Wakkerstroom is the 6th oldest town in the district of the Old Transvaal.

In 1859, Dirk Cornelius Uys – better known as Swart Dirk Uys, due to his dark complexion – and two others known only as Gunter and Joubert, were instructed to search for a suitable place in the remote part of the Transvaal to establish a new town and congregation.  They traveled inland from Potchefstroom, and, after a week or two, they stopped overnight at a place that made a most favorable impression on them the following morning.

This place later became the town of Wakkerstroom.

They immediately shot an eland bull, slaughtered it, dressed the skin, and cut from it a thong 150 yards (about 137 meters) long, which they used to measure out the streets and erven, and demarcated the town.

When the town was subsequently surveyed with a proper surveyor’s chain 1941, there was only a slight difference between the new pegs and those initially staked by Uys.

Even the stand numbers and the street names given by Uys have largely remained unchanged.

Dirk Uys proposed that the town should be known as Uysenburg, but the Executive Committee of the ZAR preferred that the town should be named after the President, so it became Marthinus Wesselstroom.

The district became known as Wakkerstroom, and by 1904, colloquially, the town itself also became known as Wakkerstroom.

In official documents, however, it is still referred to as Marthinus Wesselstroom in the district of Wakkerstroom.

In isiZulu, the river that passes close to town is known as Uthaka (Utaga), which roughly translates into a wide-awake river or a lively stream.

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