History of the University College of Fort Hare, South Africa - The 1950s the Waiting Years
|Author: ||Williams, Donovan|
In 1916, under missionary auspices, the South African Native College was established, the first college instituted for higher education of the Blacks in Southern Africa. In 1951 it was affiliated with Rhodes University and renamed The University College of Fort Hare. By that time it had acquired an enviable reputation. Among its graduates are many who today hold high office in and outside South Africa, Nelson Mandela being the most distinguished. In 1948, the Afrikaner Nationalist Government was elected. It was committed to the implementation of apartheid, including the creation of separate educational facilities, and in 1960 the University College of Fort Hare was taken over by that Government, as a college for Xhosa students only. It became one of four ethnic colleges, while admission to the White “open” universities was severely curtailed. This book examines how staff and students opposed the legislation to place the college under government control and reduce its staff to civil servants. The affairs of the college are discussed against the background of rapidly changing conditions in South Africa, with campus disturbances and protests sometimes linked to the wider application of apartheid.
“This is an excellent book. It tells the story of events relating to the University College of Fort Hare in the 1950s, the leading educational institution for blacks in all southern Africa, but its significance goes beyond that. This is far from being a mere institutional history. . . . This was a fascinating, if tragic, period in the history of the University College. This book shows how what had been a brave experiment in missionary-type education approached its end, as the rising tide of apartheid grew until it engulfed the institution. But what Donovan Williams shows is that many at Fort Hare did not appreciate the looming threat, and how students and the administration, instead of uniting in the face of the threat, instead fought each other, and prepared the way for the government take-over at the end of the decade. . . . . The book draws upon – and gives many illuminating quotations from – numerous interviews which Dr. Williams conducted, as well as his own journal and extensive correspondence. . . . it draws also upon the extensive minutes of the Students Representative Council and of the Senate itself, as well as other collections of papers in the Cory Library, Grahamstown, and elsewhere. . . . In short, this is a most valuable contribution to our knowledge of the educational history of South Africa in the 1950s, to the development of apartheid in that decade, to the history of African resistance, and above all to the history of Fort Hare itself.” – Christopher Saunders
“The story, of Fort Hare in the 1950s, has remained largely untold until now. Now, Donovan Williams, a faculty member from 1952-1959, weaving together the many and diverse strands and elements, presents the story in considerable detail in a dozen sparkling and often riveting chapters. . . . will inform and enthrall readers interested in the impact of apartheid at the institutional level. And it will entertain and educate those with an interest in the workings of a university facing ordinary and extraordinary problems.” – Prof. Bruce Young, Wilfrid Laurier University