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n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Was die Groot Trek werklik groot? 'n Historiografiese ondersoek na die gevolge en betekenis van die Groot Trek

Volume 49, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0041-4751

Abstract

Sedert die laat negentiende eeu het historici die gevolge en betekenis van die Groot Trek bespreek. Daar kan verskillende hooftendense in die interpretasies onderskei word. Daar is eerstens die vroeë beskouing dat die Trek die beskawing in suidelike Afrika uitgedra het. Tweedens is daar die siening van Afrikaanse historici dat die Groot Trek die totstandkoming van die Afrikanervolk moontlik gemaak het. Derdens het lede van die liberale skool van historici die Trek beskou as 'n ontvlugting van progressiewe Britse beleidsmaatreëls in die Kaapkolonie; dit was 'n ramp vir die ontwikkeling van Suid-Afrika. Vierdens is daar die siening van die radikale skool dat die Groot Trek 'n fase was in die uitbreiding van kapitalisme en kolonialisme in Suid-Afrika. Vyfdens is daar die resente opvatting dat die Groot Trek net een van verskeie migrasies in Suid-Afrika was en nie uitgesonder kan word as van besondere betekenis nie. Sesdens beskou latere Afrikaanse geskiedskrywers die Trek as 'n gebeurtenis met uiteenlopende gevolge. Dit blyk dat historici steeds beïnvloed is deur tydsomstandighede in hul beklemtoning van bepaalde gevolge van die Trek. Sommige van hul stellings oor die langtermyngevolge van die Trek is spekulatief en kan moeilik gestubstansieer word. Gesien binne die perspektief van die huidige tydsgewrig was die Groot Trek primêr deel van 'n omvattende proses van verwestering en modernisasie in suidelike Afrika. Alhoewel dit nie as dié sentrale gebeurtenis in die geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika gesien kan word, soos vroeër dikwels beweer is nie, is dit tog een van 'n klein aantal sleutelgebeurtenisse in die geskiedenis van die land.


Since the late nineteenth century historians have discussed the consequences and significance of the Great Trek. G M Theal, who wrote an authoritative multi-volume history of South Africa, described the Trek as a unique event in the history of modern colonisation. He, together with scholars such as G E Cory and M Nathan, saw the importance of the Great Trek especially in terms of the expansion of Western civilisation and Christianity into the eastern parts of South Africa.
Since the 1960s a number of historians argued that the Great Trek should not be seen as a central event in the development of South Africa. A R Willcox and N Parsons emphasized the similarities between the Great Trek and the Mfecane. N Etherington, who is critical of traditional views of the Mfecane as a dispersal of peoples in Southern Africa caused by the rise of the Zulu kingdom under Shaka, viewed the Great Trek as one of a number of "treks" by various groups during the period 1815-1854. According to him the Great Trek was not larger or more significant than the other migrations and therefore does not deserve to be called "great".
Some statements on the long term consequences of the Great Trek are speculative and cannot be proved or disproved. Among these are the proposition of several Afrikaner historians that the descendants of the Voortrekkers would have been completely anglicized if they had remained in the Cape Colony; and the statement by De Kiewiet that the Great Trek had prevented the development of separate white and black states in Southern Africa.
The Great Trek was an important phase in the Western colonisation of South Africa. Early historians such as Theal saw the colonisation process as a positive development. For African nationalist writers, however, colonisation meant primarily the oppression of the indigenous peoples. Political decolonisation did not bring an end to the process of westernisation and modernisation in Africa, and the dominant political and economic system in South Africa today is mainly of Western origin. The Great Trek was a key event in the history of South Africa, comparable with events such as the British conquest of the Cape Colony in 1806 and the transfer of political power to the black majority in 1994.

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/content/akgees/49/4/EJC20161
2009-12-01
2020-08-03

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