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(trănskī`), former black "homeland" and nominal republic, E South Africa, in what is now Eastern Cape prov. Transkei was bounded by the Great Kei River on the south, by the Indian Ocean on the east, by Natal (now Kwazulu-Natal) on the north, and by Lesotho on the northwest. Two exclaves were separated from the main territory, in the northwest by Cape Province and in the northeast by Natal. The capital and main city was Umtata (now Mthatha).

Part of the Drakensberg Range was in W Transkei. Much of the former territory of the homeland is hilly or mountainous, and there is little good farmland. Most of the area's inhabitants speak a Xhosa language. Roughly two thirds of the Transkei's income was provided by the South African government, and all trade was conducted through South Africa.


In the 1830s and 40s the Transkei was the scene of fighting between European settlers and Africans over the possession of cattle and grazing land. The territory was gradually annexed by Britain in the late 19th cent. and incorporated into Cape Colony (later Cape Province). Transkei was separated from Cape Province in 1963 to become the first of ten black areas within South Africa that were ostensibly internally self-governing. In 1976 Transkei became the first of the homelands to be granted "independence." The South African government then revoked the citizenship of its residents. Transkei's assembly controlled many internal matters, but its decisions were subject to the control of the South African government. From 1978 to 1980 territorial disputes prompted Transkei to sever diplomatic relations with South Africa. Like the other homelands, it was not recognized internationally as an independent state. In 1994, after a multiracial election, the establishment of a new South African government, and the end of apartheidapartheid
[Afrik.,=apartness], system of racial segregation peculiar to the Republic of South Africa, the legal basis of which was largely repealed in 1991–92. History
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, Transkei and the other nine homelands were reabsorbed into South Africa.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a territory in Cape Province, Republic of South Africa. Area, about 42,000 sq km. Population, 1.75 million (1970), mostly Bantu. The capital is the city of Umtata. Since 1963 the Transkei has enjoyed self-government as a tribal homeland; actual control is in the hands of the South African government.

Cereals, cotton, and fruit are cultivated in the Transkei, and cattle and sheep are raised. The territory is a region of semicompulsory recruitment of workers for South African mines.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the largest of South Africa's former Bantu homelands and the first Bantu self-governing territory (1963); declared an independent state in 1976 but this status was not recognized outside South Africa; abolished in 1993 when South African citizenship was restored to its inhabitants. Capital: Umtata
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
16/147/26, 9 February 1956, CMT to all Transkeian magistrates; CMT 3/1471 File 42/1 Confidential, Replies to CMT circular by Idutywa magistrate, 12 April 1961, and CMT 3/1593, File 79/1, Letter 16 March 1959, unsigned, original in Xhosa, to RM Bizana translated in RM Bizana's office.
During the period 1950-63, Transkeian officials used the titles `magistrate' and `Bantu Affairs Commissioner' interchangeably.
Mears, `A Study in Native Administration: The Transkeian Territories, 1894-1943', (unpub.
Hammond-Tooke, Command or Consensus: The development of Transkeian local government (David Philip, Cape Town, 1975), p.
(45.) 1/TSO 5/1/133, File N1/9/2, Letter 28 March 1957, RM Tsolo to CMT, see also CMT 3/1451, File 38A, `Report of the Chief Magistrate and Chief Native Commissioner of the Transkeian Territories for the Year Ending 31 December 1956', 6 August 1957.
From the Transkeian territories all the magistrates reported that Africans were seeking revenge and recompense for their enormous cattle losses.
A typical example was reported by the magistrate of the Transkeian district of Willowvale.
Thus, the secretary-general of the London Missionary Society welcomed the rinderpest among the Tswana for it would "drive the natives into the labour market".(76) Elsewhere, in the Transkeian and Ciskeian territories, the missionaries unanimously saw the rinderpest as the "ill wind" which "after all brings some good".(77) Even the hard-pressed Africans in the Transvaal were regarded as potential labourers, made so by the sheer need for survival in the midst of the rinderpest's devastation.
In the Transkeian territories, for example, the prevailing unrest prompted Rhodes to urge the Cape parliament to invest the administration with "summary power of arresting rebellious leaders";(83) subsequently the colonial state extended its influence further by rewarding those chiefs and headmen who had co-operated with the administration in the anti-rinderpest campaign, while dismissing from their posts those who had been reluctant.(84) In Kweneng in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, the miserable conditions of the people offered the colonial state a timely opportunity and excuse to consider deposing Chief Sebele.
Stultz, a self professed conservative, clearly found no great objection to the notion of Transkeian 'independence' except in so far as under South African law, it stripped well over a million urban Xhosa of South African citizenship and imposed an unwanted Transkeian citizenship upon them.(3) In contrast, however, it became considered impolitic and politically incorrect in progressive Africanist circles to make any direct, systematic comparison between Lesotho and its bantustan neighbour.
If this made philosophical nonsense (for the objection to Transkeian independence was not 'empirical' but rested upon the principled rejection of 'Separate Development'), it probably made good sense from an anti-apartheid perspective.
For instance, according to Donaldson,(5) the 1985 sample census of Transkei indicates an all inclusive figure of some 600,000 people as being engaged in migrant labour in South Africa at some point during the year, a figure which accords reasonably well with a more recent listing of some 728,172 Transkeians as migrants in 1989.(6) Meanwhile, lacking reliable figures concerning the number of Basotho workers in non-mine occupations in South Africa, the Lesotho Government was forced to rely on an estimate made by a labour force survey for 1985/86 which suggested that those employed on the mines constituted about 83 per cent of the total number of migrants.