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Did the Grasshoppers generation fail us?

06 May 2013, 14:34

‘The first Grasshoppers shoe was manufactured in 1966. To date, in excess of 12 million pairs have been produced. It remains one of South Africa’s most popular footwear brands and is considered to be one of the most comfortable shoes ever made.’ A pair of Grasshoppers these days retails for about four hundred South African rand.

These shoes were quite popular with the previous generation(s) of men. It was the ideal shoe for hard-working men committed to a cause: the classic design was a comfortable yet practical shoe. These are also the men who drew strange lines of demarcation between South Africans. This is also the generation that would have drawn inspiration from one of South Africa’s key landmarks, the Voortrekker Monument.

The Monument is again becoming increasingly popular for festivals. ‘More than 30 000 people gathered at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria yesterday to show their support for the retention of the name of Pretoria and the preservation of the Voortrekker Monument. This crowd attended an Afrikaans music festival at the Monument organised by AfriForum in celebration of Pretoria’s 156th birthday.’ (Source:

‘The majestic Voortrekker Monument is situated in the northern part of South Africa in the Pretoria (Tshwane) region in a nature reserve. It is a unique Monument which commemorates the Pioneer history of Southern Africa and the history of the Afrikaner and is situated in a beautiful setting. Today it is the most visited heritage site of its kind in Gauteng and one of the top ten cultural historical visitor attractions in the country.’ (Source: Official website)

On 8 July 2011 the Monument, designed by architect Gerard Moerdijk was declared a National Heritage Site by the South African Heritage Resource Agency. The idea to build a monument in honour of the Voortrekkers was first discussed on 16 December 1888 when President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic attended the Day of Vow celebrations at Blood River in Natal. Construction started on 13 July 1937 and inaugurated on 16 December 1949 by the then-prime minister DF Malan. Physically the Monument is 40 metres high, with a base of 40 metres by 40 metres and shares architectural resemblance with European monuments.

The two main points of interest inside the building are the Historical Frieze and the Cenotaph. The frieze is basically a depiction of the history of the Great Trek, but incorporates references to ‘every day life, work methods and religious beliefs of the Voortrekkers.’ The cenotaph is the central focus of the monument. Through an opening in the dome a ray of sunlight shines at twelve o’clock on 16 December every year, illuminating the words ‘Ons vir jou Suid Afrika’; a phrase brought back to public memory by a song and musical with the same title.

According to Dr Alta Steenkamp, the (Free) Masonic subtext of the Volkerschlachtdenkmal (Monument to the Battle of the Nations) is reflected in the Voortrekker monument as the architect used the geometric order and spatial of this monument in Leipzig, Germany. Moerdijk visited Egypt in 1936 to finalise his design including the Karnak Temple Complex in Thebes. He also visited Germany in 1928 to view the bust of Nefertiti – Hitler used Nefertiti’s bust as the central show piece of the Third Reich in the capital Germania. Moerdijk’s wife related that he was intimately acquainted with ancient Egyptian architecture and was strongly influenced architecturally by his visit to Egypt.

The aspect of the sun at mid-noon in Africa was known in Nefertiti’s time as Aten. The Aten-hieroglyph is depicted in the Monument when the sun shines through an aperture in the top dome. Torch lighting ceremonies formed an integral part of the centenary celebrations in 1938, Voortrekker youth league carried a torch lit from the rays of the sun, all the way from Cape Town to Pretoria. Alexander Hislop concluded that the image of the sun positioned above, or on the altar, was one of the recognised symbols of those who worshipped Baal, or the sun.

What is depicted as a Voortrekker mother and her baby is viewed by some as the Madonna and child and is associated with the worship of the Queen of Heaven (Jer 44: 17-25); in most commentaries this goddess is none other than Ishtar, Astarte or Ashtoreth (from which the name Easter is derived). Details of Masonic symbols on the original water bottle slung over the shoulder of Piet Retief are carved into the marble.

So, no, the Voortrekker Monument is unfortunately not a Christian monument. Vows were also made on behalf of the nation, which we will have to renounce.

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