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The East Bank locations

The Wesleyan Location
1878 to 1890

Keith Tankard
Updated: 14 October 2009
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The "Seaside Location" had been established in 1877 but the mixing of Mfengu and amaXhosa was not seen as ideal. The Mfengu had a long history of collaboration with the British forces and therefore tended to be singled out for special treatment.

As a result, another location soon came into existence on the East Bank when, in April 1878, the municipality decided to create a new "Fingo village".

A site was chosen a little to the north of North End, and the Fingo population was once again moved. Because they were mostly Wesleyans, the new township became known as the "Wesleyan Location".

The Mfengu took an immediate pride in their new home. Indeed, the District Surgeon reported that he found it "a strong contrast" to the mixed West Bank Location.

The huts, he wrote, were "well built", the ground was clean, while the men, women and children were "well dressed, clean and orderly".

Moreover, although there was no policeman resident within the location, the District Surgeon was of the opinion that theirs was a far better arrangement because the police themselves "seemed to cause more disturbance than they quelled".

Nevertheless, in December 1883 the Town Council started yet another wave of resettlement and the first to go was the new Wesleyan Location. The White residents of North End were the problem because they objected to any Black village so close to their suburb and the Council bowed to their demands without argument.

"We have no doubt the residents at the North End will appreciate the removal," the East London Dispatch commented, but called on the Town Council to make every effort "to lay out and establish a roomy new location" where the Mfengu would be "quite comfortable".

The Council chose a new site only a short distance away from the old but out of hearing distance from North End. Nevertheless, the Mfengu did not accept the decision willingly.

When asked whether any of the people had objected to the removal, the Mayor replied that they all had. Furthermore, there were signs of resistance against what was clearly perceived to be an unjustified action.

This was not to be their last move. A mere six years were to pass before the Town Council was considering yet another strategy: moving all the Black people from their existing locations and into a single village even further from the town.

This would be known as the East Bank Location, and it would come into existence as early as 1890 -- but not without a major tussle between the Town Council and the Black community.

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