Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria
The huge monolith that is the Voortrekker monument stands as a major landmark on a low hill, just outside Tshwane (as Pretoria is now called). Depending on who you are, the monument that has some of the finest sculpture work in the country is either a reminder of apartheid or an important memorial for Afrikanerdom, but either way, it is worth a visit.
The Voortrekker monument was built in honour of the great Voortrekkers or pioneers, who left the Cape during the period 1835 to 1854 to cut through the interior of the country in what became known as the Great Trek.
The main body of the building, known as the Hall of Heroes, is decorated with an Italian frieze showing the history of this epic journey, and despite the misperception of the monument as an apartheid monument, it gets some 200 000 visitors a year.
Visitors to the country can visit the Apartheid Museum and the Hector Pieterson Museum in order to gain an idea of the history of apartheid, but the monument has attempted to accurately depict a time over 150 years ago, a period in history that has little to show for itself. Local schools enjoy outings here, probably because apartheid is already history for them and lacks any prejudice.
It didn’t hurt that Nelson Mandela visited the monument himself in 2002, despite threats from the AWB (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging - a right-wing Afrikaner movement), and a heritage centre is on the cards concentrating on the evolution of the Afrikaner. The centre concentrates on historical accuracy and has no political spin, only the intention of presenting historical accuracy.
For additional info, contact details, visiting hours etc., see "Visit the Voortrekker Monument".
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