Hi there down under to all of you in Aussie land! Greetings from here in Africa, land of the big five, oops I mean big six, which is what I would like to share with you. I am sure many of you have seen it, been there or just know of it; but let me introduce you to South Africa's big number six, yes, it is none other than the Voortrekker monument overlooking the capital city still named Pretoria and not Tswane.
The Monument , Fort Skanskop and the hundred or so hectares of beautiful African savanna they stand on, have been bought by a private consortium with General Gert Opperman at the helm. With his brilliant army career behind him, he has turned the monument around and made it the number one attraction in Pretoria, South Africa. All incoming flights to Joburg international are routed by bus to the monument; resulting in ten to twelve buses filled with tourists every day.
The monument has been declared a world heritage sight and boasts Cape horse riding trails, walking trails, mountain bike trails star gazing and astronomy for amateurs. It also has many exclusive restaurants, lapas and conference facilities.
On the staff of highly dedicated and efficient people is a resident historian, Cecilia Kruger, a lovely lady who can take you back into South Africa's colourful and bloody past; recounting all the battles between Boer, Brit and the Black Monarchs. The sight also boasts a beautiful art gallery, heritage centre, Chapel and Garden of Remembrance, large and small amphitheatres and an opportunity to travel back through time on a genuine 1860 Great Trek ox wagon.
You are helped on board the magnificent fully operational 1860 relic while breathing in the musky smell of the Afrikaner oxen;
Pietman, Bloedboy, Voorman and Agteros - all the beauty and romance of their names add to the sound of the cracking whip and the creaking and straining of leather thongs, as these magnificent beasts bend forward and strain in unison.
The crunching and cracking of stone and sand as the massive wooden wheels and solid iron hoops move slowly forward; bumping and jostling the wagon through the veld, vividly takes you on a trip back in time where the thorntrees and the African savanna were just as beautiful. Close your eyes and you could easily hear Jock of the Bushveld barking and running next to the lead oxen; or hear the dreaded sound of a Zulu Impi closing in. Wherever you imagination takes you, this incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience can only be enjoyed at the Voortrekker monument, which I believe, stands out like a shining light, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of our past.
Be strong, be happy, live well and remember, never stop loving Africa. For me, Africa with all it's problems, is still the land of my dreams.