Louis Botha: A Life of Leadership and Character

2012-10-28 18:44

During the weekend I had the great opportunity of visiting the Union Buildings, this time not on work related matters but on a leisure basis. So I had all the good time leisurely strolling and loitering around the garden. The lawn, flowers and jacaranda trees in the garden of the Union Buildings provide a lovely background for relaxation and reflection. Many people use this garden for wedding photos.

The heart and soul of the Union Buildings I guess lies not with what is happening inside the buildings but the great statures of the early South African statesmen on the extensive courtyard garden. I found the bust of Louis Botha our first Prime Minister rich with inspiration and deep in meaning and connection. The stature seemed to me the summation of the early South Africa. The stature is impeccable, highly impacting and alluring. On this stature Louis Botha is riding on a horse. That conjure on me forcefully and powerfully great meanings of the Great Trek an the significance of this movement in the early nation building of this country.

In general its significance to the conscientiousness of modern South Africa is inspiring in a very comprehensive way. Certainly South Africa has walked a long path and our first Prime Minister's stature at Union Buildings tells it all. The stature is comprehensive in its presentation of Louis Botha as a leader with courage and determination. Underneath the large stature are medium sized portraits of Louis Botha as a young farmer tending sheep, cattle and goats. It seems this portrait of Louis Botha as a lad and shepherd is about emphasizing the humble background that Louis Botha grew from back in the Free State. Alongside that portrait there is a portrait of Louis Botha as the leader of the Transvaal.

Louis Botha was indeed a great leader of the Transvaal army in the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) from March 1900, and he was one of the great visionaries South Africa ever produced. And I don't think we would have got very far as a country without these great men. In fact we are still living other his shadow of his great stature and gallantry even in this modern South Africa. He was one of those leaders who created a Union of South Africa which formed firm foundation of the Republic of South Africa we are basking in now. His vision and strategic plan of South Africa was inclusive - including the British, the Dutch and the natives Africans. But his strategic plan reflected the age he was living in - the age that was racially imperfect. This was the age when people were grappling with the whole concept of a humanity with different colors and shades. In that period there was no nation on the earth that was really multi-racially inclusive or aspired to that nor was there a non racial country. Almost all popular books on politics and public administration emphasized racial separations than any thing else.

Botha was a leading figure in the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I.The Paris Peace Conference was a voluntary effort for leaders of the world to seek measures to bring peace among the world. He used his influence on the table to deal with the world war once and for all. Arguing this way and that way on how peace can established across all the nations on earth.

Back home in South Africa he waged a prolonged cold war with James Barry Munnik Hertzog who was popular among the Afrikaners but a bit a loose and erratic leader. He failed in his attempts of stopping Hertzog rising influence and political career. He tried to offer Hertzog the position of a Judge instead of appointing him as Cabinet Minister. Hertzog determined to have his own way and embolden by his vast rising influence and suffering refused and eventually he became Cabinet Minister. Botha was to be later proven to be right as Hertzog later turned to be dictatorial and clinging to power he ruled South Africa as Prime Minister for 15 years - he was indeed typical African despot known for their refusal to step down no matter what. His reign as Prime Minister was that of a man suffering from metaphysical crisis.

A great man of drive and determination coupled with action and solutions, Louis Botha was renowned for his simplicity, humanity, quick wit and good folksy nature that he developed as a young farmer and shepherd in the Free State . What it comes down to is that Louis Botha was endowed with natural talents that he used positively in developing South Africa.

South Africa’s Union Buildings, the official seat of the national government, house the offices of the president and deputy president. It is still called the Union Buildings not the Republic Buildings as the country is no longer a union. With that original name, the image of the Union Buildings - its character had survived the whole series of political and social evolutionary stages the country went through: its image and historic character has the imprint and lively impulse of  our first Prime Minister Louis Botha.

All in all it seems perfect and logical that the great stature of the first Prime Minister Louis Botha looms large across the garden whole area.  Pretoria compared to other Gauteng cities is very much a sunshine city; the sun is warmer as compared to other Gauteng cities - in fact no very far northwards of Pretoria you have a small town called Bela Bela (Warmbaths). Bela Bela refers to the sun that is very hot to boiling proportions.

With the great stature of Louis Botha looming large within the garden there another breathtaking spectacular scenery: the great jacaranda trees that offers such spiritual atmosphere that cools and set you in deep contemplation and reflection. These trees are basically shrubs to large trees ranging in size from 2 to 30 m (6.6 to 98 ft) tall. And on the sideways and along the walkways is what seems to me to look like caribou moss that compliment the beauty and inspiration of the Jacaranda trees.Caribou moss grows on soft ground and in between rocks hollows. It looks like a foamy, gray-green spongy mass, and grows to be 1 to 4 inches high. The stems, or stocks, are hollow, and branch out many times.

Up and down the garden are a variety tourists that comes from far and wide taking pictures. Some of these were a large contigent of Chinese, there were also British, Dutch and locals.

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