Hero larger than life – Life stranger than fiction

by H Labuschagne

To the ears of most who love Africa with a passion – especially to tourists and conservationists – the name of the "Kruger National Park" is arguably one of those most closely associated with South Africa. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to this world-famous nature reserve from every corner of the world in order to witness a piece of Africa which is perhaps one of the closest things we have to conditions in South Africa a century ago. Perhaps a little surprisingly, one is only occasionally asked by some foreign traveller, who it was that the park had been named after. Perhaps it is fitting that one of the country’s most prominent symbols, was named after one of its most famous children – Paul Kruger.

A hundred years ago the mentioning of the name "Paul Kruger" was famous in just about every first world country on earth. Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger was indeed an especially remarkable man by any standards. Seen by his enemies in the British Empire as a "backward, superstitious and stubborn old man," he was widely regarded in Continental Europe and Russia by millions of supporters as a hero, larger than life. Paul Kruger was indeed what Davey Crockett was to Americans. He was the very personification of an entire nation. It has been said that at the turn of the nineteenth century, the face of Paul Kruger was arguably more famous than that of any other western figure in the world. Some say both his name and photograph was more widely recognised than that of even Queen Victoria. For many years, photographs, drawings and caricatures of his unique features could be seen prominently in every large newspaper. In Europe, little boys dreamt about growing up to be like "Paul Kruger," and statesmen and politicians marvelled at the fame that an old man at the bottom of the world map should have achieved in such a short time.

Paul Kruger was never a particularly handsome man. "The image, hewn from the cliffs, blow by blow" as one famous South African poet wrote about him. Labelled by his enemies as "grotesquely ugly" and often called an "illiterate peasant," Paul Kruger was whatever his supporters and critics chose to call him, a romantic figure whom history would ultimately prove to be much large than life. Even today, there are dozens and dozens of streets, parks and buildings in Europe that has been named after this remarkable man. His image is still found on the world’s premier gold coin, the "Kruger Rand," and he remains as probably one of the most photographed men of his age. Adventurer, big game hunter, explorer, statesman, soldier, military commander, prophet, philosopher – he was all these and more. But Paul Kruger wasn’t born this way. He was shaped by a land which was hard as granite and as savage as the beasts that inhabited it. Yet, despite all its harshness, Africa was above all, uncomplicated, mysterious and beautiful in its character. Such a man was Paul Kruger.

The life story of the "Lion of South Africa" is one that is so fantastic as to sound almost impossible. Without a doubt, much of Kruger’s reputation has been inflated in the manner in which popular legends seem to grow, but even if one chose to read his life’s story very conservatively, Kruger must still rank as one of the most remarkable men who had ever lived. Certainly his was a life which has deserved to be filmed as much as any other. Paul Kruger was born under the British flag in the district of Colesberg, Cape Colony, 176 years ago. He began his career as the son of a humble farmer who could neither read nor write. Little Paul himself, never received a day’s schooling in his life. When he was finally taught to read, it was from the enormous old Dutch Bible which every household used to have in those days. For the rest of his life he would read and write with apparent difficulty, but the Bible would remain the young boy’s manual of life, his source of inspiration, the base of his faith, and the foundation for all his beliefs until the day he died.

Paul Kruger grew up hard and he grew up fast, for his mother died when he was eight, leaving him and his five siblings in the care of only their father. Of necessity Paul was raised like a man. You might say he was born with a gun in his hand. Colesberg was an arid and a severe land, and the little boy had to withstand the savage climate as well as the ferocious beasts which threatened the flocks of his family which he had to tend from an early age. Fear and suffering was something which the little boy had to learn to ignore from his earliest childhood. Not content to live under the Union Jack, which was perhaps the most hated symbol that his people – the Boers – knew, Paul’s family soon joined the Great Trek for the unknown interior of South Africa. And soon little Paul would get to know war as intimately as the animals with which he shared the land. At the age of eleven, he joined my own great-great-great grandfather, who was one year younger then, in helping to pass the gunpowder and shot when his small group of pioneers were attacked by an overwhelming majority of the much-feared and famed Mzilikazi’s warriors. It was a battle of climatic proportions. One of the most desperate the pioneers ever had to fight. After the battle of Vegkop the two of them had to help to drag the hundreds of putrefying bodies away after the battle had been won, with the loss of most of the Boer horses and cattle. It was to be the little boy’s first taste of many battles to come.

This truly turned out to be Kruger’s baptism of fire, and from that day onwards, he would grow to be known across the whole world as a man who did not know the meaning of fear. He began shooting big game at the age of eight, but his first opportunity to demonstrate his amazingly cool nerves and composure under intense stress, came at the tender age of only thirteen. It was during a hunting party that matters went out of control, and he was charged by a big lion. Little Paul was the one who lifted his ancient old flintlock rifle and killed his first lion virtually in mid-air, so that it landed dead at his feet. Had probably never realized this, but this incident probably marks the point where his legend became born, and from then on it would only grow. At the age of sixteen he was considered to be a man, and accordingly, "Paulkie" as he was affectionately known then, was awarded his first two large farms. A year later, at only seventeen Paul was considered old enough to marry. In a land where distances were incredibly long and women scarce, he had to ride a very long way to fetch his bride, only to find his way blocked by the imposing Vaal river which was in full raging flood. Not to be deterred by such an obstacle, "Paulkie"stripped his clothes and swam the full length of the river. When he returned to his farm, he was married to a lovely girl of fourteen years old. They were young indeed, but Paul’s own parents were eighteen and fifteen years old when they got married, and in a land where people seldom managed to survive for long, they had come to marry early. It didn’t matter, though, for young as he was, Paul Kruger was already a barrel-chested man of more than six feet tall, and already his limbs were strong enough to add to his fame.

On his farm, Paul and his wife worked to tame a land which until then had been wild and free in every way. They were more than husband and wife. They were best friends. In that very same year, Paul Kruger was chosen to be assistant-field cornet – a strikingly senior military position for a boy of his age. Accordingly, he was to accompany his father on his first of many diplomatic missions which he would ultimately be involved in in his life – this time to help determine the border between the fledgling Transvaal Republic and Portuguese East Africa.

As he grew older, the fame of Paul Kruger began to grow and spread. He soon became known as a man who was utterly fearless and almost recklessly courageous. He hunted a great deal, although he never shot nearly the same amount of big game that later professional hunter would. Still, by his own estimate Paul Kruger was said to have shot between 30 and 40 elephants, plus five lions all by himself, with "numerous more" whilst accompanied by other hunters. It was during these hunting trips that "Paulkie" began to exhibit a strange kind of "sixth sense" which sometimes had his fellow-hunters virtually dumbfounded. Time and again, he was said to have been able to predict with great accuracy precisely where certain animals could be found, and in what numbers. So uncannily accurate did yong Paul’s prophetic visions turn out to be, that it eventually began to worry him. Fearing that this strange "gift" would lead to vanity, he is said to have prayed most earnestly for the "gift" to be removed from him – which subsequently did appear to have happened. Nevertheless, there was still plenty to talk about when it came to the young Boer hunter called Kruger.

One incident that Kruger remains famous for, is when he went rhino hunting and his gun blew up in his hand as he fired. With one thumb partly torn off, and hanging by a gory arrangement of ligaments and torn muscles, Kruger knew it had to be amputated despite the fact that there were no doctors around. Accordingly, his pocket knife came out! With horror his hunting companions took his knife away, but even so, Kruger did cut his thumb off the moment he could lay his hand on another knife! When asked how he had managed this surgical procedure alone, he drily replied: "I tried to imagine that the hand I was cutting was not my own!"And then there was even an incident when Kruger was chased into a bog by a buffalo after his gun had misfired. As the beast attempted to crush him with its horns, Kruger lashed out in great desperation and caught hold of the beast’s nose. Using all his weight and his considerable brute strength, the big man twisted the nose of the buffalo, and eventually succeeded in driving the animal’s nose underneath the water until it had had enough and ran away! This must have been where Kruger’s wealth of knowledge regarding farming and animals had come in handy, for he had no doubt remembered how even the strongest ox can be laid low by twisting its nose hard.

One of his most interesting hunting experiences, however, was one which few people seem to be familiar with. Whether it actually happened exactly in this way or not, is not possible to say, but the story was told of how Kruger had gone out elephant hunting, and as sometimes happened with the primitive weapons that were available then, things didn’t go too smoothly. Kruger soon found himself running for his very life in front of a group of highly angry elephants, when all of a sudden he saw a lion lying asleep in the grass before him. It was too late to jump or take another route, however, and before he knew it, he tripped over the lion and went down rolling in the grass and bushes. The lion, in turn, thus rudely awakened, immediately saw a herd of stampeding elephant charging right at it, and wisely decided to take evasive action along with the young man beside it. And so it came about that Paul Kruger and a lion had to run side-by-side to escape a herd of murderous elephants – and both lived to tell the tale!

Using the long bamboo shaft of his waggon whip, it was said that Kruger could vault across an entire span of oxen, and indeed, his ability to jump high and far was supposed to have been rather unique. He was hailed as an incredibly fine horseman who loved to test a new horse by riding it at its greatest possible speed over rough and broken terrain. A horse that failed the test, was one which he would not ride – and even when the horses fell in the process, it was said that Paul Kruger usually managed to land on his feet like a cat. The reason for Kruger’s demanding dependable steeds was obvious. He had the habit of turning around completely in the saddle when his horse was running from charging big game, in order to allow him to fire more securely from the saddle. It would follow then, that where his life depended on a horse, he needed a good one.

His swimming abilities appeared to be second to none, while many people affirmed that no black native had ever managed to beat young Kruger when it came to a race – and it would appear as if their best runners had indeed tried several times. At the age of 18 he ran a race against a black "mountain man" and won. In fact, it was even stated that it would have to be a pretty good horse indeed which could outrun Paul Kruger over a distance of 300 metres!

But in the true manner of Africa, life wasn’t always moonlight and roses. At the age of only 21, Paul Kruger became a widower for the first time in his life when his young bride and his first child died on his farm of malaria. Hard and unshakable as he appeared to have been, it was said that the young hunter nearly didn’t get over his grief. For days he disappeared into the mountains, and roamed the uncharted wilderness with only his grief and his faith as companions. There he sought the comfort of the wilderness into which he had been born, and tried to ponder the greater questions of life. No one knows precisely what went on during this time, but somehow Kruger must have found the answers, for when he finally emerged from his mourning, he did so as an even stronger man. He married again at the age of 22. She was not a pretty girl, but he would love her as only a real man can love, for the rest of his life. The soft, round woman that would later affectionately be called "Tante Sannie" would give him 16 children and they would remain happily married until her death, 54 years later.

At the age of 27, Paul Kruger was a man of senior capability who commanded a great deal of respect even from his elders. In that year he became a full field-cornet, and thus started a long and hard military career for the farm boy. His firs action was against chief Mosele, who was harbouring a fugitive Bechuana chief called Secheli. Kruger was only second-in-command at that time, but when Mosele sent a message to "come and get Secheli if you can," Kruger took up the challenge immediately. Kruger stormed Mosele’s position two days later, firing furiously with his monstrous 4 bore elephant gun loaded with heavy shot. He was successful, although this action had earned him his first bullet wound, plus another which had fortunately only ripped his jacket in two.

A year later his friend Herman Potgieter was treacherously captured by Mpela whilst hunting elephant, and cruelly skinned alive. Despite even this, the famous old hunter and explorer simply would not die. Perhaps not able to endure the sight of his suffering anymore, Mpela ordered his warriors to finish the job. Potgieter only died when the warriors slit his stomach open and dragged his entrails out Again, Kruger was sent out to punish the criminal chief, but first he had to deal with another chief, Makapane, who was murdering settler women and children.. A serious fight ensued, until ultimately, Makapane’s men were driven into a cave, where they were besieged by the Boer army. Hard as he was, Paul Kruger could not bear to see his enemies starve to death, so as second-in-command, he decided to enter the cave alone and unarmed that night, in order to reason with them. The bravery which this had necessitated can scarcely be conceived, for knowing that he would never be allowed to enter the cave, Kruger had gone without asking for permission from his military commander! From the deep and dark recesses of Makapan’s cave, Kruger spoke to the besieged tribesmen in their own language. When his superstitious enemies fled in terror at his voice, Kruger simply joined the stampede and followed them deeper into the bowels of the earth. When he finally emerged, he was not only alive, but he was bringing 170 women and children out with him!

For this, Paul Kruger was severely reprimanded by his commanding officer, and scolded for his "recklessness." As his punishment, he was forbidden to go near the caves in future. But stubborn as he was, Kruger must have refused to heed, for when his commandant-general was mortally wounded near the caves shortly after, it was Paul Kruger who climbed down the cliffs to carry out the body of the very large commander, amid a storm of bullets which carried him all the way. From that day onwards, Paul Kruger became known as the bravest man in the Boer commandoes. Shortly thereafter they had to go after the killers of Herman Potgieter. Again, the battle found Paul Kruger at the forefront as the commando had to scale the cliffs surrounding Mpela’s mountain fortress. Here, Kruger nearly lost his life when one of Mpela’s men pressed a gun right in his face and he was saved only because of the gun misfiring! With his gun bearer killed behind him, Kruger had to retreat, but at their second attempt the position was carried and a bloody campaign was successfully completed.

From here on, Kruger was involved in several more military campaigns, during which he continued to serve with like valour, great personal bravery and impressive leadership. During one of the Basotho wars, Kruger and 300 men managed to fight off an army of 3,000 to 4,000 attacking Basotho warriors. They resisted the attack all night long until reinforcements arrived the next morning, which enabled the 900-strong commando to gain a sound victory. When later he had to protect the old Voortrekker town of Schoemansdal, Kruger and his defenders ran out of ammunition twice. He and only one officer and a handful of men were willing to remain behind to protect the town, but eventually they were persuaded to abandon the entire town rather than face a hopeless fight.

So the battles in the life of Paul Kruger continued unabated. During the first Anglo-Boer War, he was one of the first to revolt against British occupation and take up arms against the invaders. He played a prominent role during the fighting which followed, and after the signing of the peace, he joined state deputations to England twice in order to confer with the British queen. It came as no big surprise when Kruger was finally elected as president of the South African Republic – and office which he would hold for an astounding four successive terms, only losing it when his country lost its independence. As a statesman, Kruger proved an enigma to his enemies, and became a folk hero and almost a "spiritual leader" to his nation. Many times Kruger himself led the service in his "Dopper" church across the street from his house. Perhaps characteristic of the man, his presidential home was a modest, single-storey house with a tin roof. Here he used to rise at dawn every morning to sit on his verandah in order to talk to his volk. Anybody who wanted to discuss anything with the president was free to visit him and to be treated to a steady stream of hot coffee. Jews, children, high-ranking international officials of state, rich industrialists and simple farmers all found themselves treated to the same generous Boer hospitality whilst visiting the president.

It was here that Kruger’s often startling sense of humour came into play very often. The old man used to like dealing youngsters a playful pinch, or to make fun of the pompous superiority with which the visiting dignitaries sometimes displayed towards him. In once case when an important young man proudly explained to Kruger that his father had been the Viceroy of India, Kruger simply turned to him and told him that "my father was a shepard! Tales of the practical jokes that Kruger enjoyed are legion, but one which perhaps stands out a little more, was when he had helped to build the church opposite his house. It was said that the day the roof structure was finally finished, he displayed his joy by standing on his head on the top of the rather high roof, to both the delight and horror of his onlookers!

As a president, Kruger was probably quite unique. Although he probably never read a novel in his life, and appeared to read with a bit of difficulty, he remained surprisingly informed about politics and the happenings inside his own country. Those who knew him, said that Kruger’s memory was phenomenal. The detailed facts and figures which he could recall even years later, was something which did not escape the admiration of his colleagues. Something else which made the old man particularly unique, was the manner in which he tried to govern his country "by the Bible." Kruger used the Bible like anyone would use a dictionary, or a workshop manual. He knew great sections of it off by heart, and would very often quote from the Bible in order to explain his policies, his actions or his decisions. "God’s Word will be my rule of conduct in politics and the foundation upon which the State must be established," he once observed – something which seemed to have greatly annoyed and frustrated his British opposition.

In the Boer parliament or Volksraad, Kruger ruled in many ways more than a monarch than a democrat. It was often described of how his enormous double-bass voice would boom clear across the hall as he pounded the lectern or the Bible in front of him with his massive fist in order to reinforce his point. If the old man had his mind set on achieving something, he usually got his own way – and people understood this only too well. In front of his overwhelming character, even the most forceful of Boer characters like the formidable general Koos de la Rey, could not help but shrink away into their seats. And at times when he received genuine opposition, the old man would first become murderously angry, then he would plead, and if all else failed, he would eventually make a heart-felt appeal to the wisdom and senses of his colleagues. If even that didn’t work, he would invariably become emotional, and great tears would slide from his heavy old buffalo-like eyelids. "Who could resist him after that?" one contemporary observed. On the few occasions when not even the full force of his considerable character could convince the Transvaal Executive, the old man ripped his presidential sash off, kicked it towards his onlookers, and angrily stomped out of the Raadsaal. Such a man was Paul Kruger. The gentleness of a dove, but the heart of a lion.

Paul Kruger certainly proved himself to be a man of many failings and weaknesses, but his people knew him and his faults only too well. They recognised in him a man who possessed qualities which no other person in the Boer republics ever had, and despite his shortcomings, they loved him and admired him. In times of trouble, the judgement of Paul Kruger was where people placed their faith. Those who knew him, admitted that Paul Kruger might have made many mistakes, but he never acted in a selfish or petty way. In one case where he had had an argument with his own State Secretary, he got up in the middle of the night just to go and tell the man who mas his junior by several decades, that he was sorry and that he had been wrong. However Kruger might have bullied his enemies by force of character, he was known to have always treated woman and children with great respect and kindness. Even towards the black races who had sometimes been his mortal enemies, he seemed to hold a kindly benevolence which people found hard to fathom. Quite frequently he would have a special message to them too in his public addresses, where other politicians habitually ignored the blacks.

Even towards Jews, Kruger had a particularly kindly manner. As word spread that president Kruger of the Transvaal regarded Jews as equal human beings, they flocked to the new country in their thousands from the repression in Poland and the Russian countires. For the thousands of immigrant fleeing decades of severe persecution, Paul Kruger had an attitude which they found so strange, it took some time getting used to. Kruger regarded the Jews as "God’s chosen people" and always felt that the Boers had a responsibility to treat them as such. Kruger had several personal friends who were Jewish, and always treated them well. But then there came an incident which cannot be entirely substantiated, but which seems so in accordance with his character that it very possibly could have been true. It was said that during the surveying of the city of Johannesburg, each church was allotted a certain number of stands or erven for the construction of a church and a home for the minister and his family. The Jewish synagogue, however, received only half the land that the Christian churches did. When called upon to explain this inequality, Kruger smilingly explained that since the Jews used only "half the Bible," they could receive only half the amount of land! It seems the Jews saw the humour in this, and quickly forgave him for it. When the synagogue was finally completed, he was called to open the building for the Jewish community.

According to popular legend, Kruger delivered his address, and then caused a great amount of sniggering when he ended by saying: "I now declare this building open in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!"

On another occasion Kruger was said to have been on a train with his Jewish friend, the industrialist, Sammy Marks. "Let’s run a race, you and I," the already aged president suggested to his visibly younger friend. "If you win, you get to become president, but if I win you become a Christian!" Sammy thought it over and then wisely thought the better of accepting the challenge. His answer was a rather diplomatic, and characteristic of the great tact which had brought the friendly Lithuanian businessman so far in life: "I’m afraid in that case you will have to put me out of the country," he said, "for a converted Jew is no good."

Yes, Sammy Marks must have known that despite the president’s age, he probably still would have won the race!

Kruger, who had been a most enthusiastic hunter in his younger days, also proved that like most, he was also a conservationist. In fact, he actually proved to have been probably the first conservationist in the modern sense of the word, when on 26 March 1898, he established the first game reserve on the African continent. Kruger realized that at the rate of human growth, it would only be a matter of time before most species of especially big game, would cease to exist in South Africa. The thought that the great beasts of his youth might eventually become unknown to his descendants had moved Kruger so much, that he realized that it was necessary to establish a safe haven where such animals could be protected for posterity. Kruger’s proposal to establish the "Sabie Gouverments Wildtuin" – which would ultimately become the Kruger National Park of today, was met by strong opposition from some of the Volksraad members who did not share his own remarkable vision. Nevertheless, with his usual force of character and sheer determination, president Kruger finally got his way, and in so doing, made one of the most important conservation decisions in African history. Today the Kruger National Park stands proudly as one of the front-line torch-bearers in the world of conservation, and remains respected and visited by millions of tourists from all over the globe.

When the Second Anglo-Boer War broke out in 1899, president Paul Kruger was only 74, but he already looked like an old man. He was at the very pinnacle of his popularity, and the combined republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, placed their full trust in his leadership and ability. Kruger knew it was going to be a long and a grim war. He had repeatedly prophesies that this would turn out to be the case. Nevertheless, he believed firmly in the justice of his coming struggle, and that the God of his fathers would not fail to deliver his people yet again during their hour of crisis. And so, two of the most insignificantly small nations in the world, marched out to wage war against the mightiest Empire in the history of the world. "With God and the Mauser," as many people used to say. Even during the war, when he was hundreds of miles away from the battle lines, the telegrams and instructions which Kruger sent to his commanders, revealed that he still had a tactical grasp of matters which is even today, absolutely amazing, and in most cases, apparently far better than that of most of his own generals.

During the first phase of the war Kruger took the news of the initial brilliant Boer successes with grave dignity, and made a point of thanking the Lord for every victory. But as time went on and the tides of war began to finally turn against the war, Kruger didn’t lose hope. In several cases, his telegrams of physical advice and spiritual encouragement alone, were what had saved the Boer commandoes from partial annihilation.

But despite his strong beliefs, the bitter day of 29 May 1900 eventually came when the old president – by now 75 years old – had to board a train, and abandon his capital of Pretoria to the advancing enemy. Even more bitter, though, would be the parting with his beloved wife who was too weak to travel with him. As they parted on that fateful day, Kruger might have sensed that it would be the last time he would see his life’s companion. She died a few short months later under the British flag from which the old man had fought all his life to escape. For a while Kruger maintained a mobile seat of government until the advancing enemy made even this impossible. And so it was finally decided by the Volksraad that in order to ensure that the old man would not fall into enemy hands, he would have to leave the country. Kruger did so only with great reluctance, and as he sailed away from his beloved continent on the Dutch cruiser Gelderland, and watched the green shores recede, it must have been the saddest day of his life. In his heart, he must have sensed that he would probably never see the land of his youth again.

Those who saw him since that day, noticed how Kruger had grown into an old and sick man. Nevertheless, when he arrived as a refugee in Europe, he was greeted by enormous crowds of people who shouted themselves hoarse in order to encourage and welcome the old president. In Amsterdam, and Belgium, in France and even in Germany, the crowds that had poured out to see him were so gigantic that it actually caused many problems and in some cases, also some considerable political embarrassment. Until that point, Kruger had hoped that one or more of the major European powers would intervene in the war in South Africa, but even though he was welcomed with royal delight by most Continental heads of state, it eventually became apparent that this would not turn out to be the case after all. Perhaps it is a pity that Kruger eventually lived to see his country lose its independence in May 1902. His reply to his people after the news was simply: "It is God’s will." He knew that his people had fought until the bitter end. It was a war as fairly lost as any in the course of history. Paul Kruger was a man who had known both victory and defeat in his life, and he although the loss of his country must have pained him more than any other loss in his entire life, age and wisdom had taught hi how to accept his fate with philosophical reserve.

President Paul Kruger never returned to South Africa again. He simply said that although he was born under the British flag, he refused to die under it. He spent his last days in a small villa at Clarens, Switzerland, where the old man dictated his memoirs, received his loyao generals and statesmen who came to pay homage to their exiled leader, and became progressively more sick. He suffered a series of light strokes, and bad pneumonia, until eventually the big old man from the Transvaal blew out his last breath in peace, far from the warm land of his birth. Kruger had been a large man in body and mind, yet he remained one in spirit too. What was remarkable, was that he never exhibited bitterness towards his enemies and never spoke of revenge. His last words to one of his friends in exile was: "The sympathy of all the nations of this world is the prove that our cause is just. In all regions of the world people are praying for the triumph of justice for us. Since God is with us, Hy will not forsake us. More than ever I have faith in this."

The remains of President Paul Kruger was eventually shipped back to South Africa, where he was buried in the "heroes acre" in Pretoria, opposite his home. Present there, to see their friend, father, and spiritual leader off, was a multitude of people who had survived the most bitter war in human history in South Africa. His old colleague, president MT Steyn, and all his generals and statesmen. It is good to think that the old man would have like it that way. To be back in the soil of the land that had made him what he was. To be part of the soil from which he had sprouted. Kruger left a long message to his many grandchildren and beloved followers who would continued where his footsteps had ended on the African soil. His "Political Testament" outlines the wishes and hopes and instructions that he left for those who would come after him. But all of this could be summed up in the one central message which he pressed upon those who had served him faithfully. It was a message for his time, and it is a message for us even now:

"For he who wants to build himself a future, dare not forget the past. Hence: Seek from the past all that which is good and beautiful that might be found, base upon this your ideals let the future turn these ideals into reality."