History Of Pretoria


Around the 1600s, the area which was to become the location of the city of Pretoria, was inhabited by an African ethnic group, the Southern Transvaal Ndebele’s. They are thought to have settled there after travelling from Natal to the Transvaal region led by a chief called Musi. In the mid-seventeenth century, the nation split over a succession dispute between Musi’s two sons, Manala and Ndzundza.


During the period between 1815 to 1840 another group of refugees arrived in this area under the leadership of Mzilikazi, the Southern African king who later founded the Matabele Kingdom in what is now Zimbabwe. However, they were forced to abandon their villages in their flight from a troop of Zulu raiders.

In 1853 Marthinus Pretorius, a Voortrekker leader and the first president of the South African Republic, purchased the farms Elandspoort and Koedoespoort and on 16 November 1855 the two farms were declared a town.

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He named the town ‘Pretoria’ after his father, Andries Pretorius, who had become a national hero of the Voortrekkers after his victory over the Zulus in the Battle of Blood River.

DSC_0929Pretoria became the capital of the South Africa on the 1st of May 1860. The founding of Pretoria as the capital of the South African Republic was seen as end of the Boers’ settlement movements of the Great Trek.

The peace treaty which ended the First Boer War, that was fought from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881, was signed in Pretoria on 3 August 1881 at the Pretoria Convention.

The Second Boer War, that was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers, resulted in the end of the Transvaal Republic and start of British hegemony in South Africa. A number of forts were built for the defence of Pretoria just prior to the Second Boer War, though some are today in ruins, a number of them have been preserved as national monuments.

On the 31st of May 1910 Pretoria became the administrative capital of South Africa when The Union of South Africa, the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa, came into being with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

Pretoria remained the administrative capital when South Africa became a republic in 1961, with Cape Town as the legislative capital and Bloemfontein as the judicial capital.

After the end of apartheid and the creation of new municipal structures across South Africa in 2000, the name Tshwane was adopted for the Metropolitan Municipality that includes Pretoria and surrounding towns.

According to former Tshwane Executive Mayor Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, Tshwane was the name of the son of an African chief who settled in the area hundreds of years ago.

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