The responsibility of being a student at The University of Fort Hare

I feel sorry for the people who never got a chance to study at the historic institution of Fort Hare. This university unlocked literal and figurative doors for the black child, thereby improving many lives.

The University of Fort Hare is the first Southern African institution to have produced five presidents for different countries in Africa. Fort Hare has produced a number of great leaders who sought to access higher education at the institution like Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, ZK Mathews, and the first black Chartered Accountant, Prof Wiseman Nkuhlu.  

As a public institution founded by the Eastern Cape community with people like Chief Tyali playing a major role in its establishment, Fort Hare has always been at the forefront of the struggle for liberation in South Africa.

As a third-year student, it is a privilege on its own to study at the University of Fort Hare. Many people will never get an opportunity to study at this historic institution, as many students do not have the opportunity to study. As universities in Southern Africa go, the University of Fort Hare is an institution that many Africans wish to enrol in because of its historical significance.

I must at the same time express my disappointment at the name of the university. After 22 years of democracy, we continue to be subjected to the memory of how John Hare killed and slaughtered our parents during apartheid. The name of the University of Fort Hare as well as the curriculum needs to be decolonised.  As the university produced five African presidents, and even more African leaders in society, a need exists for an African agenda to be put forward in the identity of the institution.

It is my contention that the institution needs to be African in nature and have a curriculum that also represents us as African people. The name needs to reflect this Africaness and perhaps the institution needs to adopt a name of one of the great leaders who walked through its doors. To this end, a submission was presented to the management of the institution to change the name to the University of Sobukwe since he was the first SRC President of the institution and liberated many Africans around the continent through the university.

It is a huge responsibility to be a student of the University of Fort Hare because of its rich history. Sobukwe once said that Fort Hare must be a barometer of the African thought, and now that we are at the verge of free education, we as the students of this significant institution have a major role to play in the country as drivers of the movement. A third year student at the University of Fort Hare, Sikhonza is passionate about using Imbizos as a mechanism to initiate and evolve dialogue in communities. 

Photo credit: University of Fort Hare 

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