Museum

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It is often forgotten that, before becoming President of the old Suid-Afrikaanse Republiek, Paul Kruger was a successful farmer who owned and worked several farms in the Rustenburg district.  On one of these - Boekenhoutfontein - stands the Paul Kruger Country Museum which encompasses a collection of unique historic buildings, offering a fascinating insight into Kruger's life and a time when South Africa was locked in a struggle for sovereignty with the British Empire.  Declared a national monument in 1936, and preserved by the Simon van der Stel Foundation since 1971, it is now administered by Kedar Heritage Lodge, Conference Centre & Spa and has been restored to its former glory.

The buildings were damaged by British forces during the Anglo Boer War, and after President Kruger's death in exile in 1904, the property passed to his descendants.  "Boekenhoutfontein belongs to you - preserve it as your own" - Simon v.d. Stel Foundation.The main house, where Kruger lived with his 16 children and his second wife, Gezina, is a solid and stately building which portrays his invincible belief in the future of his country

Built in a neat row, the buildings bear witness to his sense of order and symmetry. Simple building methods and materials are evident, such as rough beechwood lintels, cow dung, peach pip and blood floors and roof beams fastened by dowels and leather thongs.  Period furniture and authentic wallpaper have been recreated by craftsmen in Europe; Kruger's rifle is on show - possibly the one with which he killed a lion at the tender age of 14 - together with one of his many bibles and the bellows organ, played by his wife Gezina, plus many gifts given to him by visiting state dignitaries.  The Bronkhorst House, dating back to the early 1840s, was occupied by Kruger while he was building his first house at Boekenhoutfontein. It is reportedly the oldest white owned dwelling in the then Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek. This property neighbours the Bafokeng nation whom Kruger befriended and persuaded to register their land rights, resulting in today's great Bafokeng wealth generated through its royalties from the platinum mines.

In close proximity can be found family graves, the koppie where Kruger often sought religious guidance and the saddle in the hills where he hid his horses from the British forces. The old schoolhouse, which has served many purposes over the years, can be transformed into a simple chapel & conference room. The dams built by Kruger have also been restored and today serve as watering holes for the herds of game which can be viewed roaming the surrounding untouched bushveld.

 

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