Eastern Cape DestinationsBisho, Wild Coast
Bisho, the former capital of the Ciskei - one of the black homelands of the apartheid era - was the site of a culminating anti-apartheid event. 1992 saw 28 people killed and at least 200 wounded when troops opened fire on anti-apartheid protesters gathered in the sports stadium.
The protesters, mostly ANC supporters, wanted the reigning military leader to step down because of his association with the Apartheid government. The black on black violence that ensued was believed to have been instigated in order to put a spoke in the wheel of peace talks to slow the process and the ANC spoke out very strongly against the disinformation about just who shot first. Nelson Mandela had the following to say on 8 September, the day after the crisis, in 1992:
“We also want to say loudly and clearly: we have travelled too far along the road to freedom to turn back now. We shall not be deterred by the threats or the actions of the forces of the past. Our people have the right to hope, the right to a future, the right to life itself. No power on this earth can destroy the thirst for human dignity. Our land cries out for peace. We will only achieve it through adherence to democratic principles and respect for the rights of all. This is the challenge that faces all South Africans. We dare not fail.”
The city was also linked with the notorious laundering of drug dollars to fund South Africa’s trade in arms, oil and other sensitive merchandise, although a lot of the accusations are still speculative.
Today, Bisho is capital of the Eastern Cape and the former Ciskei has been reincorporated into the new South Africa. Bisho is the Xhosa word for Buffalo and is named after the river that runs through the city. It lies just 3km east of King William’s Town and has some of the most spectacular views of the Amatola