Located close to South Africa's border with Botswana, Mahikeng is 1,400 km (870 mi) northeast of Cape Town and 260 km (160 mi) west of Johannesburg. In 2001, it had a population of 49,300. In 2007, Mafikeng was reported to have a population of 250,000 of which the CBD constitutes between 69,000 and 75,000. It is built on the open veld at an elevation of 1,500 m (4,921 ft), by the banks of the Upper Molopo River. The Madibi goldfields are some 15 km (9.3 mi) south of the town.
Mahikeng is the headquarters of the Barolong Boo Ratshidi people. The town was founded by Molema Tawana (c. 1822 – January 1882). Born in Khunwana during the difaqane period, Molema was the son of Kgosi Tawana of the Tshidi Barolong. Molema's brother and close confidant, Montshiwa, later became chief. During the period that the Tshidi Barolong resided at Thaba Nchu, where they found refuge during the difaqane, Molema was converted to Christianity by the Wesleyan missionaries based there. Molema's son and heir, Silas Molema, was educated at Healdtown College. (Silas helped his nephew Sebopioa Molema get to the United States about 1904 to study law at Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio.)
In 1857 Molema led an advance guard to scout out the area along the Molopo River. This was a familiar area as they had previously lived in nearby Khunwana. Molema settled at Mafikeng (known in its early years as "Molema's town"), while the main body of the Barolong under Montshiwa followed. But Montshiwa did not feel safe at Mafikeng due to the close presence and encroachment of the Boers in the Transvaal. He led his followers to Moshaneng in the territory of the Bangwaketse in present-day Botswana.
Molema remained at Mafikeng to ensure that the Barolong retained a presence there. Several of Montshiwa's other brothers were also stationed at crucial sites in the proximity of the Molopo. Molema had to use all his diplomatic skills on several occasions to prevent Boer incursion and settlement near Mafikeng. He has been described as a man of "strong personality and exceptional gifts...and Montshiwa's chief counsellor in vital matters". (S.M Molema:35) After negotiations with Molema, Montshiwa decided to return to Mafikeng in 1876.
Molema was a firm believer in Western education, having attended Healdtown; he opened a school for the Barolong once they had settled in the district. Molema became a farmer and businessman, as well as advising his brother Montshiwa. He died in 1882. One of his sons, Silas Molema, became a Doctor and historian of the Barolong. (see S.M. Molema). The settlement was named Mafikeng, a Setswana name meaning "place of stones". Later British settlers spelled the name as "Mafeking". The Jameson Raid started from Pitsani Pothlugo (or Potlogo) 24 miles (39 km) north of Mafeking on December 29, 1895.
At the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899, the town was besieged. The Siege of Mafeking lasted 217 days from October 1899 to May 1900, and turned Robert Baden-Powell into a national hero. In September 1904, Lord Roberts unveiled an obelisk at Mafeking bearing the names of those who fell in defence of the town. In all, 212 people were killed during the siege, with more than 600 wounded. Boer losses were significantly higher.
Although it was outside the protectorate's borders, Mafeking served as capital of the Bechuanaland Protectorate from 1894 until 1965, when Gaborone was made the capital of what was to become Botswana. Mafeking also briefly served as capital of the pre-independence Bantustan of Bophuthatswana in the 1970s, before the adjoining town of Mmabatho was established as capital. Following a local referendum on the issue, Mafeking joined Bophuthatswana in 1980, three years after Bophuthatswana was awarded independence, and was renamed Mafikeng, and treated as a suburb of Mmabatho.
Following the end of apartheid in 1994, the merged Mafikeng and Mmabatho was instated as capital of the new North-West Province under the name Mafikeng.North-West University
Mafikeng Railway Station
Mafikeng Game Reserve (4800 Ha)
Botsalano Game Reserve (5800 Ha)
Molemane Eye Nature Reserve
The town's name was first spelt by British settlers as Mafeking, but the name reverted to Mafikeng in 1980 following its incorporation into Bophuthatswana. In February 2010, Lulu Xingwana, the Minister of Arts and Culture, approved the town's name to be changed again to Mahikeng. Despite this the town's ANC-run local government and most local residents still refer to the town as Mafikeng both informally and formally.Judge Yvonne Mokgoro: Former justice at the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
Credo Mutwa: artist who lived for years in the village of Lotlamoreng outside Mafikeng
Cassper Nyovest: South African recording artist and producer.
Mogoeng Reetsang Thomas Mogoeng, Chief Justice of South Africa
Tumelo Kepadisa simply known as Tuks or Tuks Senganga, Motswako rapper born in Mafikeng.
Jabulani Tsambo, better known by his stage name Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP) and his nickname, "Jabba". He is a South African Motswako rapper, recording artist and producer
Tseko Mogotsi, Gymnast and CEO of the South African Gymnastics Federation
Tebogo Kgobokoe, Dancer
Ruta Monare, Tennis player
Sylvester "City" Kole, Soccer player, Kaizer Chiefs player
Tebogo "Pele" Modise, Tennis player and coach, University of Southern Mississippi
Norman "Goalpower" Makhetha, Soccer player and Moroka Swallows defender
Galaletsang Mokone David Qobolo, Dancer, New York
Motlapele (Mo'Molemi) Morule, Hip hop artist
Timothy Thibogang Lesejane, Soccer player, Kaizer Chiefs striker
Kagiso Marumo, Soccer player, North-West University (NWU) Soccer Institute academic liaison officer and team manager
Bonang Matheba, Television host, radio personality and businesswoman
Thato Molamu, Generations actor
Vuyo Dabula, actor on Generations The Legacy* Neo Ramitshana, actress in Skeem Saam, seasons 2 qnd 3
Zenzo Ngqobe, Actor in Rhythm City, Jozi-H, Hillside, Intersexions, Ga Re Dumele, The Forgotten Kingdom
Advocate Lesang Cyril Lobakeng - a lawyer and politician born in Magogwe village in Mahikeng. A struggle hero who took part in the liberation of the people of Bophuthatswana.
By 1910, the municipal council had assumed a coat of arms. The arms depicted, from top to bottom, (1) two African heads on a background of wavy silver and blue stripes, (2) two rocks between eight artillery shells on a red background, and (3) a background of wavy silver and blue stripes strewn with diamond-shaped fusils; in the centre was a crowned shield depicting a golden lion with a sword and Union Jack shield between three golden rings. The crest was a similar lion standing on a rock, and the motto was Ne cede.
A new coat of arms was granted by the provincial administrator on 2 August 1968 and registered at the Bureau of Heraldry in January 1972.
The arms were: "Per saltire: I, Gules, a fasces fesswise Argent; II and III, barry wavy of eight Argent and Azure; IV, Gules, three annulets Or, placed 1 and 2; the whole within a bordure Argent charged with eight pellets". In layman's terms, the shield was divided in four by two diagonal lines, and displayed (1) a silver fasces on a red background, (2) and (3) eight wavy silver and blue stripes, and (4) three golden rings (one over two) on a red background, all within a silver border charged with eight black discs.
The crest was a red lion standing on a rock and holding a sword. The motto remained Ne cede.