Saturday, January 19, 8830

Afrikaaner Great Trek (c. 1830) - Wanderer's Song

The Great Trek was an eastward and north-eastward migration during the 1830's and 1840's of the segment of Afrikaners (known as Boers or Boere -- Dutch/Afrikaans for "farmers"), who descended from settlers from western mainland Europe, most notably from the Netherlands.

[Cape Town, South Africa, in a recent view]

The Trekkers comprised two groups from the eastern frontier region of the Cape: semi-nomadic pastoralists (known as Trekboers); and established farmers and artisans (known as Grensboere, or Border Farmers). Together these groups were later called Voortrekkers (Pioneers). While most settlers who lived in the western Cape (later known as the Cape Dutch) did not trek eastward, a small number did.

Historians have identified various contributing factors to the migrations of an estimated 12,000 Voortrekkers to the future Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal regions. The primary motivations included discontent with the recently imposed British rule, its Anglicisation policies, restrictive laws on slavery and its eventual abolition, arrangements to compensate former slave owners, and the perceived indifference of British authorities to border conflicts along the Cape Colony's eastern frontier. That Ordinance 50 (1828), which guaranteed equal legal rights to all "free persons of colour," and prohibitions on inhumane treatment of workers, did spur on Boer migrations is documented by numerous contemporary sources. However, some scholars argue that most Trekboers did not own slaves, [1] unlike the more affluent Cape Dutch who did not migrate from the western Cape. The three republics founded by the Voortrekkers prohibited slavery itself, but enshrined racial inequality in their constitutions. Despite Ordinance 50, racial inequality also persisted in other British colonies in Southern Africa.

Other possible factors included the desire to escape from relentless border wars with the Xhosa-speaking groups along the eastern frontier of the Cape colony. The migrants also sought fertile farmland, as good land was becoming scarce within the colony's frontier.

South Africa - Afrikaans - Wanderer's Song