The Voortrekkers
Hendrik Potgieter declares independence on the highveld.
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Potgieter Declares Independence

When the British annexed Natal, Potgieter declared the independence of his state on 9th April 1844. Further, through proclamation, he declared himself ruler of the huge area from the Kalahari to the Drakensberg and from the Limpopo to the Orange, in fact all the areas settled by the Voortrekkers except Natal.

His support was not unqualified however as there were numbers of Boers already settled in the area before the Great Trek and their loyalties lay still with the Cape. There were also frequent brushes between local chiefs and with the Bushmen.

Durban Web Designers' Great Trek

There was also a squabble with the Griquas (before they themselves trekked over the Drakensberg to form East Griqualand) that resulted in the British sending a force across the Orange to their assistance that defeated a Boer force.

Potgieter Becomes Increasingly Disillusioned

To make matters worse, Voortrekkers were entering his 'kingdom' in numbers from Natal and making irritating reference to the VlugKommando.

Potgieter then moved his capital from Potchefstroom to Andries Ohrigstad near the western Drakensberg but resentment against his rule followed him there and there was a real threat of civil war.

Pretorius, finally disillusioned with the British, was also meddling in trekker affairs. So, Potgieter in 1847 moved yet again, back to the Zoutpansberg that had attracted him all those years ago when he caught up with Louis Tregardt.

Potgieter Dies

He founded a town and called it Schoemansdal whilst even those few Voortrekkers left in Andries Ohrigstad soon left to found a new home nearby called Lydenburg - place of suffering. Potgieter lived in peace in Schoemansdal until his death in 1852.

Next . . . the British defeat the Voortrekkers at Boomplaats