Fort Beaufort

“Located at the end of a winding road overlooking a verdant valley, Healdtown was far more beautiful and impressive than Clarkebury. It was, at the time, the largest African school south of the equator, with more than a thousand learners, both male and female. Its gracefully ivory colonial buildings and tree-shaded courtyards gave it a feeling of a privileged academic oasis, which is exactly what it was.” Nelson Mandela - Long Walk to Freedom.

 

Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe was born on 5 December 1924 in Graaff-Reinet, a small town in the Eastern Cape known as the gem of the Karoo. He was the youngest of six children and, as was normal at the time, he was given an English name (Robert) as well as a Xhosa name, Mangaliso, meaning ‘it is wonderful’. His brothers who survived were Ernest, born in 1914, and Charles, born in 1922. His only sister was Eleanor.

The following article on the history of the Victoria Bridge near Fort Beaufort appeared in the 1985 edition of Restorica, the old journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish. Although the bridge is still in existence, local activists are concerned that it may not survive for long as it is being used by very heavy trucks and stress cracks have started to appear.

Subscribe to Fort Beaufort