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Mafikeng has a fascinating history. It was previously called Mafeking – maybe because the British colonialists had trouble with the original pronunciation (or perhaps because whoever wrote it down first got it wrong). But it was during the South African War (1899-1902) that the town really got put on the map. Besieged by thousands of Boer soldiers, the British commander, Robert Baden-Powell, used a series of clever ruses, tricks and bluffs to keep the Boer forces at bay. Most famously, though, he realised he didn't have enough men to perform all the necessary tasks, so he recruited and trained a group of boys to perform essential, non-combatant roles. After 217 days, the British were relieved (in every sense of the word) and the siege was over, but the lads who had run messages and stood watch didn't just fold up and go away. They were the foundation of the Boy Scout movement, which has now spread across the world.

Mafikeng is about four hour’s drive west of Johannesburg.

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