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Pietermaritzburg History, South Africa

Pietermaritzburg South Africa

It was founded by the Voortrekkers, after they defeated the Dingane at the battle of blood; Pietermaritzburg has the honor of being the capital of the Boer republic. It is in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. It was founded in the year 1838. In 1843 the British took over the government and they built a fort there known as Fort Napier named after a British governor named Sir George Thomas Napier.

In 1893, they built a city hall and an assembly hall as they got responsibility for their own government then. South Africa became a country in 1910 and Pietermaritzburg was used as the capital. Pieter Maurits Retief who was killed by Dingane of the Zulus was the namesake of the town.

The irony is that Peter Maurits Retief was not able to see the city named after him as he died in Bloukranz north of the city of Pietermaritzburg. When the Zulus were in charge, the area was named Umgungundlovu. This is commonly meant as the home of the elephants. The head of the Zulus takes the name of the elephant so it is thought to represent some tribal victory.

Shaka Zulu had a lot of elephants hunted there so that he could trade the ivory with English traders in a place now called Durban. It was known at the time as Port Natal. The Municipality where this is located is still known as Zulu. The main area of the town is called Voortrekker.

When there was apartheid, 90% of the Indians  were sent out to Northdale and the Zulus moved to Edendale.

 Pietermaritzburg is home to the University of Natal which came into existence in 1910. It extended a college in Durban and in 1949 it was incorporated to the University of Natal. This University is known for its opposition to Apartheid. It is also the first University in that area which admitted black students.

The University is also known to have former students achieve great things in countries all over the globe. It was renamed University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2004. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India as he is called, was travelling by train in 1893 when he was thrown off the train for having brown skin, he was thrown out at Pietermaritzburg. He came up with the struggle against discrimination there, and went on to Satyagraha, the non violent resistance he is known for.


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