Blogs » WildCoast.Com's blog

The Wild Coast Gold Rush

Pioneer Lodge, the first cottage at Hole in the Wall, has a sign on it saying 1894. Rumor has it that it was only during WWII that any others were built; as the Resorts Board created incentives for people (allies) to locate there during the War to keep lookout for German U-Boats rumored to be receiving stores and fuel along the Wild Coast - near Hole in the Wall and Coffee Bay, specifically.

So around that time generous individual plots of land were leased on a 3 year quitrent system, and under certain provisos granted by the Headman of the area, to the respective holiday home owners.

Now the question as to why these holiday resorts were treated differently to everywhere else along the coast of South Africa (since long before 1948, and right up till the present) remains a very good one. Where no land claim disputes exist - for example - why shouldn't the cottage owners simply have retrospective rights to full title-deed? Possession is still 9/10 of the law in the greater scheme of things, and most of the Wild Coast beach resorts were never previously inhabited - only visited occasionally by wandering Strandlopers.

But instead, since reincorporation in 1994, the Wild Coast has been held firmly in a stasis with a moratorium against any developments within 1000m from the high water mark.

Prior to that, in fact, there were 10 long years of destabilization within the Transkei: from 1984 on, when a student protest (over the right to congregate) ended in teargas and rubber bullets - and approximately 380 assorted "dissidents", mainly from the University of Transkei, were rounded up and kept incarcerated at various prisons around the Transkei for over 18 months .

Coup attempt followed coup after the Matanzima brothers' era of puppet-string leadership finally ended in 1987- mercifully along with the over 3 year long "state of emergency" with it's curfew and all the arbitrary arrests. Finally things stabilized somewhat under the benign military dictatorship of Bantu Holomisa - but during the prelude to reincorporation into South Africa - from '88 onwards - the Transkei became even more of a hothouse of political activity than before and tourists were well advised to stay away. Also, though he denies it publicly, Bantu Bonke was openly hosting APLA and MK cadres in the homeland[1].

After 1994 - Reincorporation, with the subsequent integration attempt of the soldiers from the Transkei into the SANDF, plus the liquidation of many parastatals such as Capital Radio and Transkei Airways, combined with the moving of most government departments to Bisho proved disastrous for the Transkeian people. Formerly thriving organizations retrenched staff and downsized desperately in an attempt to survive as the local economy was diminished by more than half it's workforce virtually overnight. Many however - including several liquor-stores, which are believed to usually thrive in a depression - closed their doors permanently.

It's always struck me as sadly ironic how cruelly the tide of destiny turned on the homeland that gave birth to so many sons of the struggle - especially our legendary icon of political freedom, Nelson Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela. It appears now almost as if some care is being taken to erase all evidence of the existence of the Transkei in history regardless of other factors, such as Shaka and Hintsa for example, which contributed to the creation of the Transkei well before the Nats thought up apartheid. So the Transkei should not be mistaken for a geo-political area that came into being only out of the polities of the National Party after 1948. It's status in fact as the Xhosa heartland antedates the consequent bantustan association by over a century.

1] homeland: | ˈhōmˌland | (noun) a person's or a people's native land : historical any of ten partially self-governing areas in South Africa designated for particular indigenous African peoples under the former policy of apartheid.

George Bush Jr. (in the New Millenium's lexicon) has practically verbalized the noun into something which - coupled with security - strikes a fearful chord not entirely dissimilar to "de vaderland uber alles."

In stark counterpoint the Home Lands have more recently been immortalized into popular culture thanx to Busta Rhymes' classic remix of Rastaman Chant.

Take it back to the Home Land
Where the holy sacred and pure is at
Na'mean?

Add new comment