The Creation of the Boer States
The Voortrekkers who were heading into Natal managed to avoid the Xhosa people but came face to face with the powerful Zulu nation led at the time by Dingaan. The Boer leader, Piet Retief, managed to negotiate a land settlement but at the celebration of the signing on February 8th 1838 Retief and his men were murdered. Dingaan then sent his men to the Boer camp where 281 men, women and children, and 200 coloured servants were all butchered.
The Boers were determined to get their revenge and so mustered a commando of 530 Boer marksmen and 60 armed blacks.
They gathered on the edge of the Ncome River and formed a circle of wagons. Sarel Cilliers climbed onto a gun carriage and his words became part of the history of the Afrikaner nation.
'..at this moment we stand before the holy god of heaven and earth to make a promise, if he will be with us and protect us and deliver the enemy into our hands so that we may triumph over him, that we shall observe the day and the date as an anniversary in each year and a day of thanksgiving like the Sabbath, in his honour..'
On the morning of 16 December1838 10,000 Zulu warriors attacked the circle of wagons. At the end of the attack just three Boers had been injured and around the wagons lay 3,000 Zulus dead-
'Of the event Manie Maritz said: I think that the Afrikaner was born at the Battle of Blood River...It was a miracle of god that that battle could have been won'
The Boer presence in Natal was short lived though for the British wanted the vital sea port of Durban and so in 1842 annexed Natal. The Boers moved inland to the what became the Orange Free State and Transvaal and there was an uneasy truce between the British and the Boers until in the 1850s the British came to accept the position of the Boers and decided to leave then to their own devices-
These 1852, 1854 treaties marked a willingness on the part of the British to leave the Boers to get on with their lives as long as they did not threaten British interests in Africa. This was at a time when neither British capital nor settlers were drawn to the area which at the time was exporting little. The environment was harsh with frequent droughts, an impoverished soil and much cattle disease. Cape Town had not been developed as a trading port and so the area had little to attract settlers or capitalists. In 1854 a new parliament met at Cape Town with both houses elected by members of both white and black races (although there was a financial qualification which limited black participation) and when Natal acquired a parliament it followed the same pattern.
At the Battle of Blood River, 16 December 1838, 10,000 Zulu warriors attacked a Boer circle of wagons.