Who is the Settler Family of the Grahamstown Settlers Monument?

I posted this picture of the Settlers Family statue in Makhanda / Grahamstown on my Encounter the Eastern Cape page on Facebook recently and Dave Bowker told me something I never knew. Firstly what I did know. The monument was designed by the sculptor Ivan Mitford-Barberton and erected in 1969, but this is what I didn't know. The three figures are Miles, Anne Maria and Elizabeth Bowker. Elizabeth married a Barber and was Ivan's grandmother. Although there was no photograph…

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Take Graaff-Reinet Anglo Boer War memorial

Graaff-Reinet isn't just the sixth oldest town in South Africa or the town with the most historical monuments in the country. The town and its district also have a rich history of Voortrekker history, Anglo-Boer War history and history connected to the freedom struggle. One of the monuments in town that not a lot of people get to see is the Anglo-Boer War Memorial on the corner of Donkin and Somerset Streets. It's a pity because it's actually a striking…

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An angel of victory and peace in Graaff-Reinet

When you drive up the main road through Graaff-Reinet the magnificent Dutch Reformed Church (Groot Kerk) awaits you at the top of the street. As you drive around the church you find the town's beautiful Town Hall hiding behind it and perched in the Mayor's Garden stands a statue of an angel holding a sword. Three months after the end of the First World War a decision was made to erect a monument in honour of the gallant Graaff-Reinet men…

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A French Huguenot memorial in the Karoo

When you think of the French Huguenots you automatically think of Franschhoek surrounded by mountains, greenery, and vineyards. And wine, let's not forget the wine. So try and imagine then a memorial to the French Huguenots in the Karoo Heartland town of Graaff-Reinet. On 31 December 1687 the first group of Huguenots set sail from France as part of a large-scale emigration of Huguenots to the Cape of Good Hope due to religious persecution. About 350 Huguenots eventually settled at…

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Remembering the Independence of Graaff-Reinet

Did you know that Graaff-Reinet declared independence from the Cape Colony at the end of the 1700s? Or that there is a monument commemorating this event in town? I knew about the shortlived independence but even though I have been to Graaff-Reinet many times before I didn't realise there was a monument to it. On my last trip I knew what to look for and finding it really was a facepalm moment. If it was a snake it would have…

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Looking north with the Andries Pretorius Monument

The Great Trek had a number of leaders that will always be remembered in the Afrikaner history of South Africa. In 1836 Dutch-speaking settlers started moving northeast into the interior of what is today known as South Africa away from the Cape Colony. They were traveling in wagon trains made up of ox wagons and horses seeking to live beyond the Cape's British colonial administration. One of those leaders was a man named Andries Pretorius from the Graaff-Reinet district. General…

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A whistlestop visit to Orania

I love exploring small towns. There's just something about them and the history you find there. But what if it's a small town that technically is new and without its own history yet still has a lot of history in it? Sounds confusing, doesn't it? There is one such place that has been on my bucket list radar for quite some time. The Afrikaner enclave of Orania. Partly to see what the town looks like for myself, partly to visit…

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The Roodewal historic site outside Cookhouse

Big monuments and historic buildings are easy to spot and often stand out. It's the ones that are often a bit obscured that very few people actually know about or get to visit. One such site is the Roodewal historic site next to the N10 near Cookhouse in the Eastern Cape. This site doesn't just have one, but three separate heritage-related items all linked to the same place. Roodewal Farm. I knew about one of them because there is a…

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Slagtersnek, reminders of a Boer rebellion in the Karoo Heartland

If you're driving along the N10 south of Cookhouse in the Eastern Cape and you keep your eyes open on the eastern side of the road, you'll spot a monument that remembers quite a significant piece of history linked to this district's early years. A sign on the gate identifies it as the Slagtersnek (or Slachtersnek) Monument, but what is Slagtersnek, what happened here and what led to it? Back in the early 1800s this area was the eastern border…

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A historic walk around Graaff-Reinet

History buffs totally love Graaff-Reinet, what with it being the oldest town in the Eastern Cape (fourth oldest in South Africa) with about 220 listed historical buildings.  Best of all, you can see just about all the best ones on a relatively short walk around town.  And obviously, that is what we did otherwise I wouldn't be writing about it.  We parked our car in front of the Graaff-Reinet Tourism office, grabbed a map from the friendly staff in the…

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