Image of Boerekryger back on Carolina church grounds

Henry

In the main street of Carolina, Mpumalanga, the statue of field cornet Adriaan Jacobus de Lange proudly fills its place again after this statue was recently restored and moved by the Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Associations (FAK).

De Lange was a Boer warrior who fought as part of the Mapoch command from 1882 to 1883, as well as during the Anglo-Boer War in 1899. He was the hero of the Battle of Spioenkop on 24 June 1900, during which he received head and arm wounds. incurred.

The Carolina Citizen Monument, which has stood in front of the NG Church since 1930, was vandalized in June 2021. After almost three years, the monument was restored to its former glory and officially unveiled by the FAK on 31 May, the anniversary of Republic Day.

The monument now stands on another part of the church’s grounds.

Barry Müller, head of national projects at the FAK, says this project is once again proof of the “can do” culture that prevails in our country and says he is grateful to every community member who got involved in the project.

Lizelle van Aswegen, a local businesswoman and owner of several guesthouses, came across the head in the corner of one of her plots some time after the statue was initially intentionally damaged.

“She made contact with the FAK and finally we were able to start the process of restoring this valuable piece of history.

“It is also appropriate for me that we unveil the statue on Republic Day, because it reaffirms how this country was built with the perseverance, courage and action of our forefathers, and today I am proud to say that we honor this legacy by ourselves, as Carolina community and the FAK, roll up our sleeves and carry our heritage into the future,” says Müller.

Müller also said that the statue has a rich history that connects Ermelo and Carolina and interprets the story of the Battle of Spioenkop, during which the Boers suffered heavy losses.

“We must always remember the sacrifices our ancestors made to build us a home and we must build on this,” says Müller.

The NG Church Carolina’s history is strongly interwoven with the history of the war with the cornerstone already laid in 1888.

During the unveiling event, Prof. Fransjohan Pretorius gave a lecture on the role of the Carolina Commando in the Anglo-Boer War, yet the men’s experience stood out to him more than the historical facts of the Battle of Spioenkop.

“This event and the history that preceded it teach us today to deepen our faith. The war taught the men and women who participated in it to deepen in faith. That is why it is so important to honor and remember these people, because it teaches us to cling to our faith and the hope for a better future today.

“Commander Hendrik Prinsloo wrote it himself: ‘I must say that in my whole life I have not felt the hand of the Lord as clearly and visibly as in the time I was in commando’,” says Pretorius.

He was succeeded by dr. Tiaan Schutte who in turn spoke about the casualties of the Carolina Commando during the war from 1899 to 1902.

“Cornelis Potgieter, at the age of 17, was the youngest to die in commando. A total of 13 of the citizens who fell have their names inscribed on the monument. Carolina can be proud of their contribution to the war,” says Schutte.

Dr. Danie Langner, managing director of the FAK, also attended the event and told why it is important in today’s times to still remember and faithfully maintain the contribution of those who came before us.

“Today we stand here to unveil a monument and celebrate our heritage, yet I think it is important to note how many children and young people are here with us. As far as I’m concerned, they are the important guests today, so I want to look them in the eye and talk to them,” says Langner.

“I was in the US a few weeks ago where you are overwhelmed by museums and proud of their museums. It reminded me again of the Bible text ‘my heritage is beautiful to me’.”

For Langner, this text is the reason why organizations like the FAK work together with communities to preserve their heritage, yet he says its meaning lies much deeper.

“My heritage is beautiful to me. For me, the key here lies in the word ‘my’. This story that this monument tells is my story, it’s our story. These are stories of holding on, holding on and pushing through, and friends crying when their friends die. This monument is not just another monument, but if you live here in Carolina, it is your monument and it is beautiful.

“The monument also tells us about the love of God. Even in the difficult times in our history, the Lord was with Carolina commando and so he is with us today and that is beautiful. Today you came together as a Carolina community and said with a clear ‘yes,’ with an exclamation point, ‘Our heritage is beautiful to us.'”