The mass migration of the Boer farmers from Cape Colony to escape British domination in 1835-36 - the Great Trek - has always been a potent icon of Africaaner nationalism and identity. For African nationalists, the Mfecane - the vast movement of the Black populations in the interior following the emergence of a new Zulu kingdom as a major military force in the early 19th century - offers an equally powerful symbol of the making of a nation. With their parallel visions of populations on the move to establish new states, these two stories became part of divided South Africa’s separate mythologies, treated as unconnected events taking place in separate universes.
For the first time, in this groundbreaking book, accounts of both migrations are brought together and examined. In uniting these separate visions of African and Afrikaaner history, Norman Etherington provides a fascinating picture of a major turning point in South African history, and points the way for future work on the period.