The Amathole district stretches from the Indian Ocean coastline in the south to the Amathole Mountains in the north, and from Mbolompo Point (just south of the Hole-in-the-Wall along the Transkei Wild Coast) in the east to the Great Fish River in the west.
It is a land of rivers and fertile floodplains, undulating grasslands, valley bush, pristine estuaries, beaches, forests and waterfalls. The bio-diversity of the district is often remarked upon, together with possible implications for future socio-economic developments and competitive advantages.
Four new heritage routes have been established, named after Xhosa kings and heroes. These are Makana, Sandile, Maqoma and Phalo Routes. Over 350 heritage sites have been identified within the district which is dotted with remnants of forts, mission stations, places of historical significance and burial sites of Xhosa kings and struggle heroes.
Steeped in history, the area will enthrall visitors with its legends of Xhosa kings and stories of early settlers. Explore the San paintings in the Cathcart region and see the world famous African art collection at Fort Hare University. Experience African traditions at the Village of Mgwali and the artistic community of Hogsback.
The Maqoma Route:
Born in 1978, Maqoma was the eldest sone of the Rharabe King, Ngqika. He was strongly opposed to the extension of the colonial frontier and was hailed as a great leader of the Rharabe during the 1834 - 35 frontier war.
Some of the many interesting sites within the route include:
- Olive Shreiner's House: Born in 1855, Olive Shreiner was the daughter of a missionary who came to South Africa. While working as a governess in the Karoo, she wrote her famous novel The Story of an African Farm - published in 1883.
- Ntsikana's Grave: Ntsikana was the first African prophet of Christianity who preached between 1818 and 1822. He lies buried in the Kat River Valley. He composed two great humngs, inspired by spriritual experiences, which are still sung today. They are Ntsikana's Bell and Uthix'omkhulu.
- Christmas Day Massacre Site: Sir Harry Smith established a chain of so-called military villages along the fertile Tyume valley in order to keep it for white occupation. The white families, who were unarmed were attacked by the Xhosa during the outbreak of hostilities in 1950. All the inhabitants of Woburn village were killed. The warriors then attacked Juanasburg Mission but allowed women and children to flee to Fort Hare.