University of Fort Hare

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University of Fort Hare
motto Together in excellence
founding 1916
Sponsorship state
place Alice
country South Africa
Vice Chancellor Sakhela Buhlungu
Old building from the fort on the Fort Hare University campus
Fort Hare University, administration building on campus
Fort Hare University, library building
Fort Hare University, student residence
Sibusiso MB Bengu

The University of Fort Hare (English: University of Fort Hare , UFH or Forte for short ), founded in 1916 as a college in Alice , is located in the South African province of Eastern Cape and was the only higher education institution for black Africans in South Africa until the 1960s.

One of the first professors was Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu , who taught isiXhosa , Latin, history and anthropology there. Among the most famous students of this university are the freedom fighter and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela and one of his most important colleagues, Oliver Reginald Tambo , who acquired legal knowledge there, as well as Kenneth Kaunda and Mangosuthu Buthelezi .

Name and story

The Fort Hare

The name Fort Hare refers to the former border fortifications in the border wars of the 19th century. Colonel John Hare, Lieutenant Governor of the Cape Colony in the 1840s, had a fortification built on the edge of the Alice settlement in 1846.

Precursors and early stages

In the region around Alice, the first educational activities for the Xhosa population developed in the first half of the 19th century . For this purpose, Presbyterian mission schools were established in Tyhume, Lovedale (now Alice) and Burnshill. The Lovedale College achieved particular fame . This training center began its work in 1820 in the valley region of the Tyhume River in the foothills of the Amathole Mountains . Missionaries began training people from the circle of the Xhosa people to become teachers and clergy at this location. In the course of further successful developments, students from other African peoples and tribes, such as the Zulu , Barolong , Tonga , Fingoe and Galla, as well as from families of European descent were added.

In addition to Reverend John Love in Glasgow, the local Scottish clergy John Ross and John Bennie played a leading role in setting up the mission school . However, this facility was destroyed during the 6th Front War and opened in 1841 as the Lovedale Missionary Institute under the direction of Edward Govan north of Alice on the initiative of the Glasgow Missionary Society . After his term of office, Reverend James Stewart (1831–1905) took over the management and, as a staunch advocate of the principle of equality between people, considerably expanded the school entrusted to him. During this time, a separate training area for girls and young women from the Xhosa and other African ethnic groups was created, to which Jane Elizabeth Waterston and Ms. MC Muirhead played a significant role.

In 1905 a discussion began in King William's Town about the establishment of a higher education institution for the black African population in the east of the Cape Colony. More than ten years later, in February 1916, by order of Prime Minister General Louis Botha, the South African Native College was opened under the direction of Alexander Kerr . For this purpose, the ruins and still existing facilities of the former fort near Alice could be usefully integrated. The first lecturers at the new school were Alexander Kerr and Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu .

In 1923, the Higher Education Act No. 30 the status of an institution for higher education ("college"). Nevertheless, the people studying here remained external students at the University of South Africa (UNISA), a federally organized university with several colleges in the country. The South African Native College in Fort Hare was not an affiliated institution ( Constituent College ) at this time . To ensure the recognition of the degrees, five representatives from Fort Hare had to be elected to the Senate of the University of South Africa and reassigned annually.

The later lecturer and principal Zachariah Keodirelang Matthews was the first black African to acquire a degree ( Bachelor of Arts ) at the University of South Africa in 1924 . In 1936 he took over the teaching position in Fort Hare for anthropology , Bantu law and Bantu administration. On March 16, 1940, Emperor Daliwonga Matanzima received his bachelor's degree in the same subjects.

Funding for the South African Native College buildings that had been built so far came from various domestic and foreign sources. Funders for the construction of educational buildings have included the United Transkeian Territories General Council , the United Free Church of Scotland , the South African government, the Chamber of Mines and other institutions. Church donors such as the Wesleyan , Presbyterian and Anglican Churches provided financing for the construction and maintenance of the accommodation . US and Canadian branches of the Young Men's Christian Association supported the Christian Union Building .

Time after 1945

Alexander Kerr retired from running the college in 1948. Clifford Dent subsequently took over his office. In 1950, when Gideon Brand van Zyl , the governor-general of the Union of South Africa , visited a student campus boycott to protest against apartheid conditions in general and the educational disadvantage in the country that was associated with it. As a result, Mangosuthu Buthelezi and other politically active students were de-registered.

As a result of the Rhodes University Act passed in 1949 , the college was affiliated with Rhodes University in Grahamstown in March 1951 . This meant that the students had to take the same exams as in Grahamstown. With the approval of the Department of Education, Arts and Science , the South African Native College was renamed from Fort Hare to University College of Fort Hare without changing its status. When the government set up a special commission for university policy under the direction of JE Holloway in 1954, the framework conditions for higher education among black and colored South Africans changed fundamentally as a result of their reports. In this way, the guidelines of the apartheid doctrine began to work in the higher education sector. With the Universities Act ( Act No. 61/1955 ) of 1955, the government reorganized the legal framework for universities in the country. In this context, Fort Hare received its official admission to the group of universities in South Africa, since an educational career separated into “white” and “black” was sought. In 1955, Zachariah Keodirelang Matthews took over the role of principal after a successful election, but was arrested the following year on political pretexts. Until 1958 he remained in custody as part of the Treason Trial and then returned to Fort Hare as Vice-Principal . In the same year Harry Raymond Burrows became the new principal of the university.

After the legislative-driven segregation in higher education with the Extension of University Education Act ( Act No. 45/1959 ) in 1959, the specific University College of Fort Hare Transfer Act ( Act No. 64/1959 ) of the same year the university has actually been transferred to a UNISA college. The exams, academic degrees, diplomas and certificates have thus been declared legal acts of UNISA. Enrolled students who were entitled to continue their studies and test preparation through their interim results were allowed to take their exams at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. The South African government thus placed the university under its direct authority. In concrete terms, this step had the effect that the South African Governor General placed the university under the control of the Minister of Bantu Education . Their independence was now lost and the process of nationalization was complete. All of the facility's financial and tangible assets have been added to the Bantu Education Account , the financial management of the Department of Bantu Administration .

These changes resulted in the resignation of many important members of the faculty. Zachariah Keodirelang Matthews then retired early. In the wake of these changes, Principal Burrow was fired at government instigation. With effect from 1 January 1960, the South African government transferred the administration of the university on the general basis of the Bantu Education Act the responsibility of the Department of Bantu Education (State Agency on educational issues of the black population in South Africa).

The Deputy Minister of Bantu Administration and Development reported in 1966 in Parliament on government spending relative to the higher education institutions for blacks since its acquisition in 1959. As a result, Fort Hare was during this period the largest share with 4,178,000 Edge . The College of the North followed with R4.150 million and the College of Zululand received R3.335 million . In this regard, a report of the Controller and Auditor-General ( Report of the Controller and Auditor-General ) found that a 1964 black student had a cost of R2145 at University College Fort Hare , R1221 at College of the North and R1667 Rand were expended at the College of Zululand . In contrast, according to this report, there were 483 rand for students at “white” universities.

When JM de Wet (member of the Afrikaner Broederbond , previously professor at Potchefstroom University ) was inaugurated as the successor to Rector JJ Ross (employee of SABRA ), there were renewed student protests in 1968. During this time academic positions in Fort Hare were preferably filled with people from the circle of Afrikaans , with the Department of Bantu Education exerting influence . Further student protests against apartheid policy followed in the 1970s. In 1976, in the wake of the Soweto uprising , the university ceased operations for a few months.

Due to the aggravated living conditions among the black South African population, the ANC decided to set up a multi-part educational institution abroad. Tanzania offered itself and the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO) education camp was set up in the farm settlements of Mazimbu and later in Dakawa near the city of Morogoro . In this way, many political leaders of African independence movements, primarily from southern Africa, received training in Tanzania between 1978 and 1992. The SOMAFCO camp provided a kindergarten, elementary and secondary school for the children of the student parents. Nonetheless, some teachers tried to keep the work at Fort Hare.

In 1987, Govan Mbeki after his release from Robben Iceland to Chancellor appointed the university. He held this office until 1999.

Post apartheid period

In connection with the political changes in South Africa during the reign of Frederik Willem de Klerk , the apartheid administration in Fort Hare ended in 1990. Sibusiso Bengu became the first black African principal at Fort Hare University. He was succeeded by Mbulelo Mzamane in 1994 when Sibusiso Bengu took over the leadership of the Ministry of Education in the new South African government. In 2000, the university developed a strategic plan that provided for the division into five faculties. A year later, the institution honored the life and work of Zachariah Keodirelang Matthews with a festive act and a publication. South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki gave a solemn address at the ceremony.


Fort Hare University is on the outskirts of the small town of Alice, in the area of ​​the former homeland of Ciskei . The place is in the foothills of the Amathole Mountains and about 50 kilometers west of King William's Town . The campus is clearly separated from the urban settlement, has a guarded main entrance and its own road system. The buildings of the former fort were supplemented with new functional complexes and student dormitories in the second half of the 20th century. Today there is a modern campus with extensive green spaces.

In addition to the main campus in Alice, the University of Fort Hare has two other branches. These are the East London Campus on Church Street in East London and the Bhisho Campus on Independence Avenue in Bhisho near King William's Town.

Personal and scientific profile

The University of Fort Hare has developed into a full university up to the present (2008). The student body is largely composed of black African and colored students. The main group are citizens of the Republic of South Africa. There are also students from numerous other African countries, preferably from neighboring countries in South Africa. The teaching staff is international and ethnically differentiated. There are black and white South Africans in teaching and administration. Foreign professors and lecturers come from countries on different continents.

With the Strategic Plan 2000 , the university was restructured into five faculties. These are:

  • Educational Sciences ( Education )
  • Law ( Law )
  • Management and Economics ( Management and Commerce )
  • Natural Sciences and Agriculture ( Science and Agriculture )
  • Social Sciences and Humanities ( Social Sciences and Humanities )

Principals and Vice Chancellors

The following individuals directed the South African Native College , University College of Fort Hare, and the University of Fort Hare as higher education institutions.


Archives of the African National Congress (ANC)

The University of Fort Hare has a special area in the building of its university library, the archive of the African National Congress (ANC), which stores and scientifically supervises the historical documents of the organization, including large parts of the estate of its long-time President Nelson Mandela. There is archive material (texts, images, sound documents, art objects) from many countries around the world, which document the international cooperation with the ANC. SOMAFCO documents can also be found here.

Gallery of African Art

De Beers Centenary Art Gallery in Fort Hare

The De Beers Centenary Art Gallery is located on the campus and has housed a collection of recent African art since 1989. This functional building was donated by the De Beers group and built according to a design by the architects Osmond Lange (with the participation of van der Zee). The collection includes paintings, graphics and sculptures by black African artists from the 20th century. The works are presented on two floors. Some rooms are used for temporary exhibitions.

Personalities at the university

Zachariah Keodirelang Matthews 1901-1968 Bachelor student, lecturer at the University of Fort Hare from 1936 to 1959, first UN ambassador to Botswana from 1966 to 1968
Govan Mbeki 1910-2001 South African politician, African National Congress (ANC) politician , father of Thabo Mbeki
Yusuf Lule 1912-1985 Interim President of Uganda 1979, Professor and Director of Makerere University
Cedric Phatudi 1912-1987 Prime Minister of the Lebowa homeland
Emperor Matanzima 1915-2003 President of the Transkei Homeland
Joshua Nkomo 1917-1999 Founder of the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU)
Oliver Tambo 1917-1993 President-in-exile of the ANC - De-registered for active participation in a student strike during his second degree
Nelson Mandela 1918-2013 1994–1999 President of South Africa - incomplete studies at Fort Hare, later graduation from the University of the Witwatersrand
Ntsu Mokhehle 1918-1999 until 1998 Prime Minister of Lesotho
Seretse Khama 1921-1980 first president of Botswana
Julius Nyerere 1922-1999 President of Tanzania
Herbert Chitepo 1923-1975 Leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU)
Robert Mugabe 1924-2019 President of Zimbabwe (studied 1949–1951)
Kenneth Kaunda * 1924 first president of Zambia
Dennis Brutus 1924-2009 South African poet
Robert Sobukwe 1924-1978 Founder of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)
Quett Ketumile Joni Masire 1925-2017 second President of Botswana
Allan Hendrickse 1927-2005 Politicians, preachers and teachers
Mangosuthu Buthelezi * 1928 Leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) - studied at the University of Fort Hare and moved to the University of Natal , there studying history and Bantu Administration , leaders of the homelands KwaZulu
Desmond tutu * 1931 Archbishop in South Africa , a peace activist - Kaplan at the University of Fort Hare (Presence 1960)
Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri 1937-2009 South African politician, Minister of Communications
Manto Tshabalala-Msimang 1940-2009 South African politician, Minister for Health
Njongonkulu Ndungane * 1941 Archbishop of Cape Town and Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (graduation 1958)
Chris Hani 1942-1993 MK - Chief of Staff, Secretary General of the South African Communist Party (SACP) - Studies in Fort Hare, degree in this regard at Rhodes University (studies 1959–1961, graduation 1962)
Wiseman Nkuhlu * 1944 Economic advisor to President Thabo Mbeki, head of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)
Makhenkesi Arnold Stofile 1944-2016 South African politician, Minister for Sport, Ambassador in Berlin
Nyameko Barney Pityana * 1945 Lawyer and theologian, member of the African National Congress Youth League , Vice Chancellor and Principal of UNISA
Bulelani Ngcuka * 1954 South Africa's former Director of Public Prosecutions
Loyiso Nongxa * 1954 Vice Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand
Joseph Diescho * 1955 Namibian writer
Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela * 1955 South African psychologist, professor, member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission


  • University of Fort Hare: Chronology 1905-2006 . (University information material)
  • University of Fort Hare: The SOMAFCO Archives . (University information sheet)
  • Alexander Kerr : Fort Hare. 1915-48. The Evolution of an African College . C. Hurst & Co. London 1968
  • Zachariah Keodirelang Matthews : The University College of Fort Hare . In: South African Outlook , April – May 1957, The Lovedale Press, 1957
  • Robert HW Shepherd: Lovedale South Africa. The Story of a Century 1841-1941 . The Lovedale Press, Lovedale 1941
  • James Stewart : Lovedale South Africa . Edinburgh 1894
  • Luvuyo Wotshela: Fort Hare. From Garrison to Bastion of Learning. 1916-2016 . KMM, UFH, Sandton, Alice 2017. ISBN 978-0-9922329-8-6

Individual evidence

  1. James Stewart (Ed.): Lovedale. South Africa . Edinburgh 1894, plate 69, 70
  2. ^ Matthews, 1957, p. 6.
  3. ^ SAIRR : A Survey of Race Relations in South Africa 1958-1959 . Johannesburg 1960, p. 268
  4. ^ Matthews, 1957, pp. 7-9
  5. ^ Matthews, 1957, pp. 8-10
  6. ^ University of Fort Hare . on (English)
  7. ^ SAIRR: A Survey of Race Relations in South Africa 1958-1959 . Johannesburg 1960, pp. 266-268
  8. ^ SAIRR: Survey 1958-1959 . 1960, pp. 269-273
  9. Padraig O'Malley: 1959. Extension of University Education Act No. 45 . Nelson Mandela Center of Memory and Dialogue. accessed on October 17, 2010 (English)
  10. ^ SAIRR: Survey 1958-1959 . 1960, p. 271
  11. ^ A b SAIRR: A Survey of Race Relations in South Africa 1966 . Johannesburg 1967, pp. 270-271
  12. ^ SAIRR: Survey 1958-1959 . 1960, p. 269
  13. ^ SAIRR: A Survey of Race Relations in South Africa 1959-1960 . Johannesburg 1961, p. 235
  14. ^ A b M. A. Beale: "The task of Fort Hare in terms of the Transkei and Ciskei": Educational planning at Fort Hare in the 1960's . History workshop. Structure and Experience in the Making of Apartheid. 6-10 February 1990, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. (English)
  15. ^ Reuter: Death of British Professor. Service to Africans . In: The Glasgow Herald of October 25, 1960 (English)
  16. Tribute to Govan Mbeki (obituary) ( Memento from April 24, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  17. Mphumzi Zuzile: Graduation tribute to retiring 'Oom Gov' ( Memento from September 30, 2000 in the Internet Archive ) (English)
  18. ^ University of Fort Hare: Past Vice-Chancellors . on (English)
  19. ^ Mark P. Snyders, National Heritage and Cultural Studies Center at the University of Fort Hare: Lexicon University of Fort Hare . on (English)
  20. Phil Ndlela: A tribute to the late Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane (1948-2014) . on (English)
  21. ^ Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University : Management Committee (MANCO) . on (English)
  22. ^ Contemporary South African Black Art at the De Beers Centenary Art Gallery, the University of Fort Hare. Brief description of the gallery on ( Memento from July 28, 2007 in the Internet Archive )

Web links

Commons : University of Fort Hare  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 32 ° 47 ′ 13.4 "  S , 26 ° 50 ′ 56.7"  E