President Jacob Zuma
President Jacob Zuma asked a crowd gathered at Adams College on Thursday whether the school, which has produced four African National Congress (ANC) presidents, would make history once again. ANC presidential candidate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is a former pupil at the school.
Addressing the audience, Zuma said when he was on his way to the historic school, south of Durban, on Wednesday, someone had put the same question to him.
"That somebody knew there was somebody who is an ambassador of the school," he said referring to new member of Parliament and ANC national executive committee member Dlamini-Zuma.
"That somebody asked: 'Is Adams going to make history in a few months' time?' I said what are you talking about? I couldn't answer that question, but Adams College being Adams College, who knows?" Zuma said to loud cheers from the crowd.
He was at the high school to officially open a block of 10 recently built classrooms.
Dlamini-Zuma is one of the front runners to succeed Zuma when his tenure as ANC president comes to an end in December.
Contribution to the continent
Is it possible that Adams College could make history yet again? Zuma asked the audience that filled the school's hall.
"Yes, next president," the crowd shouted in answer.
"I don't know," said a laughing Zuma.
The school has produced four ANC presidents since it was established in 1853.
Former ANC presidents John Langalibalele Dube, JT Gumede, Pixley KaIsaka Seme and Chief Albert Luthuli were all pupils at the school.
"Not only is Adams College the only school in South Africa to have produced four ANC presidents, but the school has also produced many other well-known and successful African leaders who have made significant contributions on the African continent," said Zuma.
It produced the first two black attorneys-general of African states, Herbert Chitepo of Zimbabwe and Charles Njonjo of Kenya.
"It was one of the first schools in the country for black learners, in fact it is the second oldest educational establishment for black learners in the country," Zuma said.
Ahead of its time
He said the school was not only an institution of excellence but also an institution of presidents.
"It was an institution that was ahead of its time as it recognised the potential of the girl child as early as 1910 and became the first institution to introduce co-education, or the education of pupils of both sexes," he said.
The school was also the first to teach mathematics and science to black pupils when others denied them this right, said Zuma.
"It produced the first black chief justice of this country – Justice Pius Langa," he said.
In her address Dlamini-Zuma criticised those who burn schools during service delivery protests.
"During apartheid we struggled but we never burnt anything because we knew students needed to study. The culture of destroying something when you need something else is alien and needs to stop. Education can assist us bridge the inequality gap in South Africa," she said.
She encouraged pupils at the school to work towards returning the school to its "former glory".
"Education can liberate you and your family from poverty," she said.
Among the dignitaries who attended the ceremony were IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who also studied at the school, and former US ambassador to the UN and civil rights activist Andrew J Young.