Neethling was among the Afrikaners gathered on the southern edge of Pretoria to celebrate the anniversary of the 1838 victory carried by some 500 of their forefathers who repeled an attack by over 10,000 Zulus. The Afrikaners won thanks to their firearms, leaving more than 3,000 Zulus dead.
South Africa is a nation of 53 million people, including about 9 percent white citizens, or 4.6 million, according to the government.
The mood was much more festive among the predominantly black crowd of several thousand who came to see the unveiling of the Mandela statue.
“He is embracing the whole nation,” said President Jacob Zuma of the statue showing Mandela with open arms. “He is advancing to the nation to say let us come together, let us unite.”
But the message of unity was lost on many Afrikaners gathered on another hilltop just a few kilometers (miles) away.
“These people will demolish everything that has been established here,” said Anton Lubbe.
“We have our western culture, our values, but they are different. What South Africa was is being abused,” the 80-year-old former professor in veterinary science from Pretoria said.
“If there were more Madibas it would be different,” he said, using Mandela’s clan name.