The oldest and largest of the Black homelands or Bantustans of South Africa in the apartheid era, the first to achieve independence, and the only one that could actually have made a viable country. It was the homeland of the Xhosa people, though not all of them, for there was also a Ciskei homeland on the western side of the Kei River. Transkei lay on the coast between Cape Province and Natal, an area of about 41 000 km2, mainly in one big piece, but with two smaller parts also. Its capital was Umtata.

It was founded on 6 December 1963, with Chief Kaiser Matanzima as chief minister. It became an independent republic on 26 October 1976. Its three million mainly Xhosa people, half of whom lived outside it, were stripped of South African citizenship. This was condemned internationally and no country recognized it except South Africa. As other Bantustans became independent they recognized one another. Transkei had a ceremonial president and an executive prime minister. Chief Kaiser Matanzima became prime minister and Botha Sigcau was president.

President Sigcau died on 1 December 1978, and in February 1979 Kaiser Matanzima became president, succeeded by Nyangelizwe Ndamase in February 1986. Matanzima relinquished the post of prime minister to his brother George Matanzima. In September 1987 he was forced to step down after a corruption scandal, and after some delay Stella Sigcau became prime minister. But in December there was a military coup, the first in one of the homelands, and General Bantu Holomisa became head of a military council. He allowed the ANC to operate freely, and later became a minister in the democratic South African government. Transkei, like the other homelands, was fully absorbed into South Africa on 17 April 1994.

Its flag was a horizontal tricolor of ochre, white, and green. The motto was Imbumba Yamanyama 'Unity is Strength', a strikingly common motto among the patchwork quilt of statelets South Africa was carved up into.

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