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IIn the early- to mid-1900s, it was considered a great challenge for a black African person to receive any kind of tertiary education in South Africa. Fort Hare University was one of the key tertiary education facilities of the time, and has been credited with fostering, developing and encouraging some of the black African elite of the time, including Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo.
With two main campuses, one in Alice and one in Bisho, Fort Hare University was perfectly suited to offer higher learning not only to locals, but black learners from all over Africa. The building was originally an English fort, and played a part in the Boer War. Some of the original stonework from the old fort can still be seen, as can a few graves of British soldiers who served there.
IIn 1939 Nelson Mandela enrolled at the university to study law. There he met his soon to be lifelong friend, Oliver Tambo. During his time at Fort Hare, Mandela studied anthropology, politics, English, native administration and Roman Dutch law. He also took up a number of sports, including boxing and long-distance running, which he excelled at.
Fort Hare University
IIn 1940 Mandela was elected as head of the Student Representative Council, or SRC. He became embroiled in student conflict and general dissatisfaction regarding hostel food and a very low SRC poll. Being a man of character, he resigned.
The head of the university then forced Mandela to make a decision, either reinstate himself as the head of the SRC or leave. Like his father, Nelson refused to be swayed from his morals, and he was expelled from Fort Hare University in 1940. He continued his degree at the University of Johannesburg, finally graduating a few years later.
Today the university is still a bastion of learning for people of all colours. Its proud heritage stands as a reminder of obstacles overcome, great deeds begun, and freedom obtained.
Home to glorious stretches of beaches, mountainous terrains, jaw-dropping rock formations, a rich catalogue of plant and wildlife which includes the Big 7 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo, Southern Right whales and Great White sharks), South Africa’s Eastern Cape province is also the birth place of the late global icon and humanitarian - Nelson Mandela. The acclaimed leader, whose birthday is celebrated globally through acts of kindness on 18 July, was born and raised amongst this province’s lush valleys and winding rivers.
Visitors to South Africa should make sure they try Xhosa cuisine, whether in its Eastern Cape heartland or anywhere else that offers umngqusho, amasi, ikhowa and other delicacies.
Cultural villages and museums in South Africa are great places to learn more about Xhosa traditions and how these express the culture and beliefs of this ancient Eastern Cape people.
South Africans are a diverse mix of peoples from Africa, Europe, Asia and elsewhere, and the many museums scattered around the country preserve rich histories, heritages and cultural traditions.
Cata Cultural Village is a traditional Xhosa community that allows visitors to learn all about the local people and their heritage while enjoying the attractions of Eastern Cape province.
The ‘Wildlife Route’ from Port Elizabeth to Grahamstown/Makhanda in Eastern Cape offers a journey through European/Xhosa frontier history, exquisite birds, elephants and scenery, and delicious food.
The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, boasts a diverse collection ranging from European and Asian art to many local pieces reflecting South Africa’s cultures.
The South African oryx – universally called gemsbok by the locals – embodies the spirit of the Kalahari Desert: magnificent to look at, adapted to the heat and aridity, and hard to conquer.