Friday, December 23, 2011

Images of a nation under threat.

December 16 is considered, by many Afrikaners, their most holy day.
It commemorates the December 16, Battle of Blood River in 1838 when they believe God gave them an unlikely victory against thousands of Zulu warriors.
Each year, thousands of Afrikaners gather at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria to celebrate and remember that day and reaffirm their culture values and beliefs.

New Blood River

In many ways they are once again engaged in a 'new battle of Blood River' as whites - and in particular Afrikaners - are increasingly marginalised and denied opportunities in South Africa.
When I shot these pictures a week ago, it was obvious to me that Afrikaners feel they are a nation under threat that needs to stand together to protect their culture.
But somehow this year's event was different to those I have previously witnessed. Gone was the bravado and arrogance that previously characterised such "saamtrekke". They appeared resigned to their future - or maybe they are just battle-weary.

Shaft of Sunlight

The monument is designed in such a way that every year, only on December 16, a shaft of sunlight moves up the steps of the cenotaph and is centered on it at precisely midday.
I sincerely hope I was not photographing a disappearing nation.
The images were shot with a Nikon F3 film camera on Fuji Neopan 400 and developed in a local version of ID-11.

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