For the richness of its heritage and the wealth of its diversity, Buffalo City can claim pride of place as a destination like no other. Its palaeoanthropology, cultural, political, military and natural history provide fascinating insights into the sub-continent's past for the interested visitor.
Unearthed in the 1960s at Nahoon Point, the famous "fossil" footprints (now housed in the East London Museum) are widely regarded as the oldest of their kind in the world, providing compelling evidence of early human habitation of southern Africa between 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.
Evidence of early hunter-gatherer groups of modern humans who inhabited coastal and inland areas of the region for thousands of years is to be found in ancient rock art, coastal shell middens as well as the variety of stone-age cultural artefacts preserved for posterity.
Later, settlement of the region by Nguni pastoralists created a rich and varied indigenous landscape and a tribal population that remained largely stable until the advent of European colonisation.
With the pace of British colonial expansion gaining momentum in the 1800s, indigenous populations fought in successive wars against land dispossession and displacement over a period of almost 100 years.
Following the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910, the region played a critical role in leading indigenous resistance to disenfranchisement, racial discrimination and apartheid oppression, with numerous icons of South Africa's freedom struggle having been born and educated here.
The Buffalo City region's fractious past is reflected both in its urban and rural landscapes, with strong British influences evident in the architecture of historical buildings of both East London and King William's Town, while a number of smaller settlements and farms bear names of German origin. The remains of numerous colonial forts and battlefield sites can also be visited, with professional tour guides available.
The numerous monuments and memorials to those who sacrificed their lives in past conflicts – in East London, Duncan Village, Mdantsane, King William's Town, Ginsberg and Bhisho – invite the visitor to reflect on the meaning of our history and its relevance to our common future.
Recently erected on East London's sea-front, a monument of a different kind stands. Donated by the Italian people, the sculpture of "Multi-cultural Man" is one of only seven world-wide, and the only one erected on the African continent. Intended to symbolise the universal humanity of all people and cultures, the monument gives hope that Buffalo City and South Africa can look forward to a future that holds the promise of a better life for all our people.