The Voortrekkers (literally something like "first movers") is the name given to the emigration of some 14 000 farmers in the years from 1835 to the early 1840s. They left the Cape Colony - the area around the current Cape Town - in rebellion against British Rule. They wanted to be independent, speak their own language and govern their own people.
Before the British the Dutch settled the colony, with Jan van Riebeeck the first white man to arrive on 6 April 1652. The movement to the South African interior is called the Great Trek (Groot Trek).
Many names from those years are still part of the (white) South African history: Andries Pretorius, Lang Hans van Rensburg, Piet Retief, the young boy Dirkie Uys, and many others.
The interior was a wilderness to these people, with bushes almost impassable, wild rivers, high mountains and wild animals like lions and cheetah. The natives, who have never seen white faces before, regarded them as "devils" and enemies. Also, for the natives there was no such thing as ownership - everything belonged to everybody. When they took the cattle belonging to the Trekkers, it was seen as a hostile act and many bitter battles were waged, to a tremendous loss of life on both sides. Battles were normally called after the place where it took place, like Bloedrivier (Blood River), Vegkop (battle hill) and Bloukrans (blue cliff).
When something happend to the cattle, it threatened the whole fragile existence of the Trekkers, because the ox-drawn wagon was not only their means of transport, but also the only shelter they had. When they left the land of their birth, the Cape Colony, they took with them only a few essentials to help them cope. They had to face survival in a harsh and undeveloped country. Simple, practical pieces of furniture replaced the larger pieces of the Cape lifestyle. Cooking was done over an open fire, while an antheap, which was hollowed out, was used as a much-needed oven in which to bake bread. The Trekkers lived in the open veld with a wagon and a simple tent as their only shelter while constantly moving north.
Of, as jy die Afrikaanse weergawe wil lees, kliek op tuisblad hieronder.
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