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South Africa - The Dorsland Trek

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The Dorsland Trek (The Thirstland Trek)

A project in its infancy - much of the following is a from Wiki - so input is desperately needed please! CJB

The Dorsland Trek (Thirstland Trek) is the collective name of a series of northwards explorations undertaken by South African settlers in the second half of the 19th century in search of political independence. The participants, trekboere (migrating farmers) from the Orange Free State and Transvaal, are called Dorsland trekkers.

The first group of the Dorsland Trek started off in 1874 under the leadership of Gert Alberts. A number of different groups of farmers, taking different routes, followed the first. They set off from the areas around Rustenburg, Marico, and Pretoria, the main aim were the Humpata highlands of south-western Angola. On their journey the settlers had to traverse the vast arid areas of the Kalahari through what today forms Namibia and Botswana. It was these hard conditions that gave the trek the name Dorsland Trek. The first trek departed from Pretoria and headed into the Kalahari in what was then Bechuanaland (now Botswana). Then headed into what is now the Southern Kalahari area of Namibia across the point which is now Rietfontein. After this leg of the journey, the trekkers who had survived starvation and thirst travelled through the relatively ‘water-rich’ country and headed onwards towards what is now Angola. In northern Namibia, they faced their second major challenge, malaria, which decimated them even further.

The settlers entered Angola by crossing the Cunene River at Swartbooisdrift. After their arrival not all of the them were satisfied with the conditions. The Portuguese colonialists encouraged the Boers to settle but did not allow the use of Afrikaans at schools, and they attempted to convert them to Catholicism. As a result a number of trekkers turned southwards back into South-West Africa, some returned to where they came from. A number of farmers settled in the Otavi - Tsumeb - Grootfontein triangle and in the area around Gobabis. A number of trekkers returned southwards. On their trek northwards, they had been met with and been assisted by the trader William Worthington Jordan. This trader negotiated a farming and mineral concession with Chief Kambonde for the land stretching downwards from north-eastern Etosha, covering the area on which Otavi, Grootfontein and Tsumeb now lie. He allowed 46 families to settle in the area. Their intent was to proclaim a republic named Upingtonia, however this never materialised.

It is recorded that, in time, most of the Boers returned to Humpata. Some took a different route and crossed Kaokoland. On their way southwards they discovered water at Sesriem and named it accordingly: Ses riem, six belts, was the depth of the canyon.

(Wiki page information) Transcribed list of baptisms in the Reformed Church in Humpata, Angola]

Thirstland Trek and Van Rensburg Family Author: A.M. van Rensburg (b4 c2 d1 e6 f5 g5 h3 i2)

This is a very detailed account of the treks and worth exploring - plenty of information there!

DIE DORSLANDTREK, 1874-1881, author Dr Nicol Stassen (2015)

The Dorsland Trek consisted of a number of Treks

  • 1875 Trek led by Gert Andries Jacobus Alberts
  • 1877 Trek of Lourens Marthinus du Plessis and Jan Christoffel Greyling
  • Trek to Inkuane/Enkawaan
  • Trek to Tlakane/Klackani
  • Trek to Meer / Botletle river
  • 1893 Trek which trekked more south west heading via Rietfontein.



Dorsland Festival 2008 Afrikaans

Translated Extracts - (CJB)"

There was a Dorsland Trek memorial celebration held 22 to 26 August 2008. This was an 80-year commemorative celebration at the camp site Okapuka Swartbooisdrif near Kunene.

Thought that this was of interest -

Restoration of graves and historical sites,

Mention is made of a neglected grave of the trek leader, Gert Alberts in Angola and the tomb in Etosha.

See eGGSA Gravestone project Dorslandtrekker grave

Some Dorsland Trekkers:

Pieter Biewenga * 28/6/1865. x 2/6/1902 Swarts,Johanna Catharina Marthina * 27/6/1883 Humpata. xx 13/9/1926 Grobler, Susanna Hendrina Francina Dorothea * 14/6/1893 xxx 11/7/1928 Potgieter, Sara Maria Helena * 20/1/1909 [Geref.Mombola]

Bianco,"n Portugees) x Oosthuizen, Aletta Susara Elizabeth [S.A.W.]

Biewenga, Pieter * 26/5/1904 x 27/4/1927 Steyn, Cornelia Magdalena * 9/9/1907 [Geref. Mombola/Adm. Luimbale]

Black, Dirk Peter * 1855 x Chibia Rooms Katolieke Kerk voor 1900 Camacho, Miguelina [Persoonlike medeling; Joseph Peter Black, Lubango, 1972]

Boje, Antonie Christiaan C. * 1861 Graaf Reinette x 2/5/1984 Kirsten, Aletta Johanna Christina * Zeerust. [Geref. Hum/A84]

Botha, Dirk Jacobus Gerh. S. * 16/1 1906 x 29/8/1928 Swarts, Anna Sophia Maria * 20/5/1907 s.v.C.J.G.S.Botha en C.J. Oosthuizan d.v. Izak J. Swarts en P.Z. van Wyk. [S.A.W.]

Badenhorst, Casper Hendrik x voor 1904 NN, Isabella Susanna [Geref. Mombola]

Balhao, Manuel Da Silva 24/4/1885, wewenaar (Ook Baiao) x 4/12/1920 Opperman, Johanna Elizabeth * 4/10/1884 d.v. P.A. Opperman en H.S.J. Labuschagne [S.A.W./Adm. Humpata]

Barret,Anthony * 8/2/1882 x 17/4/1902 Coetzer, Wenselina Christina * 7/5/1883; [Geref. Cubal]

Beetge, Johannes Andries Izak * 1863 Lydenburg x 7/1/1895 De Jager, Susara Elizabeth * 1878 Middleburg [Geref. Humpata/A84]

Behan, Filipus Jacobus * 30/5/1898 x 20/2/1920 Groesbeek, Margie Petronella * 1901 xx De Jager, Francina Elizabeth, * 15,2/ 1919 Woonagtig te Cuvelai [Adm. Caconda/Van der Walt]

Bester, Jan Johannes * 29/7/1890 x 25/3/1925 Labuschagne, Christina Johanna Sophia * 29/9/1892 s.v. Andries J. Bester en Emma F. Lombard d.v. Daniel J. Labuschagne en Helena J. van der Merwe [S.A.W./Adm. Humpata]

Bezuidenhout,Jacobus Herklaas x 25/1/1897 Greyling. Elizabeth Helena Johanna [Geref. Cubal]