Inanda Seminary, founded by the American Board of Missions (ABM) in 1869 forms an integral part of the history of Inanda. Situated 25 kilometres north west of Durban, it became the first secondary school exclusively for African girls in southern Africa. Its reputation grew rapidly and the school soon attracted students from across the continent.
The Rev. Daniel Lindley and his wife, Lucy, came to South Africa in 1835, as one of six couples sent by the ABM to start mission work in the country. Working at first in what is today the North-West Province, the Lindleys joined the Grout and Champion families who had opened ABM stations in Natal. By 1847 the Lindleys had established themselves near Chief Mqhawe’s kraal in the Inanda area to work among the Ngcobo people who had been dispossessed of their land and threatened with massacre by King Dingane’s impis. Other Zulu clans also moved into the area and were settled in “reserves” that extended from the Tugela River in the north to the Umzimkulu River in the south under the protection of the colonial government.
Daniel and Lucy Lindley and their 11 children moved onto the Inanda Mission in 1858. The mission house, still standing and currently used as the Seminary’s general office, was built by Daniel Lindley with home-burned bricks. In 1869 they opened a school to train girls to be teachers and “good wives” for the young men being trained at Adams College in Amanzimtoti. The AMB voted 50 pounds to the project and Inanda Seminary opened as a boarding school with 19 girls being admitted initially. Mary Kelly Edwards, a 40-year-old widow from Ohio, was appointed as the first principal of the Inanda Seminary, continuing her association with the school until she died at the age of ninety-eight.