My Reminiscences of the Anglo Boer War

An hour afterwards I was on board a train travelling to Johannesburg in the company of General Piet Cronje and his faithful wife. General Cronje told me that he was proceeding to the western districts of the Republic to take up the command of the Potcchef stroom and Lichtenburg burghers. His instructions, he said, were to protect the Western frontier.

I left General Cronje at Johannesburg on the 29th September 1899, an never saw him again until I mt him again at St. Helena nearly two and a half years afterwards, on the 25th March, 1902. When I last saw him we greeted each other as free men, as free and independent legislators and officers of a free Republic. We fought for our rights to live as a nation.

Now I meet the veteran Cronje a broken old man, captive like myself, far away from our homes and our country.

Then and Now!

Then we went abroad a free and freedom-loving man, burning with patriotism. Our wives and our womenfolk watched us go; unhappily and not at ease, but satisfied that we were going abroad in our country’s cause.

And now!

Two promising and prosperous Republics wrecked, their fair homestead destroyed, their people in mourning, and thousands of innocent women and children the victims of a cruel war.

There is scarcely an Afrikander family without an unhealable wound. Everywhere, the traces of the bloody struggle; and, alas, most poignant and distressing fact of all, burghers who fought side by side with us in the earlier stages of the struggle are now to be found in the ranks of the enemy.

These wretched men, ignoring their solemn duty, left their companions in the lurch without sense of shame or respect for the braves who fell fighting for their land and people.

Oh, day of judgement! The Afrikander nation will avenge your treachery.

After taking leave of my friend Cronje at Johannesburg station, my first duty was to visit my various field cornets. About four o’clock that afternoon I found my commando was nearly ready as could be expected. When I say ready, I mean ready on paper only, as later experience showed. My three field cornets were required to equip 900 mounted men with wagons and provisions, and of course they had carte blanche to commandeer. Only full enfranchised burghers of the South Africa Republic were liable to be commandeered, and in Johannesburg town there was an extraordinary conglomeration of cosmopolitans amenable to this gentle process of enlistment.

It would take up too much time to adequately describe the excitement of Johannesburg on this memorable day. Thousands of Uitlanders were flying from their homes, contenting themselves, in their hurry to get away, to stand in Kaffir or cola trucks and to expose themselves cheerfully to the fierce sun, and other elements. The streets were palpitating with burghers ready to proceed to the frontier that night, and with refugees speeding to the stations. Everybody was in a state of intense feeling. One was half-heated, another cheerful, and a third thirsting for blood, while many of my men were under the influence of alcohol.

Ben Viljoen, 1906

The Prophet

Johanna Brandt wrote that when the Messenger returned to her and appeased her:

“He removed the consuming anxiety that I would be too late with my message by simply showing me the stretch of time that would elapse before those revelations of coming disasters would be fulfilled. It had been quite natural, with that spectacle of honor looming large and near, that I should have lost sight entirely of the intervening space of time; but henceforth I should rest more securely in the Divine origin of these prophesies, knowing that impatience and anxiety formed insurmountable barriers to Divine instruction.”

She continues to answer the three questions that most asked when she began to spread the word through her public speaking, reaching out to both women and men alike.. The first question was; Do most believe that the age of miracles have past? In her book she was able to compile the Christian history which is filled with many miracles, but the many miracles that have been performed can fill many volumes of books, not possible to be contained in one book.

“History proves that miracles have been manifested to men in all ages in all the ages past… We admit that mysticism has been all but buried under the materialism of our day, and that what we call miracles has been few and far between during the last centuries, but there is undeniable proof all around us that the age of mysticism has been revived. We hear of cases of miraculous healing on every side, but we simply refuse to accept them; there are Divinely inspired teachings spreading far and wide, if we could only bring ourselves to recognize them.”

The second question was what happened to her in 1917 when the Messenger came to her was it not a trance-experience that those who were skeptic asked about. She adamantly denied such occurrence to be such, she was raised to be a Christian to see such practices of seance and such to be sinful and of dangerous practice. Her original manuscript of those visions she received from the Messenger were written in forty five pages, but because they contained personal details of her family, her people and the future of South Africa, she knew it would be banned from being published since the political parties of that time would refuse its content.

The last question to be asked, is what shall we do to be save?

“What are you going to do, every men and women? What part are you going to play in the tragedies to be enacted in this country in the near future? Remember— it is not my voice that asks these questions, the Message of this book is not my message to you, and it is no coincidence, no accident, which causes this book to fall into your hands at this critical moment. These revelations have a meaning for you, otherwise they would have not reached you at all. There is no such thing as chance.

“There are many other questions, there are various political parties and you are probably a member of one of them. You have chosen the ranks of one of them— it does not matter which, and it does not matter what your motives were in the choice you made, for you are prompted in your motives. And let us take it then that it is good and right to have different political parties in a country. What then? The parties are impersonal affairs, all claiming to possess those principles best calculated to promote the social, national and political interest of our country.

By what means have you upheld those principles? Have you employed strategy and cunning? Have you used violence? Have you spent your time in building up the interests of your party or in breaking-down those of your opponent? Have you sown seeds of suspicion, dislike and distrust against your political opponent? Are you plotting violence?

These questions each one must answer for himself.”