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Grave of Abraham Esau

Grave of Abraham Esau

The book, Abraham Esaus War: A Black South African War in the Cape, 1899-1902 written by Bill Nasson, tells the story of Abraham Esau an Anglo Boer War martyr. Esau, a patriotic coloured artisan gathered a force of 70 locals to defend the town of Calvinia against the Boer commandos. It is said that Esau was captured, placed in leg irons and tied between two horses. The horses dragged Esau out of town where he was again beaten and finally shot dead by Stephanus Strydom. Ironically the killing took place only three days before Calvinia was recaptured by the British. The legend of Abraham Esaus funeral saw a sudden thunderstorm scatter the mourners and the wind blew the Union Jack off the coffin, tearing it into strips. The coffin was then splintered by a lightening bolt and Esaus shattered face was exposed. The news papers in England and South Africa both had conflicting reports, but the words of Alfred Milner, high commissioner in South Africa at the time stand. Nothing more disgraceful has happened in modern war than the treatment of the coloured man Esau at Calvinia. What I do know is that they flogged him till he fainted, for the offence of being loyal to the British Crown, he being born and bread a British Subject. The man is well known to me by correspondence, and is known to my staff personally. Though coloured, he was a most respectable, upstanding, and for his class in life (a village blacksmith) superior man - far more civilised than the average Boer farmer.

For more information please contact:
Calvinia Tourism Information
Tel: +27-27-3418100
Fax +27-27-3418128

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