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About Pietermaritzburg

Pietermaritzburg
 

Pietermaritzburg (UK /ˌptəˈmærɪtsˌbɜrɡ/;  ZuluumGungundlovu) is the capital and second largest city in the province of KwaZulu-NatalSouth Africa. It was founded in 1838, and is currently governed by the Msunduzi Local Municipality. Its Zulu name umGungundlovu is the name used for the district municipality. Pietermaritzburg is popularly called Maritzburg in English and Zulu alike, and often informally abbreviated to PMB. It is a regionally important industrial hub, producing aluminium, timber and dairy products. It is home to many schools and tertiary education institutions, including a campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It had a population of 228,549 in 1991; the estimated current population is around 500,000 (including neighbouring townships) and has one of the largest populations of Indian South Africans in South Africa.


Pietermaritzburg
 
Downtown Pietermaritzburg as seen from Chase Valley
Downtown Pietermaritzburg as seen from Chase Valley
Nickname(s): PMB, Maritzburg
Pietermaritzburg is located in South Africa
Pietermaritzburg
 Pietermaritzburg shown within South Africa
Coordinates: 29°37′S 30°23′E



History

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The city was originally founded by the Voortrekkers, following the defeat of Dingane at the Battle of Blood River, and was the capital of the short-lived Boer republicNataliaBritain took over Pietermaritzburg in 1843 and it became the seat of the Natal Colony's administration with the first lieutenant-governor, Martin West, making it his home. Fort Napier, named after the governor of the Cape Colony, Sir George Thomas Napier, was built to house a garrison. In 1893 Natal received responsibility for their own government and an assembly building was built along with the city hall. In 1910, when the Union of South Africa was formed, Natal became a province of the union, and Pietermaritzburg remained the capital.


Name


 
A view of Church Street in central Pietermaritzburg, c. 1900.

 
 

There exist two interpretations about the origin of the city's name. One is that it was named after Piet Retief and Gert (Gerrit) Maritz, two famous Voortrekker leaders. The other is that it was originally named after Piet Retief alone, since his full name was Pieter Maurits Retief. In this interpretation the original name was "Pieter Maurits Burg", later transliterated to the current name (Jenkins, 1971:11).

Retief in fact never reached Pietermaritzburg and was killed by Dingane, successor to Shaka, king of the Zulus. Maritz died of illness on 23 September 1838 near the present-day town of Estcourt, some hundreds of kilometres northwest of Pietermaritzburg. This was after the battle with the Zulus at Bloukranz, and Maritz did not ever reach the Pietermaritzburg area. In 1938, however, the city announced officially that the second element Maritz should also honour Gert Maritz.

At the time of the rise of the Zulu Empire, the site that was to become Pietermaritzburg was called Umgungundlovu. This is popularly translated from the Zulu as "Place of the Elephant", although it could also be translated to mean "The elephant wins". Umgungundlovu is thus thought to be the site of some Zulu king's victory, since "Elephant" (Indlovu) is a name traditionally taken by the Zulu monarch. Legend has it that Shaka had his warriors hunt elephant there to sell the ivory to English traders at Durban (then called Port Natal). Today, the town is still called by its Voortrekker name, although the municipality of which it is part bears the Zulu name.



The University

 

The University of Natal was founded in 1910[as the Natal University College and extended to Durban in 1922. The two campuses were incorporated into the University of Natal in March 1949. It became a major voice in the struggle against apartheid, and was one of the first universities in the country to provide education to black students. This campus boasts association with a remarkable array of world-class academics and has famous alumni distributed throughout the world. It became the University of KwaZulu-Natalon 1 January 2004.

 

 

 

Clock tower of the university's Collin Webb Hall


 

 

Mahatma Gandhi

Pietermaritzburg is also famous for an incident early in the life of Mahatma Gandhi. On 7 June 1893, while Gandhi was on his way to Pretoria, a white man objected to Gandhi's presence in a first-class carriage, and he was ordered to move to the van compartment at the end of the train. Gandhi, who had a first-class ticket, refused, and was thrown off the train at Pietermaritzburg. Shivering through the winter night in the waiting room of the station, Gandhi made the momentous decision to stay on in South Africa and fight the racial discrimination against Indians there. Out of that struggle emerged his unique version of nonviolent resistanceSatyagraha. Today, a bronze statue of Gandhi stands in Church Street, in the city centre


Other historical events

  • The first newspaper in Natal, the Natal Witness (now known as The Witness), was published in 1846.
  • The 46 hectare Botanic Gardens were created in 1872 by the Botanic Society of Natal.
  • The city hall, which is the largest red-brick building in the Southern Hemisphere, was destroyed by fire in 1895, but was rebuilt in 1901.
  • The British built a concentration camp here during the Second Boer War to house Boer women and children.
  • During the Second World War, Italian prisoners of war were housed in Pietermaritzburg. During their stay, they built a church, which remains standing as a heritage site today.
  • In 1962, Nelson Mandela was arrested in the nearby town of Howick to the north of Pietermaritzburg. The arrest marked the beginning of Nelson Mandela's 27 years of imprisonment. A small monument has been erected at the location of his arrest. Immediately after his arrest Mandela was taken to the Old Prison in Pietermaritzburg. After a night in the prison, he was taken to Magistrate J. Buys’s office in the old Magistrates Court Building in Commercial Road (now Chief Albert Luthuli Road), and was remanded for trial in Johannesburg

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Upland savanna near Pietermaritzburg




SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pietermaritzburg

 

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