The Kruger Museum and its contents bear witness to the forceful personality of the man who lived there as leader of a small republic in southern Africa, at a stormy and unsettling time of his people’s long struggle against British imperialism.
The Museum consists of the original house in which S.J.P. Kruger, President of the old Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR), and his family lived during the last years of the 19th century, as well as two display halls and President Kruger’s State Railway Coach.
The Kruger house, built in 1884, was the original home of Paul Kruger, President of the former Transvaal Boer Republic. The house has been refurbished to reflect the time when the President and his wife, Gezina Kruger, lived there. International admiration for Paul Kruger and the struggle for freedom from British imperialism, his journey to Europe and his exile, are illustrated in the exhibitions. Adjacent to the Kruger Museum is the former Bantu Commissioner’s Office Building, erected in 1932 on the same site as the old Native Pass Office. The people of Tshwane and environs remember the building as “gaMohle”. Its history of enforcing the Pass Laws dates back to 1896 when Paul Kruger’s government used the site for its police headquarters.
Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger was born in the Cape Province on 10 October 1825 and baptised in the Dutch Reformed parish of Cradock. In 1836 his family joined the Voortrekker leader Andries Potgieter and settled in the Western Transvaal where Paul was granted the farm Waterkloof near Rustenburg.
He married Maria du Plessis in 1842 and after her death a few years later he married her cousin, Gezina who bore him sixteen children (seven daughters and nine sons of which some died in infancy). In 1845 he became more and more involved in the politics of the Voortrekker state north of the Vaal River. This Boer republic was annexed by the British in 1877 and Paul Kruger took a leading role in the Transvaal War against Britain in 1889-1881. At the age of 57 Kruger was elected President of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) and took up residence at Kruger House in Pretoria.