History: Day of Reconciliation today

2008-12-15 00:00

South Africa today celebrates Reconciliation Day, a day that previously commemorated the Battle of Blood River where over 3 000 Zulu warriors died.

Reconciliation Day once stood as a symbol of triumph for Afrikaner settlers over the Zulu people.

It was then called the Day of the Vow, to mark the vow that the Voortrekkers took, to erect a church in Pietermaritzburg should they triumph at Blood River. The church that was built in Church Street, is now a museum.

On this day in 1838, according to South African Government Information online, about 10 000 Zulu troops staged an attack against about 500 Voortrekkers, who using guns, defeated them. Only three were wounded, but over 3 000 Zulus were killed.

On the advent of democracy, the day was kept a public holiday. But it now stands as a symbol of reconciliation aiming to bring about national unity.

In the spirit of reconciliation, KwaZulu-Natal Premier S’bu Ndebele will host the KZN Reconciliation and Healing Summit in Pietermaritzburg today.

The event, following the theme “One Province, One People, Different Cultures”, takes place at the Royal Showgrounds and begins at 9 am.

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