Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fifties Photos: Pretoria, Part One

When my father passed away, I took the family photographs and 8mm movies home and pulled them out when my interest in African crime fiction took off. Most of the images are not labeled — which requires some guesswork on my part — and many are degraded, but I hope you find this look at the fifties interesting.

We lived in Pretoria from 1952 to 1956 when my father was in the U.S. Air Force and a crewman on the C-47 (Dakota) operated by the Air Attache attached to the American Embassy.

Pretoria is in northern part of the country in the  Gauteng Provence which was formed out of the pre-1994 Transsvaal Provence. It was founded in 1855 by Marthinus Pretorius who named it after his father Andries Pretorius, a famous leader of the Voortrekkers' Great Trek (1835 - 1845).

Pretoria celebrated its centennial while we were there. Here are two of the commemorative postal issues. Paul Kruger in on the left stamp and Marthinus Pretorius on the right on both envelopes.

Trek wagon brooch belonging to my mother
The Great Trek was a series of mass migrations inland by Dutch speaking colonists in their trek wagons who sought to escape the British rule of the Cape Colony.

And this brings us to the images in this first Fifties Photos post, the Voortrekker Monument. This massive granite monument sits on Monument Hill overlooking Pretoria. It was constructed between 1937 and 1949 and is now surrounded by a nature preserve.

The monument seen from the far side of the amphitheatre. Taken by Mack Lundy Jr.

This is from Google maps and, I believe, roughly the same location as the above photo. The amphitheatre is on the other side of the bushes. My father must have moved away from the road to get his shot.

Here is a link to the Google Map street view.

The slide is badly deteriorated but it does show a closer view of the hill top as it looked then. Also taken by my father.

A black and white photograph of the monument at night.  Taken by my father.

Monument entrance
The front entrance to the Monument. In the foreground is a wrought iron fence with an assegai (spear) theme.

Taken by my Aunt Sara, August 1954.

Piet Retief
At each corner of the monument is a statue of the leaders of the Great Trek: Piet Retief, Andries Pretorius, Hendrik Potgieter, and an "unknown" representing all the leaders of the Trek. Note the wagons on the wall in front of the statue. There are 64 of them representing the wagons that formed the laager at The Battle of Blood River when the Boers under Andries Pretorius defeated the Zulus led by Dingane.

Taken by my Aunt Sara, August 1954.

Rock garden below monument
This is a better view of the relief representations of the trek wagons looking up from the garden.

Taken by my Aunt Sara, August 1954

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