Introducing University of Fort Hare

Traditionally recognised as one of the prestigious universities on the continent of Africa, the University of Fort Hare stemmed from the initiatives of the black elite and early twentieth-century white liberals, many of them clergy, and supported by many traditional Southern African leaders.

Fort Hare came into existence in 1916 and is the oldest historically black university in Southern Africa. Throughout its existence, Fort Hare graduates have come from as far North as Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria, and all knew they were as good as the best.
Many enjoyed prominent careers in fields as diverse as politics, medicine, literature and art. Some alumni, like Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo Govan Mbeki, Chris Hani, Robert Sobukwe, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Dennis Brutus (an acclaimed poet), Can Themba (an accomplished journalist), Yusuf Lule of Uganda, Ntsu Mokehle of Lesotho, Seretse Khama of Botswana, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Herbert Chitepo, novelist Stanlake Samkange and the first black Zimbabwean medical doctor, Ticofa Parirenyatwa, are well known. Eliud Mathu and Charles Njonjo are two of our better-known alumni in Kenya.

This cosmopolitan university boasts a long-standing tradition of non-racism which is characterised by intellectually enriching and critical debate. There is an almost tangible aspiration towards educational excellence while social life on campus is vibrant.
The model blueprint for the transformation and repositioning of this legendary institution in the twentieth century - the Strategic Plan 2009-2016 and the subsequent Institutional Operating Plan(IOP) - nurtures and builds upon this tradition. The objective of these internationally lauded corporate re- engineering plans is to make this university worthy of its rich inheritance as a reflection of a dynamic institution.  

The 26th of April 2005 saw the University of Fort Hare receiving One of the highly celebrated national Orders - The Supreme Order of Baobab (Gold Class) from President Thabo Mbeki. Rich in visual and literary symbolism, the award draws its inspiration from a 3000 year old tree, whose odd hydra-like and upside root structure seems to defy the laws of gravity. Mainly found in the northern parts of southern Africa, the Baobab is known for its resilience, strength and fortitude in the face of drought, pestilence and the erosive passage of time. Citing this symbolism, the State President conferred the Order of Gold Class to Fort Hare in recognition of its role in 'academic training' of legions of men and women in South Africa and Southern Africa, as well as its 'leadership development' contribution.


The University of Fort Hare is a vibrant, equitable and sustainable African University, committed to teaching and research excellence at the service of its students, scholars and wider community.

Underlying Themes of our New Vision: 

A unique 'brand name': Fort Hare - based on the principle of taking the 'best of the past into taking up the challenges of the future'; 

An affirmation of our historical role as the training ground for Leaders - broadening this mission to include politics, industry, commerce, agriculture and moral leadership; 

An assertion and celebration of our identity as an African university -a multicultural, continental as opposed to an ethnocentric identity; 

Our commitment to institutional sustainability - both in financial, programme and human resources development terms; 

Our commitment to excellence in providing high quality teaching and research at the service of students, scholars and the public; 

An assertion of our predominantly rural location as a strategic advantage to focus on programmes responding to local and regional development needs; 

Upholding the principle of equity - across gender, racial and disability lines.


The mission of the University is to provide high quality education of international standards contributing to the advancement of knowledge that is socially and ethically relevant, and applying that knowledge to the scientific, technological and social-economic development of our nation and the wider world.

Underlying Themes of our Mission: 

Commitment to high quality education - to give our students a competitive edge in the labour market.

Our striving towards achieving international standards - establishing the wider currency of qualifications in the new global economy.

Offering academic programmes with a strong social and ethic relevance - ensuring a critical and constructive contribution to social development.

Promoting a distinctively developmental perspective in teaching and research;

Aligning the UFH firmly to the scientific, technological and socio-economic challenges facing South Africa.