Wild Coast History

Approximately 500 to 1200 years ago Bantu speaking peoples began to settle along the East Coast of Southern Africa. The area was home to nomadic San and Khoi people who eventually became integrated into the Xhosa tribes and brought with them the three characteristic clicks that are found in the language today.

In the late 1700's the Xhosa speaking tribes were beginning to feel the squeeze on their territories. Refugees were fleeing Shaka and his Zulu Impis (warriors) in the North and there were sporadic wars with the Boers in the East and British to the South.

The 'cattle killing' of 1856 and the resulting famine devastated the Xhosa and their resistance to the colonial forces fell. On the advice of the prophetess Nongqawuse, people consumed or destroyed all of their cattle and crops. She foretold that all who did not, together with all the whites were to be swept into the sea by a strong wind on the 18th of February 1857.

After the Ninth Frontier War the area was incorporated into the Cape Provincial Administration. It was never really populated by European settlers because of its war-like reputation and was left largely to the indigenous peoples.

The region was given nominal autonomy in 1963, under the 'separate development' policies of Apartheid South Africa. 'Self government' and 'Full independence' followed in 1976 and the area became known as the Transkei (meaning: the land beyond the Kei River).

The newly-formed Transkei state was not recognised internationally and it remained a diplomatically isolated, politically unstable, one-party state until after South Africa's first free and fair elections in 1994, when it became part of the Eastern Cape Province.

Huberta the Hippo

Huberta the Hippo

Huberta was a hippo that caught the travelling bug and wandered straight into the hearts of the South African public. It's not known what sparked her wanderlust, but in November 1928 she left her lagoon in Zululand to begin a three-year trek southwards. Newspapers around South Africa first picked up on Huberta's story when a party of workers came upon her as she munched her way through a sugar cane field on the 22nd of November 1928. Unaware that she was actually a lady, the papers dubbed her "Hubert the Hippo". People flocked to see her at her new residence near the north coast railway line, but when the Johannesburg Zoo tried to catch her, she made a run for it.

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John Bock: Miscarriage of Justice

John Bock

Johann Sebastian Bock was a German settler who had been a seaman and gold prospector. He leased land on the Kei from Walter Reynolds, who owned three livestock farms and a market garden. In 1925 Bock's son found a shiny pebble on a floodplain of the Great Kei River. It was a diamond! After a little more searching they found some more. Bock soon began telling friends and family of his discovery, and with his permission, they too began to search for and find diamonds...

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Nongqawuse

Nongqawuse and Nonkosi

Nongqawuse (also spelt Nongqause) is a name that will haunt the Xhosa people forever. In 1856, the Xhosa nation was in despair. A number of Friesland Bulls were imported from Holland in 1850 and with them came lung-sickness. Thousands of their prized cattle, a sign of wealth in Xhosa culture, had succumbed. The British had murdered King Hintsa and they had fought and lost many wars against the European settlers, who had taken large tracts of Xhosa territory and cattle. They were looking for a miracle, something to turn around this spell of misfortune. nto the spotlight stepped Nongqawuse...

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Shipwrecks on the Wild Coast

Shipwrecks on the Wild Coast

This stretch of coastline is not called "The Wild Coast" for nothing. For sailors, it has a bad reputation, sudden storms, wild winds, heavy seas with the occasional "freak wave" have claimed many ships and it has earned its title over and over again. Most shipwrecks are quickly forgotten, but a few live on in the collective memory. They are remembered because of loss of life; others on account of the horror; a few due to the adventures of the survivors; but the most famous always involve either mysterious disappearances, or treasure!

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The People of the Wild Coast

People of the Wild Coast

The Transkei is home to several of the Xhosa tribes; it is a green and pleasant grassland stretching inland from the coast to the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains. Living in the south is the Gcaleka section of the Xhosa tribe, in the middle the Tembu and Bomvana tribes, and in the north the Pondo and Mpondomise tribes. Smaller tribal groups include the Cele, Xesibe and the Mfengu. Each tribe has its own distinguishing costumes, colours, beads and articles of clothing. Red and orange are the favourite colours of the Xhosa, Thembu and Bomvana. Light blue is the favoured colour of the closely related Pondo and Mpondomise tribes.

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