The National Women’s Monument

The National Women’s Monument in Bloemfontein is another notable and historically significant attraction for guests on board the Rovos Hunting Safari Journey. The monument commemorates the almost 27 000 Boer women and children who suffered and died in British concentration camps during the Anglo Boer War. It is located on the same grounds as the Anglo-Boer War Museum and is recognized as a Provincial Heritage site in the Free State.

The National Women’s Monument

The monument, which was unveiled on 16 December 1913, is the first in the world dedicated to women and children. The idea, project launch and eventual construction of the monument was actioned by Martinus Steyn (then president of the Orange Free State Republic) with input from his wife, Rachel Isabella “Tibbie” Steyn, who had lost family and friends in the concentration camps.

The monument

monument sculptor

Designed by Pretoria architect Frans Soff and scultped by celebrated South African artist Anton van Wouw, the monument consists of a 37 metre sandstone obelisk flanked by low, semi-circular walls in the shape of a horse shoe. The central bronze sculpture, sketched by British welfare campaigner Emily Hobhouse, depicts two grieving women and a dying child – an actual scene witnessed by Hobhouse in the Springfontein concentration camp on 15 May 1901.

The National Women’s Monument in Bloemfontein

The path approaching the monument is lined with memorial stones dedicated to all who perished in the concentration camps.

Emily Hobhouse’s ashes

Emily Hobhouse’s ashes were ensconsed at the foot of the monument 13 years after its unveiling.

  

Other notable graves alongside the monument are those of

  • Christiaan Rudolph De Wet (1854-1922) Boer General, rebel leader and politician
  • Rev. John Daniel Kestell (1854-1941) Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church
  • Martinus Theunis Steyn (1857-1916) Last President of the independent Orange Free State

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Image credits:

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