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Today, 05 May 2016 marks the commencement of the University of Fort Hare Graduation ceremonies in the Centenary year. Fort Hare comes a long way, having its first academic graduate ZK Matthews in 1923 and in 2016 the institution is proudly conferring a total of 2845 graduates. The university is known to be the ‘crucible of Africa’ and has produced what we call today heroes of the struggle for liberation across the African continent, which includes five heads of states namely; Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Yusuf Lule of Uganda and Ntsu Mokhehle of Lesotho. While the University is proud of producing excellency over the many decades, it continues to show its ability to respond to the needs of the community within which it operates and society at large. In the early 2000s, Fort Hare awarded about 10 Doctorates and was battling to attract postgraduate students. Through its transformation, by May 2012 the University had produced 45 PHD’s and by the end of 2013, the University of Fort Hare had 19 National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated researchers across all five faculties. The University has nationally and internationally recognized researchers with expertise in areas ranging from biochemistry, ethno-botany, water quality monitoring and management, antibiotic resistance monitoring, primatology, climate smart agriculture, soil science, livestock and pasture science to the socio-economic issues facing both South Africa as a whole and the Eastern Cape Province.

In this year’s Graduation ceremonies, the University will be awarding 5 Honorary Doctorate Degrees to the following; DR Nad Akufo, DR LN Albino, DR II Sooliman, DR GGT Matshayana, Prof DN Jafta.

•    DR Nad Akufo, a Ghanaian lawyer and politician has served on the boards and committees of a number of political, legal, commercial and social organizations in the country.

•    DR LN Albino, born in South Sudan has work experience in international development, specifically in gender, HIV/AIDS, Education, Early Childhood Development and has played a vital role in the African continent in advocating for girls’ access to education.

•    DR II Sooliman is the founder of Gift of the Givers Foundation which is the largest disaster relief organization of African origin in Africa and it implements 24 different categories of development projects.

•    DR GGT Matshayana, born in the Eastern Cape Province has contributed immensely in writing self-distributed articles on African Nationalism and the history of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania.

•    Prof Jafta is an esteemed daughter of the Eastern Cape and has devoted her professional life to teaching and empowering students with cognitive and linguistic skills. She has played a pioneering role as the founder and member in the establishment of the Department of African Languages.

The University is proud that its researchers have steadily improved their academic output from an average of 0.5 refereed papers per individual academic annually to 1.5. When one considers that the top formerly advantaged South African universities attain annual output rates of just over 2.0, this is an impressive comparison. Fort Hare believes that their research priorities and outputs actively contribute to the provincial and national priorities of addressing poverty, inequality and unemployment.

The East London Graduation ceremonies will take place on 5 and 6 May 2016, while the Alice Graduation ceremonies will be held on 11 to 13 May 2016.