Protests, speeches as Fort Hare celebrates 100 years

2016-05-21 07:14

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WATCH: Zuma addresses Fort Hare at centenary celebration

2016-05-20 17:41

President Jacob Zuma addresses the University of Fort Hare for its centenary celebration. Watch.WATCH

Alice – Students’ cries for help echoed across Fort Hare University on Friday, but were ignored by the large government delegation celebrating the institution's centenary.

Students, their parents, and workers protested outside the sport hall on the Alice campus throughout the day, hoping to get President Jacob Zuma's attention.‎ The began protesting on Tuesday to demand food, and accommodation and transport allowances.

Public order police fired rubber bullets and used water canons on them. They shouted that they were hungry and held placards that read “100 years of poverty”, “Centenary my ass”, and referring to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, “We are hungry Mr Blade please feed us”.

In his speech to mark the centenary, Zuma warned history would harshly judge those who burned schools and universities. He appealed to pupils and students to stop and think before they destroyed their and the country’s future.

“Burning school libraries means burning our future. Is that our aim when we burn schools? History will judge us those who burn university buildings and schools very harshly, " he said.

Students walking arm-in-arm while singing and humming, 'Senzeni na?' at the University of Fort Hare on Friday, 20 May 2016. Hundreds of students demonstrated throughout the day's celebrations for the institution's centenary. Many prominent members of the African National Congress (ANC) including ZK Mathews, Oliver Tambo and Robert Sobukwe are alumni. (Erin Bates, News24)

Students burnt branches and barricaded campus roads with bricks and rubbish bins. Some threw stones at police vans. Several police Nyalas patrolled the campus. A fire truck and police helicopter made rounds throughout the day.

After proceedings had concluded, a large security contingent escorted Zuma out of the back of hall. He was accompanied by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951. In his speech he reminisced about his time at the university.

Student threatened to burn the institution should their demands go unanswered.

Read more on:    fort hare  |  robert mugabe  |  jacob zuma  |  east london  |  education

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