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University of Fort Hare Centenary

University of Fort Hare Centenary

Message from the Vice Chancellor Dr Mvuyo Tom

The University of Fort Hare will in 2016 celebrate its Centenary. The year marks a hundred 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. The celebration of a Centenary is a momentous occasion for the University and is an important milestone. During that year, the University will celebrate its achievements of the past and also reflect on its current position.

During its hundred years of existence, the University of Fort Hare has produced many notable alumni and the University values its alumni highly. It is very proud of its alumni, and the alumni can rightly be proud of their university.They, like the University itself, have made enormous contributions to society, locally and abroad.During the run up to the Centenary and during the year in question the University will make a special effort to build relations with its alumni. The Centenary year also presents the opportunity to extend a warm invitation to all the University’s stakeholders to visit and join in our celebrations – students (past, present and future) and their parents, staff, research partners and other co-operating institutions, industry and commerce, science councils, government, donors, the media and other friends.

A special word of welcome is extended to the representatives of foreign governments who contribute enormously to the research and sustainability of our university.


University of Fort Hare celebrates 100 years of its existence in 2016

The town of Alice in the Eastern Cape is the home of the University of Fort Hare – the “Crucible of African Leadership” and the ‘alma mater’ of Apartheid Struggle figures such as the great Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe and Thabo Mbeki among many other well-known black ANC figures. Other  prominent people associated with the Fort Hare University include , O.R Tambo, Duma Nokwe,  Govan Mbeki, K. D. Matazima, Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Quett Masire (Botswana), Yusuf Lele (Uganda), Seretse Khama (Botswana),Ntsu Mokehle (Lesotho), Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Dennis Brutus, Can Themba, Phyllis Ntantala, Godfrey Pitye and important and pioneering African intellectuals like Prof. Zachariah Keodirelang Matthews (below) and D.D.T.Jabavu

  James Stewart                           Alexander Kerr                     John Tengo Jabavu,                             Z.K, Mathews                              Nelson Mandela

The Presbyterian missionaries endeavoured to educate young Xhosa people at the turn of the last Century when colonial encroachment and war had tattered a traditional way of life. Missionary activity under James Stewart led to the creation of a school for missionaries from which at the beginning of the 20th century the university resulted. In accord with its Christian principles, fees were low and heavily subsidised. Several scholarships were also available for indigent students.To that end they built a school called Lovedale. In 1916 the old military encampment was transformed into a University Campus to provide tertiary education to graduates of Lovedale and other black schools in the racially divided education system of Southern Africa

The University of Fort Hare (UFH) is a major institutional presence on the eastern side of the town. The town CBD is surrounded by the main residential areas of Ntselemanzi, Golfini and Hillcrest, together with Lovedale College. As we celebrate our centenary year and in this regards we want to upgrade our facilities in pursuit of our national mandate and responsibility. In our transformational plan and vision, we have created a concrete 20 year horizon up to 2030 on which the university can strive forward of which we have christened Vision 2030. To retain our proud reputation as an iconic institution, we need to continue to serve the needs of the people and of the higher education sector of the eastern Cape, we need to offer a standard of education that will make a real difference in developing human capital in the region and thus aspire to continue to be a relevant skills and knowledge producer, as well as “thought leader” for our broader society, as we ventures towards its centenary year, 2016.

This aspiration is influenced by and must take into account the rapidly changing and increasingly complex post-colonial, post-apartheid and post-industrial society in which we operate. This requires that the University continually builds its organizational capability to adapt to changing conditions in order to remain responsive and relevant. This requires a significant investment in new building infrastructure (lecture theatres, student accommodation staff accommodation, a new library, a post graduate centre.

Vision 2030 is designed to move closer to the realisation of its vision as being an African University, particularly towards our centenary in 2016. The university’s resolve to be a vibrant, equitable and sustainable African university goes beyond mere demographics but shows a conscious effort to be relevant and In relation to the development of Fort Hare it is critical that the university is embedded in a develop-mental model which is highly responsive to regional and national development needs and challenges and can assist the region in producing higher value goods and services, new knowledge in critical areas and contribute to the innovation and integration in and between town and countryside and between local and global systems.

The University’s Centenary programme

There is much to celebrate, for the University has accomplished much during its hundred years of existence. Yet, this is also the time when we, as the Centenary generation, must commit towards vigorously pursuing the vision of a truly world-class South African university with passion, resolve and determination.

The Centenary provides an opportunity to reflect on both the past and the future of the University, but moreover it provides a chance to showcase the Institution. The Centenary celebrations has been designed to reflect the enormous contribution that the University has made in the fields of education, research and community service, but also to focus on how this can be projected into the next century.

It has been designed to celebrate each decade of our existence and reflect on the trails and challenges we have overcome as a university.

University stakeholders will be invited to attend various events and in this way staff and members of Council, current and prospective students, their parents, alumni, Government and its agencies, the local community, donors, representatives of foreign countries, the media, as well as academics from other local and international universities will all have the opportunity of sharing in our celebrations.

A programme of prestigious events and activities has been planned and includes academic occasions such as conferences and special lectures; cultural highlights in the form of music concerts, theatre productions and art exhibitions; competitions, as well as alumni, sports and fundraising events.

To stage these events, our campuses and facilities will be opened and shared with visitors.

The University has decided to celebrate the official day of establishment as 8 February 2016 official. In 2016 this falls on the University Official Opening day. The University has a unique history and has played a significant role in shaping South Africa and the continent, as one can observe the changes at fort hare and therefore the changes on the African continent followed. Each decade of existence of the university is evident in the persons that studied at the university and there subsequent participation in the continents direction and aspirations


  • Launch Centenary Merchandise           15 Jan
  • Launch Centenary Exhibition                30 Jan
  • My Fort Hare Story                               30 Jan


Decade: 1916 – 1949 – Celebrated in February

  • Varsity Rugby                                              01 Feb
  • Alumni Dinner                                              07 Feb
  • School Opens                                              08 Feb
  • ZK Mathews Lecture                                    08 Feb
  • UFH B/Day Celebrations                             08 Feb


Decade: 1949 – 1959 – Celebrated in March

  • Exhibition on Mandela (German Expo)        03 March
  • 1940’s Vintage Fashion show                      11 March
  • National Debate Championship                    21 March


Decade:  1959 – 1969 – Celebrated in April

  • The Big Fort Hare Debate                              tbc

Decade: 1969 – 1979 – Celebrated in May


  • African Intellectuals Conference                   06 May
  • Africa Day: Robert Sobukwe Lecture           25 May 

    Decade 1979 – 1989 Celebrated in June

  • Celebrate Freedom Charter                          tbc
  • Moral Regeneration Dialogue                      04 June
  • Youth Parliament                                         16 June
  • SRC Debate                                                25 June 

    Decade 1989 – 1999 Celebrated in July

  • International Centenary Conference           July
  • Children Festival                                         16-18 July
  • Mandela DayMandela Day 

    Decade: 1999 – 2009 Celebrated in August       

  • National Women’s Day Celebrations          09 Aug
  • Research Seminar                                     27 Aug
  • UFH Women Ambassador Awards           Tbc 

    Decade 2009 – 2016 – Celebrated in September

  • SATMA Awards                                        Tbc
  • Alice Cultural Festival                               Tbc
  • Steve Biko Day /Lecture                           Tbc 


  • OR Tambo Lecture                                   08 Oct
  • Distinguish Guest Lecture                        29 Oct
  • Cities & Universities Conference             tbc 

    Big Celebration – November  

  • UFH Golf Day (EL)                                 tbc (05 Nov)
  • 2016 Gala Fundraiser Dinner                 tbc (05 Nov)
  • Centenary Book Launchtbc                    (25 Nov)
  • Centenary Big Celebrationstbc               (25 Nov)


Please note that all events & activities are subject to change by the university

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