The Great Trek began in 1835 when 12,000 Boers (farmers) left the Cape Colony over a period of three years.
The trekked (moved) into the much unexplored areas of the interior of South Africa on foot, horse back and by ox wagon. Their aim was to escape British taxation and domination. They would at last be free from British control but would need to fight many battles with the Zulu’s.
After facing many obstacles and hardships, these farmers started to build a unique identity and began to call themselves ‘Afrikaners’. They also developed new language which was a hybrid called Afrikaans.
The Great Trek in South Africa started with Louis Trichardt and Hans van Rensburg leading the first groups to leave the Colony. There were 53 people in Trichardt’s group and they crossed the Orange River in 1835 on their way to the Soutpansberg. Hans van Rensburg also left the colony at the same time with his group of followers but his aim was to move to Mozambique. The Van Rensburg party was subsequently massacred near the Limpopo River.
The Voortrekkers had opposing views about the direction the trek should take. Potgieter felt it best to remain in Transvaal, since Britain might annex Natal, which would mean that the Voortrekkers would once again be under British rule. Maritz, Cilliers and Retief did not share his fears and decided to move to Natal. Piet Uys was not quite sure where his trek should be heading.
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