In Afrikaans and Dutch the word Voortrekkers means “Those who trek ahead” or in other words a Pioneer. These were people in the 1830’s and 40’s that left the Cape Colony in the southern most part of South Africa and traveled inland. This was known as The Great Trek. There were many different leaders among these treks, including Louis Tredgardt, Hendrik Potgieter, Sarel Cilliers, Pieter Uys, Gerrit Maritz, Piet Retief, and Andries Pretorius.

The main reason for the migration inland was because of the struggles on the frontier when it came to farming. They were in search of a new beginning. Most of the Voortrekkers were farmers from the coast, and some of them were very wealthy.

The migration from the Cape Colony was not by any means an easy task. Many people lost their lives including some of their leaders. In The Battle of Blood River, the Voortrekker leader Piet Retief was killed along with half of his followers by the Zulu tribe. Retief was betrayed by the Zulu King Dingane, the to were negotiating a treaty for land. The leader Andris Pretorius was able to retain the land that they were once negotiating for after defeating the Zulus in a battle, even though they were outnumbered tremendously. This day is now known as Day of The Vow, as it was considered a great turning point for the Voortrekkers as it was an end to the violence.


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