Transkei: Wikis


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iRiphabliki yeTranskei
Republic of Transkei
Nominal Parliamentary Democracy/Bantustan

Flag Coat of arms
iMbumba yaManyama
Xhosa: Unity is Strength
Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika
Xhosa: God Bless Africa
Location of Transkei in Southern Africa (1976-1994)
Capital Umtata (now Mthatha)
Language(s) Xhosa(official)
Sesotho and English translations required for laws to come into effect
Afrikaans allowed in administration and judiciary¹
Political structure Nominal Parliamentary Democracy/Bantustan
 - 1976-1987 Chief Kaiser Daliwonga Matanzima
(Nominal Parliamentary Democracy, effective One-Party-Rule)
 - 1987-1994 Bantu Holomisa
(Military Rule)
Legislature Parliament
 - Parliament President plus National Assembly
(Immune to judicial review
 - National Assembly Paramount Chiefs
70 District Chiefs
75 elected MPs³
 - Nominal Independence 26 Oct 1976
 - Break of diplomatic ties 1978
 - Coup d'etat 1987
 - foiled Coup d'etat 1990
 - Dissolution 27 April 1994
Area 45,000 km2 (17,375 sq mi)
 -  est. 2,400,000 
     Density 53.3 /km2  (138.1 /sq mi)
Currency South African Rand
1. Constitution of the Republic of Transkei 1976, Chapter 3, 16/Chapter 5, 41
2. Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Chapter 5, 24(4): "No court of law shall be competent to inquire into or to pronounce upon the validity of any Act."
3. 28 electoral divisions; number of MPs per division in proportion to number of registered voters per division; at least one MP each

The Transkei (meaning the area beyond [the river] Kei), officially the Republic of Transkei (Xhosa: iRiphabliki yeTranskei), was a Bantustan—an area set aside for members of a specific ethnicity—and nominal parliamentary democracy in the southeastern region of South Africa. Its capital was Mthatha, usually given as 'Umtata' on maps and in English-language medium materials.[1]

Transkei represented a significant precedent and historic turning point in South Africa's policy of apartheid and "separate development" in that it was the first of four territories to be declared independent. Throughout its existence, it remained an internationally unrecognised, diplomatically isolated, politically unstable de facto one-party state, and at one point even broke relations with South Africa, the only country that acknowledged it as a legal entity. In 1994, it was reintegrated into its larger neighbour and became part of the Eastern Cape province.




Internal borders.
Transkei in red.

The area was set up as one of the two homelands for Xhosa-speaking people, the other being Ciskei; it was given nominal autonomy in 1963. Although the first election was contested and won by the Democratic Party, whose founder Chief Victor Poto was opposed to the notion of Bantustan independence,[2] the actual government was formed by the Transkei National Independence Party, and of the 109 members in the regional parliament, only 45 were elected, the remaining seats held by ex officio chiefs.[3]

The entity became a nominally independent state in 1976 with its capital at Umtata (now Mthatha), although it was recognised only by South Africa and later—internally—by the other nominally independent republics within the TBVC-system. Chief Kaiser Daliwonga Matanzima became its first head of government until 1978, when he assumed the office of president, a position he held until 1987.

International reaction

South African prime minister B. J. Vorster justified the declaration of Transkei as an independent republic by referring to "the right of every people to have full control over its own affairs" and wished "Transkei and its leaders God's richest blessings on the road ahead."[4]

My heritage commands me in the name of [Xhosa] nationhood to sacrifice the best of my abilities to the advancement of my own nation in its own country […].
The General Assembly rejects the declaration of "independence" of the Transkei and declares it invalid.

A press release by the African National Congress at the time rejected the Transkei's independence and condemned it as "designed to consolidate the inhuman policies of apartheid".[7] During its thirty-first session, in resolution A/RES/31/6 A, the General Assembly of the United Nations referred to Transkei's "sham independence" as "invalid," re-iterated its labeling of South Africa as a "racist régime," and called upon "all [g]overnments to deny any form of recognition to the so-called independent Transkei."[6] An article published in Time Magazine opined that 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 Transkei farmlands offered by the South African government at subsidised prices.[8]

Matanzima himself published Independence my Way in 1976, a book in which he argued that true liberation could only be gained through a confederation of black states; he described Transkei as a positive precedent and maintained that the path of the liberation struggle chosen by the ANC would not be successful.[9]

Troubled existence

Throughout its existence, Transkei's economy remained dependent on that of its larger neighbour, with the local population being recruited into South Africa's Rand mines.[10]

Because of a territorial dispute,[11] Matanzima announced on 10 April 1978 that Transkei would break all diplomatic ties with South Africa,[12] including a unilateral withdrawal from the non-aggression pact between the two governments, and ordered that all South African Defence Force members seconded to the Transkei Army should leave. This created the unique situation of a country refusing to deal with the only internationally recognised nation it was recognised by. Matanzima soon backed down in the face of Transkei's dependence on South African economic aid.

During his reign, Matanzima arrested state officials and journalists at will; in late 1979, he detained the head of the newly formed Democratic Progressive Party, Sabata Dalindyebo, king of the Thembu people and vocal opponent of apartheid, for violating the dignity and injuring the reputation of the president.[13] Dalindyebo went into exile in Zambia, a move that marked the end of official opposition politics in Transkei,[2] and in the 1981 election, the ruling Transkei National Independence Party was re-elected, gaining 100% of all open seats.[14]

In 1987, there was a coup d'état led by General Bantu Holomisa, the then-leader of the Transkei Defence Force, the homeland's officially sanctioned military units. Though both the South African government and the government of Transkei denied rumours of such a coup,[15] Holomisa became the Head of State,[16] and the Transkei was from that point onwards effectively in (often uneasy) alliance with the African National Congress and provided a relatively safe area for the ANC's activities. In 1990, Holomisa himself evaded a failed attempt to be ousted from his post, and when asked about the fate of his opponents, he claimed that they had died in the ensuing battles with TDF soldiers.[17] It was later found that those deemed responsible for the foiled coup had only suffered minor injuries, but were subsequently executed without trial.[18]


The Transkei government was a participant in the Codesa negotiations for a new South Africa. The territory was reincorporated into South Africa on 27 April 1994, and the area became part of the Eastern Cape province.

Government and politics

Political Parties
in Transkei[2]
Democratic Party (DP) 1976-1979
Transkei National Independence Party (TNIP) 1976-1987
New Democratic Party (NDP) 1976-1979
Transkei People's Freedom Party (TPFP) 1976-1979
Transkei National Progressive Party (TNPP) 1978-1979
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 1979-1980

Nominally, the Republic of Transkei was a parliamentary democracy which allowed for a multi-party system. During its existence, six different parties registered to compete in elections at different points of its history.[2] Until the military coup of 1987, the TNIP remained the ruling party, while the Transkei People's Freedom Party constituted the official opposition. Because its founder, Cromwell Diko, was a former member of the ruling party, and due to its continued support of President Matanzima's policies, there is a widely held belief that it was actually initiated by Matanzima himself to give the impression of free elections when in fact there were none.[2] Other parties that existed never did gain any representation in parliament.

According to the Constitution of Transkei, parliament consisted of the president in joint session with the National Assembly and its laws and legislative decisions were immune to judicial review.[19] Seventy-five of its members were elected by popular vote from the various districts Transkei's territory was divided into. The remaining members were unelected Paramount Chiefs and ex officio chiefs whose number per district was enshrined in the constitution.[20]


With the establishment of the republic, the citizenry consisted of all those who had been holding the citizenship of the former territory of Transkei. Individuals were given no choice in this matter as the Transkeian constitution was a legally binding act; for the future, it provided citizenship regulations based on both jus sanguinis and jus soli. Citizenship by descent was given along the paternal line, regardless of a person's place of birth; in addition, any individual born within the republic's territory was eligible for citizenship, excluding those whose father held diplomatic immunity or was deemed an illegal immigrant and whose mother was a non-citizen.[21] Dual citizenship at birth was not permitted, and renunciation of one's citizenship was legally possible, but rendered the individual stateless in most cases. In effect, the regulations thus created an almost homogeneous population of Xhosa ethnicity, though exceptions existed.

Geography and demographics

Transkei, as of 1978

The Transkei had an area covering a total of 45,000 km2 (17,000 sq mi),[22] and was 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 served as the Transkei's respective eastern and western frontiers. A large portion of the area was mountainous and not suitable for agriculture.[23]

The majority of the population was Xhosa-speaking, and according to the Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Xhosa was the sole official language, but laws had to be translated into Sesotho and English in order for them to come into effect, and Afrikaans was permissible in court proceedings and for other administrative purposes.[24] In addition, many thousands of northern Transkei residents spoke a small hybrid NguniSotho language, called Phuthi.[25]

Conflicting data exist about the number of inhabitants. According to the South African Encyclopaedia, the total population of the Transkei increased from 2,487,000 to 3,005,000 between 1960 and 1970.[26] An estimate of 1982 puts the number at about 2.3 million, with approximately 400,000 citizens residing permanently outside the territory's borders. Less than 10,000 individuals were of European descent, and the urbanization-rate for the entire population was around 5%.[22]

Security forces

The Transkei Defence Force (TDF) was formed in October 1976 and numbered about 2,000, including one infantry battalion and an air wing with two light transports and two helicopters.[27] By 1993, the number of troops had risen to 4,000.[28] Initial training was provided by the SADF,[29] and despite its diplomatic isolation, the government of Transkei received advice from and collaborated with Israeli counterinsurgency experts.[30] Armscor/Krygkor was its main supplier of weaponry.

After breaking all diplomatic ties with South Africa, President Matanzima announced construction-plans for an international airport by an unnamed French consortium in order for "arms and troops from other countries" to be brought into Transkei without touching South African soil, but did not elaborate on where those resources would originate.[31]

During its last days in 1994, the Transkei Police had 4,993 police officers, operating from 61 police stations throughout the territory.[32]

With the dissolution of Transkei in 1994, the TDF and the Transkei Police were incorporated into the South African National Defence Force and the South African Police Service, respectively.

Notable persons

See also

Historical states
in present-day
South Africa
South Africa topo continent.png


  1. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Chapter 1, 1(2),  
  2. ^ a b c d e South African Democracy Education Trust, ed. (2006), The Road to Democracy in South Africa: 1970-1980, Pretoria: Unisa Press, p. 780, ISBN 1868884066  
  3. ^ South Africa: Historical franchise arrangements, EISA, 2002,  
  4. ^ Vorster, B. J., "Message to Transkei on the eve of Independence, July 1976", Selected Speeches,  
  5. ^ Barber, James. South Africa in the Twentieth Century. Blackwell Publishers. Oxford:1999. p186
  6. ^ a b Resolution A/RES/31/6 A, General Assembly of the United Nations, 42nd plenary meeting, 26 October 1976,  
  7. ^ Statement by the African National Congress GA/5498, 26 October 1976,  
  8. ^ "The Transkei Puppet Show", TIME Magazine, 25 October 1976,,9171,918444,00.html  
  9. ^ Matanzima, Kaiser D. (1976), Independence my Way, Pretoria: Foreign Affairs Association, ISBN 0908397054  
  10. ^ Bush, Barbara (1999), Imperialism, race, and resistance: Africa and Britain, 1919–1945, New York: Routledge, p. 147, ISBN 0415159733  
  11. ^ Wood, Geoffrey; Mills, Greg (1992), "The present and future role of the Transkei defence force in a changing South Africa", Journal of Contemporary African Studies 11 (2): 255–269  
  12. ^ "Transkei Breaks Diplomatic Tie, Its Only One, With South Africans", New York Times, April 11, 1978,  
  13. ^ South African Democracy Education Trust, ed. (2006), The Road to Democracy in South Africa: 1970-1980, Pretoria: Unisa Press, p. 778, ISBN 1868884066  
  14. ^ Elections in Apartheid-Era Black Homelands "Bantustans",  
  15. ^ "Six Cabinet Ministers Resign in Transkei Scandal", New York Times, September 25, 1987,  
  16. ^ "General Bantubonke Harrington "Bantu" Holomisa (profile)", Who's Who in Southern Africa (,, retrieved 2009-07-12  
  17. ^ "Black Homeland reports uprising", New York Times, November 23, 1990,  
  18. ^ Thruth Body hears startling new claims on Transkei coup attempt, South African Press Association, June 19, 1996,  
  19. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Chapter 5, (4),  
  20. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Schedule 1,  
  21. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Chapter 8, 57-59,  
  22. ^ a b "Atlas of Transkei —a cartographical project in a developing country", GeoJournal 6 (6), 1982  
  23. ^ "Transkei", South African History Online,, retrieved 2009-07-10  
  24. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Transkei, Chapter 3, 16,  
  25. ^ Neither South Africa nor Lesotho release official statistics on the number of speakers. Its status as a language in its own right is disputed. Ethnologue lists Phuti as a dialect of Sotho, and research on the language is scarce.
  26. ^ South African Encyclopaedia, Johannesburg: Naspers, 1972  
  27. ^ South Africa Homeland Militaries, May 1996,  
  28. ^ Former Black Homelands (Bantustans),  
  29. ^ Peled, Alon (1998), A Question of Loyalty: Military Manpower Policy in Multiethnic States, Cornell Studies in Security Affairs, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 50f, ISBN 0801432391  
  30. ^ Beit-Hallahmi, Benjamin (1988), The Israeli Connection: Whom Israel Arms and Why, London: Tauris, p. 141, ISBN 1850430691  
  31. ^ "Transkei will import troops, arms", The Age, April 17, 1978  
  32. ^ Policing Agencies: 1994, Prior to Amalgamation: South Africa, South African Police Service,  

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Wild Coast article)

From Wikitravel

The Wild Coast is part of the Eastern Cape province in South Africa, encompassing the coastal region from north of East London to the southern border with KwaZulu-Natal at Port Edward.

  • Mthatha - Formerly called Umtata, Mthatha is the bustling main town of the Transkei and gateway to the Wild Coast (Mpande, Port St Johns, Coffee Bay, etc). It offers some African spirit and the Nelson Mandela museum. Transportation hub with bus services to Durban, East London and points south (the bus stop is at the petrol station on the N2). Cheap safe sleep at the Grosvenor hotel downtown, near the mall and taxi rank. Take a taxi into town from the petrol station.
  • Coffee Bay - At the heart of the Wild Coast, with its idyllic cliffs & beaches. Grocery store and post office. There are two backpackers here, Coffee Shack and Bomvu, who between them are surf specialists, drum makers and firedancers under moon and stars.
  • Port St Johns - Capital of the Wild Coast and home of the wise, the wild, the wacky and the weird. Backpackers in and near town include Amapondo, Ikaya and Jungle Monkey.
  • Kei mouth is about 90km from East London and is situated on the south bank of the Kei River, beyond which, lies the rural former homeland of the Transkei. The subtropical climate, unpolluted beaches and warm waters of the Indian Ocean make Kei mouth ideal for bathers, surfers and sunbathers throughout the year.
  • Cintsa - On the southern gateway to the Wild Coast this small town has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. It is also home to Buccaneers Backpackers considered by many travelers to be one of the best backpackers in SA. Volunteering through Volunteer Africa 32 degrees south has made significant inroads to assisting with rural schools development in Cintsa and along the Wild Coast.
  • Mpande - Spaza shops, wild unspoiled beaches, amazing surf, canoeing, horse riding and of course The Kraal Backpackers where you can drum with the stars!
  • Mdumbi - Mdumbi lies 24km north of Coffee Bay. The beach lies in a sweeping bay and is lined with shady Milkwood trees and Xhosa huts and lies at the foot of rolling green hills. The surfing is excellent and the water uncrowded.
  • Qolora - village with a shipwreck on the bank of Qholorha River.
  • Bulungula, in Xora, north of Cintsa and south of Coffee Bay is in a small rural village and is an exciting place for travelers to visit. It's a partnership between the local community and Dave Martin and is both beautiful and actively involved in community development.
  • Ntafufu River Mouth is about 10km up the coast (north) from Port St Johns. The Ntafufu Lagoon with its mangroves must be one of the most picturesque spots along the Wild Coast.


The Wild Coast encompasses the coast between the Kei River Mouth and Umtanvuma River along the Indian Ocean. During the former Apartheid regime the Transkei (the Wild Coast and adjacent interior up to the border with Lesotho) was one of the so called "homelands" and officially politically and economically independent. It is still one of the poorest regions of South Africa. It offers spectacular coastlines without the tourist crowd. The whole region is very rural and infrastructure is sparse, so plan ahead.


The home of the Xhosa people, the more rural the community, the less likely they'll speak English. See the Xhosa phrasebook.

Get in

By Bus

Public transport to the Wild Coast is sparse but the some of the main bus companies stop in Mthatha and Port St Johns. Alternatively the Baz Bus runs along the Wild Coast on it's way from Port Elizabeth to Durban making it one of the best options in this part of the country. The Baz Bus services Buccaneers Backpackers at its door before heading to Mthatha for its links via a separate shuttle to Coffee Bay and Bulungula. From this point the bus heads to the South Coast, so anyone needing to go to Port St Johns needs to arrange for a shuttle to pick them up at Mthatha.

By Car

The N2 and R61 highway go through the Wild Coast and are currently upgraded, but driving is still an experience, as cows and goats routinely cross the roads. If possible, avoid driving at night, especially off the main routes, as both potholes and livestock can leap out of the dark unexpectedly. Most major bus companies travel through this route.

By Train

As of the beginning of 2009 there is no train service in the Wild Coast. However, the disused railway line from East London to Mthatha has been upgraded and full passenger service between the two may have commenced.

By Plane

The closest International Airport is located in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, although you can fly in to Mthatha from Johannesburg and possibly other major cities. Depending on which part of the wild coast you are visiting, East London Airport can be closer than Durban Airport. Mthatha is the closest airport but only provides flights to and from Johannesburg.

Get around

Public transport is limited.

  • "The Kraal": Dylan's 'chill village' in Mpande (20km from Port St Johns on the wild coast.
  • Xhosa villages, See the round huts, meet the friendly people, maybe chat with a Sangoma (witchdoctor). Visit a shebeen (local bar). Beer and food available for hikers. NOTE: these people have no cash--don't tempt them by flashing yours!
  • Hsuleka game reserve, Black and Blue wildebeest, 2 kinds of Zebras, raptors, pristine forest, butterflies in season. No lions! Hiking trail huts on a lonely beach at the south end.
  • Silaka game reserve, South of Port St Johns beach 3, beaches, breakers, bush to butterflies. Pay fee here for the Wild Coast trail, at HQ in the middle of the reserve. Hiker's hut on the north end.
  • Wild Coast Trail. One of the world's great hikes, 5 days (Port St Johns - Coffee Bay). Every night on a bed in a hut. Costs about SAR 45 for all; or the old, full 26 days (most other huts are in ruins) all the way down the Wild Coast, beaches and bush and sunshine, spirit and locals' smiles. Game reserves, few roads, fewer automobiles. Be prepared to ford estuaries! Wear sandals when crossing in case of stings. The moment the tide starts IN is least dangerous. Rumours of sharks are overstated. Fresh water streams at least once a day, use iodine. Firewood sufficient. Guides not needed. Beware of undertow when swimming! People have walked solo 42 days, no worries. A hat suitable for strong winds is a must!
  • Wild beaches, clothing optional, sunblock a must, cover up for conservative locals, beware of undertows.
  • Beach fishing, km after km of undeveloped, unexplored shores
  • Surfing, go to The Kraal for the best Wild Coast Surf experience
  • Spearfishing, go diving and catch your supper
  • Wood oven food, at the Kraal
  • Morgan's Bay: Seaside village with magnificent cliffs that plunge into the sea.
  • Kei mouth: Southern gateway to the Wild Coast via one of South Africa's two remain pontoon car ferries.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TRANSKEI, one of the divisions of the Cape province, South Africa, east of the Kei River, being part of the country known variously as Kaffraria ((q.v.), "the Native Territories" (of the Cape) and the Transkeian Territories. The majority of the inhabitants are Fingo.

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