THE MAQOMA ROUTE
Maqoma was the eldest son of the Rharabe King, Ngqika. He was strongly opposed to the extension of the colonial frontier and was hailed as a great leader of the Rharabe during the 1834 – 35 frontier war.
Some of the many interesting sites within the route include:
- Olive Shreiner’s House: Born in 1855, Olive Shreiner was the daughter of a missionary who came to South Africa. While working as a governess in the Karoo, she wrote her famous novel The Story of an African Farm – published in 1883.
- Dutch Reformed Church: At the time of Read’s appointment to the Hertzog Church, W. R. Thomson, a minister of the Church of Scotland and former government agent at Thyume, was made minister of the Dutch
Reformed Church in the Kat River Valley. This church was to be the predecessor of the NG Kerk that still stands today at the centre of Balfour.
- Fort Armstrong: The Kat River Valley’s neat, moderate hills offered no buffer against a determined enemy. A camp was duly set up during the last part of the 6th war of land depression – and in February 1835, an irregular force of Cape Mounted Rifles under Captain Armstrong successfully withstood the advance of the Xhosa under Chief Hintsa.
- Martello Tower: Completed in 1843 (6 years to build), the Martello Tower became another link in the lengthy chain of fortifications and roads in the Eastern Cape. Many of the Eastern Cape forts had towers, serving as elevated gun or piquet (picket or watchman) placements. Fort Beaufort’s fort and tower were manned until 1869. Declared a national monument in 1938, a century after construction. An interesting fact is that its base is 9.6m in diameter and it is 9.3m high.