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The Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, South Africa is to many a symbol of a racist and oppressive regime. In some ways it stands to remind one of chapters in South African history such as the Battle of Blood River, which was once glorified as a divine triumph of white over black, but which is now whispered of only in infamy. The monument does however have a larger purpose, and that is to record and remind generations of the hardship, and tremendous adversities that renegade pioneers overcame to establish themselves in a far distant land away from their origins. If history can teach us anything, it’s that there is always two sides to the story.

Until visiting it last year, the only images I’d seen of this monument were mostly those that were on TV, usually as a child on the 16th of December when the country remembered the battle, on what used to be known as The Day of The Vow (in reference to the legendary covenant that the Voortrekkers took with God to ensure their survival), but which is now celebrated as the Day of Reconciliation.

The building never struck me as anything terribly remarkable, other than the fact that each year, on the 16th of December at midday, a hole in the roof directs a shaft of sunlight onto the large carved stone in the centre of the basement, bearing the words “Ons vir jou Suid Afrika” (Directly translated: We for you, South Africa). But it is indeed a building of inspiring proportions and ornate detail, and I wish that I had had more time to photograph as the light changed through the day.

This shot was taken from its mezzanine level, just a few meters from the small aperture in the dome roof. It looks down onto the main level below, and through it onto the basement level and stone covenant. It is a dizzying height, and it’s a view of this landmark that I’d never seen before. I feel fortunate to have captured it, because I feel it’s probably a fairly unique view.

I hope to return to this site again one day to explore it further, and photograph more of it.

 

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