Graham House Tapestry donation - St Andrew's College

Graham House Tapestry donation

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DB Wylde Indaba – Andrew de Blocq
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DB Wylde Indaba – Andrew de Blocq
June 14, 2023

Graham House Tapestry donation

Andrew La Trobe (Graham House, 1979-84) presented a tapestry to Graham House during the school’s Big Reunion celebrations. After the Sunday morning Chapel service with Boys and OAs a short but powerful ceremony took place in recognition of the Anglican Institute.

The Keiskamma Sin of Omission Tapestry, created by five women from St Matthew’s at Keiskammahoek, depicts Stephen (Malusi) Mzamane, the main character in Marguerite Poland’s book “A Sin of Omission” standing in front of St Augustine College in Canterbury, together with a fellow student in training at the Anglican missionary college.

Andrew La Trobe writes:

I first visited Canterbury in September 1989 on route to taking up a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford, and stayed in these same buildings depicted in the tapestry (now part of King’s School) at the invitation of Paul Teeton, a friend from Rhodes University who had grown up on the St Matthew’s mission near Keiskammahoek.

During my visit Paul showed me the names of past St Augustine’s students carved into the St Augustine’s College chapel walls. Little did I know that many of those names, including that of Mtutuko Stephen Mnyakama who was Marguerite’s inspiration for the character Stephen Mzamane, would lead back to the Anglican Institute and the buildings which would later become Graham House.

My wife Ingrid and I together with our children made many return trips to Canterbury over the years, but it was during a very special visit some 25 years after my first that I became aware of the true significance of the links between St Augustine’s College, the Anglican Institute and St Andrew’s College.

Marguerite together with her husband Martin Oosthuizen attended an OA dinner in the Somme valley in November 2014, and on the return trip from France we arranged to visit St Augustine’s College in Canterbury as part of her research for the writing of the “The Sin of Omission”. Under her expert and patient guidance on that November afternoon, the significance of this place in Canterbury to St Andrew’s College and particularly the buildings of Graham House became all too clear.

 

How often do we walk this world oblivious to the stories beneath our feet? The storylines brought to life by Marguerite were for me precious indeed. They reveal that the first occupants of the Graham House buildings in 1873, engaged in very similar pursuits to those of the current residents, were young black men taught primarily by St Augustine’s College alumni. How significant that their pursuit of truth and excellence took some of them to Canterbury in England, decades before the first Rhodes Scholarships were awarded in the early twentieth century to young (then exclusively white) Old Andreans to take the same journey. - Andrew La Trobe