Scott Balson's trip to South Africa -
4th September 2006 - Pretoria

Perth : Johannesburg : Pretoria : Pietersburg : Pilgrim's Rest : Ladysmith : Champagne Castle : Estcourt : Durban : Ixopo
Kokstad : Port Elizabeth : Plettenburg Bay : Cape Town : Victoria West : Griquatown : Mafikeng : Johannesburg : Perth

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A pefect spring day on the highveld. I caught a taxi from Sandton to Pretoria and was, once again, taken by the large number of African drivers on the road - a quantum shift from twenty years ago when it was quite rare to see a black driver on the busy connection road (14). It was only a taste of what was to follow in what had once been a "white" city. It was now black as you will see in the images below.

From my discussions with several whites over the last few days they have embarked on a siege mentality - rarely venturing out from their place of work or home unless it is to visit family or friends or to go to "safe" places like Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton for dinner or drinks.

After checking into the Arcadia hotel (image right - just ZAR440 for bed and breakfast) I was driven to Budget Rent-a-Car where I picked up my small aircon car. It took me at least half an hour to master this manual and its indicators... windscreen wipers were going, gears grinding and that rear gear was a devil in disguise to try to get into I nearly went the wrong way up a busy one way street in the heart of Pretoria with the windscreen wipers going - but eventually worked it all out.

My next challenge was to get a mobile phone that worked - the Vodacom store in Pretoria sold me two phones that did not work before the third ... which did! The phone and prepaid time was incredibly cheap compared to Australia - just ZAR600 (just over Au$100) and that included ZAR275 of prepaid time.

It was near lunchtime before I could start visiting historic sites - and my first in the images below was Paul Kruger's house which is located in Church Street near the centre of the city. The house is in a run down, black area of Pretoria and has virtually no security or burglar guards on the window. The only symbol of its former glory is an old flag of the ZAR which flies outside. Inside was just one black man who took the entrance fee - there was no one else monitoring the place and small vluable and historic items were within easy reach of thieving hands. I was not amazed at the lack of security but the apparent lck of interest by the Afrikaners in such a historic symbol of their past. 

On the road to Pretoria

The Voortrekker Monument

Bus in Pretoria

Jacarandas

 in the once beautiful streets of

Pretoria - now deteriorating 

The Reserve Bank building

Pretoria is today

a "black" city

The elegant church opposite
Paul Kruger's house

The granite lions that sit out front
were given by Barney Barnato

The historic table where Kruger
served tea to guests

Kruger's bed

A gift to ZAR from Austria

The Presidential carriage

Back of Kruger's house

The only staff in the historic house

The front of Kruger's house

My next destinatiion was the famous Voortrekker Monument which was an exhilirating experience.

As callenging and beautiful as ever it has not changed since my parents took me there nearly 50 years ago when I was a small boy.

I spent a long time visiting all its parts - including the fort/old Boer armoury that overlooks the city of Pretoria and the Tangajika (sic) Monument which was replicated from a larger monument in Tanganyika.

A large fire burnt in the scrub nearby casting a haze over the city.

The tour of a nearly deserted moument was a delight - especially as there were genuine Boer Powder Horns made out of buffalo on display - they were no were near as elegant as my engraved Griqua Horn.

 

The city of Pretoria from

Monument Hill

The Union Buildings

Joubert

The old fort

Jan Christian Smuts

The Tanganyika Monument

The roof of the monument

The Boer Powder Horns

Beautiful painting

The basement

206 steps top to bottom

Stunning architecture with

a beautiful granite mural.

The floor of the Monument from
the top - one person reflects size

The stunning

murals

The boer guards on each corner

The Union Buildings of Pretoria were my last stop... the sprawling gardens and architecturally grand buildings and monuments are now starting to fall in disrepair. So sad. From my meeting with the Business Day reporter at the Sandton Sun there was a clear feeling of ati-colonialism and lack of interest in white history - the Boer war was not our war. The state of Afrikner relics is starting to reflect this reality. It is the Afrikner's apparent lack of interest in their own rich cultural history that really amazes me - how times have changed!

Botha rides proudly

flanked by degrading plaques

1914-19 Roll of Honour -
one board missing (lhs)

The city from the Union Bldgs


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