Natal. They were Newton Adams, Aldin Grout and George Champion.
After spending sometime in the Cape learning the Dutch language, Dr Adams and Mrs Adams and the other missionaries arrived in Port Natal in 1835. The inland mission did not last long as it faced many mishaps such as illness and unrest. Dr Adams’ maritime group, were more successful. It was not long before Adams had a school of 50 pupils and a Sunday congregation ranging from 200 to 1500. As early as 1836 a Grahamstown trader, who visited Natal said: ‘A school for girls has been established by Dr Adams, in which were 29 scholars, all neatly clothed in cotton dresses. Some were employed at needlework and others learning to read”. The missionaries now turned their attention to Natal, where Adams had established a station in 1836.
In 1843 the British Government took control of Natal. This gradually allowed for mission work to become firmly established. In 1847 Dr Adams moved from Umlazi and went to Amanzimtoti, about 22 miles down the coast from Durban, and started a new mission station. He made this decision because his congregation was moving there and because Amanzimtoti was the centre of a large population. At this time the first convert, Umbalasi, a Zulu woman, was accepted into the Church by Adams. Dr Adams started by teaching black people the English language and his wife held meetings for women and taught them how to sew, cook and take care of their children according to the western way of life.
At Amanzimtoti, Adams seemed to become popular among the local people, he was given a Zulu name which meant ”the man with three coats”. This name referred to the white overall which he wore as a doctor, the black frock coat in which he took services and short lumber jacket which he wore when chopping down trees. At this mission Adams built a residence that carried his name, and which remained on the mission grounds until it was pulled down in 1958. Dr Adams died in 1851, and so not to lose the benefits of the work he had done, the American Board sent Rev. Rood to Amanzimtoti in 1853 with the express object of opening up a School.