Causes of the great trek. 

Causes of the great trek. 

  • The great trek is also a white revolution, which took place in 19th century
  • It was the movement of the Boers into the interior of south Africa
  • It took place as a revolt against the British liberal policies which the Boers became satisfied with
  • It took place under different leaders like Piet Retief at different occasions
  • It involved about 14000 trekkers who moved with Ox wagons carrying all movable property
  • Presence of un occupied land in the interior of south Africa made the Boers to move in force
  • The Boers didn’t want to be under the leadership of the British
  • The Boers were pastorals who wanted water, pasture for their animals
  • Shortage of land at the cape due to increased population made them to trek 
  • Many Boers trekked because of adventure
  • The British publication of the cape colony 
  • The cape land had lost fertility therefore they were looking for fertile land in the interior
  • Presence of weak African societies in the interior like Khoi-khoi made the bores to victorious in their trek
  • They wanted to preserve their culture since they considered themselves God chosen race

NB. Add the British reforms in south African as causes for the great trek eg

  • Land mapping
    • Emancipation of slavery
    • Introduction of black circuits courts ✓ Paying dutch priest salaries
    • English legal court
    • Introduction of English pound
    • Nullification of the province of queen Adelaide

The course of great trek.

  • The great trek began in 1835 in the district of Grafreiner, Swollen dam at the eastern frontier of the cape
  • It took place in 3 major groups
  • The main leaders who led these groups are Piete,Portgieter Hendrick and Pretorious
  • They used ox wagons to carry their property 
  • In most cases they avoided coastal crowded areas and followed the middle grassland
  • In the interior they mostly settled on a western side of Drankeberg Mountain

Lousi Trgardto led the first group

  • He moved and crossed with his group R.Caledon and R.Orange
  • They continued and crossed plains Orange Free state toward river Vaal 
  • They settled in Zoutpansbeg of Transvaal 
  • During their movement many Boers died
  • Those who remained established small temporary settlement
  • Van Reinsbeg group later joined this group
  • The two groups tried to make attempt to capture the Portuguese territory at Delagoa Bay near the coast but failed 
  • Out of the 100 families moved during this journey 27 survived
  • Later this group was forced to establish the Transvaal republic
  • Hedrick Potgieter led the 2nd group with colliers
  • Mauritz from Graafreint later joined this group
  • They also crossed R.Vaal to Orange Free state.
  • This group started moving in 1836
  • During their movement Ndebele under Mzilkazi attacked them at the battle which came to be called Vegkop in 1836
  • During this battle many Boers lost their lives even though they won the war
  • This forced Ndebele to move northwards the present day Zimbabwe
  • In addition this group was left at orange free state to establish the republic
  • Piete Retief led the 3rd group in 1837
  • Retief was 57 years of age and he had been appointed as a president of United Lager 
  • His aim of movement was to occupy the natal land, which he had heard from the hunters and the traders
  • He moved via Drankensberg mountains crossed orange river and reached Zulu land
  • When he reached Zulu land found dingane as the king and asked him  for land
  • Dingane told him that he was only to give them land after rescuing their cattle which had been stolen by Sekonyela of Tlokwa
  • Retief tried and got back the cattle from sekonyela
  • After Retief getting back their cattle, dingane made him a beer party
  • Here dingane tricked Retief and killed him at beer party 
  • Now andries Pretorius was appointed as the Boer commander in 1838 to replace Retief
  • Later pretorious organized the revenge to dingane at the battle of blood river
  • Dingane was defeated because his brother Mpande had given assistance to Pretorius group
  • Dingane was forced to hand in natal republic was established
  • Later in 1839-43 the natal republic was established
  • In 1843 the British had followed the Boers and chased them out of natal
  • Pretorious led the chased Boers and joined their friends in Transvaal in 1852 which crowned up the great trek 

Problems faced by the trekers.

Show the problems faced by Boer trekkers.

  • Resistance from Africans e.g. the Ndebele
  • Many trekkers lost their lives like Piet Retief
  • There was starvation during the journey because they were ill prepared for it
  • They experienced slow movement during their journey because of the activities they were carrying out e.g. cattle rearing, looking for food etc
  • Some Boers were followed by the British e.g. at Natal
  • Diseases like fever, wild sickness attacked the trekkers
  • The military weakness of the Boer made them less defensive against the nature of unforeseen circumstances e.g. wild animals, wars etc
  • They received inadequate education to their children due to short time in an attempt to get assistance’s 
  • Poverty became the order of  the day during trekking hence lack of necessities
  • Communication amongst the Boers was also difficult especially in an attempt to get assistance’s
  • Frequent quarrels among themselves this is evidenced when
  • Transvaal once was separated into five units  amongst Boers
  • Poor accommodation facilities characterized by grass hatched houses which were even linking
  • Some of the Boers experienced remoteness areas especially where they settled for example Zoutpansberg


Causes of the battle of Vegkop

Why did the Ndebele conflict with the Boer in 183637 or Why did mzilukzi fought Hedrick in 1836

  • This was a conflict between the Ndebele and the Boers
  • It originated because of great trek
  • It started in October 19th 1836 
  • Portieter ,Sarel Cilliers, Gerritz Maritz, were the leaders of the Boers during the war
  • He wanted to maintain the independence of the Ndebele that is why he fought
  • Need to maintain the value and culture of Ndebele people from being eroded by the intruders
  • Cattle rustling/stealing by both the Boers and the Ndebele from each other caused the conflicts 
  • Boers fought because they wanted to solve the problem of cattle rustling
  • Both the Ndebele and the Boers wanted to get more cattle
  • Need for more land by both the Ndebele and the Boers for pastrolism  and settlement
  • The courage given to the Boers by chief Moloka made them to fight against Mzilikazi
  • The Ndebele had natural haterage against foreign intrusion
  • The killing of Erasmus and Liebenberg made the Ndebele to think that the Boers were militarily weak hence the war
  • The Boer wanted to rescue the 3 American missionaries who had been kidnapped by the ndebebe
  • The ndebebe and the Boers wanted to get food from the area that is why they fought

The Boers considered the Ndebele to be backwards, uncivilized that is why they fought them.


Explain the course of Veg kop war.

  • The chief commander of the boers was portigieter and the Ndebele ahd Mizilikazi
  • The war started because of Ndebele destroying of th boer group of trekkers that was led by Erasmus and Liebenberg
  • When the boers were crossing the Ndebele land were not careful because they did not manage to avoid the Ndebele patrols
  • When the boers smell about an attack from the Ndebele
  • They made their wagons in a circular form and the gaps,which remained in between the laager, were filled with horny bushes
  • The Ndebele failed to pass through the laager to attack the boers because even they were well equipedwith guns and gun powder
  • The Boers later managed to join their friend nuder the leadership of Maritz
  • In addition it was decided that revenge should be taken to the Ndebele
  • The Boers  now organized a surprise attack to the Ndebele kraal under the leadership of Portigieter
  • This was successful because around 7000 cattle a number of lost wagons and 3 American missionaries were rescued or received
  • Because of continued defeat of the Ndebele, they decided to vacate organge free state and occupy the present day of Zimbabwe.


Explain the effects of the Vegkop war.

  • The Ndebele were defeated at Mosega
  • The war forced the Ndebele to cross, R.Limpopo and settle in the present day Zimbabwe
  • It formulated a back ground for the formation of Orange free republic
  • Laager military way of fighting was adopted
  • Many people lost their lives e.g. Erasmus, Liebenberg etc
  • Over 10,000 heads of cattle were lost
  • Because of death during the war, depopulation in the area was registered
  • Insecurity in the area and surrounding in the area was common especially in Transvaal 
  • Agriculture and trade came to a stand still because energetic people were fighting 
  • Famine was registered because of decline in agriculture
  • Poverty became the order of the day because the Boers injected a lot of finance in the war
  • It created way for further wars like the Anglo Boer wars , blood river war.


  • Lack of effective mobilization from Mzilikazi
  • The Africans were militarily weak because of the inferior weapons they had like arrows, bows spears
  • The Africans were not militarily trained therefore were unfit for battle frontier
  • Disunity amongst the Africans who couldn’t support each other
  • The Africans were so poor therefore they couldn’t sustain in the war for so long
  • The betraying of the Ndebele by chief Moroka who reported the Ndebele hide outs
  • The boers were very determined to defeat the Ndebele
  • The good plans and preparation, which the Boers made before attacking the Ndebele ,made the later defeated
  • The surprise attack made by the Boers to the Ndebele may loose the war
  • New military fighting ge use of larger by the Boers
  • The Boers were warriors because they had moved a long distance from the cape 

THE BATTLE OF BLOOD RIVER (1837-1838) THE COURSE OF BLOOD RIVER. How did the 1837-8 war took place?

  • Lack of effective mobilization from Mzilikazi
  • The Africans were not militarily trained therefore were unfit for the battle frontier
  • Disunity amongst the Africans who couldn’t support each other Africans were so poor, therefore they couldn’t sustain in the war  for so long
  • The betraying of the Ndebele by chief Moroka who reported the Ndebele hide outs
  • The Boers were very determined to defeat the Ndebele The good plans and preparation,which the Boers made before attacking the Ndebele , made the later to be defeated 
  • The surprise attack made by the boers to the Ndebele made them to loose the war
  • The Boers were many in number and yet the Africans were few
  • New military fighting for example use of larger by the Boers
  • The Boers were warriors because they had moveda long distance from the cape.


Explain the impacts of Blood River.

  • The zulu land gave rise to a new king Mpande
  • Dingane raised his cattle, which were stolen by Sekonyera
  • The Boers acquired large parts of Natal district
  • Dingane was humiliated and expelled by his people from Zulu land • It led to massive killing o f Zulu people by the Boers
  • Due to continuous support to the Boers natal  republic was established
  • It also led to the killing of Piet Retief at a beer party by the Zulu people
  • Dingane’s plans to attack the Boer camps failed
  • After the death of Piet,Pretorious was appointed as new commander of the Boer to replace Retief
  • Peoples property were destroyed e.g. cattle
  • It laid foundation for the down fall of Zulu nation 

Why Dingane failed to win the battle?

  • Dingane failed to  unite his people at first
  • The local rulers gave support to Mpande
  • He was not a trained soldier
  • He neglected military training
  • Increased number of Boers in Zulu land weakened him
  • He was brutal ruler that people hated

Mpande’s collaboration with the Boer created Dingane’s defeat

  • Failure to return the Zulu refugees created low population in his land
  • His royal family members did not support him
  • His relaxation of age regiments weakened his support
  • He was weak and lazy leader
  • Arrival of Portuguese at natal coast
  • Break away of small states like Queba
  • He created hatred with his neighbors like Swazi
  • He gave away land to the boers
  • He always danced and womanized which made him unpopular 


Describe the significance of great trek in the history of south Africa 

  • Africans like zulu lost their land to boer trekkers
  • During the so many wars fought eg Vegkop war Africans lost their lives
  • Properties were destroyed including cattle of over 17000 heads
  • Great trek made the Africans divided ge Mpande who separated  from Dingane
  • Africans leaders were killed like Dingane
  • Africans were now enslaved in the boer’s farms
  • Africans language ws put in writing 
  • Africans chiefs like Mpande acquired guns from trekkers
  • Africans acquired western culture like dressing , religion etc
  • Africans socities were displaced from their original land eg the Ndebele were pushed to Zimbabwe
  • The interior was opened to europeann settlement
  • It was the boer trekking that led to the discovery of minerals in south Africa eg Gold,Diamond etc
  • It led to the establishment of boer republic like Natal,Organge Free state, Transvaal 
Impacts of the trek on whites
  • It mad the whites to increase in the interior of south Africa eg the British
  • The whites to an accession of Natal by the British in 1843
  • It was the great trek which led to Anglo Boers war in south Africa  • It increased British interests of protecting Africans
  • Racial segregation increased since the Boers didn’t mix with the Africans in the interior
  • Boer’s culture and integrity continued to stay after separating from the British at the cape

Qn Describe the relationship between the Boer trekkers and the British.

  • At first the British didn’t stop the Boers from trekking later in 1836 laws were passed that Boers were under the British
  • In addition this made the British to take over Natal in 1843
  • Between 1845-52 governor Sir Harry Smith of the British tried also to enter into the affairs of orange free state and Transvaal 
  • He managed to acquire the land between orange river and river Vaal but had enough force to control the area
  • In 1852 the sand river convention was signed this gave Transvaal republic independence 
  • In 1854 Bloemfontain convention was concluded and gave orange free state independence 
  • Therefore at the beginning of their relationship was hostile
  • The British felt insecure at natal because could be attacked from  the north 

The Establishment Of Natal

Describe the establishment of Natal by the Boers 

  • Boer trekkers who came from the cape established natal
  • The way in which it was developed can better be understood by the coarse of blood river war
  • At the end of blood  river war zulu land became in the hands of the boers and captured thousands of cattle
  • Refer to the coarse of blood river and put the coarse of blood river here
  • They set up their capital in 1839 at Piet Maritz burg A council of people called volks rand was elected
  • It consisted two executive, legislative and judicial powers
  • A president was elected and the council of people was to act as court of appeal
  • However natal republic was short leaved because the british took it over in1843