Paul Kruger PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 10 October 2010 11:25

 

The following text was taken mainly from Wikipedia and modified.

Paul Kruger

Paul Kruger

Stephanus Johannes Paul Kruger (Colesberg, 10 October 1825 – Clarens, Switzerland, 14 July 1904) better known as Paul Kruger and affectionately known as Uncle Paul (Afrikaans: “Oom Paul”) was State President of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (literally: “South African Republic”, the Boer Republic in the Transvaal region). He gained international renown as the face of Boer resistance against the British Empire during the Second Boer War of Liberation (1899–1902).

According to legend, he was named Mamelodi’a Tshwane (Tswana: “whistler of the Apies River”) by the inhabitants of the surrounding area for his ability to whistle and imitate bird calls. By Paul Kruger was named the famous Kruger National Park, the main wildlife national park of Southern Africa.

Youth

Paul Kruger was a descendant of German immigrants to South Africa. Kruger was born at Bulhoek, his grandfather's farm, near the town of Steynsburg,  and grew up on the farm Vaalbank. He received only three months of formal education, but he became knowledgeable from life on the veld. Paul Kruger became proficient in hunting and horse riding. He contributed to the development of guerrilla warfare during the First Boer War of Liberation. Kruger’s father, Casper Kruger, joined the Voortrekker party of Hendrik Potgieter when the Great Trek started in 1835.

The Voortrekkers crossed the Vaal River in 1838, and at first stayed in the area that is known today as Potchefstroom. Kruger’s father later decided to settle in the district now known as Rustenburg. At the age of 16, Kruger was entitled to choose a farm for himself at the foot of the Magaliesberg, where he settled in 1841.

The following year he married Maria du Plessis, and they went together with Paul Kruger’s father to live in the Eastern Transvaal. After the family had returned to Rustenburg, Kruger’s wife and infant son died, most probably from fever. He then married his second wife Gezina du Plessis in 1847. The couple had seven daughters and nine sons, some dying in infancy.

Kruger was a deeply religious man; he claimed to have only read one book, the Bible. He also claimed to know most of it by heart. He was a founding member of the Dutch Reformed Church in Southern Africa.

Political Activity

Kruger began his military service as a field cornet in the commandos and eventually became Commandant-General of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR, Boer Republic). He was appointed member of a commission of the Volksraad, the republican parliament that was to draw up a constitution. He played a prominent part in ending the quarrel between Stephanus Schoeman and M.W. Pretorius.

In 1873, Kruger resigned as Commandant-General, and for a time he held no office and retired to his farm, Boekenhoutfontein. However, in 1874, he was elected as a member of the Executive Council and shortly after became the Vice-President of the ZAR.

Following the annexation of the Transvaal by Britain in 1877, Kruger became the leader of the Boer resistance. During the same year, he visited Britain for the first time as Boer leader. A highlight of his visit to Europe was when he ascended in a hot air balloon and saw Paris from the air.

The First Boer War of Liberation started in 1880, and the Boer forces were victorious at Majuba in 1881. Once again, Kruger played a critical role in the negotiations with the British, which led to the independence of Boer Republics.

On 30 December 1880, at the age of 55, Kruger was elected President of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek. One of his first goals was the revision of the Pretoria Convention of 1881; the agreement between the Boers and the British that ended the First Boer War of Liberation. He again left for Europe in 1883, to establish relationships with many leaders of the Old World.

In the Transvaal, things changed rapidly after the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand. Kruger predicted the events that followed afterwards, declaring that instead of rejoicing at the discovery of gold, they should be weeping because it will “cause our land to be soaked in blood”.

At the end of 1895, the failed Jameson raid took place; Jameson was forced to surrender and was taken to Pretoria to be handed over to his British countrymen for punishment.

At the end of 1895, events began to fall with the famous “Jameson raid”, an unofficial military operation against the Boer Republic in the Transvaal, financed by English and above all Jews capitalists, behind the figure of Cecil Rhodes. The raid failed. In 1898, Kruger was elected President for the fourth and final time.

Exile

On 11 October 1899, the Second Boer War of Liberation broke out. On 7 May the following year, Kruger attended the last session of the Volksraad, and he fled Pretoria on 29 May. For weeks he either stayed in Eastern Transvaal; in October he boarded the Dutch warship Gelderland and left Southern Africa. His wife was too ill to board, and died on 20 July 1901.

Kruger stayed in the Netherlands before moving to Clarens, Switzerland, where he died on 14 July 1904. The 16 December 1904 he was reburied in the Church Street cemetery, Pretoria.

10 October

From 1952 to 1993, during the Afrikaner regime in Southern Africa, October 10, the birthday of Paul Kruger, was established as public holiday.
Today, under the ANC’s regime, many Boer movements celebrating this day with initiatives.