When I first got interested in photographing memorials and monuments, I started to take a whole new interest in the Johannesburg Streetfinder, because often these would be listed on the maps. However, trying to find them was always problematic, especially the Voortrekker Memorial in Emma Park in Linden. I was living close to Linden at the time and I had no idea that such a place even existed in the first place. The location was given as Emma Park, but frankly I really had to search to find it. The weather in 2007 was overcast and I revisited in 2011 so most of my images date from 25/11/2011
Once the Emma Park Koppie was found it was a different story to actually find the memorial and I was not even too sure what I was looking for. Fortunately I bumped into the local cat lady who pointed me to the path that was in the undergrowth.
Emma Park Koppie in Linden (2011)
A quick search revealed a bit more of the story behind the memorial. “The (oxwagon) Johanna vd Merwe was dragged up the Emma Park Koppie by members of the church (The NGK in Linden) and the Laerskool Louw Geldenhuys. At the top of the koppie the hoofs of the oxen were imprinted in stone and on the other side at the Voortrekker Hall, the wheels were also imprinted. Afterwards there was a party at Emma Park.” (Special thanks to Mignon and Hendrik at “Wamakerskloof” for the information.)
During the 1838 Trek, a group under the leadership of Dirkie Uys was attacked. Johanna van der Merwe survived with multiple assagai wounds to her face. Against all odds she managed to warn the other “Trekkers” of the impending danger. To honour her heroism a wagon on the centenary trip was named after her. South Africa also named a submarine after her (http://www.davidbatzofin.com/2016/10/i-scale-hieghts-to-see-this-monument-in.html)
There is a replica bronze wagon at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria; it was designed by Kobus Esterhuizen in 1971 and was based on the Johanna Van Der Merwe. It was originally donated to the National Cultural Museum in Boom Street, Pretoria who donated in turn to the Voortrekker Monument in 1995. Unfortunately I was not able to find the original wagon when I was at the VTM.
Bronze wagon at the Voortrekker Monument
Like so many places in South Africa the koppie was very run down and overgrown when I was there, and there was evidence of people sleeping in the bush. In fact, in 2007 there was an extremely drunk guy having a nap next to the memorial.
“This was erected to commemorate the receiving of the Oxwagon.
‘Johanna van der Merwe’
on 10 December 1938.
It was consecrated on 16 December 1939,
by Aunt G.M.E v.d.Merwe” )
But what about the hoofprints?
I returned to the monument in November 2011 to see what state it was in, and all I could see was that the koppie had been fenced and was more overgrown than before.
Close by is the local Voortrekker Hall, and it was there that a similar set of imprints were made, but I was not able to even get anywhere close to the building as it was fenced, however I did manage to zoom into the plaques against the wall.
Interestingly enough there is another Voortrekker Memorial at the Waterval Gemeente in the Newlands area and I photographed it in 2012.
And that was Emma Park, a little known piece of history that has been all but forgotten over the years. If it was stolen tomorrow the odds are that nobody would even notice. Who was Emma? your guess is as good as mine, although it may refer to Emmarentia Geldenhuys, wife of Louw Geldenhuys who is buried in nearby Emmarentia
David Batzofin visited the monument in 2016, and you can read his impressions on his blog
In March 2018 I was contacted by the South African War Grave Society (Registration No.: 203-374 NPO) who were looking at restoring the Emma Park Monument. They are currently in consultation with Councillor Mrs. Nicole van Dyk with a view to cleaning up the area in and around the monument. It is hoped that the community in Linden will get behind the initiative and help to fund the restoration.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE:
This monument commemorates the 1938 symbolic oxwagon trek from the Cape that visited the koppie. It continues to hold significance for Afrikaans youth. The koppie itself is also of historical and cultural significance. The monument is an expression of the strong historical presence of Afrikaans speakers in Linden, which developed as a predominantly Afrikaans area in the midst of the mostly English-speaking northern suburbs of Johannesburg.
Legal Status (Decree/Act):
Protected under Section 37 of the National Heritage Resources Act (Public Monuments and Memorials). “Public monuments and memorials must, without the need to publish a notice to this effect, be protected in the same manner as places which are entered in a heritage register …” Since the Voortrekker Memorial in Linden is older than 60 years, it is also protected in terms of Section 34 of the same Act.
Authority Responsible: Provincial Heritage Resources Authority – (Gauteng)
Use: Previous: MONUMENT Current: MONUMENT
Source(s) of Information
- Site visit and clean up
- Johannesburg Sentrale Volksfeestekomittee, Gedenkboek: 1838 Voortrekkereufees 1938, p. 104
The South African War Grave Society formed an Association with the Youth Organization “Die Transvaal Voortrekker”, Linden Bowling Club and as friends the Residents Association of Linden, Risidale and Montroux and Ward Councillor Nicole van Dyk with the name “ Johanna van der Merwe Voortrekker Monument Association (JvdM VT).
JvdM VT is in the process of adopting the Emma Park Koppie with the Monument and will maintain it in future. The Emma Park Koppie needs to be restored, therefore we need funds and buildings material to make this project a success.
On the 19th of May 2018, SAWGS and the JvdM VT organised a cleanup of the Koppie where the Monument is situated. A group from the Youth Organization “Die Voortrekker Linden” along with members of SAWGS, Resident Associations, JvdM VT and Ward Councillor Nicole van Dyk helped to clean the site. The Chairman of SAWGS and JvdM VT is in contact with the Johannesburg Arts, Culture and Heritage Service as well as with the Provincial Heritage to carry the project forward.
Cleaning up the mess….
(Heritage Linden Report and images, supplied by the South African War Grave Society May 2018)
© DRW 2007-2018. Retrospectively created 18/06/2016. Edited 28/05/2018, added in material from recent cleanup of the koppie. Edited 10/02/2018 with more information courtesy of Diederik Johannes Cloete, Some information from http://www.davidbatzofin.com/2016/10/i-scale-hieghts-to-see-this-monument-in.html