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History

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For over three centuries Robben Island, an offshore island within sight of the City of Cape Town, was used by successive governments as a penal settlement and isolation centre. Its detention centres served to safeguard the surrounding society. From the outset the island’s institutions followed a treatment regime that was harsh. During the apartheid years (1948 – 1994), it served as the primary place of detention for anti-apartheid activists who fought for the overthrow of the minority-ruled state.

Digaretene and the 1947 royal visit in Bloemfontein: an oral history overview

he narrative of Digaretene in Bochabela Township, East of Bloemfontein, dated back to 1947 when the British Royal family – King George VI, his wife Queen Elizabeth and their two daughters, Princess Elizabeth (the current Queen Elizabeth) and Princess Margaret – visited South Africa.

King George VI and his Royal family visited Bloemfontein as part of their tour of South Africa. The reason for the visit was to thank South Africa for the support that the country gave Britain during the Second World War [WWII]. The Municipality of Bloemfontein organized the construction of 24 houses, 12 built in Abdurahman Street and 12 built in Nyokong Street.

With the recent passing of Miss Matlhaodi Rahab Kgomo, an important era in the history of Bloemfontein came to an end. In addition to being one of the last of her generation to have witnessed the visit of the British Royals to Bloemfontein in 1947, which in her case was sealed with a gift of a cup and saucer, Rahab Kgomo was one of the pioneers who contributed to the establishment and further development of a distinct tennis tradition within the black communities of the Free State in general and Greater Bloemfontein/Mangaung in particular. Another tennis legend from Kgomo’s era was the late Gobuiwang Junia [‘Zero’] Tlhobelo who passed away 10 years ago.

In 2018 Batho, Bloemfontein’s oldest existing historically-black township or so-called ‘location’, celebrates its centenary. Compared to other South African townships of similar size and age, Batho is no ordinary township because of its rich and colourful history. During the past 100 years much had happened there, most notably on a socio-political level. For example, consider the fact that the well-known founder-member and first speaker of the South African Native National Congress (later ANC), Thomas Mapikela, lived in Batho until his death in 1945.