Our School

The schools motto ‘Arise and Shine’ was instilled in the students and they were greatly inspired to be the best they could be.


Adams College is a public school situated in Adams Mission which is 8km inland from Amanzimtoti and 35km 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.

History & Naming

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 1930s. 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.

Arise and Shine

The schools motto ‘Arise and Shine’ was instilled in the students and they were greatly inspired to be the best they could be. ‘The reason why many of them are shinning where they are today is because they have unconsciously or indirectly made this motto a part of their lives” says Mrs Mstahali (A teacher between 1930s and 1950s)
There are many examples of how this motto had a great influence on the thinking of the students. One student wrote an article in the school magazine entitled ‘Arise and Shine’ and suggested that one must not forget the message of the motto,” which places great responsibility of every member of the college. In fact it is a command we should willingly obey if we wish to shine”. The student implores fellow students to make use of all the activities at the college in which they can arise and shine.

Our Motto inspires our students

One of our students with a strong belief in the potential of the motto and in the positive role of Christianity wrote, ” Our motto here is ‘Arise and Shine’. If we are to shine at all, we have to see that we love others and sympathies with them, irrespective of race, colour and so on. Trusting in God we should do right”. These students revealing signs of hopefulness due to their belief in a positive future (a product of a strong religious education and reassurance of gradual assimilation) strove forward with determination.
One pupil encouraged his fellow students to: Be optimistic, look to the end, imagine yourself done with your difficult and fancy what pleasure you will receive after your sweating. Then I am sure you will go through thick and thin for the achievement of any of your undertakings because you will have known that PERSEVERANCE PREVAILS.

Our Heritage

King Shaka once stopped to drink from the river that flows not far from Adams College. He called the water “sweet” to the taste, using a Zulu word that would come to be Amanzimtoti, where our school has stood for 160 years. Celebrating our heritage is to taste the sweetness again. 

We are a school of many inspirational firsts: the first in the region to teach math and science to Africans, to offer co-education (as early as 1910), provide matric to Africans (1931), hire black teachers and promote them, and to emphasize the role of sports and the arts in a well-rounded education. Adams College has produced a galaxy of African leaders and icons that have helped liberate and develop southern Africa.

Truly our alumni are a role call of excellence in leadership and achievement. Minister of Arts & Culture, Paul Mashatile, recently called upon all South Africans to “preserve and promote” the heritage of this great school for ours is a proud African institution, fostering excellence and achievement throughout the sub-continent. Such cross-border influence, impacting the history of nations, is unprecedented for a little mission school founded 160 years ago in Amanzimtoti.

Academic Significance

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.

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.

More about how Adams College was founded

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 endeavour. 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.

News and Events


Past Students

Past Students

Become Part of the Adams College Past Students Network (ACPSN) Submit your information in the form below and become part of the Adams College Past Students Network. We are bringing together alumni of Adams College to tell the story of this great institution’s history...

Thank you Adams College Ambassador

Thank you Adams College Ambassador

Thank you Adams College Ambassador Adams College will never be the same again…. thank you Adams College Ambassador and former student, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma; Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the leadership of our Principal Mr Thulani Khumalo and SGB with the...

Adams College commemorates 160 years

Adams College commemorates 160 years

Adams College commemorates 160 years Adams College will celebrate its 160th anniversary with a number of events. FOR its 160 year celebration, Adams College in Adams Mission will host a number of events leading up to its main fundraising event, starting with a gala...