The idea to build a monument in honour of the Voortrekkers was first mooted on 16 December 1888, when President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic attended the Day of the Covenant celebrations at Blood River in Natal. However, the movement to actually build such a monument only started in 1931 when the Sentrale Volksmonumentekomitee (SVK) (Central People's Monuments Committee) was formed to bring this idea to fruition.
Construction started on 13 July 1937 with a sod turning ceremony performed by chairman of the SVK, Advocate E.G.Jansen, on what later became known as Monument Hill. On 16 December 1938 the cornerstone was laid by three descendants of some of the Voortrekker leaders: Mrs. J.C. Muller (granddaughter of Andries Pretorius), Mrs. K.F. Ackerman (great-granddaughter of Hendrik Potgieter) and Mrs. J.C. Preller (great-granddaughter of Piet Retief).
A large amphitheatre, which seats approximately 20,000 people, was erected to the north-east of the Monument in 1949.
The Cenotaph Hall is decorated with the flags of the different Voortrekker Republics and contains wall tapestries depicting the Voortrekkers as well as several display cases with artefacts from the Great Trek. Against the northern wall of the hall is a nave with a lantern in which a flame has been kept burning ever since 1938. It was in that year that the Symbolic Ox Wagon Trek, which started in Cape Town and ended at Monument Hill where the Monument's foundation stone was laid, took place.
After passing through the gate one finds oneself inside a big laager consisting of 64 ox-wagons made out of decorative granite. The same number of wagons were used at the Battle of Blood River to form the laager.
At the foot of the Monument stands Anton van Wouw's bronze sculpture of a Voortrekker woman and her two children, paying homage to the strength and courage of the Voortrekker women. On both sides of this sculpture black wildebeest are chiselled into the walls of the Monument. The wildebeest symbolically depicts the dangers of Africa and their symbolic flight implies that the woman, carrier of Western civilisation, is triumphant.
On each outside corner of the Monument there is a statue, respectively representing Piet Retief, Andries Pretorius, Hendrik Potgieter and an "unknown" leader (representative of all the other Voortrekker leaders). Each statue weighs approximately 6 tons.
At the eastern corner of the monument, on the same level as its entrance, is the foundation stone.
A comprehensive documentary about the history of the monument has been posted in four parts on YouTube.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjWHDumFTcg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnpghpfVg3Q http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lw02p5UqBYY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbMe49rtwSY
How things have changed in 20 years; Arja Salafranca embarks on a historical tour from Vlakplaas to the Lilliesleaf Farm in Rivonia.(Life)
Jun 14, 2009; TIME turns full circle. The last time I visited the Voortrekker Monument I was a 16-year-old on an obligatory visit. Afrikaner...