Mahikeng – formerly known as Mafikeng – is the capital city of the North West Province of south Africa. It is most well known internationally for the Siege of Mafikeng, the most famous engagement of the Second Boer War.
The town of Mahikeng was founded in the 1880s by British mercenaries who were granted land by warring Barolong chiefs in return for war service. The town itself was laid out near their collection of farms by British Commander Sir Charles Warren and became the administrative centre of the region and the headquarters of the peace – keeping Bechuanaland Border Police. The siege of Mafikeng during the Anglo-Boer War in 1899 made the town world-famous. Colonel Baden-Powell led the defence of town, and during the siege Baden-powell first used boys as “Scouts”, taking messages and assisting in duties around the town. The town’s relief after 217 days made him a hero in Britian. In South Africa under Apartheid, Mahikeng became part of Mmabatho (mother of people), the capital of the independent “homeland” of Bophuthatswana. In 1994, when Bophuthatswana was reincorporated into South Africa, the name Mmabatho was replaced by the historical name of Mafikeng, and today Mahikeng.