The Siege of Mafikeng: Boer


The Afrikaner people or Boers are descendants mainly from Europe and with them they brought the European culture, religion and temperament.

All white males between 16 and 60   were commanded to take up the rifle for war. They did not wear uniforms, but the same clothes they wore daily on the farm. The officers could not easily be distinguished from the Burghers for this reason. Sometimes three generations of the same family  ended op on commando.

Most of these people had strong Calvinistic backgrounds and believed that their cause were just before God. This was illustrated when Steyn entered his manifest with the words “to the God of our fathers we commit the justice of our cause”.

The Boers did not distinguish between religion and politics. It was not uncommon that they sang patriotic song in their church services in the veldt. From the diaries of some of the Boers we learn that they believed that nothing will happen to them against the will of God. They identified the “Afrikaner Volk” as the same as the Israel of the Old Testament. After a military success or after danger was over, they often said a prayer of thanksgiving. The Bible was for most Burghers a source of inspiration. This we know from the many Bible texts, especially from the Old Testament they used in officers telegrams and Boer diaries. They were regularly visited by ministers of religion while on commando and regarded Sunday as sacred and a day of rest. It is often mentioned by foreigners that regular prayer meetings where held in the evenings. Unfortunately there were also those who where non-believers and many a minister of religion wrote in their diaries of their concern.

The Boers usually respected other people’s property but raided shops and houses of people who didn’t believe in their cause.

The Boers were not heavy drinkers, but they sometimes misused liquor and always appreciated a bottle of Whiskey or Brandy as a present.

Discipline was a problem, mostly because the Boers came from a pioneers background and used to look after themselves. They were used to taking their own initiative and was reluctant to follow orders. Taking leave to see what is going on at home and absence without leave was the most general problem. Lack of discipline was always punished.

In the beginning of the war many Boers took luxuries like stoves and beds with them on their wagons which hindered their movements. One of the reasons why some of the the Burghers clung to their possessions where because their houses and farms where burnt down.

To the Boer at home or on commando his horse was his best friend.

The Boers on commando and at home enjoyed their sport e.g.. box, rugby, cricket, athletics etc.

New Year was a special day of festivity. They made music and did “Boeresport”. In the evening they joined in prayers and sang patriotic and religious songs.

The women and children helped on the farms and in the house and were very loyal to there husbands. Most women were very brave and patriotic.

 

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