Victoria Hospital

Victoria Hospital was established in 1898 through the Lovedale Missionary Institution. This was the first hospital in South Africa to train nurses of colour. Its most famous graduate was Cecelia Makiwane, who qualified here in 1907 to become the country’s first black nurse. The Hospital’s connection with Fort Hare is a deep one. A profound solidarity emerged between the Hospital’s nurses and Fort Hare’s students, and when the Victoria Hospital nurses staged strikes, Fort Hare’s students supported them enthusiastically. Visit the historic hospital grounds and the statue of Makiwane.

Nurses attend to their young patients in the tuberculosis ward at Victoria Hospital, Lovedale, circa 1938. These children were suffering from spinal tuberculosis, which is why they are wearing back braces and lying face down. Spinal tuberculosis was particularly common in rural Eastern Cape at the time, and Victoria Hospital earned itself a national reputation during the 1930s and 1940s as a specialist orthopaedic facility. In 1940, the Department of Health opened the Macvicar Hospital on the Victoria Hospital grounds. It was South Africa’s first tuberculosis facility for Africans (hospitals were racially segregated then). It was named after Dr Neil Macvicar who had been Victoria Hospital’s medical superintendent for almost four decades, and who specialised in the treatment of tuberculosis. © International Mission Photography Archive / National Library of Scotland