The Women's Memorial

During the darkest days of the war the idea to immortalise for posterity the selfless love women and children in the form of a memorial occurred to Pres. Steyn. 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. Upon his return to his farm, Onze Rust, near Bloemfontein in the beginning of March 1905, 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 in which the nation in general should be consulted, 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 Pres. Steyn.

An Impoverished Nation Builds a Monument

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 Pres. Steyn for contributions from the wealthy as well as from the poor, from man, woman and child began circulating shortly after the conference. The amount to be raised through collection lists was a very substantial one, especially for those times when the Afrikaner suffered extreme poverty. The money was collected in pennies and shillings and contributions of a pound or more were rare exceptions. Although individual contributions were small, such large numbers of Afrikaans-speaking, as well as English-speaking and Jewish citizens contributed to the fund so that the erection of the memorial soon became a matter of national importance. During the unveiling of the memorial Pres. 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."

Contact Information:
Chairperson: Prof Piet Strauss (082 557 3414)
Secretary: Esta Jones (082 786 5970)