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Listen to 'Ver in die ou Kalahari'

Afrikaner "Boers In Angola", 1881 - 1975

an all too familiar story of rugged individualism stifled by state bureaucracy




The Dorsland Trek (the Thirstland or desert journey)

Less than 50 years after the great trek from the Cape to Transvaal in the 1830s, another great trek took place, this time to Angola: the Dorsland Trek (the Thirstland or desert trek), when Johannes Marthinus van der Merwe sold his place in Rusfonteijn in 1874. It took many a Boer (farmer) through the dry Kalahari desert and left many dead of thirst, including many precious children and cattle. Those who managed to arrive in Angola were hit by the malaria mosquito and the Tsetse fly. Fewer than than half made it. The treks continued past the 'English wars' (aka the 1st and 2d Boer wars of 1880 and of 1899 - 1902, a result from the British coveting independent Afrikaner Republics and their rich minerals), until the Portuguese refused to allow any more Boers into Angola in 1907. A typical trek might consist of 500 people with 2000 oxen and 500 horses and many smaller farm animals like sheep and goats, dogs and chickens.

The first three groups of trekkers, having traveled for many years, arranged on 18 September 1880 with the governor of Mossamedes in Angola for land grants of 200 hectares per Boer family in the largely unpopulated southern part (Humpata near Lubango in Huila province) of Angola. The first Boer settlement was founded there in January 1881. Some later settled n the central highlands, around Kibala and Mombola in Cuanza Sul, and in Bie provinces

The good relations did not last long. The Portuguese had decided to settle the same highlands with Madeirans in 1884, who interestingly shared a similar distaste for remote government with the Afrikaners, having come from a distant island. Europe's scramble for what was left of Africa was on. The Madeirans were supposed to farm, but preferred trade and transport, having learned cattle breeding, driving and marksmanship from the Boers. During the drought of 1913-15, food was taken from the Boer farms without recompense by the Portuguese authorities. During the Great War of 1914-18 the Portuguese government commandeered Boer wagons, never to be returned. The Portuguese then tried to forbid use of Afrikaans in schools and to force Catholicism on the deeply Protestant Boers. This went counter to the agreement, and did not sit well with those who had left the Transvaal in part because of liberal policies forbidding their own religious education in schools there. The Portuguese also resented the control the Boers developed over means of transport and farming in Southern Angola, with their sturdy oxen wagons (ossewae). Citizenship and proper ownership of farms by the Boers was never achieved.

Finally, in 1928, 2000 of the Boers decided to leave Angola for South West Africa (which South Africa had captured from the Germans in 1915 during the Great War (WW1)). They had to leave everything behind again, and start over in SWA, not 50 years after arriving in Angola, and not 100 years after arriving in Transvaal. Some stayed on in Angola, but were forced out not 50 years later in 1975, also with the loss of homes, land and cattle, These stories and pictures are a tribute to the Afrikaner Dorsland Boer endeavors, and their rugged individualism, the last true pioneers!






Afrikaner Boers in various parts of Africa:

British East Africa, Portuguese West Africa, and and German South-West Africa

the Dorsland Trek shown on a SWA stamp

Afrikaners in Angola, verhaal van de Dorslandtrekkers met fotos

meer Dorsland Trekker verhalen

site with some interesting Afrikaner Boers oxen transports in Angola from 100years ago

1888 - 1988 Centenary SWA stamp Boerewa(gen) / Boerwagon

site with pictures of where Afrikaner Boers use to live in Humpata, Angola

besoek aan Lubango en Dorsland Monument

Afrikaners to Argentina 1903-1909



A brief description of Boer transports around 1900 in German East Africa (from 'Met Hagenbeck naar de Wildernis' by C Schultz) :

Some Boers from Arusha with their particular Boer wagons pulled up to the hotel 'zum Blauen Affen' ('in the Blue Ape') where we stayed. They manage all freight from Buiko (where the Usambara-railroad ends) and Arusha (almost 300km). The Boers well understand the art of leading their oxen with word and with whip. A typical Boer wagon is pulled by at least 14 oxen. Each ox has its own name and knows it well. The driver has an exceptionally long whip, made of giraffe hide, and calls each animal that is not pulling its weight by its own name, and if necessary accompanies the calling with a crack of the whip. One of the Boers had shouted himself hoarse, and could not make himself heard anymore, which led to my discovery of an interesting cure for hoarseness. The Boer consumed a few spoonfuls of petroleum with sugar, and assured me that the remedy which all freight drivers use works well."


Books, Stories and Pictures of a bygone era


Read about 'Boers in East Africa' by Brian du Toit



Read excerpt from p124, Boers repatriation in 1928 from Angola ("Boers in Angola")

Read online a wonderful early Dutch settler account ("Rhodesia past and present", 1895, 218 pages)

a short history of Boer settlement in Angola, Dorsland Trek

1859 Oxen vs Mules comparison, by RB Marcy in the 'Prairie Traveler' (US)








A century of Afrikaner Boers in Angola, 1881 - 1975


Buy at B&N 'the Boers In Angola' by N Stassen

Buy at Amazon 'the Boers In Angola' by N Stassen





Afrikaner Boer transports in Angola (Portugees Wes Afrika) early 1900s (various sources)

1900s Lubango, Boer wagon crossing the river Caculovar

1900s Mossamedes, Boer caravan in city streets

1900s Angola, Boer wagon crossing the Cunene

1900s Mossamedes plateau, Boer wagon crossing the Caculovar

1908 Boer wagon in city streets

1910s Lubango, Boer wedding

1910s Mossamedes, Boer wagon - Ossewa

1910s Mossamedes, Boer transport

1910s Angola, Boer oxen wagon

1910s Michael Wilhelm Prinsloo (aka Giel Prins) died 25Feb1925 Mombolo, husband of Martha Cath. du Pree

1910s Print by Serpa Pinto in 19th century of Boer wagon as used in Angola

1910s Humpata, Boer passenger wagon

1910s Boer wagon at a mission station

1900s Constructing a Boer wagon at the mission school

1912 Humpata, group of Dorsland trekkers

1914 Mossamedes, Boer wagons commandeered to haul war goods

1900s Angola, World War 1 use of a Boer wagon

1914s Angola, Boer wagon near the Kavango river

1900s Benguella, Boer wagon

1920s Lubango, 6 span Boer oxen wagon crossing the Cunene

1900s Boer wagon with oxen

1920s Mossamedes plateau, Boer transport

1900s Humpata, Boer dwelling

1926s Angola Ds DG Venter besoek/visit Mombolo in Cuanza Sul

1928 Swartbooisdrift, Boer wagon crossing the Cunene

1928 Swartbooisdrift, first evacation of the Angolan Dorsland Boers

1928 Boers repatriating

1953 Dorsland Trekker Monument in Humpata, Angola

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