Our final full day in Jo-burg actually had us traveling to Pretoria, the nation's capital. The first stop along the way was at the Voortekker Monument (http://www.voortrekkermon.org.za/), a towering granite structure that was built to honor the early Afrikaner's who traveled West after being unceremoniously sent packing from the Cape by the British. We have discovered along the way the story of many displacements; this Monument details with several reliefs the journey of the Afrikaner pioneers in the mid-19th century. Something else we have learnt is how the story of displacement of one people usually involves many levels of exile and violence against other peoples. The 'trek' is no exception. The problem becomes: what are we to make of such a monumental structure when its story is not easily summarized with a "and they all lived happily ever after"? Grekov, the protagonist in the short story "Propaganda by Monuments" by South African (and long time Jo-burg resident), Ivan Vladislavic, summarizes the challenge of monuments well when, reflecting on a statue in Russia, he concludes that monuments often make and unmake history. In this light, what are we to make of the Voortekker? Is it a piece of propaganda for a disenfranchised group; a site of learning for the uninformed; or an artifact required for a 'new' country? It was clear from the group's discussions later this afternoon that no easy response is possible.
Pretoria was nestled in the valley under the gaze of the Voortekker, and it was there that our journey continued. In many ways the Voortekker prepared us for our visits to sites that told the story of Paul Kruger, an Afrikaans leader and, some say, a precursor to the Apartheid regime. Kruger's presence is tangible in Pretoria. Despite a 'new' Pretoria, Kruger can be found on street titles, buildings and, yes, monuments and statues. Some of the photos show Church Square where the City Hall and other significant buildings face onto the site of a particularly large statue of the former president. As we gathered at the base of the statue our 'philosopher-guide' Kenny detailed the history and legacy of Kruger and his political progeny. It was apt (or perhaps ironic) that our group consisted of the only white faces in the busy square.
The stunning Parliament building of South Africa provided a brief respite, and a lovely garden. The pictures of flowers are taken from our stop.
We ended the journey with a spot of shopping, and an evening of good food and company at the Lekgotla Restaurant, conveniently located across the street from our hotel in the catacomb-like shopping mall, Nelson Mandela Square.
In the morn, the pilgrims will leave Jo-burg bound for the Pilansberg National Park.