Remembering the Day of the Vow

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Today, December 16, is the 179th anniversary of the Battle of Blood River. This battle occurred December 16, 1838 in the present-day country of South Africa. The Boer trekkers absolutely vanquished the Zulu savages.

Rejecting British rule and attempts to Anglicize their Dutch Calvinist faith, thousands of Boers set out north into the African bush on The Great Trek. These Boer farmers and herdsmen, the White Afrikaners, were of Dutch, German, and French Huguenot lineage. They wished to farm and ranch and be left alone by the English. They wished to speak their Germanic language Afrikaans, not English. They wished to be free.

One Boer leader on this Great Trek, Piet Reteif, made a land treaty with a Zulu king named Dingaan. But Dingaan immediately reneged and had Reteif and his party executed; amped up by this, the Zulus then went and attacked sleeping Boer camps, slaughtering women and children. (Yes, Black Africans wuz kangz, but their kingdoms built mud huts, not the pyramids).

To protect his people, and bring justice to those already slain, Andreis Pretorius organized an armed expedition of Boers, a commando, to seek and destroy the Zulu warriors savages. Sarel Celliers led the Boers in a vow to God, that if he would grant them victory over Dingaan’s Negro warriors savages, they would give God the glory and keep the day as a day of remembrance to him in perpetuity.

This commando of somewhere around 450 Boer Voortrekkers under Pretorius’ command learned of the nearby Zulu forces, and circled their wagons with the river on their side and faced down approximately 15,000 Zulu warriors. Outnumbered more than 30 to 1, the Boers prepared for battle.

By days end, the Ncome River ran red with the blood of Zulus that day, and was thereafter referred to as Blood River. The Boers, armed with muzzeloading rifles, withstood charge after charge of the Zulu impis. The Boer also employed two cannons. At one point, some Boers mounted up and rode out into the attacking Zulus! After hours of bloodletting, the Zulus retreated. The Zulus suffered about 3,000 killed. The Boers had zero, yes zero, fatalities and only three men lightly wounded.

Perceiving that it was the hand of God that delivered the Zulu forces to them, they praised him and built a church building as a testament to that day’s victory. But as noted in the piece 24 January 2011 piece Lessons from the Day of the Vow at Faith & Heritage, despite the vow of the commando that engaged Dingaan, the Boer people as a whole did not always keep this as a day of remembrance, which is why some believed that they lost the second Anglo-Boer war to the British Empire. Interesting. I had wondered why a Godly and agrarian people would be allowed to be defeated by an ungodly enemy country, as happened to the Boer volk in 1902 and Dixie in 1865. Perhaps God judges Christians, and Christian nations, sooner and harsher than those who are openly reprobate? That is a subject for more study and thought. Either way, Imperial America is to far gone to revive.

Today let us remember God’s magnificent deliverance of the Boers at Blood River eighteen decades ago, and what he will still do for those who truly serve him.

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