Bhisho (formerly Bisho) is the capital of the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa. The Office of the Premier, Provincial Legislature and many other government departments are headquartered in the town. The town, three kilometres from King William's Town and 70 kilometres from East London, Eastern Cape, East London, is also part of Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, Buffalo City.


Bhisho derives its name from the Xhosa language, Xhosa word for African Buffalo, buffalo, which is also the name of the river (Buffalo River (Eastern Cape), Buffalo River) that runs through this town. Bhisho was named after the song by Ben Tyazashe, who wrote of his longing for his home, Bisho, his name for King William's Town however, it has also been claimed that the name was invented by Ciskei leader Lennox Sebe, after his unsuccessful bid to incorporate King William's Town into Ciskei, as ''Qonce'' (the Xhosa version of the Khoikhoi name for the Buffalo River; it means “buffalo”) was already used as the native name for King William's Town.

Capital of Ciskei

When the bantustan of Ciskei was nominally granted independence in 1981, although this was never recognised outside South Africa, Bisho served as its capital city. During the early 1980s under the leadership of Lennox Sebe, Bisho underwent a period of intense development. Its location six kilometres north of King William's Town on the main road linking the Cape to the Transkei and Natal has been described as the result of the Ciskei government wanting to place an "economic stranglehold" upon the white community of King William's Town who united across political lines against incorporation into the homeland, in the face of a 1979 recommendation by the South African government.https://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft158004rs&chunk.id=d0e9953&toc.depth=1&toc.id=d0e9714&brand=ucpress In 1983, at the height Ciskei government, Bisho signed a sister-city agreement with the settlement of Ariel, West Bank, Ariel in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.Sasha Polakow-Suransky, ''The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa'', (New York: Pantheon Books), 2010, p. 157. This saw the construction of two hospitals (one on a floodplain) including Bisho Hospital and up to 10 firms around the capital by Israeli entrepreneurs and technicians. In 1985, when Bisho ended its relationship with the West Bank, there were 200 Israelis in the Ciskei.

Bisho Massacre

On 7 September 1992, Bisho became the scene of what is known as the Bisho massacre, when about 80–100,000 people marched on Bisho calling for the dismantling of Ciskei, which still maintained a measure of independence, and removal of the homeland's leader Oupa Gqozo, Brigadier Oupa Gqozo. The Ciskei Defence Force opened fire, shooting dead 28 or 29 people, and wounding 100. The massacre came at a critical time when negotiations towards democracy were underway.

Post-Apartheid Era

Bisho was reincorporated into South Africa on 12 August 1994, after the first democratic elections in the country earlier that year. In October 1994, the then Eastern Cape Premier Raymond Mhlaba announced that Bisho had been selected as the capital city of the Eastern Cape due to its infrastructure, accessibility to major roads and space for further development. The department of Arts and Culture published a correction of spelling of Bisho to Bhisho in their government notice No. 830 of Gazette No. 26552 on 16 July 2004.

Bhisho today

Bhisho's major structures include the Eastern Cape government offices (including office of the Premier), a branch of the University of Fort Hare, Bhisho Hospital, Bisho massacre Memorial, Bhisho Stadium and an SABC radio station known as trufm. Bhisho is dependent on the nearby King Williams Town and East London. The majority of the town's population who are employed are public service workers. The town of Bhisho is surrounded by residential areas; Bhisho Central, Tyutyu North, Bhisho Gardens, Balasi and Amatola View.


Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies Bhisho's climate as semi-arid climate#Cold semi-arid climates, cool semi-arid (''BSk''), although it borders closely on both a semi-arid climate#Hot semi-arid climates, hot semi-arid climate (''BSh'') and a humid subtropical climate (''Cfa'').


{{Use dmy dates, date=July 2016 Provincial capitals in South Africa Populated places in Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality Capitals of former nations