Did Monomotapa City become South African Pretoria City?

I was always wondering why a city in South Africa would be named Pretoria. The interest is somewhat self-explanatory.
  • Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army; or, an elected magistrate, assigned various duties.

Somehow, I thought there was a connection there. Well, I got schooled by the narrative, and the reason it is called Pretoria goes like this:
  • Pretoria was founded in 1855 by Marthinus Pretorius, a leader of the Voortrekkers, who named it after his father Andries Pretorius and chose a spot on the banks of the "Monkeys river" to be the new capital of the South African Republic. The elder Pretorius had become a national hero of the Voortrekkers after his victory over Dingane and the Zulus in the Battle of Blood River. The elder Pretorius also negotiated the Sand River Convention (1852), in which the UK acknowledged the independence of the Transvaal. It became the capital of the South African Republic (ZAR) on 1 May 1860.
Here are our heroes by the way. Marthinus Pretorius (1819 – 1901 ) is on the left, and his father Andries Pretorius (1798 – 1853 ) on the right.


Kind of discouraging it was, but a little bit of Andries Pretorius's bio allowed me to keep on going in my search.
  • Pretorius descended from the line of the earliest Dutch settlers in the Cape Colony. He belonged to the fifth generation of the progenitor, Johannes Pretorius son of Reverend Wessel Schulte of the Netherlands. Schulte in his time as a theology student at the University of Leiden changed his name to the Latin form and therefore became Wesselius Praetorius (later Pretorius).
To be honest, I kind of knew where to look, for the last name Pretorius did not sound Dutch to me. Sure enough, German origin last name Schulte was changed to Praetorius.
  • Schulte in his time as a theology student at the University of Leiden changed his name to the Latin form and therefore became Wesselius Praetorius (later Pretorius).
Today, Pretorius is a common Afrikaans surname:
  • Recorded in several forms (including Praetor, Praetorius, Pratorius, Pretorius, (German), and in English Preater, Preter and Pretor), Pretorius is a surname of Germanic origins, although the ultimate origin is the Roman word "praetor". This literally meant "leader", but was used in Imperial Rome to describe officials who led processions, as well as the Praetorian Guard, who provided the security for the Senate and the Imperial Roman family. Although apparently first recorded in England several centuries before Germany, which is probably because of lost medieval records, it is rare in England, although now found in some numbers in Austria, Switzerland and South Africa.
  • LOL, these "probably" and "apparently" will never cease to amaze me.
Next I went to see the meaning of the name Schulte:
  • The name Schulte comes from one of those ancient dukedoms, territories and states that would eventually form a part of present day Germany. At its birth in the Middle Ages, it was used to indicate someone who worked as a town-mayor derived from the medieval name "Schultheis" which has the same meaning.
A convenient last name to have, to say the least. In my opinion "town-mayor" sounds more like a title, rather than a last name. Yet it does check out. One way, or the other, there was my Ancient Roman connection. By the way:

In reality, the entire Johannesburg area presents the exact same interest, and once we get to the older maps you will understand why. As you can see, we have this nice little place called Centurion. I'm not sure when it received its name, but this infatuation with Ancient Rome is just bizarre.

Ancient Rome, for a second, was separated from this region of South Africa by 5,000 miles and 1,500 years. Why did they like it so much?
Pretoria is situated approximately 55 km (34 mi) north-northeast of Johannesburg in the northeast of South Africa, in a transitional belt between the plateau of the Highveld to the south and the lower-lying Bushveld to the north. It lies at an altitude of about 1,339 m (4,393 ft) above sea level, in a warm, sheltered, fertile valley, surrounded by the hills of the Magaliesberg range.


Architecture of Pretoria
This structure below is called the Union Buildings. Allegedly completed in 1913. The below image is dated with 1920. I simply do not believe that what we are seeing was only 7 years old at the time the photographs were taken. Additionally, the entire construction story sounds rather interesting.


The Union Buildings story goes like this:
  • In 1909 Herbert Baker was commissioned to design the Government Building of the Union of South Africa (which was formed on 31 May 1910) in Pretoria. Pretoria was to become the administrative centre for the new government. In November 1910 the cornerstone of the Union Building was laid.
  • Lord Selborne and H.C. Hull, a member of the first Union Cabinet, chose Meintjieskop as the site for Baker's design. The site was that of a disused quarry and the existing excavations were used to create the amphitheatre, which was set about with ornamental pools, fountains, sculptures, balustrades and trees.
  • The design consisted of two identical wings, joined by a semicircular colonnade forming the backdrop of the amphitheatre. The colonnade was terminated on either side by a tower. Each wing had a basement and three floors above ground. The interiors were created in the Cape Dutch style with carved teak fanlights, heavy doors, dark ceiling beams contrasting with white plaster walls and heavy wood furniture. Baker used indigenous materials as far as possible. The granite was quarried on site while Buiskop sandstone was used for the courtyards. Stinkwood and Rhodesian teak were used for timber and wood panelling. The roof tiles and quarry tiles for the floors were made in Vereeniging.
  • The cornerstone was laid in November 1910, shortly after the Union of South Africa – for which the buildings are named – was formed. Taking 1,265 workers over three years to build, the structure was completed in 1913 at a total cost of £1,310,640 for the building and £350,000 for the site.
  • Designed by Sir Herbert Baker in 1908, building began in 1909 and was completed in 1913. It took approximately 1265 artisans, workmen and labourers almost three years to construct, using 14 million bricks for the interior office walls, half a million cubic feet of freestone, 74 000 cubic yards of concrete, 40 000 bags of cement and 20 000 cubic feet of granite.

Early Sketch
Early sketch of the Union Buildings.jpg

At the same time, we do have some construction, and near construction photos. Judge for yourself whether there is anything of importance there. Looks like the structure is being built, at the same time the quality of this scaffolding below looks strange.
It's not so much the building itself, but what's beneath the building which makes me feel uneasy about it. It's like it was built on top of something else. The arches below the structure look like so many of the other ones we have seen before.
Then we have a whole group of buildings which make me question the photography invention time frame.

Palace of Justice

Palace of Justice, Pretoria - Wikipedia

Old Government Building

Ou Raadsaal - Wikipedia + Inside

Pretoria Boys High School
Pretoria Boys High School.jpg

Pretoria Boys High School - Wikipedia

Church Square, 1899

Voortrekker Monument
Voortrekker Monument.jpg

Post Office
Post office.jpg

Anyways, there were, and still are tons of these buildings in Pretoria, and even more in Johannesburg.

Rare English map of Southern Africa, published by Jonas Moore in London. The map appeared in Moore's A New Geography. Many of the plates in the work were engraved by Herman Moll, who had moved to London in 1678 and had not yet begun publishing under his own name. These are among the earliest known maps engraved by Moll. Burden credits Moll's first map as being his work for William Berry, also in 1681.

monomotapa (1).jpg





Some easy side by side map comparison will place our Pretoria, and Johannesburg right on the spot. The reason I think Pretoria better matches this City of Monomotapa is simple. Pretoria is the capital, so, naturally, a Ville Royale of sorts. Somehow, I think our founder, Mr. Pretoreus knew that.

Once you look for the current terrain features of the former rivers in the area, you will see how perfectly this MONO-city matches Pretoria/Johannesburg. There are multiple maps you can reference. Here is a link for your convenience:

Then, as you can see, something happens prior to 1769, and the entire Empire of Monomotapa got moved to our contemporary Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

What's interesting, as far as Mozambique goes (a bit off topic here) is this:
  • The Somali merchants from Mogadishu, the capital of the Ajuran Empire, established a colony in Mozambique to extract gold from the mines in Sofala.
  • In 1505 the Portuguese were granted permission to erect a factory and fortress at Sofala.

The former Monomotapa area became a desert populated by some savages. Whether the entire Empire of M. picked up, and moved North-West, or this is just the beginning of map re-adjustments to fit the narrative, I don't know. But the result of it, the contemporary historians are placing Monomotapa in Zimbabwe, which is only partially correct.



Wondering what happened there... could these "meteorite" craters have had something to do with this?


Saudi Arabia craters are not included in the image

Monomotapa, outlined by the green line, was a serious Empire. Well, at least it appears that way. A few cities they had as well.



Now, if you don't look for stuff, you can't be wrong. But looking at the older maps it's easy to see that back in the day there was a region, and a Royal City (Ville Royale) called MONOMOTAPA. Here is some narrative:
  • In old maps of south-east Africa, derived originally from Portuguese and from Dutch sources, an extensive region on the Cuama or Zambezi and to the south of it is styled regnum monomotapae.The precise character of the kingdom or empire to which allusion is made has been the subject of much discussion, and some modern historians have gone so far as to relegate the monomotapa to the realm of myth. But such scepticism is unjustifiable in view of the perfect unanimity with which, in spite of variations of detail, all Portuguese writers from the beginning of the 16th century onwards reiterated the assertion that there was a powerful rule known far and wide by that title.
  • The word "monomotapa " is of Bantu origin and has been variously interpreted. Father J. Torrend, Comparative Grammar of the South African Bantu Languages (p. Ioi) renders it " Lord of the water-elephants," and remarks that the hippopotamus is even to the present day a sacred animal among the Karanga. The earliest recorded bearer .of the name is Mokomba Menamotapam, mentioned by Diogo de Alcacova in 1506 as father of the Kwesarimgo Menamotapam who ruled at that date over Vealanga, a large kingdom that included Sofala. His capital was called Zumubany, an obvious corruption of the term " Zimbabwe," regularly used to describe the residence of any important chief. The title is still found during the 18th century, but had probably become extinct by the beginning of the 19th if not earlier. Possibly its use was not confined to a single tribal section, occurring as it does in conjunction with the distinct dynastic names of Mokomba and Mambo, but the Karanga is the only tribe to which the Portuguese chroniclers attribute it. The latter, indeed, not only refer to the territory and the people of the monomotapa as " Mocaranga " (i.e. of the Karanga tribe), but explicitly assert that the " emperor " himself was a " Mocaranga." Consequently, he must have been a negro, and the Dominican who records the baptism of Dom Filippe by a friar of the order in the middle of the 17th century actually states that this " powerful king " was a black man (`; corn as carnes pretas "). This alone would be sufficient to controvert the baseless assumption that there existed in southern Rhodesia a ruling caste of different racial origin from the general Bantu population. The events following on the murder of the Jesuit father Dom Gongalo da Silveira (cf. Lusiads X. 93) sufficiently demonstrate that the monomotapa, though susceptible to the persuasion of foreigners, was an independent potentate in the 16th century. The state and ceremony of his court, the number of his wives, and the order and organization of his officials, are described by several of the chroniclers.
  • It is difficult to arrive at an estimate of the extent of territory over which this great negro chief exercised direct or indirect control. The most extravagant theory is naturally that which was expressed by the Portuguese advocates in connexion with the dispute as to the ownership of Delagoa Bay. The crown of Portugal based its case against England on the cession of territory contained in a well-known treaty with the monomotapa (1629), and stated that this monarch's dominions then extended nearly to the Cape of Good Hope. A more moderate and usual view is given by Diego de Couto, who in 1616 speaks of " a dominion over all Kaffraria from the Cabo das Correntes to the great river Zambezi." Several 17th-century writers extend the " empire " to the north of the Zambezi, Bocarro giving it in all " a circumference of more than three hundred leagues." It was " divided among petty kings and other lords with fewer vassals who are called inkosis or fumes." According to these authors, however, including Dos Santos, the paramountcy of the monomotapa was impaired in the 17th century by a series of rebellions. His zimbabwe, wherever it may have been in earlier days, was now;fixed near the Portuguese fort of Masapa, only a short distance south of the Zambezi. A Portuguese garrison was maintained in it, and the monarch himself from the year 1607 onwards was little more than a puppet who was generally baptized by the Dominicans with a Portuguese name.
Now, I do not know why our contemporary historians think that the "Great Negro Chief" was supposed to be black. May be because we had this image published between 1865-1880.


Meanwhile, some time prior to 1522 this Monomotapa region was ruled by this caucasian looking King - Hengi Zedaici. The linked books are in French. So, whoever wants to volunteer to translate, thank you very much.




KD: Back to the Pretorius family. Could they be sent to where Monomotapa-city once stood, to fulfill their "ancient" duties of Praetors, while simultaneously fishing for the recently buried reaches of the Ville Royalle?
  • I do think the world was global, and stuff was more or less similar all over. Same civilization was building similar structures relatively at the same time, using the similar technology. In some places we attribute the structures to the Ancient Rome, and Greece. In other places our historical narrative placed the structures much closer to today's date. I think South Africa, including Pretoria/Johannesburg could be one of such places.
  • Would be nice if someone did some research into the 16th -17th century Portuguese Maps covering this area. Sounds like there could be quite a few reasons to research it, with gold being just one of those.
Meanwhile, we need to remember, that we did not really start exploring Africa until the ever-annoying 19th century.

1635 - 1802
This is a really good post. Very detailed and I'm starting to feel like this is just scratching the surface.

First, I have a couple potentially pointless observations and then maybe something decent at the end:

Early Sketch
Early sketch of the Union Buildings.jpg
The hill is not visible in the photo, as opposed to the rendering. Seems like there is a hill behind it in reality, based on the other pictures, so maybe it's the perspective... But that hill gets rather large in the rendering (and has buildings on it) and in the photo, we do seem to see part of the hill on the left side:


Some smudging tool action going on here? Nice black dot too. Probably nothing, just throwing it out there. Most because this picture looks interesting too:


Maybe the building is just pregnant, that's why it's glowing.

I think I'm probably just half-trolling jd now, though I am sympathetic to the argument that a lot of these "nilla skies" could be the result of the photographic process and that the overall idea is somewhat simplified and overpromoted in the alternative history circles (like "resets" and "Tartaria"). Still, those photos stood out a bit.
Would be nice if someone did some research into the 16th -17th century Portuguese Maps covering this area.
Here is one, wish the quality was better, they sell a high-res one for 30 bucks:

Actually, it's credited to Italian Filippo Pigafetta, but:
This was the map attributed to Duarte Lopes ( Odoardo Lopez) and published by Filippo Pigafetta in 1591.
This is translated from his French wikipedia, which also includes the title page of his account:
Arrived in the Congo on a ship belonging to his uncle (1578), he was commissioned by the King of Congo, Alvare II, to bring a letter on the exploitation of silver mines to Philip II of Spain and to the Pope.

Returning to Africa after his mission, his ship was deported to Venezuela . In 1589, he returned to the Congo. He gives Filippo Pigafetta an important testimony on his African experience.

Graverat_titelblad_-_Skoklosters_slott_-_93369.tif (1).jpg
And here's an 1881 free ebook translation:
Actually, this link is much better, easier to search.
Several references to Monomotapa, this one is interesting:
The third river, Atroe, takes its rife on that fide of the mountains, in which are the gold-mines of Monomotapa, and in fome parts of this river gold-duft is found in the fand. Thefe three rivers enter the great Magnice near the fea, and all four together unite in one ftream, which flows into the fea, forming a very wide eftuary. From the mouths of this river, the Kingdom of Sofala extends along the fea-coaft, as far as the River Cuama, which takes its name from a caftle and fortrefs fo called, belonging to Mohammedans, and heathen. This river is known to the Portuguefe as the mouths of the Cuama, for at the fea it divides itfelf into feven mouths, out of which rife five iflands. Many others lie higher up the river, and are all well populated by heathen. This river flows from the fame lake and fources as the Nile. Thus the Kingdom of Sofala lies between the two rivers, Magnice and Cuama, on the fea-coaft. It is fmall in fize, and has but few villages and towns, the chief place being an Ifland, lying in the river, alfo called Sofala, and which gives its name to all that country. It is peopled by Mohammedans, and the king himfelf belongs to the fame feet. He pays allegiance to the crown of Portugal, in order not to be fubject to the government of Monomotapa
Okay, I lied, this is the real interesting one:
The Kingdom of Monomotapa is extenfive, and has a large population of Pagan heathens, who are black, of middle ftature, fwift of foot, and in battle fight with great bravery, their weapons being bows and arrows, and light darts. There are numerous kings tributary to Monomotapa, who conftantly rebel and wage war againft it. The Emperor maintains large armies, which in the provinces are divided Into legions, after the manner of the Romans, for, being a great ruler, he muft be at conftant warfare in order to maintain his dominion.
What a coincidence that they decided to use Roman terms when renaming the area centuries later...

Edit: There is a lot to this. Adding on:
The events following on the murder of the Jesuit father Dom Gongalo da Silveira
This seems like quite the tale. Mr. Silveira sounds like your standard intelligence agent/sorcerer (always a fine line between those two things):
During the night of the 15th of March, 1561, occurred one of the most renowned martyrdoms in sub-Saharan Africa.  The Portuguese Jesuit missionary, Dom Gonçalo da Silveira, was executed on the direct orders of the Monomotapa, the head of the dominant political entity on the southern bank of the Zambesi at the time, in today’s Zimbabwe. According to two local servants of the father’s translator, Antonio Caiado, Silveira was strangled to death inside the hut in which he dwelt by high-ranking officers of the Monomotapa, and his body was thrown into the Monsengece River.
So his first mistake was not to beware the Ides of March... just another coincidental Roman reference, I'm sure.
According to Caiado (ibid.: 100), the Ngangas stipulated that Silveira was a sorcerer (moroo). They claimed that he was sent by the Portuguese authorities who were seeking to take control of the Monomotapa’s kingdom, and that he was sent to provoke a local revolt by his rival Chapute (ibid.: 99-100), who is mistakenly identified by Frois and by modern researchers as the Kiteve (Frois 1975: 48; Mudenge 1988: 62-69).  The accusations that Silveira was a sorcerer, as described in Caiado’s letter, are explained in a rather simplistic way by using a concept that would be comprehensible to an European audience.

To comprehend the motives for the murder, it is essential to understand what the local people believed or claimed that has happened, however irrational and contradictory these explanations may appear.  Evidence of Silveira’s guilt which Caiado and Frois claim to be given by the Ngangas—and which has been ignored or uncritically reported in part by modern research—can help transcend these simplistic categories.  To prove their accusations, the Ngangas claimed as follows:

a. Silveira was determined to kill the Monomotapa and the entire population of the land by persuading them to become Christians and by “splashing water on their heads”, which according to them was a potion used to conquer the land, while saying the words of the Langarios (Portuguese).  All these actions would have been intended to bring the Monomotapa’s subjects under Silveria’s control and break their resistance.

b. Silveira carried with him a bone that he had stolen from a grave and many other potions that he intended to use to do away with the king.

c. He will cause drought and famine.

d. If he is not killed he will suddenly disappear, and as a consequence the people of the land will begin killing each other without any apparent reason.

e. He should be thrown into the river and his body not left exposed to the sun otherwise it will poison the people.

f. He was seen walking naked from the waist up near the precinct of the king’s palace; he had taken away from the precinct barks of wood and tied them to his shirt.  Because of these acts, lightning descended from the sky and broke a pole from the king’s doorway (Caiado 1898: 99-101; Frois 1975: 45-48).
Seems obvious to me this man wasn't likely a simple Christian missionary spreading the good news. So, when I read about "splashing water", I don't necessarily think he's baptizing people (or just doing that). In fact, the whole description reads like a combination of modern CIA tactics (destabilizing the country by creating different warring factions), chemical warfare, and perhaps some unknown electrical technology that maybe local to the area that the Jesuits knew how to make work. ("Perhaps" , "maybe" ... I guess I'm auditioning to be a modern historian now!)
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