Voortrekker hood that has survived six generations now at VTM


A Voortrekker hood, which has survived six generations, found its way to the Voortrekker monument.

Erika Dykes was in possession of this heritage treasure that survived the Great Trek and six generations in her family, until she decided to donate it to the Heritage Foundation.

This Voortrekker hood was handmade by Maria Wilhelmina Helena Engelbrecht (Odendaal), who was born in 1816 in the Cape Colony. Maria and her husband lived on Bo-Boesmansrivier and moved to Natal in the early 1840s.

“I am the last in the line of descendants along whom the hood has found its way through the years. I know it is now in safe custody and also available to those who want to research various aspects of Voortrekker history,” says Dykes.

According to Lizette Jansen, from the Heritage Foundation, it appears as if the hood is a temporary coffin hood.

“The Voortrekkers wore different hoods. For daily use it was usually the plain white hood as we know it, but everyone had at least one colored hood that was kept for going to church and neat occasions. A person would also be buried in this hood, therefore a coffin hood,” says Jansen.

The special hood has a light green color and is kept in a frame, which makes it easy for display.

“We would like to display this hood. It is special for us to receive a different type of hood for once. It is a very special piece of heritage. We are happy that it has been preserved,” says Jansen.

Petra Luus, museum curator at the Heritage Foundation, says that she is also very impressed with the condition of the hood. “It is very difficult to preserve historical items from so many years ago, especially a lap item like this hood,” says Luus.

‘Sculpture with a message’

Meanwhile, five new sculptures by the sculptor Nic Grobler were officially unveiled on Saturday during the launch of the Voortrekker Monument’s Troostuin. This Comfort Garden was previously known as the VTM Memorial Garden.

“With my sculpture, I try to make visualization of the message of the Word possible,” says Grobler, one of South Africa’s leading sculptors.

“A Nistuin is a contemporary cemetery, a place of loss and longing. A comfort garden is all these things, but more. It is a place of encouragement, calm and hope,” says Dr. Danie Langner, managing director of the Voortrekker Monument.

The new images being unveiled build on the existing nuance and character of the Memorial Garden and bring peace, comfort and reassurance to those who are left behind as a longing family member or friend.

The first image you see when you walk into the Comfort Garden is a hand pierced with a nail, titled “The price has been paid”. “This image is symbolic of Jesus’ suffering on the cross,” says Grobler. “When I visualized this image, I thought, ‘He’s been through it all for me.’ Every Easter it is as if this image has a red glow. I can’t explain the redness, but it’s a comforting message for me.”

Grobler titled the other four images: “Begin a new life” depicting the parable of the prodigal son; “Sing songs of praise” representing Paul and Silas in prison; “God is there if you lose your grip”, one hand held by a bigger hand; and “Renewed like an eagle”, the image of an osprey making its catch.

Grobler believes that each of his images has a message, and it is the viewer’s duty to look for that personal message in the art. “I received a unique ministry from the Lord. My question to you is, what do you see in that sculpture? Because there is a message for you.”