The Burdens of History

Must Tribalism Always Prevail?
  • John W. de Gruchy
Part of the Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue book series (PEID)


There are two notable monuments built on a high hill outside Pretoria, the capital city of South Africa. The older one is known as the Voortrekker Monument. Built in 1938 to commemorate the centenary of the Great Trek, an event regarded by white Afrikaners as their Exodus in their journey to freedom from British Colonial authority, it also celebrates their victory over the Zulus and other African tribes along the way. But while it has always been a symbol of freedom for the Afrikaner, the Voortrekker Monument has also been a hated symbol of apartheid oppression for the majority of the population. When the new South Africa was born in 1994, there was some discussion about whether such monuments should be razed to the ground and replaced by new ones to celebrate the birth of a truly free, nonracial South Africa. And indeed, a new monument called Freedom Park has been built close to the old Voortrekker Monument for that purpose. But instead of the Voortrekker Monument being razed to the ground, a road has been built to connect the two monuments, symbolizing the present South African journey to overcome the burdens of our history in the rebuilding of South Africa as a democratic society.


Global Society Football Club Imperial Power Tribal Society Hegemonic Power 
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  1. 1.
    Norman K. Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250–1050 BCE (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1979), 296.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See the discussion in Amin Maalouf, Disordered World: Setting a New Course for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    John Ralston Saul, The Collapse of Globalism (London: Atlantic Books, 2005), xis.Google Scholar

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© John W. de Gruchy 2016

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  • John W. de Gruchy

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