Louis Trichardt was one of the Voortrekker leaders. He was born near Oudtshoorn in the Karoo on 10 August 1783.
The Voortrekkers (Afrikaans and Dutch for pioneers, literally "those who trek ahead") were emigrants during the 1830s and 1840s who left the Cape Colony moving into the interior of South Africa.
The Voortrekkers decided to leave the Cape Colony for various contested and complicated reasons, but in general the reasons consisted of both "push" factors (including the general dissatisfaction of life under British rule) and "pull" factors (including the desire for a better life in better country).
There were two main routes that the Voortrekkers could follow into the interior. They could move North beyond the Orange River or North-East towards Natal.
Louis Trichardt led a group of Voortrekkers from the Cape Colony in 1835. Trichardt was often described as a fearless but impetuous pioneer who, along with Hans van Rensburg, opened up the way to the Traansvaal Low-veld and Portuguese East Africa.
The two groups of Trekkers under Trichardt and van Rensburg reached the Soutpansberg mountain range in 1836*. Trichardt and his group decided to stay near the mountains, camping near what eventually became the town of Louis Trichardt. Hans van Rensburg's group moved on.
In this time Trichardt had considerable dealings with the Venda chief, Ramabulana. According to historical documentation, Ramabulana gave Trichardt a piece of land at the foot of the Soutpansberg in 1837*. Trichardt had helped him to successfully dethrone his brother, Ramavaaga.
In 1938 Trichardt's group started exploring the area north of the Soutpansberg in an attempt to locate Van Rensburg and his group. They decided to head for Lourenco Marques, a journey that took them 7 months to complete, killing more than half the group (including Trichardt himself) en route. Trichardt was 55 years old when he died.
Note*: Sources differ on the date that the voortrekkers reached the Soutpansberg mountain range and the date that Ramabulana gave Trichardt a piece of land.
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