Celebrating 90 Years of Smuts Hall

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We have a real treat today—an article by Pauline Alexander on the Smuts Hall 90th Anniversary. Pauline is the SHAA Alumni Relations Manager and recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Medal for her work in alumni relationships and fundraising for UCT.

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It was in 1928 that the heavy wooden doors of Smuts Hall (then Men’s Residence) opened for the first time. In the 90 years since, the Smuts corridors have been walked by world-famous astronauts; leading Fortune 500 CEOs; record-breaking Olympians; and—under the cover of darkness on a fateful night in 1977—a parade of elephants…

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Elephants pay A-Quad a visit, 1977

To celebrate 90 years of Smuts Hall, the Smuts Hall Alumni Association (SHAA) has arranged a 90th Anniversary Celebration in Cape Town for the weekend of October 19-21, 2018. Among several items, this weekend will feature its own celebratory drinks in The George; a 90th Gala Dinner; and tours of Smuts Hall, Upper Campus, the Heart of Cape Town Museum, and Cape Town’s craft beer scene.

Reflecting on the vision and plan of the weekend, current SHAA Chair, Geoffrey Forbes noted that:

“The response has been overwhelming—a full table from the ‘50s; two tables from 1981; an alumnus from 1946; and everyone in between—right up to our recent 2017 graduates. There are even some 40 making the journey from foreign climes, over half of whom are traveling from Canada and the USA.”

Over the course of its 90 years, of course, it would be fair to say that Smuts Hall has born witness to its fair share of jubilation and despair. In the spotlight more recently on a political front, the 90th anniversary celebrations aim to bring to focus the incredible social impact that the residence has had since opening in 1928—from forging lifelong relationships, to challenging different world views, and everything else in between. Each decade will have its own unique memories of Smuts Hall.

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Tafadzwa Ndlovu (SW ’17-’18) & Jean De Villiers in the Upper Common Room, 2017

Prof Kelly Chibale, residing Warden (recently featured in the 2018 edition of Fortune’s Top 50 Leaders in the World), noted at a recent gathering of 1973 alumni in Cape Town, “I should not have been surprised at the depth of friendships revealed, but it was a reminder of the role that Smuts Hall plays, particularly in first year when university can seem such a big step.”

As he reflected on his time as Warden, Prof. Chibale added:

“In fact, on many levels, nothing has changed—certainly not all the chirping and tales of gastronomic woes. I am so looking forward to hearing the stories that live on through our Alumni community, and to experience the magic of relationships that have endured for over 10, 20, 40, and even 60 years.”

So, for all Smuts Hall Alumni scattered across the globe—from those who remember when residence fees were R160 p.a.; to when Grape Fruit Cocktail, Cream of Mushroom Soup and Peach Melba were the staple of formal dinners; and when the Annual Smuts Hall Donkey Derby was the highlight of the year for the local Zoo—what better excuse do you need to visit Cape Town in October?

For more details on the Smuts Hall 90th anniversary celebration, including ticket information, please visit the event’s ticketing page. Further updates will be published in SHAA’s quarterly newsletter. If you have not been receiving communications from SHAA, please contact SHAA Alumni Relations Manager, Pauline Alexander at: alumni@smutshall.com.

Recent news and updates from Smuts Hall can be found in the recent SHAA Q1 newsletter.

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