Majuba Day in Orania Date in the current year: February 27, 2024

Majuba Day in Orania Majuba Day (Majubadag) used to be a major national holiday in South Africa. Today, however, it is only celebrated by some Afrikaners (South Africans descended from Dutch settlers), especially in the semi-autonomous town of Orania.

Majuba Day is the anniversary of the Battle of Majuba Hill, which took place on February 27, 1881 and turned out to be the decisive battle of the First Boer War (also known as the First Anglo-Boer War, the Transvaal War and the Transvaal Rebellion) between the South African Republic and the United Kingdom.

The main cause of the First Boer War was British expansion into Southern Africa. When the British took control of the Dutch Cape Colony, thousands of Boers (descendants of European settlers) moved from the colony and founded two sovereign states, the South African Republic, also known as the Transvaal Republic, and the Orange Free State.

After 25 years of independence, the South African Republic was annexed by the British in 1877. Three years later, the Transvaal Boers started a rebellion against the British rule and formally declared independence from the UK. And so the First Boer War began. Although the Boers had no regular army, their reliance on mobility, stealth, and marksmanship was an enormous advantage.

The final and decisive battle of the First Boer War was the Battle of Majuba Hill. On the night of February 26–27, 1881, about 400 British soldiers under the command of Major General Sir George Pomeroy Colley occupied Majuba Hill. Expecting the Boers to retreat, Colley didn’t order his men to dig in, which turned out to be a huge mistake.

Instead of retreating, the Boers formed three storming groups, which began to slowly advance up the hill, shooting at the British soldiers. They did not engage in close combat and picked off the enemy one by one, hiding in the shrubs and high grass covering the hill. When Colley was shot dead through the forehead, the British began to retreat.

Although small in scope, the Battle of Majuba Hill is considered one of the most humiliating defeats in British military history. It led to the end of the First Boer War and the reinstatement of the South African Republic.

Majuba Day was a national holiday in the Transvaal Republic during the period between the First and Second Boer Wars (from 1881 to 1889). During the Second Boar War, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State lost the Battle of Paardeberg on February 27, 1900, leading South African president Paul Kruger to declare that the English had taken their Majuba Day from them.

After its defeat in the Second Boer War, the Transvaal Republic became the Transvaal Colony of the British Empire. The British authorities replaced Majuba Day by Victoria Day (the birthday of Queen Victoria), celebrated on April 24. Today, the national day of South Africa is Freedom Day (April 27), which commemorates the country’s first democratic elections.

However, Afrikaners living in the town of Orania don’t celebrate South African national holidays. Instead, they commemorate dates deemed important by the Afrikaner nationalist movement, including Majuba Day.

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Majuba Day in Orania, holidays in South Africa, holidays in Orania, Battle of Majuba Hill, First Boer War