By Amelia Meyer
Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch
Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch are three towns in close proximity that, together, form the greater Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Port Elizabeth is, by far, the largest of these three entities, but Uitenhage and Despatch each play their own important role in the heritage, culture and industrial contribution of the Metro as a whole.Today, Uitenhage is known for being the home of the international industry giant, Volkswagen South Africa. This remains the biggest car factory in the country and, astoundingly, on the African continent. As a result, Uitenhage is frequented by international visitors that are performing site inspections or conducting important meetings at the plant.
Uitenhage dates back to the early 19th century, when it was founded by the district magistrate, Jacob Glen Cuyler, on 25 April 1804. The Dutch Cape Colony’s governor (Jan Willem Janssens) named the town after the Cape’s Commissioner-General, Jacob Abraham Uitenhage de Mist. This means that it is pronounced as “ait-en-har-ga”, rather than its common pronunciation of “you-ten-hage”. In 1877, Uitenhage became a municipality in its own right, breaking away from the nearby inland town of Graaff-Reinet. Then, in 2001, Uitenhage was merged with Despatch and Port Elizabeth to form the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.