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The Monument from the front
|Location||Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa|
|Length||40 metres (130 ft)|
|Width||40 metres (130 ft)|
|Height||40 metres (130 ft)|
|Beginning date||13 July 1937)|
|Opening date||16 December 1949|
The Voortrekker Monument is located just south of Pretoria in South Africa. This massive granite structure is prominently located on a hilltop, and was raised to commemorate the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854.
Pretoria is a city in the northern part of Gauteng province in South Africa. It straddles the Apies River and has spread eastwards into the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountains. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the seat of the administrative branch of government, and of foreign embassies to South Africa. Pretoria has a reputation for being an academic city with three universities, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Human Sciences Research Council. The city also hosts the National Research Foundation and the South African Bureau of Standards making the city a hub for research. Pretoria is the central part of the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality which was formed by the amalgamation of several former local authorities including Centurion and Soshanguve. There have been proposals to change the name of Pretoria itself to Tshwane, and the proposed name change has caused some public controversy.
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European, Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.
Granite is a common type of felsic intrusive igneous rock that is granular and phaneritic in texture. Granites can be predominantly white, pink, or gray in color, depending on their mineralogy. The word "granite" comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a holocrystalline rock. Strictly speaking, granite is an igneous rock with between 20% and 60% quartz by volume, and at least 35% of the total feldspar consisting of alkali feldspar, although commonly the term "granite" is used to refer to a wider range of coarse-grained igneous rocks containing quartz and feldspar.
On 8 July 2011 the Voortrekker Monument, designed by the architect Gerard Moerdijk, was declared a National Heritage Site by the South African Heritage Resource Agency.
Gerard Leendert Pieter Moerdijk, also known as Gerard Moerdyk, was a South African architect best known for designing the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria.
The idea to build a monument in honour of God was first discussed on 16 December 1888, when President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic attended the Day of the Covenant celebrations at Danskraal in Natal. However, the movement to actually build such a monument only started in 1931 when the Sentrale Volksmonumentekomitee (SVK) (Central People's Monuments Committee) was formed to bring this idea to fruition.
The president is a common title for the head of state in most republics. In politics, president is a title given to leaders of republican states.
Stephanus Johannes Paulus "Paul" Kruger was one of the dominant political and military figures in 19th-century South Africa, and President of the South African Republic from 1883 to 1900. Nicknamed Oom Paul, he came to international prominence as the face of the Boer cause—that of the Transvaal and its neighbour the Orange Free State—against Britain during the Second Boer War of 1899–1902. He has been called a personification of Afrikanerdom, and remains a controversial and divisive figure; admirers venerate him as a tragic folk hero, and critics view him as the obstinate guardian of an unjust cause.
The South African Republic, also referred to as the Transvaal Republic, was an independent and internationally recognised state located in what is now South Africa, from 1852 to 1902. The ZAR defeated the British Empire in what is often referred to as the First Boer War and remained independent until the end of the Second Boer War on 31 May 1902, when it was forced to surrender to the British. After the war the territory of the ZAR became the Transvaal Colony. During World War I, there was an attempt at resurrecting the republic in the Maritz rebellion.
Construction started on 13 July 1937 with a sod turning ceremony performed by chairman of the SVK, Advocate Ernest George Jansen, on what later became known as Monument Hill. On 16 December 1938 the cornerstone was laid by three descendants of some of the Voortrekker leaders: Mrs. J.C. Muller (granddaughter of Andries Pretorius), Mrs. K.F. Ackerman (great-granddaughter of Hendrik Potgieter) and Mrs. J.C. Preller (great-granddaughter of Piet Retief).
Ernest George Jansen (1881–1959) was the second-last Governor-General of the Union of South Africa, holding office from 1950 to 1959.
Andries Wilhelmus Jacobus Pretorius was a leader of the Boers who was instrumental in the creation of the South African Republic, as well as the earlier but short-lived Natalia Republic, in present-day South Africa. The large city of Pretoria, executive capital of South Africa, is named after him.
Pieter Mauritz Retief was a Voortrekker leader. Settling in 1814 in the frontier region of the Cape Colony, he assumed command of punitive expeditions in response to raiding parties from the adjacent Xhosa territory. He became a spokesperson for the frontier farmers who voiced their discontent, and wrote the Voortrekkers' declaration at their departure from the colony.
The Monument was inaugurated on 16 December 1949 by the then-prime minister D. F. Malan.[ citation needed ] The total construction cost of the Monument was about £ 360,000, most of which was contributed by the South African government. The construction contract being awarded to Raubex, after its incorporation.
A large amphitheatre, which seats approximately 20,000 people, was erected to the north-east of the Monument in 1949.
An amphitheatre or amphitheater is an open-air venue used for entertainment, performances, and sports. The term derives from the ancient Greek ἀμφιθέατρον (amphitheatron), from ἀμφί (amphi), meaning "on both sides" or "around" and θέατρον (théātron), meaning "place for viewing".
The Voortrekker Monument is 40 metres high, with a base of 40 metres by 40 metres.[ citation needed ] The building shares architectural resemblance with European monuments such the Dôme des Invalides in France and the Völkerschlachtdenkmal in Germany but also contains African influences. The two main points of interest inside the building are the Historical Frieze and the Cenotaph.
The main entrance of the building leads into the domed Hall of Heroes. This massive space, flanked by four huge arched windows made from yellow Belgian glass, contains the unique marble Historical Frieze which is an intrinsic part of the design of the monument. It is the biggest marble frieze in the world.The frieze consists of 27 bas-relief panels depicting the history of the Great Trek, but incorporating references to every day life, work methods and religious beliefs of the Voortrekkers. The set of panels illustrates key historical scenes starting from the first voortrekkers of 1835, up to the signing of the Sand River Convention in 1852. In the centre of the floor of the Hall of Heroes is a large circular opening through which the Cenotaph in the Cenotaph Hall can be viewed.
The Cenotaph, situated in the centre of the Cenotaph Hall, is the central focus of the monument. In addition to being viewable from the Hall of Heroes it can also be seen from the dome at the top of the building, from where much of the interior of the monument can be viewed. Through an opening in this dome a ray of sunlight shines at twelve o'clock on 16 December annually, falling onto the centre of the Cenotaph, striking the words 'Ons vir Jou, Suid-Afrika' (Afrikaans for 'We're for you, South Africa'), a line from 'Die Stem van Suid-Afrika'. The ray of light is said to symbolise God's blessing on the lives and endeavours of the Voortrekkers. 16 December 1838 was the date of the Battle of Blood River, commemorated in South Africa before 1994 as the Day of the Vow.
The Cenotaph Hall is decorated with the flags of the different Voortrekker Republics and contains wall tapestries depicting the Voortrekkers as well as several display cases with artefacts from the Great Trek. Against the northern wall of the hall is a niche with a lantern in which a flame has been kept burning ever since 1938. It was in that year that the Symbolic Ox Wagon Trek, which started in Cape Town and ended at Monument Hill where the Monument's foundation stone was laid, took place.
Visitors to the monument enter through a black wrought iron gate with an assegai (spear) motif.
After passing through the gate one finds oneself inside a big laager consisting of 64 ox-wagons made out of decorative granite. The same number of wagons were used at the Battle of Blood River to form the laager.[ citation needed ]
At the foot of the Monument stands Anton van Wouw's bronze sculpture of a Voortrekker woman and her two children, paying homage to the strength and courage of the Voortrekker women. On both sides of this sculpture black wildebeest are chiselled into the walls of the Monument. The wildebeest symbolically depicts the dangers of Africa and their symbolic flight implies that the woman, carrier of Western civilisation, is triumphant.
On each outside corner of the Monument there is a statue, respectively representing Piet Retief, Andries Pretorius, Hendrik Potgieter and an "unknown" leader (representative of all the other Voortrekker leaders). Each statue weighs approximately 6 tons.[ citation needed ]
At the eastern corner of the monument, on the same level as its entrance, is the foundation stone.
Under the foundation stone is buried:
According to Dr Alta Steenkamp, the masonic subtext of the Monument to the Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlachtdenkmal) in Leipzig, Germany, is reflected in the Voortrekker Monument because the architect, Gerard Moerdijk, had used the geometric order and spatial proportions of the Völkerschlachtdenkmal. 128 In Moerdijk's initial design, the monument consisted of a causeway linking two Egyptian obelisks. :128This Germanisation of the Voortrekker Monument occurred after Moerdijk's initial design had caused a public outcry in the South African press for its resemblance to an Egyptian temple. :
Finalising his design of the Voortrekker Monument, Moerdijk visited Egypt in 1936, including the Karnak Temple Complex in Thebes. 105 In Thebes, the pharaoh Akhenaten, Nefertiti's husband, had erected three sun sanctuaries, including the Hwt-benben ('mansion of the Benben').:
The most prominent aspect of Moerdijk's monument is the annual mid noon sun illumination of the Benben stone, the encrypted cenotaph.
In the years preceding WWII, several Afrikaner nationalists travelled to Germany for academic, political and cultural studies. In 1928 Moerdijk visited Germany, and viewed the Amarna bust of Nefertiti on public display in Berlin.
By 1934 Chancellor Hitler had decided that Germany would not return the Amarna bust of Nefertiti to Egypt. He instead announced the intention to use the Amarna bust as the central show piece of the thousand years Third Reich, in a revitalised Berlin to be renamed Germania.
Likewise Moerdijk's thousand years monument with Amarna sun symbol at its centre, became Afrikaner nationalists' centre show piece of their capital Pretoria.
Looking from the sky dome downwards, a chevron pattern on the floor of the Hall of Heroes, radiates outwards like 32 sun rays. In Moerdijk's architecture, the natural sun forms the 33rd ray through the floor opening.
Moerdijk said the chevron pattern on the floor depicts water,as does the double chevron hieroglyph from the civilization of ancient Egypt.
Moerdijk stated that all roads on the terrain of building art lead back to ancient Egypt. 47:
Based on Moerdijk's reference to the watery floor of the Hall of Heroes, as well as his statements about ancient Egypt, the floor opening may be identified with the watery abyss, as in the creation theology of ancient African civilization. Rising out of this watery abyss, was the primeval mound, the Benben stone, to symbolize a new creation.
Gerard Moerdijk was the chief architect of 80 Protestant churches in South Africa. Moerdijk adhered to Reformed church tradition and thus his Renaissance trademark, the Greek-cross floorplan, always focused on the pulpit and preacher. In Protestant theology, the word of God is central. 39,122 Moerdijk created a similar central focus in the Voortrekker Monument, but in vertical instead of horizontal plane, and in African instead of European style.:
The monument's huge upper dome features Egyptian backlighting 133 to simulate the sky, the heavenly abode of God. Through the dome a sun ray penetrates downwards, highlighting words on 16 December at noon.:
The sky oriented words: "US FOR YOU SOUTH AFRICA", are Moerdijk's focus point. These words are taken from an anthem, Die Stem: "We will live, we will die, we for thee South-Africa". The same anthem ends: "It will be well, God reigns."
Thus the sun ray simulates a connection between the words on the Cenotaph and the heavenly abode above, a communication between God and man.
The actual sun ray itself forms a 33rd sun ray shining onto the stone in the midst of floor opening.
In Moerdijk's biblical theology, God communicates in two ways: through scripture and nature.Moerdijk merges both methods, by using the sun in his simulation.
The Vow of the Trekkers was commemorated on 16 December as the Day of the Vow. On 16 December, the appearance of an illuminating sun disc on the wording of the Cenotaph stone, transform their meaning as per the Philosophers Stone of the alchemists.
Instead of man below making an earthly vow, the sun shifts the focus upwards to the trinitarian god of the Trekkers, as it is God who communicates through Moerdijk's sun architecture, making Himself a heavenly vow with the words: WE - as in GOD - FOR THEE SOUTH-AFRICA.
Thus God in the trinitarian tradition of the Trekkers, speaks a vow within the sun disc illuminating the words on the Cenotaph.
The Trekker belief that God was for South Africa originates from the 9–16 December 1838 vow of Trekker leader Andries Pretorius at Blood river, who at around the same time made military and political alliances with Christian Zulus like prince Mpande.
Moerdijk was an outspoken supporter of ancient Egyptian architecture.
Moerdijk referred to Africa's greatness as imparted by ancient Egyptian constructions at the inauguration of the Voortrekker Monument.
Before his Voortrekker Monument proposal was accepted, Moerdijk and Anton van Wouw had been working in alliance for many years on their "dream castle" project:a modern African-Egyptian Voortrekker Temple in South-Africa. Van Wouw and Frans Soff had earlier employed the Egyptian obelisk, a petrified ray of the African Aten, as central motif for the National Women's Monument in Bloemfontein, South Africa, itself likewise inaugurated on the Day of the Vow, 16 December 1913.
Whilst finalising the design of the Voortrekker Monument in 1936, 105 Moerdijk went on a research trip to Egypt. There he visited the Karnak Temple Complex at Thebes, :106 where an African Renaissance had flourished under Pharaoh Akhenaten, Nefertiti's husband.:
The open air temples of Akhenaten to the Aten incorporated the Heliopolitan tradition of employing sun rays in architecture, as well as realistic wall reliefs or friezes.
Moerdijk also visited the Cairo Museum, where a copy of the Great Hymn to the Aten is on display, some verses of which remind of Psalm 104.
Moerdijk's wife Sylva related that he was intimately acquainted with ancient Egyptian architecture, 106 and was strongly influenced architecturally by his visit to Egypt. :105:
The architect, Gerard Moerdijk, stated that the purpose of a building had to be clearly visible. 133 The aspect of the sun at mid-noon in Africa, was during Nefertiti's time known as Aten. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, Aten was written as a sun dot enclosed by a circle.:
The Aten-hieroglyph is depicted in the Voortrekker Monument when the sun shines through an aperture in the top dome.
Likewise, looking downwards from the top dome walkway, the round floor opening is seen to encircle the sun disc illumination.
Moerdijk's message as implied by the wall frieze: by exodus out of the British Cape Colony, God created a new civilization inland.
In order to give thanks to this new creation of civilization, Moerdijk, recalling Abraham of old, outwardly designed the Voortrekker Monument as an altar. 130:
In the years following its construction, the monument complex was expanded several times and now includes:
Aten is the disc of the sun in ancient Egyptian mythology, and originally an aspect of the god Ra. The deified Aten is the focus of the monotheistic religion of Atenism established by Amenhotep IV, who later took the name Akhenaten in worship and recognition of Aten. In his poem "Great Hymn to the Aten", Akhenaten praises Aten as the creator, giver of life, and nurturing spirit of the world. Aten does not have a Creation Myth or family but is mentioned in the Book of the Dead. The worship of Aten was eradicated by Horemheb.
Amarna is an extensive Egyptian archaeological site that represents the remains of the capital city newly established and built by the Pharaoh Akhenaten of the late Eighteenth Dynasty, and abandoned shortly after his death. The name for the city employed by the ancient Egyptians is written as Akhetaten in English transliteration. Akhetaten means "Horizon of the Aten".
Akhenaten, known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV, was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. He is noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, which is sometimes described as monolatristic, henotheistic, or even quasi-monotheistic. An early inscription likens the Aten to the sun as compared to stars, and later official language avoids calling the Aten a god, giving the solar deity a status above mere gods.
Neferneferuaten Nefertiti was an Egyptian queen and the Great Royal Wife of Akhenaten, an Egyptian Pharaoh. Nefertiti and her husband were known for a religious revolution, in which they worshiped one god only, Aten, or the sun disc. With her husband, she reigned at what was arguably the wealthiest period of Ancient Egyptian history. Some scholars believe that Nefertiti ruled briefly as Neferneferuaten after her husband's death and before the accession of Tutankhamun, although this identification is a matter of ongoing debate. If Nefertiti did rule as Pharaoh, her reign was marked by the fall of Amarna and relocation of the capital back to the traditional city of Thebes.
The Great Hymn to the Aten is the longest of one of a number of hymn-poems written to the sun-disk deity Aten. Composed in the middle of the 14th century BC, it is attributed to the 18th dynasty Pharaoh Akhenaten, who radically changed traditional forms of Egyptian religion by replacing them with Atenism.
Meritaten, also spelled Merytaten or Meryetaten, was an ancient Egyptian royal woman of the Eighteenth dynasty. Her name means "She who is beloved of Aten", Aten being the sun-deity whom her father, Pharaoh Akhenaten, worshipped. She held several titles, performing official roles for her father and becoming the Great Royal Wife to Pharaoh Smenkhkare, who may have been a brother or son of Akhenaten. Meritaten also may have served as pharaoh in her own right under the name, Ankhkheperure Neferneferuaten.
Atenism, or the "Amarna heresy", refers to the religious changes associated with the eighteenth dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, better known under his adopted name, Akhenaten. In the 14th century BC, Atenism was Egypt's state religion for around 20 years, before subsequent rulers returned to the traditional gods and the Pharaohs associated with Atenism were erased from Egyptian records.
The Amarna Period was an era of Egyptian history during the later half of the Eighteenth Dynasty when the royal residence of the pharaoh and his queen was shifted to Akhetaten in what is now Amarna. It was marked by the reign of Amenhotep IV, who changed his name to Akhenaten in order to reflect the dramatic change of Egypt's polytheistic religion into one where the sun disc Aten was worshipped over all other gods. Aten was not solely worshipped, but the other gods were worshipped to a significantly lesser degree. The Egyptian pantheon of the equality of all gods and goddesses was restored under Akhenaten's successor, Tutankhamun.
The Temple of Amenhotep IV was an ancient monument at Karnak in Luxor, Egypt. The structures were used during the New Kingdom, in the first four years of the 18th dynasty reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, when he still used the name Amenhotep IV. The edifices may have been constructed at the end of the reign of his father, Amenhotep III, and completed by Akhenaten.
The Egyptian noble Panehesy was the 'Chief servitor of the Aten in the temple of Aten in Akhetaten'.
Amarna art, or the Amarna style, is a style adopted in the Amarna Period during and just after the reign of Akhenaten in the late Eighteenth Dynasty, during the New Kingdom. Whereas Ancient Egyptian art was famously slow to alter, the Amarna style was a significant and sudden break from its predecessor, which was restored after Akhenaten's death. It is characterized by a sense of movement and activity in images, with figures having raised heads, many figures overlapping and many scenes busy and crowded. The human body is portrayed differently; figures, always shown in profile on reliefs, are slender, swaying, with exaggerated extremities. In particular, depictions of Akhenaten give him distinctly feminine qualities such as large hips, prominent breasts, and a larger stomach and thighs. Other pieces, such as the most famous of all Amarna works, the Nefertiti Bust in Berlin, show much less pronounced features of the style.
Meketaten was the second daughter of six born to the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten and his Great Royal Wife Nefertiti. She was probably born in year 4 of Akhenaten's reign. Although little is known about her, she is frequently depicted with her sisters accompanying her royal parents in the first two thirds of Akhenaten's reign.
Anton van Wouw was a Dutch-born sculptor regarded as the father of South African sculpture.
The Great Temple of the Aten was a temple located in the city of el-Amarna, Egypt. It served as the main place of worship of the deity Aten during the reign of the 18th dynasty Pharaoh Akhenaten. Akhenaten ushered in a unique period of ancient Egyptian history by establishing the new religious cult dedicated to the sun-disk Aten. The king shut down traditional worship of other deities like Amun-Ra, and brought in a new era, though short-lived, of seeming monotheism where the Aten was worshipped as a sun god and Akhenaten and his wife, Nefertiti, represented the divinely royal couple that connected the people with the god. Although he began construction at Karnak during his rule, the association the city had with other gods drove Akhenaten to establish a new city and capital at Amarna for the Aten. Akhenaten built the city along the east bank of the Nile River, setting up workshops, palaces, suburbs and temples. The Great Temple of the Aten was located just north of the Central City and, as the largest temple dedicated to the Aten, was where Akhenaten fully established the proper cult and worship of the sun-disk.
The Tomb of Meryra is part of a group of tombs located near Amarna, Upper Egypt. Placed in the mountainsides, the graves are divided into north and south groupings; the northern tombs are located in the hillsides and the southern on the plains. Meryra's burial, identified as Amarna Tomb 4 is located in the northern cluster. The sepulchre is the largest and most elaborate of the noble tombs of Amarna. It, along with the majority of these tombs, was never completed. The rock cut tombs of Amarna were constructed specifically for the officials of King Akhenaten. Norman de Garis Davies originally published details of the Tomb in 1903 in the Rock Tombs of El Amarna, Part I – The Tomb of Meryra. The tomb dates back to the 18th Egyptian Dynasty.
Bek or Bak was the first chief royal sculptor during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten. His father Men held the same position under Akhenaten's father Amenhotep III; his mother Roi was a woman from Heliopolis.
Kom el-Nana is an archaeological site near the ancient Egyptian city of Akhet-Aten. It lies south of the city and east of the modern village of el-Hagg Quandil. For a long time its ruins were thought to be those of a Roman military camp, but between 1988 and 2000 Barry Kemp excavated remains of an Amarna period stone temple with garden and subsidiary buildings including a bakery and a brewery. Neither the original name nor the owner of the complex has been identified. It is likely to have been a sun temple and is very similar to Maru-Aten. It consists of a brick enclosure with an area of 228×213 m; it is divided into two unequal parts by an east-west wall. It is likely that pylon gates opened on all four outer walls. Since it stood at a very prominent place – at the southern end of the so-called Royal Road, the main street of Akhet-Aten – it's possibly identical with the sunshade temple of Nefertiti mentioned on the boundary stelae.
Hoërskool Voortrekker is a public high school in Boksburg, Gauteng, South Africa.
The Amarna period includes the reigns of Akhenaten, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamun and Ay Ay. The period is named after the capital city established by Akhenaten, son of Amenhotep III. Akhenaten started his reign as Amenhotep IV, but changed his name when he discarded all other religions and declared the Aten or sun disc as the only god. He closed all the temples of the other Gods and removed their names from the monuments. Smenkhkare, then Tutankhamun, succeeded Akhenaten. Discarding Akhentenn’s religion believes, Tutankhamun returned to the traditional gods. He died young and was succeeded by Ay. Many kings did their best to remove all traces of the period from the records. The art of the Amarna period is very distinctive. The royal family was portrayed with extended heads, long necks and narrow chests. They had skinny limbs, but heavy hips and thighs, with a marked stomach.
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