The battle of Blood River ( known as iMpi yaseNcome in Zulu) happened on the 16th of December 1838 where 800 Voortrekkers were able to push back the 15 000 attacking Zulus.
The day was initially branded Dingane’s Day for a long period in the early 20th century.
It marked the Zulus defeat against the Voortrekkers in the legendary battle which resulted in turning the Ncome river red with the blood that was spilt.
Later with Paul Kruger in charge of the country it was changed to Day of the Vow. This was meant to celebrate God according to the Afrikaners as it was said that the Voortrekkers prayed for five days prior to the battle.
With South Africa’s new democracy came a name that united both sides and we now celebrate Reconciliation Day on the 16th of December.
The day is part of promoting reconciliation and nation building in the country in the era of freedom and democracy.
There are two museums which stand on either side of the river where the battle commenced. Now finally into 20 years of democracy these two sides will be united by a bridge, which is expected to be opened by President Jacob Zuma come this Reconciliation day.
People will gather at Ncome on Wednesday to celebrate Reconciliation Day
According to the head of education at the Voortrekker Monument, Chirsto Rabie, the battle was an important marker in the pioneer phase and the bridge to be opened is a beautiful symbol to mark our unity.
“We now know the day as Reconciliation Day putting the conflict from both sides to rest by uniting the sides, physically and symbolically, with a bridge unveiled this year uniting the Blood river and Ncome musuem on either side of the river. It is also important in a symbolic way that the two sites should be joined because they do have different views on aspects of the battle so it’s important that people should visit both and verify for themselves what they think and what they believe.”
People will gather at Ncome on Wednesday to celebrate Reconciliation Day and are invited to visit both sides of the river to learn about the different interpretations and enjoy the company of each other.