Heroes’ Day in Orania Date in the current year: October 10, 2024

Heroes’ Day in Orania Heroes’ Day is an official holiday in the South African city of Orania established and settled by Afrikaners who wanted to create a stronghold for their language and culture. It is celebrated on October 10 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Paul Kruger, the third president of the South African Republic.

Paul Kruger, nicknamed Uncle Paul (Oom Paul), was born on October 10, 1825 at a farm in the Cape Colony. Although he received almost no formal education beyond reading, writing and studying the Bible, Kruger could speak Dutch, basic English, and several African languages. He also was a skilled horseman and frontiersman.

Kruger received his own farm and became an enfranchised burgher at age 16. A year later, he was elected a field cornet (local government official). Kruger moved through the ranks and became commandant-general and member of the Transvaal volksraad (parliament) in 1863.

In 1877, Kruger was appointed vice president. Soon after, Britain annexed South Africa, and Kruger became one of the resistance leaders. Following the Boer victory in the First Boer War, he served as a member of an executive triumvirate before being elected president in 1883.

During his first tenure as president, Kruger was instrumental in the signing of the London Convention that governed the relations between the South African Republic and Great Britain. He was reelected three more times in 1888, 1893 and 1898. His last tenure was cut short by the Second Boer War. Kruger left for Europe to ask for military assistance and essentially became an exile. He died in Switzerland on July 14, 1904 after contracting pneumonia.

The Boers first celebrated Kruger Day in 1882, even before Kruger’s presidency, to show the respect they had for “Uncle Paul”. The following year the government of South Africa officially introduced it as a public holiday. The celebration of Kruger Day was discontinued in 1902, following the defeat of the South African Republic in the Second Boer War.

In subsequent years, some South Africans celebrated Paul Kruger’s birthday informally. In 1952, a few years after the National Party’s rise to power, the South African government reintroduced the holiday under a new name, Heroes’ Day (Hedeldag), although it was still occasionally referred to as Kruger Day.

Everything changed in 1994, when the African National Congress came to power, cementing the end of apartheid. The new government abolished most public holidays and replaced them with new ones. Heroes’ Day/Kruger Day was one of the holidays that got canceled.

However, it is still celebrated in Orania, an Afrikaner enclave in the middle of South Africa. Oranians do not celebrate South African public holidays and have their own set of national holidays instead. In addition to Heroes’ Day commemorating Paul Kruger and those who died in the Boer Wars they celebrate Majuba Day (Majubadag), Founders Day (Stigtingsdag), Bitter Enders’ Day (Bittereinderdag), Afrikaner Language Day (Taaldag), and the Day of the Vow (Geloftedag).

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Heroes’ Day in Orania, Kruger Day, Paul Kruger, holidays in South Africa, holidays in Orania