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A brief history of Mpumalanga Province

Mpumalanga Conference Venues

In the mountains above Barberton scientists have found traces of Stromatolites, the remnants of green-blue algae formed 3500 million years ago when oxygen was added to the earth's atmosphere in significant quantities to create the first evolutionary step towards life forms.

Throughout the Mpumalanga mountains and hills exist hundreds of examples of San art. This art serves as a window looking into the lives of the San hunters and gatherers who inhabited the area centuries before the arrival of the Nguni people from the north.

The region abounded with all types of game, plants, birds and insects. The rivers ran full, providing for the needs of these early inhabitants. Later came the first of the Nguni people who arrived with herds of cattle, and mined red ochre in the hills south of Malelane. Early smelters, which pre-date the main Nguni influx, have been excavated, indicating that the use of iron and copper was well advanced during these years. Similarly, early pottery fragments and sculptural artifacts unearthed in the hills on the Long Tom Pass, notably the Lydenburg heads have been described as a vital art find.

Around 1400 AD the second Nguni migration arrived from the north with their vast herds of cattle. These people had advanced the art of iron smelting and built stone walled houses for their settlements.
The creation of the Swazi nation as we know it today commenced at the time of King Ngwane. The area, which was then demarcated by tribal boundaries, was referred to as KaNgwane, a name that still stands. Clans forged friendships with other clans through  marriage and for safety of numbers, while frequent raids against neighbouring clans  served to replenish cattle herds and  to extend tribal lands.
The movements of tribal chiefs through the region had a profound effect on the establishment and bonding of nations.

Most notable was the influence of Zulu king Shaka, whose empire stretched southwards from the Swaziland border to the Tugela River. Shoshangane, who escaped from Zululand and settled in the Gaza Province of Mozambique, was the founder of the Shangane people, while Mzilikazi, after being forced  to flee Zululand to escape the wrath of Shaka, travelled through the area on his way north to establish an empire in southern Zimbabwe.  His passage was marked by death and destruction as he sought to subjugate the Ndebele people.

For centuries, Mpumalanga was  populated by warrior clans  who roamed the hills and plains in search of grazing for their cattle and safety for their people. Theirs was a life of war and survival as the centres of power moved from one clan to another. The oral tradition passed down in the folklore of the people is today an important record of the lives and tribal history of the inhabitants.

Mpumalanga Town Information
Badplaas , Belfast , Dullstroom , eMakhazeni , eMalahleni , eNtokozweni , Ermelo , Graskop , Groblersdal , Hazyview , Komatipoort , Lydenburg , Machadodorp , Malelane , Mbombela, Middelburg , Nelspruit , Ohrigstad , Piet Retief , Pilgrim's Rest , Sabie , Sabi Sands , Secunda , Skukuza , Schoemanskloof , Standerton , Stoffberg , White River , Villiers , Witbank

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