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National Women's Memorial


Introduction

During the darkest days of the Anglo-Boer War, President M.T. Steyn felt strongly that a memorial dedicated to the women and children who suffered during the war had to be erected. Immediately after the end of the war, serious illness forced him to go to Europe for medical treatment, yet he had not lost sight of his dream and upon his return, one of his first tasks was to take steps to realise this long-cherished ambition. Because this was considered to be a matter of national importance, it was decided to call a conference of all the Dutch churches and political organizations in the four colonies to meet in Bloemfontein on 7 February 1907 under the chairmanship of President Steyn.

At the joint conference it was decided "that the time has come to erect a monument on South African soil to the glorious memory of the mothers, women and children, who, during the recent war, passed away, or had otherwise suffered bitterly, either in the concentration camps or outside."

A Subscription List for the National Women's Memorial together with a powerful appeal by President Steyn for contributions began circulating shortly after the conference. The amount to be raised through collection lists was a very substantial one, especially for those Afrikaners who suffered from extreme poverty at the time. The money was collected in pennies and shillings and contributions of a pound or more were rare exceptions. Although individual contributions were small, large numbers of Afrikaans-speaking, as well as English-speaking and Jewish citizens contributed to the fund. During the unveiling of the memorial President Steyn could justly declare: "The erection of this memorial was made possible not only by the wealth of the wealthy, but especially by the poverty of the poor."

Topics

Introduction
Monument Designs
Monument Unveiling
Speech
Buried Heroes and Heroines


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