The aftermath of the Anglo Zulu War of 1879 left Zululand divided into several fiefdoms each with its own ruler who was supposed to swear allegiance to the British Resident. The most powerful of these was uZibhebhu and his Mandlakazi who lived in the north of Zululand. uZibhebhu promptly set about stamping his authority on the rest of Zululand. A bitter civil war broke out between the Mandlakazi and the much weakened Royal House of Usuthu during which King Cetshwayo is defeated and finally dies while under the protection of the British Resident. His son Dinuzulu continues the struggle by enlisting the assistance of Lucas Meijer and a group of Transvaal Burghers to fight for him in return for land. Together the Burghers and the Usuthu defeat uZibebhu and the land around present day Vryheid was ceded to the Burghers and on 16th August 1884 the land was proclaimed as the Nieuwe Republiek with Vryheid as its capital. A Raadsaal was formed and Lucas Meijer was elected as its first President. The Republiek was not to last long and was absorbed into the Transvaal in 1888.
HOUSE AND MUSEUM
Lucas Meijer acquired the property in 1884 and in 1885 built the original house.
He died in 1902 and his widow married to Bob Foord in 1909, but it was not until 1922 that she carried out extensions and changes to the building. After her death in 1961 the house changed hands several times, even being used as a Children’s Welfare Organisation, the Barclays Bank and even an Educational College before finally being purchased by the Vryheid Municipality in 1987 and turned into a museum.
The Museum now features many period displays together with some of the history of the District.