Coming of the Europeans

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Information provided by Hans Bornman from his unpublished book, Lowveld Tour Guide:

Europeans initially avoided the Lowveld owing to the warm and unhealthy climate. The first Europeans that entered the Lowveld was an expedition of 31 men led by Frans de Kuiper. They left Fort Lagoa on 27 June 1725 and reached Ressano Garcia, east of Komatipoort, on the 4 July 1725, and entered the Lowveld the next day. They travelled until they reached Gomondwane, 12 km north-west of Crocodile Bridge, where they were attacked by the local inhabitants and were forced to return to Fort Lagoa which they reached on Monday 16 July 1725.

A century would elapse before Whites would again enter the Lowveld. This was when the Hans van Rensburg expedition tried to find a way to the sea. The expedition was massacred during July 1836 at the confluence of the Olifants and the Limpopo Rivers by the people of Soshangane. Further expeditions tried to find a route to the sea, but it was Louis Trichardt (1783-1838), however, who managed to find a way to the sea with his party, arriving at Delagoa Bay on 13 April 1838.

The first European and well known pioneer to settle in the Lowveld was Joao (Jiwawa) Albasini (1813-1888) in the Lower Sabie area. With the establishment of Ohrigstad in 1845, Albasini moved to Pretoriuskop where he obtained land from the BaKutswe captain, Magashula, for 22 head of cattle, and estab­lished a trading post next to the old trade route. His bearers made use of this route to carry goods from Delagoa Bay via Magashula’s village to Ohrigstad. This trading route eventually became known as the Albasini Route.