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The Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
(Afrikaans and Dutch for pioneers, literally "fore-pullers", "those in front who pull", "fore-trekkers") were Boer pastoralists from the frontiers of the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
who migrated eastwards during the Great Trek. The Voortrekkers, who were descended from the Dutch East India Company's original settlers at the Cape, undertook the Great Trek
Great Trek
in several parties, under several different leaders, due to grievances with the then-British colonial administration.

Contents

1 Leaders 2 Origins 3 Reasons for the Great Trek 4 History

4.1 Piet Retief
Piet Retief
Delegation Massacre 4.2 Bloukrans (Weenen) Massacre 4.3 Battle of Italeni 4.4 Battle of Blood River 4.5 Migration to the Waterberg 4.6 Struggle against the Ndebele

5 Culture 6 Memorials 7 See also 8 Footnotes 9 References 10 External links

Leaders[edit] Voortrekker Leaders arranged in order by size of party number of families in brackets :-[1]

Hendrik Potgieter
Hendrik Potgieter
(19 December 1792 - 16 December 1852), (his party included that of Sarel Cilliers), 158 , Sarel Cilliers
Sarel Cilliers
(7 September 1801 - 4 October 1871), Piet Retief
Piet Retief
(12 November 1780 - 6 February 1838), 139 , Murdered during massacre of his delegation by order of Dingane. See List of massacres in South Africa. Jan du Plessis, (his party included that of Jacobus Christoffel Potgieter), 116 , Jacobus Christoffel Potgieter, Pieter Daniël Jacobs, 85 , Petrus Lafras Uys (Piet) (1797 - 11 April 1838), 79 , Johannes Stephanus Maritz, 68 , Gerhardus Marthinus Maritz (Gerrit / Gert) (1 March 1797 - 23 September 1838), 57 , Gerrit Maritz Karel Pieter Landman, 54 , Jacob De Klerk, Jr., 52 , Philippus Albertus Opperman, Sr., 41 , Andries Pretorius
Andries Pretorius
(27 November 1798 - 23 July 1853), 38 , Gerrit Reynier Van Rooyen, 29 , Gerhardus Jacobus Rudolph, (c. 1797 - 24 July 1851),[2] 26 , (Cousin of Gert Maritz. Joined his party during the trek). Louis Jacobus Nel, 26 , Lucas Johannes Meyer, 24 , Joachim Christoffel Espag or Esbach, 23 , Johan Hendrik De Lange, 15 , Hercules Philip Malan, 13 , Louis Tregardt
Louis Tregardt
(10 August 1783 - 25 October 1838), 13 , Stephanus Petrus Erasmus, 9 , Johannes Jacobus (Lang Hans) Janse van Rensburg (12 August 1779 - July 1836), 7 , Murdered during massacre of his trek party by order of Manukosi. See List of massacres in South Africa Arie Zacharias Visagie, 6 , David Stephanus Fourie, 6 , Jan Matthys De Beer, 6 , Hermanus Stephanus Lombard, 2 , Johannes Jacobus Erasmus, 1 .

The total number of families that trekked under a trek leader is 1093. From available sources it was found that during the years 1835 to 1845 a total of about 2540 families took part in the Great Trek.[3]

Statue of Andries Pretorius
Andries Pretorius
in front of the City Hall of Pretoria

Origins[edit] The Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
mainly came from the farming community of the Eastern Cape although some (such as Piet Retief) originally came from the Western Cape
Western Cape
farming community while others (such as Gerrit Maritz) were successful tradesmen in the frontier towns. Some of them were wealthy men though most were not as they were from the poorer communities of the frontier. It was recorded[where?][by whom?] that the 33 Voortrekker families at the Battle of Vegkop
Battle of Vegkop
lost 100 horses, between 4,000 and 7,000 cattle, and between 40,000 and 50,000 sheep.[citation needed] The Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
were mainly of Trekboer
Trekboer
(migrating farmer) descent living in the eastern frontiers of the Cape. Hence, their ancestors had long established a semi-nomadic existence of trekking into expanding frontiers.[4] Amongst the Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
were poor men too belonging to the squatter or bywoner class.[5] Reasons for the Great Trek[edit] The reasons for the mass emigration from the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
have been much discussed over the years. Afrikaner historiography has emphasized the hardships endured by the frontier farmers which they blamed on British policies of pacifying the Xhosa tribes.[citation needed] Other historians[who?] have emphasized the harshness of the life in the Eastern Cape
Eastern Cape
(which suffered one of its regular periods of drought in the early 1830s) compared to the attractions of the fertile country of Natal, the Orange Free State
Orange Free State
and the Transvaal. Growing land shortages have also been cited as a contributing factor. The true reasons were obviously very complex and certainly consisted of both "push" factors (including the general dissatisfaction of life under British rule) and "pull" factors (including the desire for a better life in better country.) Reasons for the Great Trek
Great Trek
were many:-

During the ten years following 1818, Natal south of the Tugela and most of the great plateau had been emptied of people by a cataclysmic disaster which black Africans still speak of with awe as the Mfecane
Mfecane
- "the crushing."[6] The revocation of Lord Glenelg of the Province of Queen Adelaide and restoring it to the Xhosa. The continued chronic insecurity on the frontier. Being (wrongly) blamed by the (British) Government for provoking an unjust war. The Colony was perceived as being no place for Christian people to live. Land was becoming scarce and expensive owing to natural increase in the Afrikaans-speaking population and the advent of 5,000 British settlers during 1820. Persistent drought. The advance of the English tongue, especially in official circles, at the expense of the taal (Afrikaans language). The emancipation of the slaves ordained by the British in 1833. The inadequate compensation for the freed slaves by the British. The emancipation of the slaves took effect during harvest season. Chronic mortification at the way the Boers' actions were so freely criticized by the missionaries. The official recognition of the equality between colored men and whites.[7] The Commisie Treks returned filled with enthusiasm for the countries (Natal and Zoutpansberg) they had visited. In both places, they said, was land for the taking, land where their countrymen could set up independent states.[8] The British authorities had stopped ammunition being traded across the Orange, and someone like Jan Pretorius, the sub-leader of the Tregardt trek, wanted to buy gunpowder from the Portuguese in Lourenco Marques, and he thought that joining Tregardt's caravan was the safest way of getting there.[9]

History[edit] Piet Retief
Piet Retief
Delegation Massacre[edit] Main article: Piet Retief
Piet Retief
Delegation massacre The Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
migrated into Natal in 1837 and negotiated a land treaty in February 1838 with the Zulu King Dingane. Upon reconsideration, Dingane
Dingane
doublecrossed the Voortrekkers, killing the delegation of 100 including their leader Piet Retief
Piet Retief
on 6 February 1838. The land treaty was later found in Piet Retief's possession. It gave the Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
the land between the Tugela River and Port St. Johns.

View of the Bloukrans Memorial commemorating the death of the Boers who lost their lives at Moordspruit, 17 February 1838.

Bloukrans (Weenen) Massacre[edit] Main article: Weenen Massacre On 17 February 1838 Dingane
Dingane
sent an impi against the Voortrekkers which resulted in the Blaauwkrans Massacre where over 500 Voortrekkers were killed by Zulu warriors. Amongst those killed were:-

Joachim Johannes Prinsloo, ≈ 30/3/1783 (Acquitted Slagtersnek rebel)[10] Martha Louisa Prinsloo, (Wife of Joachim Johannes Prinsloo, above)[11]

Battle of Italeni[edit] Main article: Battle of Italeni After the massacre of Piet Retief
Piet Retief
and his men by Dingane
Dingane
on 6 February 1838, a number of Voortrekker camps were also attacked by the Zulu impis. These Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
appealed to other treks, particularly those of Piet Uys
Piet Uys
and Hendrik Potgieter
Hendrik Potgieter
in the Orange Free State, for help. Both treks sent out commandos to help. During the subsequent fighting against the Zulu, Uys, his son, the Malan brothers, and five of the volunteers were killed: 64-65 (for ten Voortrekker dead during the battle). The part of Uys' commando that remained behind (under the command of Field Cornet Potgieter), were surrounded and had to fight their way out. Due to the outcome of the battle, the Voortrekker forces involved in the fighting subsequently became known as the Vlugkommando (Flight Commando). Battle of Blood River[edit] Main article: Battle of Blood River Andries Pretorius
Andries Pretorius
filled the Voortrekker leadership vacuum, hoping to punish Dingane, retrieve stolen livestock and reclaim the land Dingane had granted to Retief. When Dingane
Dingane
sent an impi (armed force) of around 15,000 to 21,000 Zulu warriors to attack the local contingent of Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
in response, the Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
sent out the Vegkommando (Fight commando) and in turn defended themselves at a battle at Ncome River (called the Battle of Blood River) on 16 December 1838, where the vastly outnumbered Voortrekker contingent defeated the Zulu warriors. This date later became known as the Day of the Vow, as the Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
made a vow to God that they would honor the date if he were to deliver them from what they viewed as almost insurmountable odds. The victory of the besieged Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
at Ncome River was considered[by whom?] a turning point.

Copy of the treaty between Piet Retief
Piet Retief
and Dingane
Dingane
which led to the establishment of the Natalia Republic

The Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
set up the Natalia Republic
Natalia Republic
in 1839 which was situated between the Tugela River and Port St. Johns as per the land treaty between Dingane
Dingane
and Retief, but Britain annexed this area in 1843, whereupon most of the local Boers trekked further north, joining other Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
who had established themselves in that region. Migration to the Waterberg[edit] Other Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
migrated north to the Waterberg area, where some of them settled and began ranching operations, which activities enhanced the pressure placed on indigenous wildlife by pre-existing tribesmen, whose Bantu predecessors had previously initiated such grazing in the Waterberg region. These Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
arriving in the Waterberg area believed they had reached the Nile River
Nile River
area of Egypt
Egypt
- based upon their understanding of the local topography.[12][13] Struggle against the Ndebele[edit] Armed conflict, first with the Matabele people (a.k.a. Northern Ndebele) under Mzilikazi
Mzilikazi
in the area which was to become the Transvaal, then against the Zulus under Dingane, went the Voortrekkers' way, mostly because of their tactics, their horsemanship and the effectiveness of their superior technology in the form of muzzle-loading guns. This success led to the establishment of a number of small Boer
Boer
republics, which slowly coalesced into the Orange Free State and the South African Republic
South African Republic
or were absorbed by the British Empire. These two states would survive until their annexation in 1900 by the United Kingdom during the Second Anglo- Boer
Boer
War. Culture[edit] The Pionier Museum
Pionier Museum
in Pretoria
Pretoria
is housed in an early Voortrekker house and is a 'living museum' displaying the daily lives and practices of a typical Voortrekker family. The pioneers relied heavily on preserved foodstuffs such as Beskuit, Biltong
Biltong
and Droëwors. Memorials[edit]

Voortrekker Monument

The Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
are commemorated by the Voortrekker Monument
Voortrekker Monument
located on Monument Hill overlooking Pretoria, the former capital of the South African Republic and the current and historic administrative capital of the Republic of South Africa. Pretoria
Pretoria
was named after the Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius. The Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
had a distinctive flag, used mainly by the Voortrekkers
Voortrekkers
who followed Andries Hendrik Potgieter, which is why it was also known as the Potgieter Flag. This flag was used as the flag of the Zoutpansberg
Zoutpansberg
Republic until this republic was incorporated into the Transvaal Republic
Transvaal Republic
also known as the South African Republic. A version of this flag was used at Potchefstroom, one of the first independent Boer
Boer
towns and republics established by local Voortrekkers. See also[edit]

South Africa portal

Trekboers Voortrekker Monument Great Trek Weenen massacre Battle of Blood River Boer
Boer
republics Transvaal civil war, 1854 conflict First Boer
Boer
War, 1880 conflict Bandeirantes
Bandeirantes
(pioneers of the Brazilian mainland) List of massacres in South Africa

Footnotes[edit]

^ Visagie, Jan C. Voortrekkerstamouers 1835 - 1845. Protea Boekhuis. Pretoria. 2011. Page 15. ^ Visagie, Jan C., Voortrekkerstamouers 1835 - 1845. Protea Boekhuis. Pretoria. 2011. Bladsy 431. ^ Visagie, Jan C. Voortrekkerstamouers 1835 - 1845. Protea Boekhuis. Pretoria. 2011. Page 14 and 15. ^ Brian M. Du Toit. The Boers in East Africa: Ethnicity and Identity. Page 1. ^ Ransford, Oliver. The Great Trek. John Murray. Great Britain. 1972. Page 37. ^ Ransford, Oliver. The Great Trek. John Murray. Great Britain. 1972. Page 26. ^ Ransford, Oliver. The Great Trek. John Murray. Great Britain. 1972. Pages 21 and 22. ^ Ransford, Oliver. The Great Trek. John Murray. Great Britain. 1972. Page 23. ^ Ransford, Oliver. The Great Trek. John Murray. Great Britain. 1972. Pages 36 and 37. ^ Visagie, Jan C., Voortrekkerstamouers 1835 - 1845. Protea Boekhuis, Pretoria, 2011. ISBN 978-1-86919-372-0. Page 401. ^ Visagie, Jan C., Voortrekkerstamouers 1835 - 1845. Protea Boekhuis, Pretoria, 2011. ISBN 978-1-86919-372-0. Page 401. ^ Taylor, 2003 ^ Lumina, 2006

References[edit]

This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (September 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

William Taylor, Gerald Hinde and David Holt-Biddle, The Waterberg, Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa (2003) ISBN 1-86872-822-6 Lumina Tech, C.Michael Hogan, Mark L. Cooke and Helen Murray, The Waterberg Biosphere, Lumina Technologies, May 22, 2006. [1]

External links[edit]

The Voortrekker Monument. History of the Voortrekker monument Voortrekker Monument
Voortrekker Monument
in Depth. 360 degree Virtual Tour of Vo

.