Desmond Makhanya: 14 September 1935 – 16 July 2016

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of 2013 eThekwini Living Legend, Desmond Makhanya.  Makhanya, who was born near Adam’s Mission in 1935, passed away on Saturday, at the age of 80. He is survived by his wife, five children and five grandchildren. His body will be laid to rest at Adams Mission tomorrow, the 23rd July 2016.

At age seven Desmond Makhanya began school in the infants section of Adams College, the fourth generation in his family to do so. He remained at the college until he matriculated in 1954, and had an ongoing affiliation with the famous institution of learning throughout his life, serving on the governing body from 1999-2006. As the self-appointed college historian Makhanya was widely recognised as ‘the living memory of Adams College’.

After school, he worked at McCord’s Hospital for three years and then attended Fort Cox Agricultural College in the Eastern Cape from 1958-1960. He worked at the SAPPI SAICCOR Mill in Umkomaas in various positions from 1961-1989.

Desmond Makhanya began writing his history of Adams College in 1998, using reference materials from the Killie Campbell Africana Library to substantiate his own experiences, as well as that of the oral histories he had collected over the years. The manuscript, as yet unpublished, sketches a chronological history of Adams Mission and the later Adams College, from the arrival of missionaries in 1835, to 2003. It is peppered with Makhanya’s personal anecdotes, memories and details of past events.

In as much as Desmond Makhanya documented the historical developments brought by missionary ideas and the efforts of his ancestors, he was also concerned with development in the present. Makhanya described his work as ‘community development’. His work with the MEC for Health and local amakhosi was aimed at alleviating poverty through food production – these projects included a food growing programme and a ‘pigs and poultry’ programme whereby people would rear the animals and can keep the offspring.

Ethekwini Municipality would like to extend our deepest condolences to Desmond Makhanya’s family and friends. May his soul rest in peace.

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