The University Of Fort Hare: Celebrating 100 Years
The University of Fort Hare will celebrate its centenary in 2016. The year marks 100 years in pursuit of academic excellence, a century in search of African and global knowledge. The academic tradition, character and stature of the university have matured during this time, and the university has produced numerous high-calibre students. From a single, small campus with a few hundred students in Alice, the university has grown to the current 13 000 enrolled students in three campuses, ranging from an urban setting in East London to rural environs in Alice, with a small campus in Bhisho.
Known as the “crucible of African leadership” and the alma mater of anti-apartheid struggle figures such as the great ZK Matthews, Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, Oliver Tambo and Govan Mbeki, the University of Fort Hare continues to spawn leaders in every sector of society. It is the only southern African university to have produced five heads of states: Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Yusuf Lule of Uganda, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Ntsu Mokhehle of Lesotho and Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana. The celebration of a centenary is a momentous occasion for the university. During that year, the university will celebrate its achievements of the past and also reflect on its position for the future. Alumni and friends of Fort Hare will have an opportunity to converge at this fountain from where many an African intellectual took a sip. The alumni, like the university itself, have made enormous contributions to society, locally and internationally.
In the run-up to the centenary and during 2016, the university will be engaging fully with alumni. An interactive website will be going live in September 2014. Various alumni chapters are to be activated or reactivated so as to energise the alumni for the big occasion.The centenary year also presents the opportunity to launch new academic programmes, buildings and facilities, as the university redefines itself in the 21st century as a truly world-class African university. Before the Centenary Grand Finale, which will be at the end of 2016, we expect groups of alumni, defined by decades, are expected to visit the university. A programme of prestigious events and activities has been planned, and includes academic seminars, colloquia, conferences and special lectures; cultural and social highlights in the form of music concerts, theatre productions and art exhibitions; competitions, sports and fundraising events.
The centenary year will be a time to reflect on the enormous contribution the university has made in the fields of teaching and learning, research and community service, but also to focus on how this can be projected into the next century. The university is already in the top six South African universities in terms of per capita research output. Innovation in various fields, including renewable energy, ICT, agriculture, African languages, ethnobotany and biochemistry, is contributing to new knowledge. Students at various levels will share their own innovations.
University stakeholders will attend various events and, in this way, staff and members of Council, current and prospective students,their parents, alumni, governments and various state agencies, the local community, donors, representatives of foreign countries, the media, as well as academics from other local and international universities, research institutions, social partners and others will all have the opportunity to share in our celebrations, our history and our future.
We urge you to join us, celebrate our achievement, celebrate our achievements and celebrate Africa’s achievement.
Mvuyo Tom (Dr) Vice-chancellor
This article first appeared in the the New Agenda, Issue 55, Third Quarter 2014. Click here to access the full publication.