Die Gelofte (Afrikaans song about Battle of Blood River), English subtitles, unofficial music video
Unofficial music video combining footage from 1938 South African film "Building a Nation" with the Afrikaans song "Die Gelofte" (The Vow) by Adam Tas, Appel, Chris Chameleon, Juan Boucher and Ghapi.
Historical bakground: In 1837 a number of Boers left the eastern part of the Cape Colony and trekked into the African interior to escape British rule (reasons explained in more detail below).
In February 1838 they reached an agreement with the Zulu king Dingane.
In return for retrieving 700 stolen cattle for the Zulus from another tribe, Dingane agreed to give the Boers land on which to settle.
The Boers fulfilled their side of the bargain and a treaty was signed.
Two days later Dingane reneged on the deal and the Zulus murdered the entire party of Boers (including their leader Piet Retief) in cold blood at a farewell ceremony.
Over the following days Dingane also attacked a number of Boer caravans, killing over 500 men, women and children.
These attacks are collectively known as the Weenen massacre.
(This is what the woman at the start of the video is referring to, her exact words are
"If we go back now (ie. to the Cape), it is back to humiliation where once were respected. We have paid for this land with the blood of our people. Now you tell us to return.
Let those 600 who are lying quiet in this blood-stained land of weeping (she may say "Weenen" here) cry shame upon everyone who talks of returning.")
The Boers decided to send out a commando (an armed group formed to carry out a mission) to seek a pitched battle with the Zulus.
The battle took place on 16th December 1838.
The Boers took a famous vow to God before the battle (the lyrics of this song are literally the words of the vow and nothing else. The song uses the most common version of this vow, although other, slightly different versions also exist).
Even allowing for their superior technology, the resulting Boer victory was extraordinary: 464 Boers held off 10-15,000 Zulus, with no fatalities and only three casualties suffered. The Zulus lost 3,000 dead.
For comparison 141 British soldiers faced 3-4,000 Zulus at Rorke's Drift in 1879, a similar ratio to Blood River, but the British had breech-loading rifles by then, and still lost 17 dead,
and at Isandlwana on the same day as Rorke's Drift 10-15,000 Zulus overwhelmed 2,000 British (again with better weapons that the Boers had in 1838).
The Boers have long believed that their victory was due to divine intervention.
Their leader in this battle was Andries Pretorius, after whom South Africa's capital city would later be named.
The date of the battle has been a public holiday in South Africa since 1910, known as Geloftedag / Day of the Vow / Dingane's Day until 1994 when it was given a new meaning as the "Day of Reconciliation".
The church promised in the Vow was built in Pietermaritzburg in 1841.
The Battle of Blood River and the Vow became central to the mythos of Boer identity.
Their victory was seen as a sign of divine approval for their Great Trek inland.
*The Boers were unhappy with British rule for three main reasons:
1 - Britain was attempting to impose English language and British law.
2 - Britain was not doing enough to protect the Boers' farms against cross border raids by Xhosa tribes, and was interfering with the Boers' own attempts to defend themselves.
(The British were worried the Boers would provoke a war with the Xhosa by carrying out cross border attacks of their own.)
3 - The final straw was the British decision to abolish slavery. The compensation offered to the Boers for their slaves was well below market value,
and to obtain this compensation the Boers needed to travel in person to London, or to hire an agent there. Both options were prohibitively expensive.
The video clips are from the 1938 film "Die Bou van 'n Nasie" ("Building a Nation", also sometimes referred to as "They Built a Nation"). There are both English and Afrikaans versions of this film.
Editing, translation and subtitling was done by me, Cassius.
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