From Academic Kids

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Flag of Ciskei

Ciskei was a Bantustan in the south east of South Africa. It consisted of two separate blocks of land covering 2,970 square miles (7,700 km³), almost entirely surrounded by what was then the Cape Province and possessing a small coastline along the shore of the Indian Ocean.

Ciskei had a succession of capitals during its brief existence. Originally, Zwelitsha served as the capital with the view that Alice would become the long term national capital. However, it was Bisho that became the capital until Ciskei's reintegration into South Africa.

Under South Africa's policy of apartheid, land was set aside for black peoples in supposedly independent territories for the ostensible purposes of self-government and cultural preservation, though in practice they served as dumping grounds for the country's indigeneous peoples. Ciskei was designated as one of two homeland or "Bantustan" for Xhosa-speaking people. Xhosa speakers were resettled there and to Transkei, the other Xhosa homeland.

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A rural area in Ciskei.

In 1961 it became a separate administrative region and in 1972 was declared "self-governing" under the rule of "President for life" Lennox Sebe. In 1981 it became the fourth homeland to be declared independent by the South African government and, like the rest, its residents lost their South African citizenship. In common with other Bantustans its independence was not recognised by the international community.

Sebe was deposed in 1990 by Brigadier Oupa Gqozo, who ruled as a dictator despite an initial promise of a swift return to civilian rule. During 1991-1992, many of the legal foundations of apartheid were removed, undermining the rationale for the homelands' continued existence. The African National Congress pressed strongly for them to be reincorporated into South Africa. This was opposed by Gqozo and the other homeland leaders and on 7 September 1992 the Ciskei police fired into a crowd of ANC members demanding the removal of Gqozo. 28 people were killed and hundreds injured in the shootings in the Ciskei capital, Bisho.

Gqozo refused to participate in the multiracial negotiations to agree a post-apartheid constitution for South Africa and initially threatened to boycott the first multiracial elections. This became unsustainable and in March 1994, Ciskei government workers went on strike for fear of losing their job security and pensions in the post-apartheid era. The police then mutinied, prompting Gqozo to resign on 22 March. South African government took control of the homeland to ensure security until the elections could be held the following month.

Ciskei and all of the other homelands were reincorporated into South Africa on 27 April 1994, after the first post-apartheid elections. Along with Transkei, it became part of the new Eastern Cape Province.

See Also: Heads of State of Ciskei



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