Zuma lauds University of Fort Hare for contribution to SA

During centenary celebrations yesterday, he lauded the university for producing five heads of state.

A young woman sings in anticipation of President Zuma and President Robert Mugabe at the University of Fort Hare on 20 May 2016. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma has lauded the University of Fort Hare for producing five heads of state, whom he says developed the backbone of African nationalism.

Zuma was speaking at the centenary celebrations at the university's main campus in Alice yesterday.

The president spoke of the 100-year history of the institution, which he says became the hotbed of a revolution for the liberation struggle in the country and continent.

WATCH: Zuma and Mugabe arrive at Fort Hare.

Zuma says the university was established as part of the colonisation project.

"Fort Hare went on to produce some of the greatest leaders in the country and well beyond these borders. This is the success that we are celebrating today."

He adds young leaders had a dream for the continent.

"The University of Fort Hare was more than just a college or education institution, it was a critical meeting point of great young minds who had the interest of the country and continent at heart."

The president also condemned the violence and destruction associated with student protests in recent weeks.

He stressed current students should work to emulate the character of "the great minds" including Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, ZK Matthews and Oliver Tambo.