An Open Letter to My Family: Honoring Our Legacy and the Blood River Covenant
Penned this 16 December 2023 - it has been 185 years since December 16, 1838, the date of the Battle of Blood River and the Blood River Covenant.
As we reflect upon our heritage, particularly the pivotal role played by our ancestor Sarel Cilliers in the Battle of Blood River, I am moved to express our collective gratitude to God. Our existence today is a testament to the divine providence that guided and protected our forebears on that fateful day, December 16, 1838.
Since that fateful day, we have mostly been people of the church of Jesus Christ.
The Blood River Covenant, as you know, was not just a promise among men, but a solemn vow to God. (Refer: https://pfojc.org/blood-river-covenant/ ) It was a pledge of faith, made freely and individually by each participant in the face of overwhelming odds. This covenant, articulated by Sarel Cilliers and Andries Pretorius, joined by the trekker commandos, was a commitment to honour God for delivering victory over their adversaries. The vow included celebrating the day of the battle as a day of thanksgiving, erecting a house of worship in God's honour, and ensuring that this act of gratitude would be remembered and shared with future generations. Always remember it is the miracle we celebrate and that is what we are indebted to.
Without God's providence and His Grace, our ancestors would not have survived.
It is crucial for us to recognize and honour the gravity of this covenant. It places upon us, as descendants, a responsibility to uphold the values and commitments made by our forebears. We are called not only to remember the battle and its outcome but to live in a way that acknowledges God's hand in our history and to pass on these values of faith and gratitude to our children. Our reflections should always be unhindered by our egos and reflect peace love and humility whenever we share this astounding privilege.
Let us, therefore, continue to honour this covenant in our lives, remembering always to give credit to God alone for the victories and blessings we receive. May we live in a way that reflects the faith and courage of our ancestors, and may we ensure that their legacy is not just remembered, but lived out in our daily actions and choices following the Bible that reflects the infallible word of our Lord?
With reverence and gratitude,
a Christ Slave - bought by the Blood of Jesus my Lord and Saviour.
The full detailed history of "Gelofte Dag" as celebrated in South Africa;
The last time "Gelofte Dag" or the Day of the Vow was officially celebrated as a national holiday in South Africa was in 1994. Initially known as Dingane's Day or Dingaan's Day, the 16th of December was made an annual national holiday in 1910, and the name was changed to the Day of the Vow in 1982. Following the end of Apartheid, in 1994, the holiday was officially replaced by the Day of Reconciliation, also observed on December 16th. However, it's important to note that many descendants of those who made the original vow continue to celebrate it in accordance with the promises made in the vow. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Vow
Our ancestor Sarel Cilliers - Penned by Chris Kriel the 7th Generation