Sneha Girap

Lichtenburg, North West

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Country  South Africa
Language spoken  Tswana
Area  108.90 km2
District  Ngaka Modiri Molema
Founded  1873

Lichtenburg is a town situated in North West Province of South Africa. It is the administrative centre of Ditsobotla Local Municipality.


Map of Lichtenburg, North West

The town was established in 1873 and was named by Transvaal President Thomas Francois Burgers, Lichtenburg (Town of Light). On the 13 March 1926, Jacobus Voorendyk, discovered a diamond on his family farm and within 12 months there were 108,000 fortune seekers on the scene. The resulting diamond rush lasted ten years.

The main economic activity is the production of maize (corn). Lichtenburg lies in the heart of the maize triangle, which is the main maize growing area in South Africa. Another major economic activity is the production of cement. Within a radius of 80 km of Lichtenburg there are three major cement producers. This creates an opportunity for long distance transport and related activities.

General information

Lichtenburg is situated approximately 230 kilometres (140 mi) west of Johannesburg on the main route to Mmabatho. It lies 1,459 metres (4,787 ft) above sea level. The climate is healthy and moderate. Frost occurs in winter but the days are pleasantly sunny. As a result of natural water resources and wide open spaces it has a natural charm and is a true oasis in an otherwise slightly arid North West Province.

Historical background

Lichtenburg was established in 1873 by Commandant H.A. Greeff. The history of the town is closely associated with the life of General De la Rey, who apart from being the towns representative in the House of Assembly, was also Assistant Commandant General of the Boer forces. After Unification he also became Senator. He was buried in Lichtenburg after a fatal shooting incident at Langlaagte. More and more farmers settled here during the mid to late 1800s.


Several factories manufacturing inter alia liquid fertilizer, animal feed and agricultural implements are established here. Two of the largest cement factories in the Southern Hemisphere namely AfriSam Dudfield (prev. Anglo Alpha) and Lafarge (prev. Blue Circle Cement) as well as the biggest cheese factory in the country namely Clover S.A., are situated here.


The central business area consists of approximately 150 retail undertakings, 20 financial institutions and many other service institutions. Shop and office accommodation is available as well as select business sites adjoining the central business area.


The Lichtenburg Sports Car Club is affiliated with the South African Motor Sports body and motor car and motor cycle races – both on the race track and offroad – represented here, attract well-known racing drivers.

Boer War

The First Anglo-Boer War (1880–1881), was a rebellion of Boers (farmers) against British rule in the Transvaal that re-established their independence. The conflict occurred against the backdrop of the Pretoria government becoming increasingly ineffective at dealing with growing claims on South African land from rival interests within the country. The Second War (1899–1902), by contrast, was a lengthy war—involving large numbers of troops from many British possessions, which ended with the conversion of the Boer republics into British colonies (with a promise of limited self-governance). These colonies later formed part of the Union of South Africa. The British fought directly against the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, defeating their forces first in open warfare and then in a long and bitter guerrilla campaign. British losses were high due to both disease and combat. This war saw so many nationalities fighting against each other, and was at the same time a civil war involving Afrikaner against Afrikaner, and South African English-speakers, as well as many black combatants, fighting and dying on both sides.

Rudyard Kiplings poem "Lichtenberg" relates the story of one Australian combatant and his journey towards death in a foreign land. Trooper Aberline’s sacrifice was to have an impact on the Boers and his legacy went far beyond his rusting cross in the Lichtenburg cemetery which lies close to that of Edith Mathews.

Like many British sources, Kipling spelt Lichtenburg incorrectly. It is also interesting that there have never been groves of wattle near Lichtenburg. Quite probably, however, Kipling was referring to the scent of wild Acacia in bloom, which would have reminded the Australian soldier of the wattle back home (Acacia mearnsii). The scents, and indeed the small yellow flowers, are quite similar. Just one more connection between the two continents that the poet is alluding to.

In May 1900 the siege of Mafeking ended and hostilities quickly engulfed the whole of the northern Cape and western Transvaal (this region has now been incorporated into the North-West Province). Between June and November 1900, the Anglo-Boer War evolved into its guerrilla phase, and fighting see-sawed throughout the territory. During this period the strategically important town of Lichtenburg was occupied by both Boer and Briton for short spells. In November 1900, a large British force under Col. Robert Baden-Powell was transferred to Lichtenburg and secured the town, and much of the territory with it.

Five months later, on 3 March 1901, 400 Boers under the co-joint commands of Generals De la Rey, Smuts, Celliers, Vermaas and Lemmer launched a mounted attack on the town. In a fierce but inconclusive engagement lasting a full day and much of the night, fourteen Boers and eighteen British soldiers were killed, whilst 38 Boers and 24 British soldiers were wounded. As he rode away, De la Rey was heard to remark, “The enemy has received a good hiding and so did I”.

Interesting places and Tourism

Lichtenburg, North West Tourist places in Lichtenburg, North West

Considering its unique historical background and special places of interest, coupled with its tranquility and moderate climate, Lichtenburg should certainly be included in the itinerary of the tourist.


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