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Die Stem van Suid Afrika – folk version

This is my version of the old poem by CJ Langenhoven which became the old national anthem. Dit is my weergawe van die ou gedig deur CJ Langenhoven wat die ou nationale volklied van Suid Afrika geword het. I still find it an amazing song with powerful lyrics that cannot be matched in the English translation as Langenhoven tries to capture the beauty of the land. I apologize in advance to any Afrikaans listeners if my accent spoils the effect! Ek bevind dit nogsteeds ‘n verbasende lied met ‘n magtige lyriek wat nie eintlik so doeltreffend is nie in die Engelse vertaling as Langenhoven die ware skoonheid van die land probeer beskryf. Geen politieke aanmerkings, asseblief. Geniet dit!!


The Voortrekkers (Afrikaans and Dutch for pioneers, literally “fore-pullers”, “those in front who pull”, “fore-trekkers”) mainly consisted of Trekboer pastoralists and Cape Dutch citizens from the Eastern frontier of the Cape Colony who during the 1830s and 1840s left the British controlled Cape; moving into the interior of what is now South Africa in what is known as the Great Trek. The Great Trek consisted of a number of mass movements under a number of different leaders. The Voortrekkers (and the Cape Dutch are the direct ancestors of the Afrikaners of modern day South Africa.

Womans rights

The Brink family were an example of the rights enjoyed by Boer women in the Boer Republics: Uniquely — from the 18th century, Boer women had equal land-rights, equal church-membership rights, were allowed to divorce and hold their own bank accounts; and as land-owners also had voting rights; they lost all these rights during the British occupation of South Africa because British women had none of those rights; and Boer women twice marched on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to demand equal rights for their defeated nation: in 1915 and 1940.

Lord Kitchener – In violence, we forget who we are

Earl Kitchener of Khartoum also nicknamed as Kitchener of Chaos, was the British Military Chief in the First World War.
Other than his service to Britain, he is known for his controversial role in the South African Boer War.
He was an engineer by profession and likewise, most of his tactics were developed in a manner that it did not account for human life.
Kitchener was just fastidious about the end result, without considering the means deployed to achieve the results, making his callous disregard for others.

Once, During the conflict, his troops were stricken with malady but Kitchener rather chose to reduce spending on their health care.
British incurred heavy losses fighting the Boer guerrillas, who knew the terrain well and used its features to their advantage.
Kitchener, frustrated from his unsuccessful attempts, instigated a new stratagem to hunt down the Boers.
He decided to flush out his enemies by cutting off their supply by burning farms and livestock.
On his orders, lands were evicted from the Boers and their families sent to concentration camps.
By the end of the conflict, more 26000 women and children had perished from starvation and illness.

The Grosvenor treasure — did it really exist?

The treasure thought to be aboard the sunken trading ship Grosvenor and which has gripped the imagination of fortune hunters for more than two centuries, was possibly never there.

The treasure was believed to have been on board the Grosvenor East Indiaman when it sank off the Pondoland coast on August 4 1782. It was said to include large quantities of gold, silver and precious stones. Even the Peacock Throne, the jewelled seat of the Mughal Emperors of India, was said to be included.

In his book The True Story of the Grosvenor East Indiaman Percival R Kirby argues that the legend of treasure was invented. There was no mention of it in the early days, nor was the Grosvenor then called a treasure ship.

It was only on February 22 1880 that the word “bullion” was first mentioned. This was in an article appearing in the Natal Mercantile Advertiser. The article reported that numerous gold and silver coins had been picked up on the beach near the wreck. The article said there had been reports that the ship had carried a substantial cargo of gold.

This led to the belief that, if so many coins were still being found at the site of the wreck 100 years later, large quantities of gold coinage and bullion must have been on board.

The author believes that it was the mention of bullion, the “germ word”, that spawned the legend of the Grosvenor, “causing it to grow with extraordinary rapidity”.

On May 8 1880 the Cape Argus reported that Sidney Turner, who had traded for many years on the Pondoland coast and owned a number of small trading vessels, together with a certain Lt Beddoes of the Durban Volunteer Artillery, had begun to search for valuables at the Grosvenor site. They had found pistol and musket bullets, brass ornaments, gold and silver jewellery and gold and silver coins. Nine of the cannon carried by the Grosvenor were lying among the rocks.

Turner and Beddoes planned to use dynamite to dislodge treasure believed to be embedded in the hull. And, as the author says, this belief became a certainty. Copies of reports in the Cape Argus and the Natal Mercury were reprinted in The Times of London and an awareness of the Grosvenor was spread throughout Britain.

Turner and Beddoes removed the canon and then blasted the rocks at the site where valuables were found. No map was made before the blasting, which changed the appearance of the shore, and later blasting caused further destruction.

A number of methods were used to get at the treasure, the most unusual one being hypnotism. The services of a hypnotist, William Whitaker, were employed. As a result of his efforts the treasure seekers travelled to Pondoland in July 1883 and were guided to the spot. They found a gun about 2m long, but no coins or valuables were visible. And when they started digging in the area, the paramount chief of the region ordered them to leave.

The Grosvenor spawned many legends. What seemed to have been a last-gasp attempt to revive interest in the treasure was sparked in an article in the Natal Mercury. It said a former Durban boat builder had claimed an old Pondo man living in the area of the wreck had told him the crew had off-loaded the treasure, including the Peacock Throne, and buried them in the sand. It was then secretly dug up and hidden in a cave, the roof of which later collapsed.

There is also the curious tale of a bell with Grosvenor markings. The one-time owner said a Pondoland resident had given it to him. It was supposed to have been found near the site of the wreck. But the bell has disappeared and no record of its existence can be found.

The creator of Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle, is said to have bought 1,000 (some say 2,000) shares in a salvage company, the Grosvenor Bullion Syndicate, floated to recover the treasure.

More intriguing is the existence of what is described as “the sad-eyed, curiously aloof, pale-skinned Pondos” in the hinterland of the point where the Grosvenor sank, believed to be the descendants of the wreck.

Perhaps the most ambitious salvage attempt was to reach the wreck by tunnel. It failed. But the entrances still remain as monuments “to the enthusiastic folly of the credulous speculators who were once responsible for its construction”.

The author says various accounts of the treasure were conflicting and others apocryphal. According to evidence there was never any link between the Peacock Throne and the Grosvenor. “I also hope the legend will be allowed to die,” Kirby writes.–did-it-really-exist/

At Slagtersnek you die twice.

The Slagtersnek Rebellion in 1815 is a well-known event in SA history, but some historians claim the truth has been hidden from the public.

Ian D Colvin in his book, Romance of Empire, SA, which was auctioned online by Westgate Walding Auctioneers last week, took a different view of the rebellion. (The Romance of Empire series was produced in the first half of the 20th century.)

A few people have tried to arrive at the truth, but the daunting task of wading through bulky files containing hundreds of pages of letters is a tough undertaking.

“SA historian Dr GM Theal who should have cleared up the confusion has only been one more raven croaking on a tree, one which the ravens of discord occupied since the five rebels were hanged in the memorable year of Waterloo,” Colvin said in the book.

To claim the rebellion was the result of English tyranny or Dutch patriotism was “a preposterous fable”.

Apparently the rebels planned to persuade the indigenous people to kill all who would not join them in a raid on the Cape Colony.

The fact was that the Boers on the frontier were antagonistic to the British officials and their interference in frontier matters. Under the old Dutch law they could do as they pleased and were a law unto themselves.

But things had changed under British rule. Laws were enforced, boundaries fixed, the land question settled, attempts were made to pacify the Xhosas and the Khoi were protected. The circuit court, known as the black circuit after a trial in which Boer farmers had to face charges by Khoi complainants, further incensed the Boer farmers.

It was on this frontier where Frederik Bezuidenhout, known as a violent and turbulent man lived and did what seemed good “in his own eyes”.

Around this time he was summonsed to appear before the magistrate on a charge of ill-treating one of his employees. He refused to appear in court and again refused when the summons was again served.

Such was his reputation that the field cornet whose duty it was to bring Bezuidenhourt to court, was afraid to arrest him. The field cornet was then given an escort of Pandours, or Khoi soldiers, to accompany him.

In his book Theal deals with claims that Bezuidenhout’s real grievance was the fact that Khoi soldiers were sent to arrest him, a white man.

Theal, however, believes that Bezuidenhout’s arrest and the Pandour soldiers sent to arrest him had little to do with the rebellion. The real object was the Boer colonists’ plan to remove the Khoi from the Cape Colony.

When the Pandours arrived at Bezuidenhout’s farm they saw him and two others take up defensive positions behind an outcrop of rocks. He refused to surrender. The Pandours rushed his position and in the resulting skirmish Bezuidenhout was killed. More arrests were made afterwards and arms and ammunition were confiscated.

At his graveside his brother Hans swore to avenge Bezuidenhout’s death. Together with a neighbour, Hendrik Prinsloo, Hans Bezuidenhout organised an uprising against British rule which, they believed, favoured the indigenous people and was hostile to the Boer farmers. They complained that the “black nation was protected and not the Christians”.

A commando of about 60 rebels met an armed force under Landdrost Cuyler (said to be of American descent), the military commander on the Eastern Frontier. The opposing forces confronted each other at Slagtersnek on November 18, 1815. The rebels were easily defeated.

Hans Bezuidenhout and members of his family, including his wife and 12-year-old son and a few friends, held out. His wife and son helped him until he was killed and they were wounded.

The rebels were charged with treason. Some were cleared, others imprisoned or banished. Six were sentenced to death but one of these was pardoned by the governor, Lord Charles Somerset. On March 9, 1816 the remaining five were hanged in public at Van Aardtspos in distressing circumstances.

Apparently the ropes used for the execution were old and four of the nooses broke. The hangman had not realised there would be five hangings and brought old ropes. The four whose ropes broke had to ascend the gallows a second time.

This incident spawned the saying that at Slagtersnek you die twice.

Kimberley concentration camp

Kimberley Camp

People in this camp


People who died in this camp


Kimberley camp was located in the Cape Colony on the Cape-ORC border but formed part of the ORC system. As one of the besieged towns, Kimberley had suffered severely from the war and there was little sympathy in the town for the camp inmates, especially the families of the Cape rebels who were housed there. Kimberley was a flat, hot town, always short of water and notoriously unhealthy. The camp itself, located on de Beers property in Newton, on the outskirts of the town, was inches deep in loose, sandy soil.1

Some kind of camp probably came into being in the early stages of the war for relief had to be found for destitute Boers from Griqualand West as early as December 1899.2 The formal camp, however, was set up by the town commandant on 4 January 1901 and run by Major Wright and the men of the Kimberley Regiment. Emily Hobhouse was contemptuous of Wright, a colonial volunteer rather than a regular soldier, whom she described as a ‘coarse, lazy, indifferent old man’ who did no work and left his son to run the camp. The result was a dirty, smelly camp where whooping cough and measles were rife and there was almost no medical attention.3 ‘Undesirable’ Cape rebel families, who were ‘not refugees in the true acceptance of the term’, were mixed with people from the Free State, the Transvaal and Bechuanaland.

Under military management disorder prevailed in Kimberley. In the beginning the Free State families were rationed differently from the Cape rebels and appear to have been subject to different regulations. A weak superintendent usually meant arbitrary treatment of the people with the result that the Kimberley women were amongst the most bitter that Emily Hobhouse encountered. As early as February 1901 the women petitioned the British government: ‘On account of carelessness, bad management, and ill-treatment, it is now the second time that we are drenched through and through by rain, which caused our children, already sick with measles, whooping cough, and fever, to become dangerously ill’, they wrote and urged that they be allowed to return to their homes.4

By February 1901, when the civilian camp administration was formed in the ORC, it was clear that all was not well in Kimberley. Finally Sydney Schutte, who subsequently became the first civilian superintendent, was sent by the ORC chief superintendent, Captain Trollope, to find out what was going on. Schutte’s brief, at this stage, was to concern himself only with the ORC people. Emily Hobhouse thought this absurd. She wrote to her brother, ‘Isn’t it ridiculous to split the camp in that way? They urge economy, won’t give soap or mattresses, then go and pay two Superintendents and two doctors and so forth and £500 for a barbed-wire fence, which anybody determined to escape could easily cut through’

Militaria memorabilia sells for almost £12,000 at Etwall auctioneers

Two sets of timeless militaria have sold at an Etwall auctioneers for a combined £11,800.

A Boer War time capsule, a rare mix of items and previously unseen pictures from the war dating back to 1899 and a long lost bar brooch featuring four medals from the battle of Waterloo went under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers.

The Heage Lane auction house held a coins, medals and militaria auction where the items were sold along with other memorabilia from various wars.