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The Life of James Stewart
The Central Native College

Dr. Stewart’s Last Message to the Missionaries—His Private Statement about the Native College—The Present Position of the College.

‘It is better to Christianise the Africans than to crush them. It is better to educate than to exterminate them. And the day is coming, whether we live to see it or not, when even the Dark Continent shall have its Native Universities. ‘—Dr. Stewart in 1878.

A FEW weeks before his death Dr. Stewart dictated this message to the missionaries of all the Churches:—

‘DEAR SIR,—The recommendation of the recent Inter-Colonial Native Affairs Commission with regard to the establishment of a central Native College aided by the various States for training native teachers, and in order to afford opportunities for higher education to native students, has, no doubt, occupied your thoughts. As the proposal is being discussed by natives all over the country, and in view of any action the Governments may take to give practical effect to the recommendation, it seems well that expression should be given to the opinion of missionaries and especially of those directly connected with the education of the more advanced native students.

‘I therefore write to you, and to other European missionaries, to ask you to assist in carrying out this scheme for the advancement of native education throughout South Africa, that we, by co-operation with one another, and co-operation with the Governments, may ensure the missionary and inter-denominational character of the proposed College.

‘Owing to my ill-health, I fear very much I could not attend any meeting which might be convened for the purpose of discussing the matter and of uniting in some one line of policy, but my views on the subject can be condensed into a short written statement, and a member of my staff would represent me. - Believe me to be, yours sincerely,


From his death-bed he sent the following statement to his Committee in Edinburgh. It will be appreciated by all who are interested in Native Education


‘The Report of the recent Inter-Colonial Native Affairs Commission contains the recommendation that a Central College should be established to provide higher education for the natives. Further, it has been officially recommended by the Education Advisor to the High Commissioner that the claims of Lovedale to become this College should be considered; and the lines on which this College should be constituted with regard to finance, control, and curriculum, have also been outlined by Mr. E. B. Sargant in his Report to Lord Milner.

‘In view of the possibility of conflicting opinions being expressed by missionaries during the discussion of these proposals both in this country and in Scotland, I would not like any doubt to exist as to my attitude towards the question and my earnest hope for the future development of Lovedale, and so have thought fit to express these in a written statement. This is all the more necessary as my ill-health prevents me from taking as active a share as I would have liked in furthering the proposals.

‘The statement following may therefore be considered as my own personal judgment based on experience, and gradually arrived at after many years.

‘Before the year 1880 I recognised that if the desire for education on the part of the natives continued to grow at the existing rate, sooner or later it would be necessary to provide them with higher training than was then available; and to meet what was coming I endeavoured so to shape the policy of Lovedale that the expansion of its work would follow naturally, both as regards numbers and scope, on the need being felt. In brief, I had formed the idea, expressed at the London Missionary Conference in 1882, that Love-dale should become the future Native Christian University of South Africa. And with this end always kept in view we have not confined ourselves to any one department of instruction or to any one native tribe, or to any one religious denomination.

‘It is necessary to mention here that another ideal for the future of Lovedale has been and is held by some. It may be described as the official view of the Cape Education Department, which would like to see Lovedale become a large institution exclusively devoted to training Cape Colony youths as teachers for the schools of Cape Colony. The wide distinction between these two ideas will be recognised at once, and remembered.

‘It is therefore hardly necessary to say that the recommendations of the Native Affairs Commission, and the further proposal of Mr. E. B. Sargent that a native College should be established which would embrace all British South Africa and invite the co-operation of all Protestant Christian denominations, not only meets my whole-hearted approval, but is to my mind the natural result of a careful study of educational progress among the natives, combined with the statesmanlike recognition of their desires and potential capabilities. it would be a realisation of my hopes for Lovedale, and I cannot but see in its inception the possible workings of Providence.

‘Without committing myself with unqualified approval to all the details of the scheme suggested by Mr. Sargent and those working with him, I will indicate broadly what I consider would be essential to the success of such a College as has been proposed.


‘With regard to control or administration, the three parties most interested in the matter, the Governments, missionaries, and natives, should be represented on any councils or boards, constituted to guide the policy and conduct the management of the College. The denominational house system, by which all the Protestant Churches working among natives would have the boarding and care of their respective students, would ensure the missionary and pan-denominational character of the College, and, provided men of moderate views were in charge of the various hostels, should not prove unworkable. Means should also be taken to ensure the appointment to teaching posts of men of high character and religious earnestness.


‘The natives and their friends should be prepared to raise in part or in whole the sum necessary for the purchase of Lovedale, and the Governments should guarantee in perpetuity towards the maintenance of the College an annual sum of not less than £10,000. The various Churches should establish and maintain their own hostels, college fees covering the cost of the boarding of students. Representation should bear some proportion to the amounts contributed by each of the several states and by the churches and natives respectively.


‘In the present stage of native education it is impossible to lay down definitely, or in detail, the lines on which the curriculum should be finally drawn up; that must be left to educational experts, whose views will probably be modified by experience. At the same time, opportunity should be given natives of being trained as ministers, teachers, hospital assistants, and law interpreters. One thing may be said with certainty, that unless a course is framed capable of development to a standard equivalent to a degree course in a British University, and in time justifying the conferring on the students of a degree, this College will not fulfil the expectations of the natives, nor check the exodus to America. Minor points may safely be left to the decision of a Council representative of the Governments, and the missionaries themselves.


‘Oct. 30, 1905.’

The scheme for the Native College seems to be making satisfactory progress. The site is to be at Fort Hare, on the mission lands, on the east side of the Tyumie, and about a mile from Lovedale.

Several of the tribes are redeeming their promises by raising large sums of money. Religious training will be secured for all the students through hostels presided over by ordained men specially chosen for the work. The pupils are to receive industrial training at every stage in their course.

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