A Voortrekker Display

The last time I was in South Africa, I took my children to see a monument I had seen many times as a school-going child.

In front of the Voortrekker Monument, and the first flight of stairs I climbed to get to the top. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
In front of the Voortrekker Monument, and the first flight of stairs I climbed to get to the top. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

I have posted on this unusual monument before (the architectural highlights, the voortrekker’s wagon, its unique characteristics, and its windows). In this post, I want to share with you some of the interesting displays that have been laid out for visitors to see in the basement of the building.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Voortrekker dolls. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

My children were impressed by the toys the voortrekker children used to play with. The girls used to play with hand-made dolls (shown above) and the boys used to take the jaw bones and teeth of animals that had been killed and pretend they were wagons and oxen (shown below).

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Voortrekker boys’ toys. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

In the days of the voortrekkers, people used to use gunpowder in their guns. Hollowed out horns were used to store the gunpowder in. These were slung over the hunter’s shoulder.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Holders for gu powder. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Even the guns they used were a lot different from what we see today:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Voortrekker guns. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The one display case held an array of interesting objects. The wood was all hand carved and the objects looked more unique than those we find today. Here is a shaving kit used by the men:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Decorated shaving kit. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Some embroidery samplers were laid out to show the women’s skill at sewing;

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
An embroidery sampler. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Each family would have a Bible from which they would read every night:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A Family Bible. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

In the front of each Bible, the family tree would be inserted:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A Family Tree. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The writing implements they used to use were a quill and ink. It is amazing how beautiful the penmanship was:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Writing implements. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Clothes during that time were handmade. Christening dresses were used more than once within a family:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Handmade christening dress. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Hats and personal items were uniquely embroidered:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Needle book with pins and thread. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The voortrekker women wore hats that protected their face and neck from the sun:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Voortrekker women hats. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

There was a display up showing us what the men and women wore during that time. My picture is a little fuzzy as the lighting in the basement is not very bright. The picture, however, does give you an idea of the clothes they wore. The ones pictured here would have been their Sunday best – the clothing they would have worn to go to church.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Voortrekker clothing. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The men wore shoes (veldskoene) made from the hide of the animals they had killed for food.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Veldskoene. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

On display was also a Zulu shield, assegai (spear) and animal hide that the warriors would use in battle.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A Zulu warrior’s kit. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

We enjoyed strolling around in the basement and looking at these items. They helped to give us a sense of who the voortrekkers were. My children enjoyed their mini history lesson and came out of the monument asking many questions about the past.

Do you enjoy visiting displays of the past?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was created as a response to a comment made by Belinda at Busy Mind Thinking on one of my Voortrekker Monument posts. The weekly photo challenge at WordPress encouraged me to complete the post that had been sitting in my draft box.)


View from Inside

While at Gold Reef City (in Johannesburg, South Africa), we took the train ride that weaves between the sights created in the amusement park. My favourite view from inside the train was when we passed the buildings of a time gone by that had been restored.

View from Inside. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
View from Inside. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Later on in the day we went to walk around the area we had caught a glimpse of.

Do you enjoy views from inside a train?

(This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge prompt: Inside)

The Voortrekker’s Wagon

When the Voortrekker’s (pilgrims) left the Cape in the 1830s for The Great Trek (journey), their mode of transport was the large wagon which was pulled by oxen.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A display of the Voortrekker wagon. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

These wagons became the homes of the men and women who were looking for land on which to settle.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
The cooking pot. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The oxen were driven by the men over land that had never felt the rumbling of large wooden wheels.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A Voortrekker man. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The wagon was large and had plenty of space inside.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
The wagon used by the Voortrekkers. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The women and children would ride in the back of the wagon that also carried their supplies and belongings.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A Voortrekker woman and child. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

My family and I had the opportunity to look at these wagons when we visited the Voortrekker Monument. It was interesting to see these lifelike displays of a moment in South African history.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
The Voortrekker Wagon. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

These men and women travelled great distances using this mode of transport. It was not always easy: wheels broke as they traversed rocky land, and difficulties occurred as they crossed rivers and climbed mountains. Today, motorists can cross the same distance in cars using smooth highways and roads that have been carved into the landscape.

Would you have ventures out in these wagons?

(This post was inspired by Jake’s prompt: Transport)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Other posts I have written on the Voortrekker Monument:

The Voortrekker Monument

A Unique Monument

Looking from above

From a Different Perspective

I have come to learn that taking pictures of objects from different angles can give one a different perspective on what is being photographed. On a visit to Gold Reef City in Johannesburg, South Africa I took pictures of the exhibits that are littered aound the amusement park.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
An old steam engine. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I was intrigued by the old steam engine that had been fixed up as a decoration. It reminds one of days gone by when trains were moved with steam and not electricity. I was pleased with the following picture I took highlighting a different perspective of this relic.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A steam engine at Gold Reef City. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

I took many pictures of the rides we took during our day at the park. My favourite is of the Ferris Wheel which had been done up in honour of South Africa hosting the World Cup for soccer that year.

The Ferris Wheel at Gold Reef City. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
The Ferris Wheel at Gold Reef City. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Looking up at the big wheel was different to looking at the seats head on.

Viwe from a Ferris Wheel (2). © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
Viwe from a Ferris Wheel (2). © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

And nothing, of course, could equal the view that one sees when looking down from the top.

View from a Ferris Wheel. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
View from a Ferris Wheel. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Since I began blogging and sharing my pictures in weekly photo challenges, I have started thinking about the photos I am taking. No longer do I just stand in front of an object and take what is in front of me. Instead I look at different ways in which I can capture what I am seeing.

Do you think of taking pictures from a different perspective?

(This post was inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge prompt: Perspective)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A Unique Monument

The Voortrekker Monument in South Africa is a unique building that was built as a reminder of the experiences of the early voortrekkers (pioneers) who left the safety of the Cape colony for the unknown lands of the interior between 1835 and 1854.

The Voortrekker Monument. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
The Voortrekker Monument. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Looking like a huge cube, this monument is 40 meters high with a base that is 40m x 40m. It does not look like a regular square though, as pictures have been carved into the stone and statues adorn each corner.

A statue on a corner of the monument. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
A statue on a corner of the monument. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Another unique feature of this monument is the historical frieze that adorns the four walls – a frieze that is made entirely in marble.

The Voortrekkers preparing to leave the Cape colony. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
The Voortrekkers preparing to leave the Cape colony. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

To see more photos of this monument, you are welcome to visit a previous post: The Voortrekker Monument.

What unique buildings have you seen?

(This post was inspired by Jake’s prompt: unique)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

A Tribute to Madiba

(Yesterday Nelson Mandela was buried in his hometown of Qunu, South Africa. Today the school where I work had a memorial assembly to show respect for this great man. Knowing that I come from South Africa, my colleagues asked me to say a few words about Madiba and how he changed the country. I wrote the following speech for an audience of children from 4 to 10 year olds. My aim was to give them a sense of how much the country changed without going into detail that they would not understand. I share the speech with you now as a contribution to the tributes that have been given to a man who helped change the history of my birthplace.)

“I was born in a segregated South Africa; a South Africa which worked at keeping the races separate. While I was growing up, I was surrounded by people who were the same race as me: at school, at church, when I went to the cinema. My neighbours and the friends I played with were the same skin colour as me. When I began university, I became aware of the inequalities that existed in my birth country. I began to read newspapers and participate in discussions on democracy and equal rights. I also came into close contact with people of other races that were my age.

An example of the many “Whites Only” signs seen in South Africa during Apartheid.

I remember the Apartheid laws slowly being changed while I was at studying to be a teacher. “Whites Only” signs were taken down; washrooms were opened to people of all races; a person of any race could step onto any bus they wished; the faces of cinema-goers represented the different skin colours found in the country; schools were “opened” and white-only schools became a thing of the past.

Nelson Mandela walking from the gates ofthe Victor Verster prison in the Cape. (AFP)

The little changes happening in the country led to a momentous occasion in South African history: the release of Nelson Mandela. He was a man who fought all his life for the equal rights of all people in his country. The prison release became a symbol of political change in South Africa. I remember sitting huddled around the radio with my teaching colleagues, listening as Mandela walked through the gates of the Victor Verster prison in the Cape. A normally chatty group of people were silent as we all focused on the words that were being uttered. I remember the shouts of jubilation as the national representative for freedom left the shackles of his imprisonment behind.

It was once he was released from prison that the hard work of Nelson Mandela began. He believed firmly in non-violence and peaceful negotiations. There were so many moments during the negotiations that we, as ordinary people, feared there would be war in our country. Tempers ran high, and threats were made. Violence erupted between the different political factions.  The assassination of a popular political leader brought the country to the brink of war. By this time negotiations between the major political parties had broken down. Thankfully Mandela and De Klerk agreed to begin negotiations again in order to curb the violence. Days turned into weeks of negotiations and I am always thankful that, somehow, these leaders prevented the occurring violence from becoming an outright war.

Queues at the polling station in Zevenfontein squatter camp, northern Johannesburg, 1994
Queuing to vote on 27 May, 1994. Photo credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk

The first democratic election in South Africa was held on May 27, 1994. For the first time people of all races stood in lines to vote. Violence continued right until the day before the elections. We feared that violence would erupt on the day of voting but it seemed as if Mandela’s spirit of reconciliation calmed everyone down. The day dawned brightly on the violent-free voting day. I had voted only once before and that had been a quick and hushed affair. On this day, however, the lines were long and made by people with different skin colours. People were chatting in the lines as we waited for hours to make our cross on a piece of paper. Men and women who were grandparents stood with us to fulfil their life-long dream of voting for a democratic government. The sense of unity and jubilation, free from fear of violence, is a feeling I will not quickly forget.

Mandela headed the Government of National Unity as the first black South African president. He continued with his campaign for all people in his country to experience equality. He supported all peoples of his country – no matter what their race – and believed that all races could be unified as one. His role in ending the Apartheid regime in a peaceful way, and in building a new democratic South Africa, was recognised when he was given the Nobel peace prize in 1993. He was awarded this prize jointly with Willem de Klerk, the man with whom he worked during the negotiations. When Madiba, as he is respectfully known, stepped down as president he did not retire peacefully. He was still involved in charities, and worked with others in peaceful negotiations around the world. He worked tirelessly with world leaders until his health prevented him from frequent travelling.

Madiba was a man whose principles were not easily swayed. He was a man with a vision. He was a man who did not give up until his vision was realised. The New South African anthem includes the words “Nkosi Silelel’ iAfrika”, meaning “God bless Africa”. A part of Africa was truly blessed when this man strived to non-violently change the politics in South Africa – and succeeded.

Viva Mandela! Long live his spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. Viva Madiba! You will be missed.”

Feel free to add comments in honour of Nelson Mandela, or links to posts you have written on your blog. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Visiting Lion Cubs

On one of our trips to South Africa, my husband and I decided to take our girls to the Lion Park so that they could meet with the “king of the jungle”. The park is just outside of Fourways in Johannesburg and it did not take us long to drive there. As we entered the gates after paying, we came across the following sign:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Touch a Cub sign. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

“Should we go visit the baby lions?” I asked my girls. “Yes!” they chorused with enthusiasm. I wasn’t too sure what “touch a cub” referred to but if it meant that we could see cubs up close, I was eager to find out. A little bit further on, we found out that we could enter the enclosure where the cubs were kept – but we had to understand that the cubs were wild animals and not the little kittens we would play with at home.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Warning sign. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

We decided to enter. When would we get this chance again to actually touch a lion – even though it was a little one? We came really close to the cubs. So close that I could take pictures without using the zoom on my camera.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Sleeping cubs. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

We were told we could touch the cubs. After a little hesitation, one by one my family and I did so. My youngest was a bit nervous to reach out; but eventually, when she saw that we had come to no harm, she reached out to touch the rough-feeling fur of the young animal.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Touching a cub. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

There were quite a few cubs in the enclosure. We did not touch them all – only the ones that the handlers encouraged us to. I am guessing that the cubs all get their turn as there were quite a few visitors to the lion park that day.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Relaxing out of the sun. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Looking at the cubs close-up, they look even more like bigger versions of kittens.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
A lion cub. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

I enjoyed the experience of being so close to them. It was a close view of nature’s wild animals that one does not often see.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Close-up of a lion cub. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

One of the handlers was playing with a cub, showing us that maybe they are just bigger versions of kittens.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Playing with a cub. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Alas we could not play with the cubs like this. But it was a wonderful experience being able to touch them and see them up close.

Have you ever touched a lion cub?

(This post was written especially for Sonel, a South African blogger who shows beautiful photographs taken in her home country. Hope you enjoyed the photos Sonel 🙂 )

A South African Memory

Remember when…

We used to play freely in the streets with our neighbours:

Meeting at the Mulberry tree to pick fruit and engage in imaginary play.

Houses were not surrounded by six foot walls and electric fencing:

We could walk right up to the front door to ask our friends to come out and play.

Image copyright: http://fence-erect.co.za

Remember when …

We walked home from school everyday.

Our parents did not feel obligated to pick us up, or have someone else fetch us:

They did not worry we would be taken by a stranger and disappear from their lives.

Remember when ….

The faces we saw at school were the similar to ours:

We were separated from other races

And met only those who had the same colour skin as us.

Some people lived in the suburbs; others in the townships.

Remember when ….

Going to the restaurant, the cinema, the toilet, we would see the signs:

“Blankes” and “Nie Blankes”.

Separation of races.

Separation of the races for services.

Remember when ….

The army and police were moved into the townships to control the riots;

To dampen the anger and the frustration of a group of people.

The protestors barricaded the roads with burning tyres
Image copyright: http://www.sabc.co.za

Remember when ….

We were all kept in isolation,

Separate and fearful of each other.

We did not know one another:

Language, culture, the way of doing things.

Remember when ….

We lived under Apartheid:

Living in the same country, and yet being separate.

Remember when ….

South Africa was not the “Rainbow Nation“.

Rainbow nation flag
Rainbow nation flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember when.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

(This South African memory from my childhood was inspired by the prompt for this week’s Five Minute Friday)

An African Buddhist Temple

As shown in a previous post, my family and I discovered the Buddhist Temple that was opened officially in South Africa in 2005. We had been driving along the N4 to Witbank when we saw the Temple building in the distance. My husband remembered reading about its opening in the paper and mentioned that he would like to see it one day. “What better time than the present?” I responded. So we took the time to look for our way off the highway, and to find the entrance to this religious place.

We knew we had succeeded when we saw the archway leading to Nan Hua Temple.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Archway leading to Nan Hua Temple. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

As we approached the building, we were impressed by the architecture and the colours.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Approaching Nan Hua Temple. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

The carvings and detail were so beautiful, we spent quite a bit of time gazing at it in wonder. And we had not even yet entered the property!

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
The entrance to the temple. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Once inside, we were surrounded by tranquillity – a peacefulness that seemed to be reflected in the the beauty of the inner buildings.

The one side of the temple. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

The outer courtyard was as impressive as the inner one. We kept looking around and found it difficult to focus on just one aspect of the beauty before us.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
The outer courtyard. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

The inner courtyard was as beautiful as the outer one (a picture can be seen in my previous post), only more spacious. The ramps leading to the buildings seemed to blend in harmoniously with the setting.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
The inner courtyard. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Walking up to one of the structures, I noted the intricate detail that had been painted onto the building. Not only the painting, but the construction itself of the detail, must have taken years to create.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
A close up. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

The temple is sprinkled with stone lions: guardian lions that are traditionally believed to protect the temple.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Stone lion. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

These stone lions are an integral part of the temple and proudly stand guard.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Stone lion in the inner courtyard. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

The detail of the main building is mirrored even in the corner towers of the courtyard. The beauty and majesty of the towers stand out beautifully against the blue of the African sky.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
A tower in the courtyard. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

We peeked into the temple but did not enter as there were people praying and we did not want to disturb them. I snapped a quick picture of the altar.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
The altar inside the temple. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

Coming out of the temple looking down the stairs, this is the view we saw:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Looking down the stairs. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

We strolled along the passages of the buildings that create the courtyard. We noted that the place is well kept and well maintained.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Some passageways. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

While walking along the corridors, we saw a different perspective of the buildings and noted upstairs rooms where he monks surely stay.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
A building along the courtyard. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

The inner courtyard is large and from the inside looking in, one can understand the depth of it.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Looking in from the side of the inner courtyard. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

We enjoyed our trip to the Buddhist Temple. Afterwards, we walked across to the cultural centre where we ate some fare made by the monks: dumplings and a noodle soup. Simple, and yet so delicious!

Have you visited a Buddhist Temple?

Two people inspired me to share my visit with you: Jake with this week’s prompt of Focused Attention; and The Island Traveller with his prompt Places.)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

During our last visit to South Africa we saw the largest Buddhist Temple and Seminary in Africa from the road we were travelling on. We decided to drive off of the main road and visit for a while. The photo below was taken in the courtyard. My aim was to capture the beauty of the vase standing on top of the steps to the temple entrance. Looking beyond, one can see the stone statues marking the stairs, and one of the corner towers of the outside boundary.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Seeing beyond. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

The stairs suggested in this photo can be seen in the one below. The stone sculpture was the focus of this picture. Beyond the sculpture you can see not only the stairs to the Temple, the entrance to the place of worship, but also the vase that is the focus of my first photograph.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013
Seeing beyond (2). © Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

I do not often take pictures showing the ‘beyond’ but, on this day, the beautiful architecture of the Buddhist Temple encouraged it.

Do you often take pictures showing the surroundings of your subject?

(This post was inspired by Sara Rosso at WordPress.com.)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013