- North West
Mahikeng, as it was originally named, is still commonly known as Mafikeng and historically remembered as Mafekeng (in English) until 1980. It is the capital of the North West Province and is situated next to Mmabatho and was previously part of the not internationally recognized Republic of Bophuthatswana.
Mahikeng means “Place of Stones”, and the name refers to the volcanic rocks that provided temporary shelter to Stone Age humans. The town is a popular stopover for those travelling to Botswana as it lies just 25 km from the border in hot, dry and dusty area, the ochre-rich earth of South Africa perhaps a little redder here than anywhere else.
The town has several Second Boer War related historical sites and since 1994 the town has also seen an emergence of tribal African historical attractions such as the Kgotla of the Barolong – an historic tribal meeting place. The Mafikeng Museum also holds Tswana displays and visitors can visit the home, office and printing works of Sol Plaatje whose diary became not only a valuable historical document but also the first known diary kept by a black person during the war.
But Mahikeng offers more than just history, the game reserves in the area as well as the Tusk Casino are also well worth a visit.
Mahikeng has a number of B&B’s and Guesthouse as well as Hotels for overnight guests and weekend vacationers.
Things to do and see
- Mahikeng Game Reserve
- Mafikeng Museum
- Mafikeng Siege Cemetery
- Chief Besele Montshiwe Monument
- Manyae Game Lodge
- Tusk Mmabtho Casino Resort
- Lepard Park Golf Course
- Mahikeng Golf Course
Mahikeng receives approximately 541 mm of rain annually with most rainfall occurring during the Summer months.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 16˚C and 31˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 2˚C and 25˚C.
There are daily flights into Lanseria Airport approximately 275 km’s away via the R52 and R509 as well as O R Tambo International Airport, approximately 317 Km’s away via the N14 and R503. Car rental companies are available at the airports.
Mahikeng was founded in 1880 and named in 1852 by early Barolong Chiefs who had settled along the river, near the present day village of Rooigrond, after a period of inter-tribal war.
The great glory of the town came with the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Boer War. It was besieged by the Boers from 14 October 1899 until 17 May 1901. Colonel R S S Baden-Powell was the British commander and it was during the siege that he conceived the idea of the Boy Scouts. The small boys of Mafeking were almost as tough as their fathers. To keep them usefully employed and out of mischief during the months of the siege, the ingenious colonel gave them non-combatant tasks.
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