Siener van Rensburg bigraphy, stories - South African prophet

Siener van Rensburg : biography

30 August 1864 - 11 March 1926

Nicolaas Pieter Johannes ("Niklaas" or "Siener") Janse van Rensburg (30 August 1864 – 11 March 1926) was a Boer from the South African Republic - also known as the Transvaal Republic - and later a citizen of South Africa who was considered by some to be a prophet of the Boere (who are the smaller section of the language based macro group which became known as Afrikaners). Consequently his nickname became Siener, which is Afrikaans for "seer" or "soothsayer". His seemingly accurate predictions of future events were typically wrapped in a patriotic, religious format. During the Boer War he soon acquired a reputation which made him a trusted companion, if not advisor to General de la Rey and President Steyn. The true extent of his influence with these figures is disputed, though the very religious de la Rey seemed to have considered him a prophet of God.

Early life

He was born on the farm Palmietfontein in the Potchefstroom district as son of Willem Jacobus Janse van Rensburg and Anna Catharina Janse van Rensburg. He only received 20 days of formal school training at the Rooipoort farm school, and spent much of his youth as a cattle herder. He could never write, but assisted by his mother learnt to read from the Bible. He never read anything else.

At age 16 he participated in a government expedition against the rebellious tribal leader Mapog. He survived malaria acquired on the expedition and settled near Wolmaranstad in the then western ZAR. He was elected as elder for the Hervormde Kerk at age 21, possibly due to his scriptural knowledge. He married Anna Sophia Kruger in 1884.

Post-war years

After his release Nicolaas van Rensburg returned to his farm Rietkuil, near Wolmaranstad. Some of his visions were then recorded by reverend Dr. Rossouw. Van Rensburg's daughter Anna Badenhorst also recorded a set of visions up to his death at age 61. The latter set is considered to be difficult to interpret and not very coherent.

With the outbreak of World War II, the collections of visions were considered inflammatory. Distribution was prohibited and some copies seized on orders of prime minister Jan Smuts. Upon Anna's death her hand written documents were transferred to Lichtenburg museum's archives, where they were rediscovered in 1991. The farm and van Rensburg family cemetery are located 11 km from Ottosdal, in the North West Province.

Visions

His mother perceived his visions even as a toddler, and noticed that these seemed to disturb him. General Hertzog described him as someone continuously distracted by a maze of imagery and symbolism. In all, some 700 visions have been recorded.

The nature of his visions invariably concerned the welfare of the Boere, the Netherlands and Germany, and were experienced by him as visual imagery to be interpreted afterwards. When the image of the sisal plant occurred in his visions, he for instance interpreted this as a portend of an important meeting, assembly or parliament. He is believed by some to have made many accurate predictions of local events, including foretelling the death of general Koos de la Rey and the political transition of South Africa after his own death. At times his visions also concerned international events, among which the start of World War I and the rise of Communism. He was unable to interpret some of his own visions. These, written down, are still open to interpretation, and believed by some to pertain to future events.

Closing stage of war

Van Rensburg was present when Commandant Van Aardt's company returned from the action at Yzerspruit on 25 February 1902. Van Aardt was despondent as his brother was missing in action but Van Rensburg assured him that he was neither dead nor captured, but alive though in great pain. The wounded soldier was returned to camp the same evening, carried on the horse of a burgher who found him.

Before the Battle of Tweebosch, Van Rensburg gave a number of predictions indicating how the enemy would approach along the Harts River, and when he deemed them most vulnerable. He also envisaged how the victory would enhance De la Rey's reputation. Methuen's force collapsed in the face of De la Rey's sudden attack on 7 March 1902, and Methuen was captured.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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