National Women's Monument (Vrouemonument) in Generaal De Wet, Bloemfontein, Free State
The National Women’s Monument was unveiled on 16 December 1913. The monument, built of sandstone from Kroonstad and resting at the foot of two kopjes, stands on the same grounds as the Anglo-Boer War Museum and is dedicated to the 26 370 women and children that suffered and died in the concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War. The Monument has been declared a Provincial Heritage Site.
The big open spaces of untamed grassland that surround the terrain of the memorial represents the untamed Free State fields and landscape from the time of the Anglo-Boer War.
The monument was designed by Frans Soff, an architect from Pretoria and was sculptured by Anton van Wouw. It consists of an obelisk about 35m in height and low, semi-circular walls on two sides, with a bronze bas-relief depicting a typical scene from the history of a "mother's grief and children's woe". The central bronze group, sketched by Emily Hobhouse, depicted an experience she had on 15 May 1901, of two sorrowing women and a dying child in the Springfontein Concentration Camp.
Despite resistance in Britain, Emily Hobhouse travelled from England especially for the unveiling. Unfortunately, due to ill health, she only made Beaufort West and her address was read by Charles Fichardt, an esteemed businessman from Bloemfontein and member of the first National Women’s Memorial commission.
Her ashes were ensconced at the foot of the monument thirteen years later.
Alongside the monument are the graves of:
- Christiaan Rudolph De Wet (1854-1922) Boer General, rebel leader and politician
- Rev. John Daniel Kestell (1854-1941) Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church
- Martinus Theunis Steyn (1857-1916) Last President of the independent Orange Free State
- Weekdays, 08h00 to 16h30
- Saturday, 10h00 and 17h00
- Sunday, 11h00 and 17h00
- Public Holidays, 09h00 to 17h00
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