University of Fort Hare

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The University of Fort Hare is a public university in Alice, Eastern Cape, South Africa. It was a key institution in higher education for black Africans from 1916 to 1959. It offered a Western-style, academically excellent education to students from across sub-Saharan Africa, creating a black African elite. Fort Hare alumni were part of many subsequent independence movements and governments of newly independent African countries.

In 1959, the university was subsumed by the apartheid system, but it is now part of South Africa's post-apartheid education system. The University's main campus is located on the Tyhume river, in a town known as Alice in English and eDikeni in Xhosa language. It is in the Eastern Cape Province about 50 km west of King Williams Town (or eQonce) in a region that for a while was known as the "independent" Bantustan of Ciskei. In 2008, the Alice campus had some 5500 students. A second campus at the Eastern Cape provincial capital of Bhisho was built in 1990 and hosts a few hundred students, while the campus in East London, acquired through incorporation in 2004 has some 3300 students.


The Fort

Originally, Fort Hare was a British fort in the wars between British and the Xhosa of the 19th century. Some of the ruins of the fort are still visible today. Missionary activity (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 are minimal and heavily subsidised. Several scholarships were also available for indigent students.


Fort Hare is one of the oldest universities in southern Africa, and was the first Western-style tertiary education institution in the whole continent to be open to non-white students. (African madrasahs have been teaching Islam and other subjects, at a scholarly level, to all races since the 9th century.) A number of notable students have attended Fort Hare, including some who were expelled for protests during the period of white minority rule and thus did not graduate.


Anti-apartheid activity

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