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The Eastern Cape - Salem and Grahamstown

Salem and Grahamstown are in the area of the Eastern Cape sometimes referred to as Frontier Country, due to its geographical and historical prominence in the story of South Africa. Like many of the towns and villages within this area, they were involved in the numerous conflicts between the indigenous Xhosa people and the Dutch, then the British. 

The smallholding where Lucy lives is situated just outside the village of Salem, halfway between the towns of Kenton-on-Sea and Grahamstown. Salem, meaning peace, was established in 1820 by British settlers who built stone cottages and set up farms in the area. It gained its name from an incident during the Frontier Wars in the 1830s when the Xhosa people agreed to leave the village after peaceful negotiations.

Impala, Keriega Game Reserve, Eastern Cape
Creative Commons AttributionImpala, Keriega Game Reserve, Eastern Cape - Credit: Steve Cornish

The scenery and wildlife are typical of that found along the eastern Cape, while the village itself is particularly noteworthy for its tiny Methodist church, still standing today. 

The picture of the antelope was taken at Keriega Game Reserve, a short distance from Salem on the Grahamstown road. It is one of the numerous game reserves situated in the Eastern Cape. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grahamstown, Eastern Cape.
Public DomainGrahamstown, Eastern Cape. - Credit: Tim Giddings

The city of Grahamstown is a short car ride away from Salem. Named after the Lieutenant Colonel, John Graham, Grahamstown was the first town established by the British in South Africa, starting life as a military outpost. In 1819, it was the subject of an unsuccessful attack led by the Xhosa warrior, Makanda Nxele, as he sought to prevent further incursions into Xhosa territory. After the attack, Grahamstown and the surrounding area became a popular place for British settlers, and for a while it became the second largest city after Cape Town. 

Due to its historical importance as one of the first frontier towns and its long association with British settlers, there are many historical buildings from this era, as well as monuments celebrating the role these early settlers played in the formation and development of Grahamstown.

 

 

 

Memorial for Thomas Charles White,The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George, Grahamstown
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMemorial for Thomas Charles White,The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George, Grahamstown - Credit: Larry McElhiney

Grahamstown is sometimes referred to as 'The City of Saints', due largely to the fact that it houses fifty two churches covering various different denominations. The cathedral of St. Michael and St. George, now the seat of The Anglican Bishop of Grahamstown, opened in 1830 and became a refuge for many women and children during the frontier wars.

Inside, there are numerous memorials to those who lost their lives during the battles between the Xhosa and the European Settlers. An example is shown on the left. Note the wording: 'slain by kafirs', and 'irruption of the kafir tribes'. 

 

Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George, Church Square, Grahamstown
Public DomainCathedral of St. Michael and St. George, Church Square, Grahamstown - Credit: Tim Giddings