The Victoria Memorial Hall

The Victoria Memorial Hall was built around the turn of the 19th century, when Queen Victoria’s empire still dominated the world. Its history is intimately tied to that of the town of Alice, which was founded in 1846. It has served Alice as a town hall for more than a century and its Sunday bioscope evenings were loved by Alice residents and Fort Hare students alike – until they were closed to non-whites as apartheid descended. Today, the hall has shed that dark past and also serves as a voting station during democratic elections.

It wasn’t only Fort Hare’s students who brought political protest to the town of Alice – the University’s staff also took to its streets on occasion. Here, staff members march through Alice in 1958 to show their distaste for the proposed takeover of Fort Hare by the apartheid state. In 1959, Fort Hare’s apartheid-dominated fate would be sealed, and the takeover would come into effect the following year. Many staff members resigned in protest or were forced out. © Dr Isaac Kholisile Mabindisa