Great Trek of the Boers

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The Great Trek (1835-1845) was the northern migration of 12,000–14,000 Boer settlers from Cape Colony in South Africa when the British arrived and took control of the government. They seeked freedom and self-determination in their own homeland. The leaders of the "Trek" was Andries Pretorius, Piet Retief, Piet Uys, Hendrik Potgieter and Gerrit Maritz. The Boers migrated northward into what became known as the Orange Free State and later into the Transvaal (South African Republic). Although the Boers found no indigious people at the time of settlement in these areas, Retief chose to settle in Natal, where he came into conflict with the Zulus. After various battles in Natal in 1838, help from the other Voorttrekker leaders arrived in December. Some 438 Trekkers made a Covenant with God, that they would give the glory of the victory to Him. Charl Cilliers was the author of the Covenant. On 16 December 1838, the Trekkers defeated nearly 12 000 Zulus during the Battle of Blood River. Boers still celebrate December 16th every year as Covenant Day. Various Boer Republics were founded after the "Trek": in 1838, the Republic of Natalia was founded, but it was shortlived, it ceased to exist in 1843. The South African Republic and the Orange Free State gained independence from Great Brittian in 1852 and 1854, respectively.[1]


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