University of Fort Hare Convocation president Solomzi Tshona has visited its former student, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and thanked him for the role he played while he was a student and afterwards.

Buthelezi is one of many African leaders including former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe who studied at Fort Hare.  He was thanked for his contribution and received gifts from them.

Buthelezi says he became aware of the injustices in the country at the time, when he was studying at Fort Hare.

The University of Fort Hare has embarked on a campaign to repair its reputation. The institution has over the years been rocked by corruption, rape and sex scandals. Now it has visited one of the alumni IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Fort Hare Convocation president Solomzi Tshona says the aim is also to form a Friends of Fort Hare organisation to restore the dignity.

“Go on to Google, the University of Fort Hare, you will see page one of the University of Fort Hare website. The second page will be accusations, sex, rape, corruption when you search on Google. That’s not right about the university. So we need to paint a right picture and make sure that as the University of Fort Hare positive things are advertised in the media. For example the University of Fort Hare graduated 150 PHD students, that is not in the media.”

Buthelezi, who was a member of the ANC Youth League while he was a student, was suspended in the 1950s because of his involvement in demonstrations against the then Governor General Brand Van Zyl. Buthelezi hailed the initiative.

“Former students of this institution came to see me, Mr Ntshona, to discuss how we could preserve this great legacy but I cannot tell you how pleased I am at my age to see a young crop of people like yourself pursuing this noble cause of upholding the legacy of Fort Hare.”

The university management want to re-establish branches of alumni in South Africa and in other African countries. Buthelezi says he cut his teeth in politics as an ANC member at Fort Hare, before forming the IFP in 1975. He says the institution has a rich legacy.

“I appreciate the request made to meet with me to pursue what I consider to be very noble course, the reviving of the spirit of Fort Hare and I remain proud to be the alumni of this great institution. I have always looked back on my time as the most formative, these men and women who went through the institution’s rich legacy.”

Other Fort Hare alumni include Nelson Mandela, former Botswana President Sir Seretse Khama, Robert Sobukwe, and former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.