The Long, Long Trek of the Afrikaners

Before the War finally ended in 1902, 30 000 farms lay in ruins.  In some cases, such as Bothaville, Ventersburg, Frankfurt, Lindley, Fouriesburg, villages were totally destroyed.  Vrede, Reitz, Senekal, Dewetsdorp, were others which fared little better.  The correspondent of The Daily Chronicle, 25.5.1900, wrote: “From end to end the Orange River Colony lies ruined and starving.”

The Boers were never finally defeated in the field.  A peace treaty was not signed until the women, children and old men of the Afrikaner nation were herded into the unhealthy and badly run British “relocation” or concentration camps.  Of the estimated 60 000 prisoners held by the British, some 20 000, 4000 women and 16 000 children, succumbed to famine and disease.  Later, updated figures put the total at 26 000.  Whatever the number, it was a harsh action against an enemy noted for humane treatment and honourable deportment.

The first of six reasons given by the Boer delegates at the Vereeniging Peace Conference for the discontinuation of the war read: “Firstly, that the military policy pursued by the British military authorities has led to the general devastation of the territory of both Republics by the burning down of all means of existence, by the exhausting of all resources required for the maintenance of our families, the existence of our armies, and the continuance of the war.”