Kruger South Safari Blog

Kruger Day – 10 October

“Every year farmers patiently wait for 10 October, Heroes Day. This is not only the day that falls on Paul Kruger’s birthday but also the day that has entertained the folklore of predicting the upcoming rain season”.

This year the prediction once again came true as reported in the local newspaper on the day:

Paul Kruger Gate, located at the Sabie River 12km from Skukuza Rest Camp, is one of the Kruger National Park’s busiest entrance gates.  The bust of President Paul Kruger, the “founder” of the Kruger National Park, can be seen as one crosses the Sabie River, when approaching the gate. 

The Kruger National Park was first established by the then President of the Transvaal, Paul Kruger, in 1898 and his name has become synonymous with the South African wildlife experience.

Stephanus Johannes Paulus "Paul" Kruger was one of the dominant political and military figures in 19th-century South Africa, and President of the South African Republic from 1883 to 1900. 

When the Great Trek* started in 1836, Paul Kruger joined the trek party of Hendrik Potgieter. 

*The Great Trek was a movement of Dutch-speaking colonists up into the interior of southern Africa in search of land where they could establish their own homeland, independent of British rule.

Paul Kruger started his political career as a Commandant General and soon thereafter became the Vice president of the Transvaal*.

*Transvaal is a former province of South Africa that occupied the north-eastern part of the country.

The unearthing of gold and diamonds in South Africa in 1867 fuelled the conflict between the British and the Boers.  After the British annexed Transvaal in 1877, Kruger took leadership of the resistance movement.  When the first war of independence against the British broke out in 1881, Kruger was instrumental in negotiating the Transvaal's independence under British sovereignty.  In 1882 he became the President of the Transvaal, a position held until 1898, before the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer* War.

*The term Boer, derived from the Afrikaans word for farmer, was used to describe the people in southern Africa who traced their ancestry to Dutch, German and French Huguenot settlers who arrived in the Cape of Good Hope from 1652.

The war ended when the Boer leadership surrendered and accepted British terms with the Treaty of Vereeniging in May 1902. Both former Boer republics were incorporated into the Union of South Africa in 1910, as part of the British Empire.

South Africa became a fully sovereign nation state within the British Empire in 1934, the monarchy came to an end on 31 May 1961 replaced by a republic as the consequence of a 1960 referendum, which legitimised the country becoming the Republic of South Africa.

As British forces advanced on Pretoria, Kruger left the capital of the Transvaal and was given refuge in Europe. He settled in Clarens, Switzerland for the last six months of his life where he died of heart failure on 14 July 1904. His remains were returned to South Africa and he was buried in the Pretoria Church Street cemetery on 16 December 1904.  A bronze sculpture of Paul Kruger is located in Church Square, the historic centre of Pretoria, where it is the most prominent feature of this very popular “must-see” tourist attraction which underwent a major revamp in 2018.

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