Photos: Night tour at monument an experience

Henry

I’m always looking for an excuse to view the city lights of Pretoria – give me an opportunity with good food, a piece of history or beautiful architecture and a learning experience and I’m most likely there.

So the first invitation to an exclusive night tour at the Voortrekker Monument lands in my e-mail box, but unfortunately I have to miss it because my diary is already full. It’s a bit of a disappointment, but hey, you can’t always be everywhere either.

When a second invitation for a night tour in May landed in my e-mail box, it was without a doubt a definite yes.

The night tours at the Voortrekker Monument are truly an incomparable experience. On such an evening you get the opportunity to see history come alive, and on top of that it is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a cocktail on the imposing granite building with a 40 meter roof.

Our tour kicks off shortly after 17:00 where FC Pelser, media officer of the FAK dressed for the occasion in a coat and keil, receives us in front of the woman and child statue of the monument.

Now we have to face the 299 steps up to the vantage points of the monument where we look out over the lights of the Jakaranda city. Syntiche Claassen, a violinist, creates with her music just the right atmosphere for such a beautiful evening.

Fear of heights or not, on Friday evening I climb even further to the top of the roof of the Voortrekker Monument to look right across Gauteng to Sandton, Limpopo and even the Magaliesberge to Hartebeespoort Dam in the North West.

My hands and feet are really sweating from fear of the height, but it’s all worth it – because the view is breathtaking and it’s not every tour group that gets to the top of the roof either.

It is here that you find the glass window, through which the sunlight repeatedly illuminates the cenotaph every year exactly at 12:00 only on the 16th of December. Gerard Moerdijk, the architect of the Voortrekker monument, planned it precisely that way because he wanted to symbolize it as God’s blessing on the life and work of the Voortrekker.

Charles Rademeyer, cultural coordinator of the FAK, is our tour leader for the evening. Clever lighting on the frieze panels of the Voortrekker Monument becomes the background against which Charles tells us the story of the Great Trek. Once again you become aware of the challenges and dreams about freedom of the Voortrekkers. Often it was only their unwavering faith that carried them through the unimaginable difficult times.

An absolute highlight of the tour for me was the touching monologue The Vow-play, which focuses on the Battle of Bloukrans. It is excellently interpreted by Karla Hoogendoorn, actress of the monument, and if you don’t wipe away a tear, you will probably be silent for a minute or two while you process the words.

Christiaan Jordaan, another actor, who takes the Vow on the very Grietjie cannon below in the cenotaph hall as Sarel Cilliers did in the run-up to 16 December, completes the night tour at the Voortrekker monument perfectly.

For our group of 30 visitors, the evening is neatly rounded off with a cup of boeret rose, a piece of milk tart and cookies on the lawn of the Voortrekker Monument, where the etchings of the Voortrekker wagons stand guard on the walls. Here we hang out together for the last time around a cozy fire by the coffee pots where we express the experience of the evening in the light of lanterns that dance over us and our mugs.

A night tour at the Voortrekker Monument is a special event, which should be high on the bucket list of any history lover. It is a fresh way to experience the monument, its own history and true stories of the Great Trek.

  • The date for the next night tour will be announced soon. Feel free to keep an eye on the Voortrekkermonument’s Facebook and Instagram for more news on this, or send an inquiry to bookings@kultuurtuiste.org.za.