Home Facts 10 Facts: Potchefstroom

10 Facts: Potchefstroom


Potchefstroom is one of the biggest cities in the North West Province of South Africa. The city is nicknamed Potch. I have not visited this city since 2005 when I attended the yearly Aardklop festival.

Here are some facts about Potchefstroom:

  • Potchefstroom was founded in 1838 and was the second oldest settlement of people of European descent (behind Klerskdorp) in the old Transvaal province of South Africa.
  • The city served as the 1st capital for the South African Republic (Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek).
  • There are various origins that are claimed for the origin of the name Potchefstroom. Firstly it is said to be: ‘Potgieter’ + ‘Chef’ + ‘stroom’. Which attributes the name to the Voortrekker leader and town father Andries Potgieter, ‘chef’ an indication of leader of the emigrants and the ‘stroom’ referring to the Mooi River. Although others believe that this is the most widely recognized source of the name, it would be strange for the Voortrekker to refer to a leader as ‘chef’ or ‘chief’ as these are not words frequently used in Afrikaans at the day. And others attribute the name as having come from the word ‘Potscherf’, meaning broken pot, due to the cracks that appear in the soil of the Mooi River Valley during drought resembling a broken pot.
  • In 2006 the local municipality decided on a name change for the city, favouring ‘Tlokwe’ as the new name. The municipality changed its name to “Tlokwe City Council”, but the city’s name remains “Potchefstroom”. There is still a case hanging regarding the name change, which is primarily opposed by a local community organisation.
  • According the 2007 sensus Potchefstroom has about 125,000 inhabitants.
  • Potchefstroom is known as a city of expertise / an academic city and is home to 5 tertiary institutions (The North-West University, Potchefstroom College of Education, Technical College Potchefstroom, Agricultural Centre and Potchefstroom Akademie) and 30 schools.
  • The North West provincial headquarters of 17 of the most important sports are situated in the city.
  • The Witrand Mental Institute was the second Government institution for psychiatric patients and was opened in 1923 (behind Valkenberg in the Western Cape).
  • Dome Bergland Nature Park (near the city) is the site of a meteorite impact some 2 000 million years ago. This is a fascinating geographic phenomenon in that it is different in shape and vegetation from its surrounding areas. The impact created the richest gold reef in the world. Many trails take visitors to this remarkable natural feature and many activities are on offer, including hiking, riverrafting, canoeing, mountain climbing, abseiling, mountain biking and fly fishing.
  • The city has hosted the yearly Aardklop Arts Festival (featuring drama productions and performances by mostly Afrikaans artists) since 1997. The festival attracts more than 50,000 visitors to Potchefstroom every year and is held in late September.

Watch this space for more 10 facts posts. Hope you all find this section interesting.


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