Original Research - Special Collection: Religion in dialogue

The religious statement of the Voortrekker Monument as a site of Afrikaner memory: Origin, composition and reception

Dolf Britz
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 3 | a5142 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i3.5142 | © 2018 Dolf Britz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 June 2018 | Published: 27 November 2018

About the author(s)

Dolf Britz, Department of Church History and Church Polity, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, South Africa


The religious statement made by the Voortrekker Monument is part and parcel of its meaning and symbolism. This aspect of its composition and intention has not yet been submitted to thorough theological-critical investigation and scrutiny. Stepping into the gap, this article traces the religious intention and intonation of the Monument. The first part of the article entails the history of the Moerdyk design, based on antique Egyptian religious architecture. Then a discussion of the way in which the architect blended his (Egyptian) design with the religious spirituality and nationalism of the Afrikaner is presented. The last section deals with the altar text in the heart of the building: ‘We for thee, South Africa’. This secular text constitutes the religious statement of the memorial. Care should therefore be taken to embed the symbolism and meaning of the building in the Christian faith or the so-called Calvinism of the Afrikaner. The engagement with the Monument’s religious statement revealed a sacrificed religion trapped in a still remarkable commemorative building.


Afrikaner nationalism; Afrikaner religion; Afrikaner spirituality; Architecture; Design Voortrekker Monument; Gerard Moerdyk (1890-1958); Memorials; Voortrekker Monument; The Vow


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