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Open Features: The 16th Of December...

Marianne Hall tells of a battle fought on this day in 1838.

On December 16, 1838, 470 Voortrekkers defeated a force of about ten thousand Zulus at the battle of the Blood River. Only three Voortrekkers were wounded and some 3000 Zulu warriors died in the battle. A public vow had been taken that future descendants would commemorate this day as a religious holiday in the event of a victory over the Zulu.

On the “Day of the Covenant” Afrikaners from all over the country would stream to the Voortrekker Monument situated on Monument Hill. The building is constructed in such a way that just on that day at noon a ray of sunlight falls onto the Shrine of Honour in the Heroes’ Hall. It bears the inscription “Ons vir jou, Zuid Afrika.” (We for you, South Africa).

The capital of the Boer Republic in Transvaal was named Pretoria after Andries Pretorius, the victorius leader of the Boers in the war against the Zulus.

In 1994 a Black Government took control in South Africa.
During 2005 it was decided to change the name of Pretoria to Tshwane. This was the name of an African chief who settled in the area hundreds of years ago. The word means “we are the same” or “we are one because we live together.” The name “Pretoria” would apply only to a limited central area.
It was also decided to change the name “Day of the Covenant” to “Day of Reconciliation”.

News coverage of the “Struggle” and particularly the “Freedom March” is to be broadcasted on 16 December.

The Freedom March took place in 1956. I was doing freelance reporting for the then “Germiston Advocate” so I joined the marchers. I did not join the “Black Sash” preferring to remain neutral and unbiased. Needless to say, the event was not mentioned in the local paper.

It is ironical that having “struggled for freedom” for so long and finally achieving it, with the passing of the Secrecy Bill there is certainly no freedom of the press

Marianne Hall © 2011


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