The Eastern Cape is one of the provinces of South Africa. Its capital is Bhisho, but its two largest cities are East London and Port Elizabeth.

The second largest province in the country (at 168,966 km2) after Northern Cape, it was formed in 1994 out of the Xhosa homelands or bantustans of Transkei and Ciskei, together with the eastern portion of the Cape Province. The central and eastern part of the province is the traditional home of the indigenous Xhosa people. In 1820 this area which was known as the Xhosa Kingdom began to be settled by Europeans who originally came from England and some from Scotland and Ireland.

Since South Africa’s early years, many Xhosas believed in Africanism and figures such as Walter Rubusana believed that the rights of Xhosa people and Africans in general, could not be protected unless Africans mobilized and worked together. As a result, the Eastern Cape is home to many anti-apartheid leaders such as Robert Sobukwe, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Winnie Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Alfred Xuma, Cecilia Makiwane, Noni Jabavu among others. It is also home the then young Thabo Mbeki, Chris Hani, Bantu Holomisa, Steve Biko, musicians Miriam Makeba, Madosini, Nathi, Vusi Nova and Zahara as well as historical figures such as Rev. Tiyo Soga, Samuel Mqhayi, Mongezi Sifika wa Nkomo, Enoch Sontonga and Jotello Festiri Soga.

The Eastern Cape as a South African Province came into existence in 1994 and incorporated areas from the former Xhosa homelands of the Transkei and Ciskei, together with what was previously part of the Cape Province. This resulted in several anomalies including the fact that the Province has four supreme courts (in Grahamstown (Makhanda), Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha), Bhisho and Mthatha) and had enclaves of KwaZulu-Natal in the province. The latter anomaly has fallen away with amendments to municipal and provincial boundaries.

The Xhosa Kingdom was one of the most powerful kingdoms in Africa and had all states in the Eastern Cape as tributaries. Any group, people or tribe that recognized the Xhosa Kingdom as Paramouncy became Xhosa, practiced Xhosa culture and used isiXhosa as their main language. Some of the tribes that fall under the category of Xhosa people include: AmaMpondo, AbaThembu, AmaMpondomise, AmaHlubi, AmaBhaca, AmaXesibe, AmaBomvana and more.


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