Ficksburg from Imperani Mountain
|• Total||58.2 km2 (22.5 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,628 m (5,341 ft)|
|• Density||710/km2 (1,800/sq mi)|
|Racial makeup (2011)|
|• Black African||90.7%|
|First languages (2011)|
|Postal code (street)||9730|
Ficksburg is a town situated at the foot of the 1750-metre-high Imperani Mountain in Free State province, South Africa. The town was founded by General Johan Fick in 1867 who won the territory in the Basotho Wars. He laid out many erven and plots that could be bought at a reasonable price. The town was later proclaimed a municipality in 1891. The last Governor-General of the Union of South Africa and the first State President of South Africa, Charles Robberts Swart was imprisoned here by the British in 1914 and released one day before his scheduled execution.
Ficksburg, after Bethlehem, South Africa (the chief administrative town) is the second busiest and important town in the Eastern Free State region of the Freestate province. It is an important agricultural region of the Free State where crops like corn and mealies (maize) and asparagus are grown. The most important part of the annual crop of Ficksburg is the harvesting of the cherries on the numerous cherry farms surrounding the town. The cherries are harvested from October to December. Annually in November the Cherry Festival is held. The festival stretches over 3 days and attracts up to 30,000 people. The festival presents family shows and activities like the herding of sheep, horse rides, camel rides, helicopter flips, steam train rides at Sandstone Estate, tours through town to see the sandstone building architecture which Ficksburg is also very well known for. There are also tours of the surrounding countryside, tours to the cherry and asparagus farms where people are shown everything about the industry, and airplane trips to the Katsedam in Lesotho.
The town also has a wide variety of guesthouses and B&Bs and an exclusive 3-star hotel serves as accommodation for tourists visiting the town. The hotel has a French-style restaurant which serves a wide variety of cuisine and has an a la carte menu. Ficksburg also has commercial food outlets, a KFC and a Wimpy and various restaurants or cafes to enjoy lunch or dinner at i.e. Die Blikantien, situated at Die Blikplek, a fascinating Ficksburg institution.
Ficksburg is known as 'The Gateway to the Mountain Kingdom Of Lesotho'. Lesotho is an enclaved country in the eastern part of South Africa. From Ficksburg you can depart to the Katse Dam in Lesotho. This dam is important to South Africa, because it annually provides hundreds of millions of litres of water to the industrial and commercial Gauteng Province. The dam is also a very scenic area and is situated 3000 m (9842 ft) high up in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho. The dam is very popular for boating and fishing and is visited by thousands of tourists to Lesotho every year which have to pass through Ficksburg.
The region is also known as the asparagus region of South Africa. Hundreds of tons of asparagus are harvested from September. Other kinds of fruit like peaches, apricots, cherries and apples are also grown in the region. Livestock is also an important industry in the region. There are numerous dairy farms in the countryside.
- Julius Schuld (* 24 December 1927), Springbok Polo player 1951−54
- Roelf Meyer (Politician) schooled and matriculated in 1964 in Ficksburg.
- Andries Tatane (* 22 February 1978 – † 13 April 2011).
The Ficksburg News began publication as a community newspaper in the early 1900s and, after a hiatus in the 1970s, resumed in its present form in 1979. The town also has a community radio station that broadcasts to the surrounding towns of Fouriesburg, Clocolan and Ladybrand. Sesoto FM broadcast 24 hours per day in Sesotho.
In the 1930s and throughout the "war years" the editor of the Ficksburg News was Harold Lloyd, whose son, Michael, also a journalist, became well known as the editor of The Star, The Natal Mercury and the Diamond Fields Advertiser, among other leading newspapers. After suffering many tribulations as a prisoner-of-war, he became an Anglican priest and, at the time of his death, was the rector of St. Alban's Church in Kimberley. Both LLoyds were responsible for kindling in the well-known writer, Marie Warder, the desire to become a journalist.
A rarity for French tourists visiting Ficksburg is that it has a repeater for Radio France International (RFI) in the case of Ficksburg, because of the multitude of French missionaries in the neighboring country of Lesotho. Radiomonde Français International broadcasts 24 hours per day in French and English on 96.5 FM Stereo exclusively to Ficksburg. The BBC World Service radio station broadcasts from London 24 hours per day on 90.2 FM Stereo.
Coats of arms
By 1931, the Ficksburg municipal council had assumed a pseudo-heraldic coat of arms. The shield was divided in two, the upper half depicting the Roman goddess Ceres holding a torch above her head, in a landscape setting, and the lower half depicting a maize cob and three ears of wheat on a blue background. The motto was Virtus in arduis.
The new arms were : Per chevron Gules and Or, in chief two garbs Or and in base a cross humette Vert; on a chief Or two sprigs of cherry fructed proper. In layman's terms, the shield displayed a golden chevron (bearing two sprigs of cherry) between two golden wheatsheaves on a red background (above) and a green cross on a gold background (below).
The crest was an arm holding a torch, issuing from a golden mural crown. The motto remained Virtus in arduis.
- "Chronological order of town establishment in South Africa based on Floyd (1960:20-26)" (PDF). pp. xlv–lii.
- Sum of the Main Places Ficksburg and Meqheleng from Census 2011.
- Official Cherry Festival website
- Setsoto Local Municipality
- Marie Warder Blog
- "Who's Who of Southern Africa 1986-87
- Ficksburg Tourism Forum
- Free State Community Radio
- The arms were depicted on a cigarette card issued in 1931.
- Orange Free State Official Gazette 25 (9 June 1967).