The mass migration of the Boer farmers from Cape Colony to escape British domination in 1835-36 - the Great Trek - has always been a potent icon of Afrikaaner nationalism and identity. For African nationalists, the Mfecane - the vast movement of the Black populations in the interior following the emergence of a new Zulu kingdom as a major military force in the early 19th century - offers an equally powerful symbol of the making of a nation. These two stories became part of divided South Africa's separate mythologies, treated as unconnected events taking place in separate universes. The end of Apartheid and the beginning of democracy in South Africa demands a new kind of history. Few present day historians believe the old assertion that the Great Trek is the central event of South African history. This book puts an "s" on the phrase "Great Trek" as a way of signalling its intention to deal with all the movements of people and their leaders which occurred in South Africa during the early 19th century. The author avoids the colonizers point of view by taking the vantage point of the central highveld where African societies had flourished for more than a thousand years before the arriv
Norman Etherington has published widely on South African and Southern African history and politics. He has spent long periods travelling and working in South Africa. He lives in Australia where he is Professor of History at the University of Western Australia.