Despite decades of deliberate neglect, and its relegation after 1959 to a “tribal” university under apartheid, Fort Hare, 2km east of Alice on the R63, is assured a place in South African history. Established in 1916 as a multiracial college by missionaries, it became the first institution in South Africa to deliver tertiary education to blacks, and was attended by many prominent African leaders, including Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe and Tanzania’s former president, Julius Nyerere. The most famous former student is Nelson Mandela, making this an essential port of call if you’re following his footsteps.
If you have even the slightest interest in African art, Fort Hare’s De Beers Art Gallery is well worth a visit. A treasury of contemporary black Southern African art, it’s one of the most significant and least publicized collections anywhere. The gallery also houses Fort Hare’s ethnographic collection – a major museum of traditional crafts and artefacts, with many rare and valuable pieces.