Monday the 22nd of April 2019

A sombre day. Commemoration of the 200-year anniversary of the Battle of Egazini (Battle of Grahamstown 1819). A pivotal day in our history. A tragic day.

10,000 AmaXhosa warriors – led by the Prophet Chief Makhanda – attacked Grahamstown. The town – 7 years old at the time – was defended by 350 soldiers hardened in the Napoleonic Wars and at the Battle of Waterloo (1815). The offensive – a bid to drive the British Army westwards and back across the sea to Great Britain – was instigated by the seizure of 23,000 Xhosa cattle by Colonel Brereton the previous year.

As many as 2,000 warriors were killed by canon fire (shrapnel) and the disciplined musket fire of the British Army and a Khoikhoi force led by Jan Boesak, a noted elephant hunter.

The legacy and pain of that Battle – its ferocity and scale of devastation beyond the imagination – lives on in our divided little city.

To commemorate that tragic day I am hosting a visit to the key sites of the battle including the likely spot where Makhanda stood in planning the attack. We’ll also visit the St Philips Anglican Church in Fingo Village, a place of peace but not far from the battlefield.

As the historian Prof Julie Wells points out, we do not know exactly where the battle took place but from written accounts it is understood Makhanda divided his attacking warriors into three sections. One focussed on the barracks at Fort England (now the psychiatric hospital) and the other two on the town centre. Perhaps closer to the old Railway Station.

I’m particularly looking forward to meeting up with my friends Bongani Diko and Ayanda Kota who’ll be commemorating the battle at the Egazini Battle Memorial Garden. 


For us the day is about remembrance and reconciliation and forging a common path forward. Together, as friends.

If you’d like to join me please meet outside The Highlander in Worcester street at 9am. I’ll have a a mini-bus if numbers justify it. Chip-in what you can afford to cover costs or take your own transport. The bus will return to The Highlander by midday. By that time 200 years ago, the battle was at its most ferocious. I draw solace and inspiration from these words by Johnny Clegg.

“And we are the scatterlings of Africa
On a journey to the stars
Far below, we leave forever
Dreams of what we were”

Please WhatsApp me on 0832710279 if you like to join me on this historically and culturally significant day.


Before moving back to Grahamstown in Oct 2017, Graeme was a bank executive based in the big smoke and craziness of Joburg. He has 20 years’ experience in the Payments Industry. He is a Chartered Accountant, has a Masters in Management by Research (MMR) from Wits Business School, and attended an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) offered by INSEAD (The Business School for the World!) in France.  

Graeme is the founder of The Grahamstown Project. It’s simple. He says, “Grahamstown is a microcosm of South Africa. If we can’t get this place to function properly then the whole country is stuffed. Many of the troubles we experience as a country today have their roots here in Grahamstown. it is here where black and white people first engaged in conflict on the African continent. It is here where 9 wars of dispossession over 100 years took place and virtually destroyed the amaXhosa nation. But we are where we are. I don’t have a British passport and the boat-trip back to where my ancestors came from is exorbitantly expensive. Furthermore, this is my home. I am a son of Africa. We must work together to redress the injustices of the past and move as one into a brighter future.”

Graeme is an avid historian, writer, vlogger and public speaker. Like and follow the Facebook page. Join him on a tour. Contact him. He would love that.