Statement of Support and Solidarity with the University of Cape Town and Residents of Cape Town, South Africa

April 19, 2021


We would like to express our deepest sympathy for the loss endured by the University of Cape Town (UCT) and residents of Cape Town, South Africa due to devastating fires beginning on Sunday, April 18, 2021. The fire is reported to have been contained following tireless work by fire and rescue services; however, efforts continue to control flare-ups and respond to the displacement of students and Cape Town residents.

We stand in support of the UCT community and sends our positive thoughts to students who are being relocated to alternative accommodations. While the extent of the fire’s damage is not yet fully known, the tragic loss of at least part of the rare and irreplaceable African Studies collections in the Jagger Library is most regrettable. The loss of these historic resources will be felt by scholars in the UCT community and around the world.

To our friends and family, our students and alumni, members of the CAS Africa Advisory Board and Leadership Council, and affiliates residing in Cape Town, we are thinking of you and hoping for your safety.

The tragedy comes at a time when universities in South Africa are struggling to assist their students financially due to added burdens brought about by COVID-19 lockdowns. We encourage those in our community who are able to support UCT and its community as it survives this ordeal. The university has shared a statement from Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng with details on how to make donations, and donations can also be made online through the UCT Alumni Ways to Give web page. Efforts are also underway to collect photocopies or mobile phone images of documents from researchers who have worked in the collections.

Harvard Center for African Studies

Harvard Center for African Studies Africa Office

Department of African and African American Studies

Hutchins Center for African & African American Research

Harvard Business School Africa Research Center