Headmaster’s 2023 Speech Day address - St Andrew's College

Headmaster’s 2023 Speech Day address

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Headmaster’s 2023 Speech Day address


Goeie More, Dumelang, Sanibonani, Molweni, Good Afternoon, to each and every one of you. It is my pleasure to add my welcome to you today amongst the other voices.

Bishop Ebenezer and Mrs Noncendo Ntlali; Mr Maree, Chairman of Council and Mrs Sandy Maree; Members of Council and spouses; Members of Staff, Parents, Special Guests, and Boys of St Andrew’s College. It is truly great to have you here and I sincerely hope that you will enjoy the afternoon.

I should like to make special mention of Mr Jannie De Villiers, Mr Jakes Fredericks and Ms Jane Ritchie, close colleagues to St Andrew’s and the DSG. We have established a strong working relationship this year and I believe that our strength is in our close partnership. A special welcome to Mr Thulani Wana, Principal of The Good Shepherd School, we sincerely value our historic relationship with your school. We also welcome Mr Leon Grové of Kingswood College who has become an ally as we seek to ensure a brighter future for our town, and Mr Mzwandile Kleyi from Nathaniel Nyaluza with whom we have reestablished relationships.

Thank you to all our parents who have travelled to Makhanda to share this day with us, and in particular, all our over-border families who have made the journey from Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, and as far afield as Kenya and Uganda.

Jacko and the Matrics of 2023

Our Chairman, Jacko Maree, will be speaking after me. He and the Council understand this school and they are a major part of our success. The College Council has been reshaped significantly in the past twelve months and I would dare to suggest that there is hardly a more in-touch board in any school in the country. A good Council is the first block of making a good school. Thank you to each and every one of our Council Members.

We will also have a report from our Head of School this year: Sinjhun Cawse. Sinjhun is emblematic of the kind of transformative leadership we have seen this year, and he is likely to paint the year in your minds with broad brush strokes of emotion and feeling. He loves his school.

I have served in education for several years, and with 22 Matric classes as Headmaster or CEO, and each one has been unique and special. But, for one reason or another, there has never been a class like this one. To the men in our leaving class this year, I wish to thank you for the contributions that you have made to our school, but more particularly for the manner in which you have lived your lives, day in and day out, for the past five years. This has been a really good year for our school and that is tribute to your talent, hard work and common sense.

I hope that you will enjoy this last formal event of your school careers and the Retreat Ceremony that will follow back on Lower. The exams, which have already started for some, offer the prospect of the Class of 2023 recording the best ever results in the 168-year history of this school. Go to it and God Bless you all!

Our Class of 2023 is taking their leave of us, and they leave a strong and significant legacy. It is a time of change and mantles being passed down too. This is the time of the year when our Grade 11 Boys apply for leadership, test themselves, and allow themselves to be vulnerable. We announced our student leadership group last week and it is a strong one. Rev Wyngaard, Mr Motsepe and I conducted the interviews for Head of School two weeks ago, and we were excited by what we see before us.

Student leadership – agency and voice – is known to be the driving force behind many of the most successful schools in the world but getting it right can be hard. All too often, student leadership is, at best, token and, at worse, meaningless, and time-consuming. We are seeking to make it different and to ensure that it has real impact.

Some of the wisdom that was shared by our young leaders in those interviews included:

  • “At College, whoever you are, you can fit in.”
  • “When I say to my family that I am going home, they are so often surprised that I mean that I am coming back to College.”
  • “The role of Christianity at College is more powerful than boys believe.”
  • “Our best leaders here at College are always those who work from relationships.”
  • “The type of boys we acknowledge are the kind of boys we get, if we want our boys to be different, our forms and rituals of recognition must change.”
  • “What other boys’ school in the world has a DSG, what other girls’ school has a College?”
  • “Lessons I have learned here at College? Love, compassion, responsibility, forgiveness.”
  • “My friends here at College are going to be my friends for life.“

Mandela and the Foundation of our Spiritual Lives

Shortly before his passing, Nelson Mandela published a book called Conversations with Myself – which contains writings, reflections, letters, and other correspondence from his life in prison. This is an extract of a letter that Mandela wrote to his wife, Winnie, in 1975 – a husband’s letter to his wife and the mother of his young children, who had been torn away from her family to be dumped in a prison at Kroonstad.

Mandela wrote: “In judging our progress as individuals we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth, and standard of education. These are, of course, important in measuring one’s success in material matters and it is perfectly understandable if many people exert themselves mainly to achieve all these.

But internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being. Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve others – qualities which are within easy reach of every soul – are the foundation of one’s spiritual life.

Development in matters of this nature is inconceivable without serious introspection, without knowing yourself, your weaknesses, and mistakes…. Never forget that a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.”

Now, ladies and gentlemen and boys of St Andrews’, I don’t want to go too far with this metaphor, because I wouldn’t want any of us to think that attending St Andrew’s College is the same as being in prison, but this past year – in fact, these past two years – have been a period of fierce introspection for our school. I would suggest that those internal factors that Mandela holds up are exactly the same qualities that we aspire to here at St Andrew’s College. They are what sets us apart from the rest.

In my opinion, St Andrew’s College and the people in it are honest and sincere, in good times and bad; the school focuses on simplicity and considers humility to be one of the finest traits an Andrean can have; it celebrates and displays pure generosity, both within and without the school; we recognise that we are blessed and privileged but we are also proud of our absence of vanity and we focus on the real issues of human relationships; there is a real and ever-growing readiness to serve others. 2023 has been an honest and good year here. We have grown culturally, physically, emotionally, academically, and spiritually.

After a few really difficult years, we have built on what was achieved last year, consolidated in most respects, but we also laid down new road signs for the future. We are not nearly done on this journey, but I believe that we are certainly moving in the right direction.  

Over the past year we have reflected on what it is to be St Andrew’s College, what it means to be an Andrean, what is our ‘secret sauce’, it starts when we join, it starts properly when we leave, and it never ends. It is profoundly important. We have worked hard on this during the year, and we are convinced that our primary purpose is to build GOOD MEN.

Purpose Statement  

The statement that addresses our core ‘reason for being’.

 The team settled on the following words:   Growing boys into good men who have a positive impact on their world.

The Staff Team – the core of our success

All great schools rely on teachers and staff who understand their purpose.

We have not had many new staff this year, but there have been significant new appointments made recently. Kaamil Adams (Geography, Natural Science and Rowing Coach) and Shirley Ramsugit (Maths Literacy) joined us in August;  Nealynne Tarentaal joined as our Maintenance Manager and Sibongile Sithole joined us as our Travel Co-Ordinator. Each is a fine person, and our boys are already beginning to feel the benefit of their presence among us.

To each and every one of the current team – academic, administrative or support – I express my sincere thanks and appreciation for the work that you have done and continue to do. To our Executive Team of Graham Creese, Moeketsi Motsepe, Carol Muirhead, Harley Searle and to our Chaplain Richard Wyngaard, we could not survive without you. You are all simply marvellous – thank you!

Without doubt, our team this year has been strong – but I believe that we can be stronger still. We are in a process of restructuring roles in order to find optimal impact and benefit.

Staff Left or Staff leaving

But in all strong teams, there are comings and goings too.

Colleagues who have left the team this year include: Jabulani Maswanganyi, who had been our Operations Manager, Jerraleigh Kruger (Travel Co-ordinator), Megan Bryan (PA to the Business Manager), Mzuvukile Rasmeni (our effective and well-regarded Fleet Manager), Matthew King (Intern and Coach), Sino Bill (Receptionist), Johan Pretorius (HOD Music), Lukhanyo Tshongweni (Maths Lit) and Andrew Stuart-Watson who was a charismatic English teacher at College for seven years.

In June, Aidan Smith left College after a truly remarkable 23 years of service. In the pantheon of great teachers who have served College, Aidan will rank amongst the very best. Urbane, refined, and intelligent, he filled numerous roles within the school with distinction, not least his role last year of being our Interim Headmaster. Aidan’s farewell in June was suitably eclectic and the Common Room at the Norton Block has been rededicated in his name.

Patrick Gumunyu Director of Sport and Housemaster of Espin left us last month: he is a good and generous man, and his seven years of service was warm and sincere.

Andrew Royle, Director of Rugby, will be leaving us at the end of the year after a successful tenure in that role.

Also leaving at the end of the year are Gerry Posthumus (who will be returning to Cape Town), Judy Hoefnagels, (who will be joining her husband in George), and Annalie Hendrikz, (who will be retiring) – all who have been excellent professionals on our staff – solid, dependable, and true servants.

Lynne Mullins, our Admissions Manager, will be retiring after over two decades of warm and gracious service here. Lynne has been the person who has been a tower of comfort and strength for so many of our families.

You will hear in our academic planning report that we will changing the structure of our Grade 8 and Grade 9 offering. This will mean that Classical Civilisation, which was introduced during Antony Clark’s headmastership here, and which has been taught with dedication and love by Pepe Morton since its inception, will be coming to an end. Pepe has been a remarkable servant and friend of College. She is warm and loyal, and she has been a Godsend to many boys over the years. Pepe will no longer be teaching here next year, but we are discussing a possible new role for her.

We wish all of these good people well in their new seasons.

New Staff and New Roles in 2024

  • At the start of term Jess Fick moved from her PR and Admissions role at Prep to become Front Office Manager at College, where we are aiming to vastly improve our arrival and welcome facilities and approaches.
  • Matthew-Adam Bloem who has come through our Intern Programme at St Andrew’s Prep joined us during Ballon Week as a Teacher and Basketball/Rugby coach.
  • Mike Fennell will become Espin Housemaster, teach Mathematics, and also play a mentoring role for leadership development for staff. Mike is well known here and will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience.
  • René Barnardt has been part of the team, teaching Afrikaans on a part-time basis and her role will become full time.
  • Tracy Mackenzie has been appointed to the new role of Head of Wellness, a critical role in an increasingly complex world for our boys.
  • Carl Bradfield will become Director of Sport for the Combined Campuses of Top Prep and College, a big and expanded role that will necessitate him relinquishing the housemaster role at Mullins House.
  • Scott Jackson will become International Exchange Programme Manager with the intention of providing opportunities for as many as 40% of our Grade 10 boys to be able to experience life and culture in other schools around the world.
  • Vera Skae has been appointed to the new additional position Learning Support Teacher and will be a member of the Learning Support and Wellness teams. She will be primarily based at Prep.
  • Sashay Bates will assume the position of Admissions Manager after several years as assistant to Lynne.

We are currently in the final stages of selection for Deputy Head School Management and we will have the two or three other housemasterships to fill for 2024, with a number of strong internal candidates as well as experienced and capable outside applications.

So, the team is being augmented and reshaped and we will be aiming to have our people in places best suited to their skill sets and best placed for impact.

All of it will be focused on our purpose: Growing boys into good men who have a positive impact on their world.

 Leadership – Creating

Winston Churchill once defined leadership as “going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” I think that being the headmaster of this school, or being Chairman of Council, or being the Bishop of Grahamstown, is a bit like that. This is a creative school, with many creative beings. We know where we are going most of the time, but nothing undermines the creative process more than the naive belief that, once the vision is clear, it’s just a matter of implementation. In fact, moving from concept to manifestation is the heart of creating – which literally means “bringing into existence”.

And like a river’s path from the mountains to the sea, it is anything but a straight line. Instead, creating is a sort of dance between inspiration and experimentation. St Andrew’s College has not nearly become what it is destined to become – yet; has not nearly made the contribution that it is required to make – to the school community, the neighbourhood, and the country at large – yet.

It would seem to me that we will only find our true path to the sea by acting, by being involved, by engaging with the communities around us, by seeking partnerships with other schools, through exchanges of students and staff with schools around the world, and through research and collaboration with peers from around the world.

These acts have been taking place inside the school, in our city and across the globe. We have recommitted to the Makhanda Circle of Unity and to the St Andrew’s College Academy this year. In collaboration with Dr Ashley Westaway, CEO of GADRA, we have created a programme that will focus on Grade 10 and Grade 11 pupils from Khutliso, Nyaluza, Ntsika, Nombulelo, and Mary Waters. A decade ago, a mere two students from these five schools were admitted to 1st year undergraduate studies at Rhodes University, and this year that number has risen to 127 students. This is an astonishing improvement and a key element of that was mentoring of learners at this schools by Rhodes University students.

The one aspect that has still to be improved, however, is that only 2 of those 127 students were admitted into a mathematics or science course of study such as BPharm or BCom. Our place in the Makhanda education ecosystem through our revamped St Andrew’s College Academy, is to ensure that we can create a stream of students who will be strong in mathematics and physical science and who will be at the standard to be admitted to Rhodes and to succeed in their course of study.

Mark Carney

Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England, spoke at the Global Progress Action Summit in Montreal some three weeks ago. He spoke of the post-pandemic world we live in. We are all anxious, about affording our homes, worried about our children, and worried about education. The pandemic has left scars and a legacy of anxiety.

“People are worried about their identities. Following the divisiveness of the pandemic, people wonder what binds us together, what common responsibilities accompany universal rights and what are we trying to accomplish together.”

In a very real sense, we are engaged in the same kind of introspection here at St Andrew’s and among our family of schools. The purpose and mission of institutions and discipline to our country is as important now as it ever was, in fact possibly more so. This is why Council, Management, and Staff have given a lot of time to the task of defining our strategy.

The Andrean Survey conducted at the end of last year is a powerfully rich resource for us. The survey results have provided very useful input to a number of strategic workshops which have been held this year at which Council members, senior College and Prep staff members, and representatives of DSG and the Old Andrean Club, have discussed and agreed key strategic workstreams.

In summary, these strategic workstreams are:

  1. To provide world-class leadership and management and to ensure that the Senior Management Team of St Andrew’s College and Prep is accountable and responsible for all areas, and that it communicates effectively with the staff and the Andrean community.

The school’s organogram has been reworked, and new senior positions have been defined. The appointment of the Deputy Head (School Management) will be announced before the end of the Michaelmas Term.

  1. To ensure financial resilience and sustainability at St Andrew’s College and Prep.

Due to numerous factors, the schools are not currently at full capacity which has a direct impact on our bottom line. We need to increase income through higher pupil numbers and reduce costs to address the current operating deficit, and significant work is being undertaken in both of these areas.

We are grateful to our donors who continue to support our schools and are delighted to have received two significant contributions towards the support of both scholarships and bursaries this year, among many other donations. Creating endowment is a key priority for if we had more invested, we would be able to give many more talented boys the opportunity to thrive in our school.

  1. To offer a safe and inclusive environment for all and to ensure that every boy, family, and staff member feels welcome at St Andrew’s College and Prep. To commit to diversity of all kinds and at all levels so as to create a positive school culture.

Under the leadership of Moeketsi Motsepe, a strategy to address six pillars of transformation, diversity and inclusion has been defined. The vision is to improve our institutional diversity so that people with differing opinions, social experiences, heritages, and life experiences may enhance the pupils’ experience at school.   Craig Hatches has also stepped up to work alongside Moeketsi in rolling out our TDI strategy, with the next event planned for 12 October.

  1. To develop a world class Boarder Promise to ensure that College and Prep provide the very best boarding experience.

We want boys in our houses to sleep, play, interact and be off social media. For 2024 we will be introducing a new system to limit boys access to smart phones. The Yondr pouch is a product that can store a boys’ phone throughout the day and in the sleeping hours and can only be unlocked through a magnet system. We will be sending parents and boys more information on this before the end of this month. We believe that this will be a strong contributor to more sleep, less distraction, better performance, and lower anxiety.

Our housemasters are the heartbeat of our school, and they are a team that is currently in transition. The Boarder Promise seeks to pull all six housemasters together, so while each house will have its own ethos, there must still be the same levels of care, the same sense of belonging and the same approaches to discipline and routines. Under Harley Searle, we have made strides in this area in the current year, but there is much more work to be done. The essential role of the Tutor is being debated and developed among staff at present. The role of the Tutor will become more prominent. The same applies to our Matrons.

Expect to hear more from us on this before the end of the year.

  1. To develop a leading academic programme that will be competitive at both national and international levels. This will include the attraction and retention of talented teachers, taking regional trends and opportunities into account, and the introduction of best practice at all academic levels from Pre-Primary to A Levels.

Our primary focus continues to be on building and enhancing the academic mindset of our boys and supporting them to achieve to the best of their academic ability. This is framed by the five primary drivers of intrinsic motivation: success, routine, norms, belonging, and buy-in. We have been delighted to see a noticeable improvement in the application by our boys to their academics in the past year, with the boys producing the best application marks since we moved to the “L, O, P, R” system in 2012.

The introduction of the Academic Red List, a targeted intervention to push underperforming boys to improve their application to their academics, was an important and successful initiative. The Academic Development Tutors have also played their part in monitoring and guiding boys of academic concern, and in 2024, we will be looking to build in the successful introduction of this extra layer of academic support.

The SAL program in Grade 8 and 9 has been reviewed and we believe it has run its course. It will be replaced with enrichment and extension classes in Mathematics, English and Afrikaans in 2024, along with a short course in conversational isiXhosa for all Grade 8s to ensure that they have suitable exposure to the primary South African language in our region. This will also open up opportunities for us to build a more integrated timetable for 2024, with these extension and enrichment lessons moving to the afternoons to accommodate some sport in the mornings — with some changes planned for 2024, including the integration of some extension activities.

The structure of the A Levels offering has been tweaked by HOD, Louella Sullivan, with Psychology being offered as a subject for the first time in 2024, and the early start to A Levels in October of the Grade 10 year proving to be a successful innovation. We are on track to write off the IEB Further Studies Mathematics (Standard) exams in May, rather than October, which should allow our pupils to give them their best effort. We are also in the process of preparing to introduce Further Studies Physics in the next year.

We are working closely with St Andrew’s Prep to align our teaching philosophies and curricula. Our other major focus is on Learning Support. We have reorganised our Learning Support structures, with a permanent position created at St Andrew’s Prep, starting immediately, which reports directly to our Learning Support Specialist, Ms Sue Davis. Our aim is to streamline and improve our Learning Support across the greater campus from Grade 1 to Grade 12 for neurodiverse and special needs learners, to ensure that we are fully inclusive and offer world-class learning support.

  1. To devise and implement an effective marketing model to ensure that College, Prep and DSG identify, attract, admit, and retain families who match our ethos and values.

Marketing is relational. We firmly believe that there are many more boys who would thrive in our school. But we need to reset our marketing in such a way that our unique strengths are at the fore and that we use our boys far more in our engagement with prospective families. The Marketing Portfolio within the Leadership Team of 2024 is strong and ambitious, and we expect to have a much stronger connection with families who meet us or visit us through that.

We will be announcing a new Strategic Marketing appointment within the next week, and we will be building on our concept of marketing ambassadors in various cities and regions within the country and throughout the continent. All of this will be done working very closely with the DSG.

  1. To embrace our model with DSG to ensure the optimal utilisation of resources and expertise across all campuses.

To this end, we have instituted a high-level governance structure between St Andrew’s College and DSG where key initiatives that affect both schools can be effectively addressed. We are confident that this initiative will result in several additional joint partnerships, leading to improved processes and economies of scale.

At management level, we have established a harmonious working relationship between College and DSG this year. We are thinking alike and thinking of each other when we make decisions. The Safeguarding Policy was devised by both schools and approved by both Councils earlier this year: that means that the same levels of care and safeguarding apply on both campuses. We are doing the same with our Discipline Codes and all related policies. These combined schools’ workstreams have been exciting and productive and will surely remain part of our culture.

The Andrean Survey showed that our boys would like to do more with the DSG and this year we have definitely moved in the right direction. So many of our families have children in both schools, so it makes sense that we should align and share as much as possible, while still retaining our own unique character and strengths.

  1. To become an exemplary institution in terms of safeguarding

The safeguarding of the College and Prep boys continues to be a priority at both Council and school level, and several initiatives have been implemented during the course of the year.

As our duty of care is such a critical element in our offering, James Clucas and Lindy Sutherland were appointed as the Safeguarding Leads on Council. They are responsible for overseeing the numerous elements of safeguarding at College and Prep, and work closely with Moeketsi Motsepe, Harley Searle and other members of the Senior Management Team.

Safeguarding is a focus area for schools globally. College subscribes to the six, internationally accepted safeguarding principles that set the global standard we aspire to. These are: empowerment, prevention, protection, proportionality, partnerships, and accountability.  We have several key stakeholder groups in our school community that are accountable to certain safeguarding roles and responsibilities that will ensure we integrate these core safeguarding principles into daily school life and achieve the highest level of care for each child.

College is aware that safeguarding has no finish line. It is a journey and, as we progress, learn, and implement strategies and policies, it is critical that we take time to regularly reflect, review and, if need be, refocus, to ensure that we preserve the best of our schools while creating a safe and vibrant learning and living environment for our learners and staff.

A considerable amount of work has been done over the past eighteen months on our safeguarding policy. It started with an extensive research project concluded predominantly by Margie Keaton, Moeketsi Motsepe and Harley Searle. This research laid the foundation for the first draft of our policy document which was used to engage with professional safeguarding consultants. At the start of this year, a joint College and DSG Working Committee aligned the safeguarding policies for the two schools, and these were approved by the respective Councils in March.

Work has also been initiated on the sub-policies that feed into the safeguarding policy to ensure that there is consistency and attention to detail in the areas of potential risk. Additionally, all policy documents that have an overlap with safeguarding are under review to ensure that these policies are also consistent with the Safeguarding Policy. We are aiming for the sub-policies to be approved by Council in the March 2024 meeting.

We are equally aware that there is an important practical training, awareness and implementation process that must take place alongside this refinement of policies. In this light we would like to bring to your attention to what has transpired over the past terms:

  • 2023 – Council Members have received training through Guardian.
  • Boys have received training on awareness with regards to sexual grooming (The Guardian 2023, Safeguarding team 2022)
  • 2023 – Grade 8 training and induction on the Guardian App.
  • 2023 – Grade 9s received lessons on what constituted abuse (of any nature).
  • Harley Searle and Lindy Sutherland worked with the senior boys on mentorship for safety and safeguarding within the boarding houses. (2022-2023)
  • Moeketsi Motsepe worked with the prefects on safeguarding and the principles of safeguarding (2022)
  • SACE training has taken place amongst the staff of DSG, Prep and College. (2022)
  • Staff training from Shaheda Omar of the Teddy Bear Clinic on identifying abuse and reporting of an incident. (2023)
  • There has been staff training on integrating the six pillars of safeguarding into annual learner induction and the tutor programme. (2023)
  • The current grade 12 leaders have done excellent work under the guidance of the housemasters to shift harmful initiation traditions to meaningful and healthy rites of passage. (2023)
  • There is daily work taking place to shift the culture away from a code of silence towards safe, proactive communication.

School Culture

Willard Waller, writing in 1932: “All schools have distinctive cultures that are definitely their own. There are, in the school, complex rituals of personal relationships, a set of mores, folkways, and irrational sanctions, a moral code based upon them. There are games, teams and an elaborate set of ceremonies concerning them. There are traditions and traditionalists waging their world-old battles against innovators”. His observations are still relevant today.

In the past few years, we have been challenged to reconsider our culture. Culture could be considered to be a pattern of basic assumptions – invented, discovered or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with problems – that has worked well enough to be considered valid and therefore to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems. Shaping the culture is one of the most important things that any school leader must attend to. And sometimes cultures can become warped and resistant to correction.

Research on professional learning communities reinforces the centrality of cultural elements in school success, including:

  • A shared sense of purpose
  • Teacher and Student involvement and agency in decision-making
  • Professional learning by staff
  • A sense of joint responsibility for student learning.

Although it may not be apparent at all times, I have no doubt that we have made progress in all of these areas this year. The challenge now is to consolidate the gains this year and to build an ever more extraordinary school.

Our past, our duty, our roots

When Bishop John Armstrong founded St Andrew’s College in 1855, he declared that the objective of the school should be threefold:

  1. To provide a sound Christian education for the youth of the province according to the principles of the Church of England.
  2. To furnish the means of training men for Holy Orders.
  3. To form a centre from which the missionary operations may be carried on more effectually.

For several decades, St Andrew’s College was an education and training centre for all the people of the town and the region, white and black.  This was an affront to the townsfolk, so much so that in 1877 there was a protest outside what is today Upper House at the fact that the church was creating this space in which all races mixed and were developed. It wasn’t until late in the 19th century that St Andrew’s lost this multicultural component, and it would be another 80 years before we would bring it back.

Two weeks ago, I had the honour of visiting the Memorial Chapel at what was St Augustine’s Seminary at Canterbury in England. On the walls of that chapel are the names of men of all races who did their initial training here and were then sent to Canterbury for preparation for ministry. These names echo through the ages:

  • Robert Mullins
  • Revd Stephen Mzamane – first educated at the Anglican College in Grahamstown (now part of Graham House), Stephen was sent to England in 1869 for training at the Missionary College in Canterbury. But on his return to South Africa, relegated to a dilapidated mission near Fort Beaufort, he had to confront not only the prejudices of a colonial society but the discrimination within the Church itself. Stephen’s story is beautifully told in Marguerite Poland’s A Sin of Omission.
  • The Revd Jonas Ntsiko went from here to Canterbury in 1857 and would go on to become one of the first Xhosa intellectuals to challenge coloniality. He later left the church and became a poet and philosopher writing under the pseudonym ‘Hadi Waseluhlangeni’.

Our 175th anniversary will be celebrated in 2030, just six years away. We will come through all this media scrutiny and be much stronger for it, we will rediscover our founding purpose and DNA, we will seek to reconnect with the descendants of the African men and women who were trained at the Anglican Institute in those early decades of our existence. There are thousands of men and women and boys and girls in the Eastern Cape who don’t yet know that they are part of us, and we are part of them.

St Andrew’s College does not need to invent a new narrative in order for us to Be an Extraordinary African Boarding School, for we already are extraordinary. What we need to do is to reconnect with our founding purpose.

In a small way, this is being lived out through the Matric Gift this year.

Our Class of 2023 have shown ambition and a keen sense of our heritage, our privilege, and our responsibility. Their Matric Gift is in two parts:

  • To install a solar power system at Good Shepherd School, that will allow their IT Room to overcome interruption due to loadshedding and disruption, so that that very special school can continue to be a beacon of excellence for educating the African child. … And
  • To install a solar lighting system that will light up the Clocktower, so that it may be illuminated at all times, reminding us of our calling to be a beacon of development and upliftment for the whole Makhanda community and our hinterland, and also to show our neighbours that we intend to be that beacon of light and hope for them.

I have gone on too long, but, in conclusion, this has been a year of surprises and revelations, a year of goodness and solid values. We have done much and for that we thank God.

Thank you for allowing me the honour of addressing you.

Tom Hamilton

2 October 2023