Dorsland trek commemorated 150 years later


On 20 May 1874, the first of three trekking parties of the Dorsland Trek left the Transvaal to look for another place to live. The Dorsland trekkers formed a farming settlement in Angola and settled there approximately seven years after the first trekking party left and had to face numerous challenges.

On 1 and 2 June, the Dorsland Trek Association will hold a commemorative event to celebrate the start of this event 150 years ago. It is presented at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, and members of the public can commemorate it with descendants of the Dorsland trekkers and guests.

“As a member of the cultural community and someone who has a direct connection with the Dorsland Trek, I believe that it is of crucial importance to help preserve your culture,” says Pieter Kok, chairman of the Dorsland Trek Association RSA to RNews.

He believes that the commemoration of historical events is a reminder of the courage, perseverance and foresight with which the trekkers went through extremely difficult circumstances.

“Our ancestors were really in a dire situation and had to flee the country out of necessity. They were trapped in a country in which they no longer saw a future, and that is why they left.

“In their search for another place to live, the trekkers traveled through the Dry Land with great hardship and much sacrifice for the sake of their own and their children’s future.”

The commemorative program includes a celebratory speech by Dr. Nicol Stassen, song and dance, family talks by direct descendants of the Dorsland trekkers, a talk by prof. Erik Holm about the oxcart, a clothing parade and a worship service on Sunday.

Certificates will also be handed over to Maj. Gen. Gert Opperman, who played a major role in erecting a memorial in honor of the Dorsland trekkers at the monument, and to Stassen for his work as a researcher. Stassen is also honored for his contribution as author of three books about the Dorsland trekkers, namely From Humpata to Upingtonia (2022), The Hunters in the Thirstland (2018) and The Dorsland Trek 1874–1881 (2015).

One of the highlights on the program that Kok is looking forward to is the handing over of a brass bowl that belonged to his great-grandfather, Gert Andries Jacobus Alberts. The item will be sent to dr. Danie Langner, managing director of the Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Associations (FAK) and the Voortrekker Monument, be handed over for preservation.

“The item traveled from the start of the Dorsland Trek in Pretoria to Angola with the leader of the first trek. It was used in Angola for about 50 years, and it was then repatriated in 1928 with the Dorsland trekkers to what was then South West Africa. The copper bowl was used there for 30 years before it finally arrived back in Pretoria, where the journey began 150 years ago. It is currently in my possession, but I would like to have it preserved, which is why we have decided to donate it to the Voortrekker Monument.”

Entry to the Voortrekker Monument site is free, and tickets for the commemorative event cost R100 per adult. Children 18 and under can attend for free. Tickets provide access to the weekend program and can be purchased on the day of the event.

For more details send an e-mail to Pieter Kok (email protected) or call 082 335 2254.