Buffalo City, a newly established municipality in the Eastern Cape, includes a large area characterised by very different features. Many of the white people in the surrounding districts are descendants of members of the British German Legion disbanded after the Crimean War. Hence such names as Berlin, Potsdam, Braunschweig, Frankfurt and Stutterheim given to settlements in this part of the country.
East London
East London, South Africa’s only river port, is set on both the broad Buffalo River and Nahoon River and has the Gonubie River flowing around it. It is known as the gateway to the region’s principal tourist corridors: the Sunshine Coast and the Wild Coast.
Established by the British in 1836 as a military post, East London  was used by the colonialists as a base during the Xhosa Wars. The arrival of German settlers, who had been serving as mercenaries in the British-German Legion, gave the place at the mouth of the Buffalo River an economic boost. In 1873 East London was given town rights.
Today, about half-a-million people live in East London and surrounding townships. The township of Mdantsane, 20km from East London, was established in 1962 as part of the apartheid government’s racist policies to provide living space for cheap African labour. It is now the largest town in the area, with a population of more than 250,000.
King William’s Town
King William’s Town, or ‘King’ as the town is known locally, lies at the foot of the Amatola Mountains. The town is well laid out and most of the public buildings and stores are built of stone. There are manufactories of sweets and jams, candles, soap, matches and leather.
King William’s Town was founded by Sir Benjamin d’Urban in May 1835 during the Xhosa Wars of that year. It was named after William IV, King of the United Kingdom and Hanover from 1830 to 1837.
Abandoned by the white settlers in December 1836, King William’s Town was reoccupied in 1846 and became the capital of an area derogatorily known as ‘British Kaffraria’. An important centre for trade, Kaffraria was incorporated into the expanding British Cape Colony in 1865.
King William’s Town was home to Steve Biko, South Africa’s father of Black Consciousness.
Lekker Links
Amatola hiking trail
Buffalo City Municipality
The Sunshine Coast
The Wild Coast
Tourism Buffalo City Eastern Cape province
Cradock, Graaff-Reinet, Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth, Queenstown, Mthatha (Umtata)
Addo Elephant National Park
Camdeboo National Park
Mountain Zebra National Park
Tsitsikamma National Park
Bhisho (formerly spelt Bisho) lies just 3km east of King William’s Town. It is the provincial capital of the Eastern Cape, having previously been the capital of the Ciskei homeland during the apartheid era.
Bhisho, which means Buffalo in isiXhosa, named after the river that runs through it, has some of the most spectacular views of the Amathole (Amatola) mountain range.
Today Bhisho is one of the newest urban centres in the Eastern Cape, having only been established in the 1970s and 1980s. Built outside King William’s Town, Bhisho is unique as it is arguably the only town in the world built according to the post modernist idiom.
‘It was … just after 12 on one such hot, sunny day, when 80,000 of us came over the hill from King William’s Town, saying ‘no more slavery’. The police helicopter was high in the sky. Gqozo gave the order of the apartheid masters from that building [the present legislature] to open fire and our people’s blood was spilled, blood that nourishes the tree of freedom.’
– Ronnie Kasrils, Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, in an address in 1999 during his visit to Bhisho.
During the demise of apartheid it became infamous for the Bisho Massacre on 7 September 1992, when 80,000 people marched on the town protesting for the removal of Ciskei leader Brigadier Oupa Gqozo. The Defence Force opened fire on protesters at the sports stadium, killing 29 and wounding 200. The massacre came at a critical time following Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, threatening to halt negotiations towards democracy which was achieved in 1994.
The Xhosa Wars, also known as the Cape Frontier Wars (in the past were also know derogatorily as the Kaffir Wars), occurred sporadically from 1779 to 1879 between the British and the amaXhosa or the Boers and the amaXhosa.
The Xhosa Wars were responsible for the amaXhosa losing most of their lands to the white settlers and colonialists.

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