Sunday, March 9, 2014


The South African government handed over Mafeking to the Republic of Bophuthatswana, three years after being granted independence. The handing-over also effected the name change of this town from the British pronunciation Mafeking to a Tswana name, Mafikeng, meaning a 'place of stones'. The town became the seat of the Bophuthatswana government until the new capital, Mmabatho, was developed. Mafikeng now incorporates Mmabatho (Mother of the People), and is the current capital of the North West Province, which was created after South Africa's first democratic election.

Mafikeng, formerly (until 1980) Mafeking, town, capital of North-West province, South Africa. It was previously part of the not internationally recognized republic of Bophuthatswana, in one of that country’s separated land units. It lies close to the Botswana border, about 150 miles (240 km) west of Johannesburg. Before 1980 Mafikeng was administratively within Cape Province, South Africa.

Founded in 1885 as a British military outpost, its garrison under Colonel Robert (later Lord) Baden-Powell was besieged by Boers from Oct. 12, 1899, to May 17, 1900, during the South African War; its fate excited the liveliest sympathy in England, and jubilation in London on the news of its relief led to the coining of the word “maffick.” The restored fort is a national monument of South Africa. Until 1965, Mafikeng, whose name is derived from the Tswana word meaning “place of stones,”was the extraterritorial headquarters of the British protectorate of Bechuanaland (now Botswana). The town is a major employer for the region, and Mmabatho, the former capital of Bophuthatswana, adjoins it on the west. Surrounded by prosperous cattle country, Mafikeng is a trade centre and supports dairy industries. Its workshops make it an important stop on the Cape Town-to-Zimbabwe railway, and a spur line connects the town to Johannesburg.

The cover depicts stamps in vogue in Bophuthatswana during different periods in its history. The 20c stamp on the cover has a picture of Sclerocarya caffra, the marula, (Greek σκληρός, sklērós, "hard", and κάρυον, káryon, "nut", in reference to the stone inside the fleshy fruit) is a medium-sized dioecious tree, indigenous to the miombo woodlands of Southern Africa, the Sudano-Sahelian range of West Africa, and Madagascar. The tree is a single stemmed tree with a wide spreading crown. It is characterised by a grey mottled bark. The tree grows up to 18 m tall mostly in low altitudes and open woodlands. The fruits are used in the liqueur Amarula. The distribution of this species throughout Africa and Madagascar has followed the Bantu in their migrations, as it has been an important item in their diet since time immemorial.

Thank you Maria for this lovely first day cover.

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