Nicolaas Pieter Johannes “Siener” van Rensburg (August 30, 1862 – March 11, 1926) was a Boer from the South African Republic -also known as the Transvaal Republic- and later a citizen of South Africa who is seen by some as a prophet of the Boere (or Afrikaners). Therefore his nickname soon became Siener, which is Afrikaans for “seer” or “soothsayer”. His seemingly accurate predictions of future events were typically wrapped in religious patriotism.
The nature of his visions invariably concerned the welfare of the Boere 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 Koos de la Rey, a general in the Second Boer War, 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.
He was born in the district of Potchefstroom. He only received 20 days of formal school training and spent much of his youth as a cattle herder. At age 16 he participated in a government expedition against the rebellious tribal leader Mapog. He settled near Wolmaranstad in the then western ZAR, and married Anna Sophia Kruger in 1884.
Participation in wars
Nicolaas van Rensburg participated in the second Anglo-Boer War under General du Toit. When time allowed, he then revealed the visions to those around him. He returned to his farm before the end of the war. When the Union of South Africa came out in support of the Allied Powers in World War I, Nicolaas van Rensburg joined the rebels. The rebellion received a fatal blow even before it started, when the influential general Koos de la Rey was accidentally killed on September 15, 1914. The rebellion petered out and most rebels, van Rensburg included, were eventually captured and imprisoned for two years.