The Voortrekker Monument will this weekend host a number of activities commemorating the historical heritage site.
The conservation site in Pretoria was built to commemorate the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony between 1834 and 1854.
The Monument offers the public an opportunity to learn more about the Afrikaners’ story.
The Communication Manager at the Voortrekker Monument, Gerhard Pretorius says the weekend activities which range from a guard of honour to a heritage festival, are a great opportunity for the public to learn more about the history of the Afrikaner community.
“In 1838, the Battle of the Blood River happened. It’s very important to remember history, where you come from and what happened in history. This year marks the 185th commemoration of the Battle of the Blood River and that’s why we doing the Great Trek 185 this year. We have a very special event on Monday. We have a guard on honour of hundreds of children that will be standing from the gate to the monument. We will have an ox wagon that the kids will pull all the way to the monument. That symbolises the Great Trek and what it’s all about.”
The Battle of Blood River
According to SA History Online the Battle of Blood River took place near the Ncome River in KwaZulu-Natal. The battle was between the Voortrekkers under the leadership of Andries Pretorius and the Zulu’s under the leadership of Dingane the Zulu King.
About 10 000-20 000 Zulu warriors led by Dingane’s generals Dambuza (Nzobo) and Ndlela kaSompisi attacked the Voortrekkers, but the 470 Voortrekkers, with the advantage of gun powder, warded them off. The battle began at dawn and was over by midday.
More than 3000 Zulu casualties were counted around the laager. Only, 3 Voortrekkers (including Voortrekker leader Pretorius) were wounded, none were killed. The Ncome River became red with the blood of the slain. Hence the river became known as “Blood River”.
CEO of SA History online Omar Badsha says, it’s crucial for South Africans to visit heritage sites, in particular young children. He says, this is so people can understand the country’s troubled past in order to build in unity for the future..
“Heritage is part and parcel of everyday existence. What this symbolises today for young black South Africans is the fact that we had this country division along race, language. History is important, so that we can understand the present and move forward. Our new historical monuments are largely related to the notion of unity, one people, democracy. And a way of life that is a total opposition to our apartheid past that was one of division.”
The South Africans that visited the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria say, they are excited to celebrate the heritage of all the different cultures in the country.
“We are all here together to celebrate our Heritage. I think that’s awesome because we can come together and celebrate together like one family.”
“Heritage is important in anyones culture. We have such a diverse culture in South Africa so I hope everyone enjoys their heritage day.”
Voortrekker Monument jam-packed with activities: