Infobox Former Country
native_name =
conventional_long_name = Republic of Transkei
common_name = Transkei
continent = Africa
region = Southern Africa
country = South Africa
status = Bantustan
empire =
event_start = Self-government
year_start = 1963
date_start = May 30
event_end = Re-integrated into South Africa
year_end = 1994
date_end = April 27
event_post =
date_post =
p1 = South Africa
flag_p1 = Flag of South Africa 1928-1994.svg
s1 = South Africa
flag_s1 = Flag of South Africa.svg

image_map_caption = Location of Transkei within South Africa
capital = Mthatha
title_leader =
leader1 =
national_anthem = [ Nkosi sikelel'i Afrika]
common_languages = Xhosa
religion =
currency = South AfricanRand
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.

Geography and language

The Transkei has many rivers flowing from the mountains to the oceans, so unlike much of South Africa, it is relatively unscathed by drought.

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.


In recent years, the Transkei area of the Eastern Cape has become a regular destination for tourists. The unspoilt Transkei has not been invaded by large hotel chains or any of the Westernized luxuries found elsewhere in South Africa and is especially attractive to tourists who seek an "African experience". Coffee Bay and Port St. John's are two of the main tourist towns. Backpackers' lodges are readily available relatively cheap.

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 enforcedFact|date=August 2008 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.

History of the Bantustan

In 1959, the National Party government introduced legislation to create eight ethnically and linguistically divided homelands, bantustans, for black South Africans in order to pursue a policy of "Separate Development" for South Africa's various races. The Transkei and Ciskei were set aside for the Xhosa-speaking people.

For much of its history, the Transkei Bantustan was ruled by Chief Kaizer Daliwonga Matanzima, a nephew of Nelson Mandela.

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. [ [,9171,918444,00.html The Transkei Puppet Show] , "TIME Magazine", October 25, 1976]

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 1980, he deposed the king of the Thembu people, Sabata Dalindyebo.

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.

The Transkei government was a participant in the Codesa negotiations for a new South Africa. It was reincorporated into the "new" South Africa, on 27 April 1994.


See also

*Presidents of Transkei
*Heads of Government of Transkei

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Transkei — 1976 – 1994 Drapeau Hymne : Nkosi sikelel iAfrika (Dieu bénisse l Afrique) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Transkei — (Transkai), Distrikt im östlichen Teil der britisch südafrikan. Kapkolonie, am Indischen Ozean, zwischen Großem Keifluß und Bashee, 6609 qkm mit (1904) 177,730 Einw., darunter 1707 Weiße, die übrigen Fingo, Kaffern und Betschuanen. – Transkeian… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Transkei — (le) district maritime de la prov. du Cap oriental, ancien bantoustan d Afrique du Sud (1959 1994, indépendant en 1976); 43 798 km²; env. 3 300 000 hab.; cap. Umtata. Situé sur l océan Indien, à l E. de la prov. du Cap orient. et au S. du Lesotho …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Transkei — [trans kī′, transkā′] former homeland of the Xhosa nation in E South Africa: granted independence in 1976, it was abolished in 1994 Transkeian adj …   English World dictionary

  • Transkei — Flagge der Transkei Lage der Transkei in Südafrika Die Transkei war ein Gebiet im östlichen Kapla …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Transkei — República de Transkei ← …   Wikipedia Español

  • Transkei — Transkeian, adj., n. /trans kay , kuy /, n. a self governing Bantu territory of South Africa on the Indian Ocean: granted independence in 1976 by South Africa, but not recognized by any other country as an independent state. 1,900,000; 16,910 sq …   Universalium

  • Transkei — Trans|kei, die; : 1976–1994 formal unabhängiges Gebiet innerhalb der Republik Südafrika. * * * Transkei   die, ehemaliges Homeland im Nordosten der Republik Südafrika, Hauptstadt war Umtata. Das Gebiet erstreckt sich zwischen den Flüssen Great… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Transkei — ► Territorio autónomo bantú (Bantustan) del SE de la República de Sudáfrica, junto al océano Índico, al S de Lesotho, independiente desde 1976; 41 600 km2 y 3 000 000 h. Cap., Umtata. * * * Región administrativa de Sudáfrica. Limita con el océano …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Transkei — Trans|kei , the Transkei an area of South Africa that is part of the Eastern Cape Province. It was formerly a ↑homeland (a partly independent area set aside for the black population during the ↑apartheid period) …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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