Andre Wedepohl

One of the most remarkable early European visitors to the Magaliesberg region was the Scottish missionary Robert Moffat. He was born on 21 December 1795 in Ormiston, Scotland. His parents were not wealthy, and at the age of 13, he was apprenticed to a gardener. It was hard, physical labour, which no doubt developed in Moffat a toughness which stood him in good stead later in life. In the evenings Moffat attended classes, during which he not only learnt Latin, but was also given instruction in blacksmithing and playing the violin.

The history of the Ndebele people, also referred to as the Matabele, began with the rise of Mzilikazi (born about 1790) as a leader of one of branches of the Khumalo clan under the Zulu king, Shaka (Rasmussen 1978, p. 10). In 1822, Shaka sent Mzilikazi, with an impi, on a cattle-raiding expedition against the Sotho chief, Ranisi (Sominisi). This expedition was successful, and large numbers of cattle were seized.

Drawing primarily on careful analysis of oral traditions, scholars are in general agreement that most Tswana communities are offshoots of the Bahurutshe, who moved southwards through what is today Botswana and established themselves along the Madikwe (Marico) River, probably in about 1500 AD (see Carruthers 2014, p. 213). The Bakwena were one of the most prominent offshoots from the Bahurutshe.

In Episode 1 of this series (click here to read), mention was made of the agro-pastoralists (farmers who grew crops and kept livestock) who moved into the Magaliesberg region in about 225 AD. Scholars have categorised them as people of the "early iron age", as they possessed and made use of the technology needed for smelting and forging iron in order to make tools and weapons.

It is unknown when exactly human beings first arrived in the Magaliesberg, but stone tools from the area date back hundreds of thousands of years. There are, however, three important archaeological sites in the Magaliesberg where radio-carbon dating has revealed fascinating evidence of the way early occupants lived at least 6 000 years ago. These sites are Kruger Cave, west of Olifantspoort (excavated by Prof Revil Mason - see main image), and Jubilee Shelter and Cave James, east of Silkaatsnek (excavated by Prof Lyn Wadley).

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