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MAFEKING, a town in the British Bechuanaland division of the Cape, 870 m. N.E. of Cape Town and 492 m. S.S.W. of Bulawayo by rail, and 162 m. in a direct line W. by N. of Johannesburg. (Pop. 1904), 2713. It is built on the open veld, at an elevation of 4194 ft., by the banks of the Upper Molopo, is 9 m. W. of the western frontier of the Transvaal and 15 m. S. of the southern boundary of the Bechuanaland protectorate. The Madibi goldfields are some 10 m. south of the town. Mafeking is thus an important trading and distributing centre for Bechuanaland and the western Transvaal. Here are, too, the chief railway workshops between Kimberley and Bulawayo. The headquarters of the administration for the Bechuanaland protectorate are in the town. The chief buildings are the town-hall, Anglican church, Masonic temple, and hospital.
Mafeking was originally the headquarters of the Barolong tribe of Bechuana and is still their largest station, the native location (pop. 2860) being about a mile distant from the town. It was from Pitsani Pothlugo (or Potlogo), 24 m. north of Mafeking, that Dr Jameson started, on the 29th of December 1895, on his raid into the Transvaal. On the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer war in 1899 Mafeking was invested by a Boer force. Colonel R. S. S. Baden-Powell was in command of the defence, which was stubbornly maintained for 217 days (Oct. 12 to May 17), when a relief column arrived and the Boers dispersed (see Transvaal: History). The fate of the town had excited the liveliest sympathy in England, and the exuberant rejoicings in London on the news of its relief led to the coining of the word magicking to describe the behaviour of crowds on occasions of extravagant demonstrations of a national kind. In September 1904 Lord Roberts unveiled at Mafeking an obelisk bearing the names of those who fell in defence of the town.
R. S. S. Baden-Powell's Sketches in Mafeking and East Africa (1907) and Lady Sarah Wilson's South African Memories (1909) deal largely with the siege of Mafeking.
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