If the Wild Coast is an impact zone for the meeting of African continent and Indian Ocean, it has also been an impact zone for a dramatic human, cultural and ecological exchange between British colonisation and a last stand by a Mpondo culture that once had a fierce reputation for warrior independence. During the hundred years of battering wars initiated by the British against the neighbouring Xhosa, the Mpondo chose to stay aloof, becoming the last subjugated people of South Africa.
By 1900 British missionaries, administrators, traders and military enforces reigned. In their wake came the plants of other countries, such as these Eucalyptus (gum) trees. Huge plantations exist around Mtambalala (and in many other places), originally serving as a ‘barrier’ between human habitation and the large sprawling indigenous forests of this area. Hidden forever is the blood of countless human beings massacred here by the last aberration of the colonial order, South Africa’s then bantustan Transkei, as it imposed these plantations against intense resistance.
Mtambalala contains one of the most depressing human rights violations of the old order, never properly exposed in the post-1994 Truth and Reconciliation Commission process.