Amidst my visa woes (which are more of an expense and hassle than true tragedy), I have struggled to find a Pretoria routine. And routine, as previously mentioned, is critical to maintaining a sense of balance and direction. Naturally I have thus found myself unbalanced and directionless these past few weeks.
Yet I recently discovered a neighbourhood jaunt that has become my daily escape from the house. Even better: at the top of a hill along the scenic Johann Rissik Drive is a 19th-century fort called Klapperkop.
Klapperkop is a fort built by the Boers in a German style (the last of 3 and a 4th was built in the French style) and completed in 1898 – just in time for the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War the following year. None of the four forts surrounding Pretoria was ever fully outfitted with artillery, due in part to the tendency for imported weaponry to go missing or arrive damaged. The Boers eventually fell to British troops, which occupied Pretoria until the peace treaty was signed in 1902, at which point the Boers were forced to cede control to the Crown. Fort Klapperkop in this time was used by both Boer and British soldiers.
Now, admittedly, I knew next-to-nothing about the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 (in fact, those dates I learned just yesterday and cannot claim even that much). It’s a sorry state of affairs when I can articulate nothing about one of the most important events in pre-apartheid era South African history. Fortunately, Fort Klapperkop cured some ignorance and inspired curiosity. At the very least, the fledgling museum has done its job and the views from the top alone make the visit worthwhile.