Bloukrans murders 186 years later: ‘We will not forget’


By Marné Pienaar

On a dirt road between Estcourt and Colenso in KwaZulu-Natal stands a monument marking the mass grave of 185 children, 56 women, 41 men and more than 200 servants.

On the night of 16/17 February 1838, the most tragic moment in Afrikaner history took place, the biggest infanticide in our country’s history. For hours violence and slaughter like we do not know continued and the Voortrekkers had to endure torture.

The brutal murder and massacre at Bloukrans and Weenen is a dark chapter in history – a chapter that one often wants to skip in order not to have to imagine the full truth of the massacre.

The Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Associations (FAK) today remembers the tragic events of the Bloukrans murders; remember the many heroic deeds that saved many lives; remember the cruel deeds done to our ancestors and pay tribute to those who had to rise again from the ashes and carry on despite the despair.

When Bloukrans took place, less than two weeks after the murder of Retief, the Voortrekkers were not yet aware of their leader and his men who would never return.

The murder of Retief and his men and Bloukrans was also only the beginning of the terrible year. One can only say that the Battle of Italeni in April 1838 cost two leaders. First Piet Uys with his death during the battle itself, where father and son fought together to the death and then with Potgieter who was labeled a coward after the Battle of Italeni and then moved on.

Gerrit Maritz’s death in September 1838 left them virtually leaderless.

The miracles at Blood River are suddenly so much greater when one takes all the historical events into account and realizes that the Voortrekkers were totally forced to their knees.

There is always a greater power that plays into the confluence of events. The Voortrekkers at the time, and even we today, cannot attribute the victory to our own power, but give the honor of the victory entirely to God.

God works with a plan.

Today we are again faced with an enormous crisis of security and murders taking place in our country and on farms.

We find our strength and our hope in God. Not in own power and strength.

“We know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love him, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (AFR20)

God is in control – as He was in 1838 in the darkest night of Afrikaner history. As He was on December 16 and just as He has always been and always will be.

In that we can always find comfort and hope.

The FAK mourns today the 185 children who were killed with fear in their hearts. We mourn the 56 women who were killed. We mourn the 41 men who sacrificed their lives to protect others and we mourn the more than 200 servicemen who also fell during the massacre.

We remember.

We will not forget.

  • Marné Pienaar is a media officer at the FAK.