Rising Afrikaner nationalism
Resentment among Afrikaners in the former Transvaal and Orange Free State republics at finding themselves suddenly part of the British Empire has been smouldering since the end of the South African War in 1902. Some English-speaking South Africans feel sympathetic. In 1938 there is a nationwide Afrikaner movement to re-enact the Great Trek of 1838, when Paul Kruger, still a young boy, and other Boers, left the Cape Colony to escape the English stranglehold. The celebration is to culminate in Pretoria. Old wagons are restored and grandparents’ rokke (frocks), kappies (bonnets) and broeke (trousers) dusted off. Construction of the Voortrekker Monument outside Pretoria, which had begun in 1937, continues apace (it will only be inaugurated in 1949, however). At the same time, a decision is taken to change the name of the nearby military base from Roberts Heights to Voortrekkerhoogte.
At least one St Mary’s girl attends the celebrations and records the events on her Brownie box camera.