Part of the Drakensberg Range was in W Transkei. Much of the former territory of the homeland is hilly or mountainous, and there is little good farmland. Most of the area's inhabitants speak a Xhosa language. Roughly two thirds of the Transkei's income was provided by the South African government, and all trade was conducted through South Africa.
In the 1830s and 40s the Transkei was the scene of fighting between European settlers and Africans over the possession of cattle and grazing land. Much of the territory was annexed in 1848 by Britain as Kaffraria, which in 1865 was joined to Cape Province. Transkei was separated from Cape Province in 1963 to become the first of ten black areas within South Africa that were allegedly internally self-governing. In 1976 Transkei became the first of the homelands to be granted "independence." The South African government then revoked the citizenship of its residents. Transkei's assembly controlled many internal matters, but its decisions were subject to the control of the South African government. From 1978 to 1980 territorial disputes prompted Transkei to sever diplomatic relations with South Africa. Like the other homelands, it was not recognized internationally as an independent state. In 1994, after a multiracial election, the establishment of a new South African government, and the end of apartheid, Transkei and the other nine homelands were reabsorbed into South Africa.
Former Bantustan, Republic of South Africa. It bordered the Indian Ocean and Lesotho. It was created by South Africa in 1959 as the first Bantustan and was designated (together with Ciskei) for the Xhosa-speaking peoples (see Xhosa). In 1976 the South African government declared Transkei to be independent, and all black Africans with language ties to Transkei (whether or not they lived there) lost their South African citizenship and became citizens of the new country. Existing only as an element of South Africa's apartheid system, it never received international recognition. After apartheid was abolished, the region was reincorporated into South Africa in 1994 as part of the new Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.
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The Transkei—which means "the area beyond the Kei River"—is a region situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is also the name of an Apartheid-era Bantustan (1959–94) corresponding to this territory. The Transkei is bordered by the Umtamvuna River in the north and the Great Kei River in the south, while the Indian Ocean and the Drakensberg mountain range of the landlocked kingdom of Lesotho serve as the Transkei's respective eastern and western frontiers. The main city is Mthatha, usually given as 'Umtata' on maps and in English-language medium materials.
The main language is isiXhosa, which has distinctive click consonants. Many thousands of speakers in towns and villages to the north of the Transkei area (now Eastern Cape) speak Sesotho as well as isiXhosa. These areas include Matatiele, and nearly the entire Herschel area (east of Aliwal North). In addition, many thousands of northern Transkei-residents speak a small hybrid Nguni–Sotho language, called Phuthi. Phuthi speakers are found in and around Matatiele and Mt Fletcher. Most Phuthi speakers live in Lesotho, across the northern Transkei border.
Various smaller languages are also spoken within the Transkei. Many of these languages, of which Pondo is an example, are becoming extinct due to the pressures exerted by the main language of the area, isiXhosa.
The smoking of marijuana is popular and draws many tourists to the area. Cannabis of varying qualities are also extensively harvested in the Transkei and grown in the gardens of many of the local inhabitants. South African legislation prohibits these activities for non-registered users and producers (like sangomas), but it is seldom enforced due to a small police presence.
For much of the 20th century, many black male farmers in the Transkei were forced by punitive taxes levied only on Africans, known as poll taxes, to head north by train to work under contracts underground in Johannesburg's gold mines. Some never returned, crushed in rockfalls in mines with very low standards of safety for their workers. Others returned with dreadful lung diseases from inhaling particles, or tuberculosis. Migrant labour has continued to shape the Transkei ever since.
Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first democratic president, was born in the Transkei in 1918, and still has a home in Qunu. His first two wives were also from what later became Transkei, as was the father of his second wife Winnie Madikizela, who was Agriculture Minister of Transkei.
South Africa's former president, Thabo Mbeki, was also born and raised in the Transkei, near the village of Idutywa. His mother Epainette Mbeki still lives in the area, in the town of Ngcingwane. The Mbeki clan are of the amaZizi tribe of that area.
The Transkei homeland became a nominally independent state in 1976 with its capital at Umtata (now Mthatha), although it was only recognised by South Africa. According to an article published in Time Magazine at the time, though Transkei declared independence theoretically as a “free Black state”, Matanzima ruled the territory as a de facto puppet-state dictator, banning local opposition parties and buying for himself and his family at subsided prices Transkei farmlands offered by the South African government.
From 1978 to 1980 territorial disputes prompted Transkei to sever diplomatic relations with South Africa.
On 2 February, 1978, Matanzima announced that Transkei would break all diplomatic ties with South Africa, including the non-aggression pact between them. He ordered that all South African Defence Force members seconded to the Transkei Army should leave Transkei by 31 March. This created the unique situation of a country refusing to deal with the only (internationally-recognised) nation it was recognized by. Matanzima soon backed down in the face of Transkei's dependence on South African economic aid.
In 1987, there was a military coup d'état, led by General Bantu Holomisa. From that point onwards the Transkei was effectively in (often uneasy) alliance with the African National Congress and provided a relatively safe area for ANC cadre.
2 South African `Homelands' Do Battle;Transkei Attackers Said to Seek Ciskeian President as Hostage to Force Merger
Feb 20, 1987; A simmering intratribal feud between the ostensibly independent South African "homelands" of Ciskei and Transkei exploded...