It takes strength to stand strong in the face of your challenges, however big or small they are. Today, the 16th of December, is an auspicious day for me and my family. In South Africa, it's known as the Day of Reconciliation - more on that later - but we know it as the Day of the Vow.
Photo by Peter Thomas
My old friend Peter sums up the happenings of the original Day of the Vow or Day of the Covenant on his site. There are many more sites that give the history of that day from various perspectives. This blog is not intended to recount history or morals or right vs. wrong in any way. It’s a remembrance of my ancestors, what they went through and what we’ve been through and the lessons we can carry from that.
On that day, so long ago, a group of a few hundred Voortrekkers (pioneers) came face to face with over 10 000 Zulu warriors. The Voortrekkers made a laager from their ox wagons and defeated the Zulus, killing more than 3000 men, while, of the Voortrekkers, only 3 were lightly injured. As I said before, I’m not going into the rights and wrongs of the battle. The lesson to be learned here, for me, is one of unity and strength and courage. It took great courage and strength to pack their worldly goods into a wagon and trek across country, over mountains, rivers and lands where they would most certainly be attacked. Alone, we need strength and courage to face our challenges, but banding together… as families, as friends, as communities, we can do great things!
Much, much later, South Africa renamed this day to Day of Reconciliation. It’s a day that was created on the foundation of the Day of the Vow to reconcile the people of South Africa and to create a day of unity and healing. The men who came together to create this new day displayed courage and strength. It takes continued courage and strength for the people of South Africa to build on that dream of reconciliation.
When we think of courage and strength, it’s often in times of great strife and ‘war’ with our challenges. Certainly, those are times we need to call on what courage we have and to be strong. Sometimes, just standing up and doing what we believe to be right takes even more courage and strength. Sometimes, the daily grind of living takes even more.
Way back, my ancestors, at one point, were kicked off their farm, which was burnt to the ground by the British. The men were political prisoners and the women and children were put into concentration camps. When they came out, they lived for a time under an oak tree, baking their daily bread in an earth-oven. Yes, they had strength and they had courage. I like to believe that we’ve inherited that strength.