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It is accepted that through time the geographic position, size and number of continents on earth has changed as a result of a prosess known as continental drift. This process has been going on for at least 700 million years and still continues today. Evidence that prove that South Africa and South America were once joined is that fossils of the same Dinosaurs have been found in corresponding rock strata in both countries but nowhere else in the world. The Sandstone Mountains of the Eastern Free State were also formed by dust that blew in from modern day Brazil. Two very important fossils that were found in Ladyband are the "Diarthrognatus" and the "Euskelosaurus". They are both complete skeletons that are to be seen in the National Museum in Bloemfontein.
Ladybrand lies in the fertile Caledon Valley that has been inhabited by man for ten's of thousands of years. Many Heritage sites in South Africa are dedicated to "The Cradle of Humankind" the origin of our human ancestors, belonging to the genus Homo. Though most people consider that Ladybrand's history dates back a little more than 136 years, Rose for at least 50,000 years. The middle Stone age levels of Rose Cottage Cave have produced several radiocarbon dates of greater than 50 000 years, and because of the restricted half-life of carbon, these dates obtained from charcoal samples are likely to be minimum estimates.
The Eastern Free State is part of Southern Africa's southeastern mountain complex - one of the world's premier Rock art regions. This region has many lives, the first humanized expression of which commenced with its occupation by hunter-gatherers, also known as "San" or "Bushmen". These Bushmen communities are the true "First People" of our country and left us a priceless legacy and a window into the past by producing thousands of rock paintings. Made from the earth, their paints penetrated into the walls of the sandstone rock shelters, transforming them from "spaces" into cultural "places". There are over 300 sites where San Rock Art occurs in the Ladybrand and Mantsopa municipal district, and the "Tandjiesberg" site is one of 12 national Heritage sites to Rock Art in South Africa.
The following battles between the British/Boers and the Basotho took place that gave rise to the establishment of Ladybrand, Wepener and Ficksburg. They were:
20th June 1851 , Warden attacked Moshoeshoe at "Vierfoot" 10 km north of Ladybrand. The British lost 138 men.
15th December 1852, Cathcart demands 10,000 head of cattle and 1,000 horses. When Moshoeshoe did not comply with his demand he attacked the Basotho on the Berea Plateau. The British lost 37 men and 14 wounded had to retreat and fought their way back to Cathcart's Drift, a river crossing in the Caledon River near Ladybrand.
The first Basotho War in 1859 between the Boers and Basotho. The boers used a very large rock shelter on the Platberg Mountain to stable their horses. This sandstone shelter known as "The stables" is a very well known landmark in Ladybrand and is easily reached on foot. A cease-fire was called and the "Treaty of Aliwal-North" was signed in September 1858.
The Second Basotho War in 1865 to 1866. Commandant Louw Wepener was killed in battle at Thaba Bosiu, the Boer forces morale was low and they decided to withdraw. Undefeated in the field, despite artillery bombardment to which they were unable to reply, the Basotho were obliged to sue for peace, which was established by the treaty of Thaba Bosiu early in 1866. In accordance with the treaty, Lesotho ceded a large portion of their territory to the Orange Free State. This section of land became known as the "Conquered Territory", in which several hundred farms were granted in January 1867 to the Boers who fought in the Basotho wars. These farms were to form a buffer zone between the Basotho and the rest of the farms in the O.F.S President Hoffman called it a "Wall of Flesh". These farms were not occupied immediately and the starving Basothos returned to their original territory and planted crops for survival.
The Third Basotho war 1867 to 1868. Within a few months the O.F.S Commands were riding about destroying the growing crops and thus the war broke out again. The Basotho concentrated on defending the high ground and the hinterland, while the commandos tried to force a victory by destroying their food supplies. Sir Philip Wodehouse sent Sir Walter Currie with a mounted force and on the 12 March 1868 he issued a proclamation that the Basotho people were British subjects and was thus annexed to the Crown.
Ladybrand was established on the farm belonging to Jacob Mauer, called Mauershoek. He was of mixed blood, called a Baster i.e Bastard in Afrikaans. The Volksraad proclaimed on the 13th June 1967 that the town will be called Lady Brand be established and that 200 plots of land be subdivided into stands of 300 x 150 feet for immediate occupation. It has been accepted that Ladybrand is named after the mother of President Jan Brand. Catherina Frederica Brand was the wife of Sir Cristofel Brand. The natural building material that was available was the sandstone that was found in abundance and after Mr. Moir built the first house of stone, it soon became characteristic of the buildings erected in ladybrand and surrounding Mantsopa Municipal area. There are 8 buildings that have been granted National Monument status in honor of the architecture and exceptional sandstone craftsmanship. In the Mantsopa area there are magnificent farm buildings like the water Mill at Newberry dam and houses and a school that were designed by Sir Herbert Baker who designed many of the historical buildings of South Africa.
In 1867 the revd. Edward Twells who was the first Anglican bishop of Bloemfontein, bought the farms Modderpoort and Modderpoortspruit to start the first Religious Order in South Africa called the society of St. Augustine. Modderpoort was formally known as "Lekhalong la Bataung" (the pass of the Lions) where thousands of the Bataung tribe were living. Because there was no accommodation available on the arrival of the missionaries, they converted a Sand Stone Shelter in a place of worship and dwelling place which they occupied for more than a year.
A High School and Teacher Training College was opened in 1929 and some 700 teachers graduated from this college. Many highly esteemed women and men were educated here like Mme Winkie Direko, our present premier of the Free State. Sadly as a result of the introduction of the Bantu Education act by the previous government, the SSM refused to introduce an inferior education system and the facility closed its doors in 1955.
A contemporary of Moshoeshoe, a prophetess known as Mme Mantsopa Anna Makheta was gaining a large following in Lesotho during his reign as Paramount Chief. It is believed that she was baptized by the French missionaries at Morija, and then banned from Lesotho by Moshoeshoe. Mme Mantsopa was then taken in by the St. Augustine missionaries where she lived and worshipped until her passing away at the age of 111 years. Her Gothic style grave has become a place of pilgrimage for all Sotho speaking people and the well or natural spring where she spent much of her quiet time is also believed to have healing powers. The Mantsopa Municipality is named in her honor.
The Maloti Tourism information Office is situated in the Catharina Brand Museum on the corner of Church and Voortrekker streets. The colorful African and international flags welcome all tourists as the Gateway to the Kingdom of Lesotho and the central departure point along the Maloti Route.
Come and have a look at the Lesotho Highlands Water display before you go to the project.
The linkage between Bloemfontein along the Mangaung-Botshabelo- Thba'nchu Heritage route is a vital connection to the Maloti Route and our motto is: Market your neighbor as vigorously as you market yourself.
We have everything that the tourist would enjoy, and leave you filled with happy memories. The beauty of the scenery by day and the brilliant stars and night sky, combined with the magnitude of the silence, will make you come back to enjoy our hospitality that is unsurpassed by any orther area in South Africa.
Ladybrand and the Mantsopa municipal area has Bed and Breakfast establishments and various Restaurants with the highest standards of service required by the discerning tourist.