Store in Flagstaff Image source

In 1877 Zachariah Bowles and his partner, a Mr Owen, established a trading store on the site of present-day Flagstaff. The town owes its name to their practice of running a white flag up a flagstaff every Sunday as a signal to prospective customers that on this day the shop was closed. At its outset, the postal business of Flagstaff was carried on in a temporary hut, a square plan building with a small thatched roof. The walls were built in sun-dried clay, without external plastering.

Flagstaff is a town in the OR Tambo District Municipality of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa located some 80 km south-east of Kokstad and 45 km north of Lusikisiki. It is the seat of the Ingquza Hill Local Municipality, it has an estimated total population of 279 795 people according to the Community Survey conducted by SARS. It is estimated that the population growth rate is 1.2% per annum. The population density in was calculated at 234 people per square kilometre which is very high considering that the majority of the population is rural. The municipal area is predominantly rural in nature and the majority of the population reside in the rural areas. Approximately 46% of the population of Ingquza Hill are 15 years or younger. 48% of the population are between the ages of 15 and 64 years and can be considered economically active despite the scarcity of employment in the municipal area. 6% of the population are 65 years and older. The burden of supporting the youth and the elderly falls therefore falls onto the shoulders of the 15-64 age groups. The high number of young people suggests that service provision and social upliftment should be targeted at the youth and should be an important consideration for development. Approximately 55% of the Ingquza Hill population is female and the remaining 45% is male. This gender distribution is in line with the national trends. The statistics reflect a discrepancy in terms of the gender distribution between the 0 – 4 age category and the other categories. The male / female ratio in this group is equal, whilst in the remaining categories the female gender is predominant. A possible explanation for this is the outward migration patterns, once children reach their teenage years. Males tend to migrate to other areas in search of education and work, while females tend to remain behind to serve their families. A gender sensitive approach to development is therefore needed!

The municipal area is low in racial diversity and more than 99% of the inhabitants are African. The remaining 1% is comprised of Coloured, White and Indian racial groups.
5.4% of the population of Ingquza Hill have some form of disability!  The highest number of people have physical disabilities (25%) followed by those with visual impairments (20%), hearing impairments (17%) and emotional and intellectual impairments (13%). 8% of the people with disabilities have a combination of more than one of the disabilities listed. This group is one of the most vulnerable groups in society. The precarious position of these groups is aggravated by high levels of poverty and low employment rates and skills levels. Improvement of the economic and employment rate will improve their chances of becoming economic active. People with disabilities suffer from multiple forms of discrimination and an extra effort needs to be put in place to ensure that their needs are addressed. In any given society, structures should be established to give special attention to people with disabilities. Conditions should be made conducive to enable them to become economically active. The available public and private places do not cater for people with disabilities and public transport is another challenge. To access disability grants, these people have to go through strenuous exercises to prove their disability. At times this arrangement proves to be a failure as approved doctors are not easily accessible.
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Last updated : 11-Sep-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011