Mahikeng, formerly Mafikeng or Mafeking (both: măfˈəkĭng) [key], city (2011 pop. 290,269), capital of North West prov., N central South Africa, near the border of Botswana. It is the market for the surrounding cattle-raising and dairy-farming area and is an important railroad depot. Mafikeng was founded as Mafeking in 1885 on the site of an African settlement. In the South African War (1899–1902) the British garrison there, under Lord Baden-Powell, withstood a Boer (Afrikaner) siege for 217 days; the fort is now a national monument. The city was the extraterritorial capital of the Bechuanaland protectorate until it became independent as Botswana in 1965. In 1980 what was then Mafikeng was incorporated into the so-called homeland of Bophuthatswana, and became part of the much larger Mmabatho, the city that was Bophuthatswana's capital. Mmabatho was the capital of North West prov. from 1994 (when Bophuthatswana was abolished and the province was created); in 1996 the city was renamed Mafikeng. Mahikeng, the original local African name, became the city's name in 2012. A campus of North-West Univ. is there.
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