19 December 2005

Tribe honours a Voortrekker

In 2003, the Baphiring tribe in the North West province honoured a Voortrekker, alongside his descendants, amongst them the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pik Botha. Thomas Frederik Dreyer was honoured with a memorial stone on the farm Rietfontein, which he owned in 1840. The farm was part of appropriated land in 1960 for homelands and was later given to the Baphiring tribe. Botha's research of his Dreyer ancestors helped solve a mystery in northern Germany. According to the church records of Grube near Kiel, Johannes Augustus Dreyer, one of the Dreyer progenitor’s 4 sons, disappeared in 1713. When Botha visited the town in 1962, he told them that this son had settled in Africa. In 1717 he married Sara van Wyk at the Cape, and they had 6 children. Thomas was married in 1834 to Susanna Jacoba Hendrina Adriana Janse van Rensburg, according to Gereformeerde Kerk records. They had 13 children, including Christiaan Lourens, father of Maria Elizabeth, Botha's mother.

Lovemore reunion

The Lovemore family held a successful family reunion earlier this year in Port Elizabeth. The founder of the clan, according to Margaret Harradine’s book, Port Elizabeth, was Henry, born in London. He died at Bushy Park, the family home on the road to Seaview, in November 1851, when he was 76. Henry married four times. The Lovemore Story, a hard-cover book written by Bernard Johnson, incorporating the research work of his late wife, Gweneth, was on sale. The family was well-known in farming and road building. Descendants are spread out in South Africa, Australia, the USA, England, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Noo Sullivan (née Lovemore) has lived in Alabama, USA, for many years. She matriculated at the Priory Convent and grew up at Bushy Park. For more information about the book, contact Davina Coombs 041-379 1838 (after work hours).

Helping Granny's school

Retired Port Elizabeth primary school teacher Alda Augoustatos recently travelled to Nieu Bethesda to visit the Lettie de Klerk Memorial School, which is named after her grandmother. Alda donated a framed photograph of her grandmother, as well as sports and computer equipment. Four of Lettie’s original pupils were at the presentation. The school dates back to 1853 when it was called the London Mission School, but was renamed after Lettie's death. Lettie was a disciplinarian and worked as a nurse, attorney and teacher. She was born van Heerden and is buried in the family graveyard on a farm outside Nieu Bethesda. Alda is carrying on with fundraising to help the school. To donate goods, contact Alda at (041) 583 2237 or 072 3767098.

Saving Pretoria's buildings

The Melrose House Museum in Pretoria is undergoing restoration work, mostly to the outside. The curator's house in Burgerspark in Berea also had restoration work done recently. The work was done by the Tshwane Building Heritage Association (formerly Van der Stel Foundation). The chairman, Anton Jansen, oversees the work. Previous work done by the association includes a small chapel in Heroes' Acre in Church Street, which dates back to the 1860s. They also saved the old Hatfield Primary School on the corner of Duncan and Schoeman Streets.

18 December 2005

Voortrekker Monument looking for donations

The Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria has a large collection of items dating from the Great Trek and the Anglo Boer War. Now staff are looking for articles dating from the 1938, 1949 and 1988 Great Trek commemorations. If you have something that you'd like to donate, call (012) 326 6770 or e-mail museum@voortrekkermon.org.za

Steam locomotives running again

For 10 years, the rail tracks in the Langkloof have slowly disappeared under the weeds as the rail traffic has disappeared. The railway once carried most of the valley’s apples and pears to the cooling sheds at Port Elizabeth harbour for export. The little country stations have been abandoned as the apples now go by truck, usually to Cape Town. More than 10 years after Spoornet officially closed the narrow gauge linec, trains are again passing through the valley, albeit steam locomotives carrying tourists on day trips. Rail tourism is growing world-wide and the Free State-based Sandstone Heritage Trust is aiming to have South Africa part of it.

Sandstone operates restored steam locomotives on its private farm railway near Ficksburg in the Free State. A recent collaboration with the Apple Express Society saw a 3-day trip to Avontuur sold out to mostly Britons. The Apple Express runs a truncated excursion service from Port Elizabeth to Thornhill. The Avontuur railway is a narrow gauge as the countryside was too rugged when it was buit in 1902, reaching Avontuur 5 years later. It operated for 90 years, carrying fruit from the Langkloof, timber from the plantations around Kareedouw and wheat from Humansdorp.

Last mining village in danger of being demolished

The South African Heritage Agency is fighting to preserve one of Gauteng’s last remaining mining villages. Van Ryn’s Deep, an 82-year-old village  In Main Reef Road, Mackenzie Park, Benoni, stands on private land and is provisionally protected from demolition. Yet some of the houses are being dismantled, even after the agency had obtained a protection order for the property. Van Ryn’s Deep is also protected for two years following a successful application by the agency in July. By law, buildings older than 60 years cannot be altered or destroyed without permission from the heritage agency.

In September 34 families living in the houses were evicted following a successful Johannesburg High Court application for an eviction order brought by the owner of the land. The mining village was established for workers of the Kleinfontein mine around 1923. The land owner, Rafick Mohammed, bought the land 10 years ago and wants to develop it into a townhouse complex.

Winnie's Brandfort house to become museum

The house in Brandfort where Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was banished to from 1977 to 1987, is to become a museum, library and guest house. Ms Madikizela-Mandela is looking for the gifts that were sent to her by people such as the Kennedys, to add to the house at 802 Maroka Street in Phutakhahle. The missing gifts include books, artefacts and paintings, confiscated by the state at that time. M.K. Malefane, her personal assistant from 1980 to 1985, and who also lived in the house, is heading the project.

Nunn family history becomes exhibition

Blood Relatives is a photo essay by Cedric Nunn. He was born in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, in 1957 - the 5th of 7 children born to Herbert and Lily Nunn. The freelance photographer is based in Johannesburg. His family is of mixed European and Zulu descent, one of his great-grandfathers was John Dunn, friend of Zulu king Cetshwayo.  John was made a Zulu chief and had 48 wives. His descendants were allocated 3500ha of land at Mangete, north of Durban, where Cedric grew up.
Blood Relatives is a 20-year project describing his mixed-race ancestry.

Historical church demolished for new shopping centre

The historical Nederduits Hervormde Kerk in Rustenburg, situated in Church Street and dating back to 1853, is to be demolished to make place for a new shopping centre. Ds. Johan van Wyk said that the costs of maintaining the church have become unaffordable and crime in the area kept members away. The land was sold for R7,5 million. Some of the church's belongings were sold to other churches. According to the new owners, research showed that there was no historical reason to keep the building.

Muir College renamed

Muir College in Uitenhage was renamed in September to honour the South African national anthem composer Enoch Sontonga. He was born in Uitenhage in 1873 and composed Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika in 1897 while he was a teacher at a Methodist mission school in Johannesburg. The first stanza was written in Xhosa. Over the years the song has been translated to different languages. In 1923, one of the founding members of the ANC, Sol Plaatjie, recorded the song for the first time in England. On 20 April 1994, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and Die Stem became the national anthem of South Africa.

Sontonga died on 18 April 1905 and his grave was declared a national monument in September 1996. He received the gold Order of Meritorious Service posthumously, which was presented to his granddaughter, Ida Rabotape His great-grandson, Winston Rabotape, travelled to Uitenhage from Pretoria for the college renaming.

The western district of the Eastern Cape department of education moved into the three-storey old Muir College building in 1997. It was built in 1952. In 1987, the new Muir College was constructed and the old building was taken over by the education department.

Local history treasure

In downtown Johannesburg there's a place where you can see 250 million years of local history in one day. MuseuMAfricA , in the Newtown Cultural Precinct, was the city's first fruit and vegetable market. MuseuMAfricA is Johannesburg's major history and cultural history museum. The structure of the original building, erected in 1913, has now been built into a modern building. Its collections have been accumulated and preserved since 1933, when an impressive collection of Africana was bought by the Johannesburg public Library from J C Gubbins, turning the museum into the Africana Museum. It was renamed in 1994.

The interior is a series of walkways and ramps, from prehistoric times to the present. The geological section has slabs of minerals and stones, fossils and gemstones. There is a collection of objects from the days of the Dutch East India Company. Frascati’s Bar is a late 19th-century local saloon complete with old beer bottles (Stag, Rob Roy and Tooth’s lagers), sepia-toned boxing prints, worn leather seats and slow-turning fans. Jürgen Schadeberg’s exhibition, Voices from the Land, is an exposé of what conditions were like on some of South Africa’s farms. His photos of the 1956 Treason Trialists grace the walls of the Tried for Treason exhibit. Newspaper sheets from the 1950s take one back in time. Life-like exhibits of mineworkers’ living quarters are contrasted with those of mine managers. You can go from the shebeens of Sophiatown to early Soweto shack life. Music and sound effects follow you. The Road to Democracy showcases the twin paths of white politics and black resistance. Wooden walkways lead through faux caves, recreating ancient rock art made from crushed ochre, charcoal, fat and blood. The Bensusan Museum of Photography takes you through 160 years of photography.

Kapitan's to close?

The young Nelson Mandela was a regular customer in the 1950s, enjoying hot and spicy Indian food for as little as two shillings and six pence. Now Kapitan's is about to close after 120 years in business. The Kort Street restaurant was a Johannesburg landmark. Madanjit “Kapitan” Ranchod is the fourth generation of his family to have owned the restaurant. Nowadays the restaurant is only open only for lunch. Madanjit recently celebrated his 79th birthday and wants to retire next December to write his memoirs at his new home in Phuket, Thailand.

His great-father, Kesur Jivan Kapitan, was born in Fiji and worked on the ships that plied between that southern Pacific island and Bombay. He arrived in Durban in 1887 and opened the first Kapitan’s. His son, Ranchod Kesur Kapitan, opened Kapitan's Balcony Hotel in 1924/25 on the corner of Grey Street and Victoria Street. Ranchod went on to open a branch of the restaurant in Johannesburg in 1914. He returned to India in 1938 and his son, Madanjit's father, took over. Madanjit was born in Durban in 1926. He lives next to the restaurant in Kort Street. None of Madanjit's children is interested in taking over the restaurant.

Madanjit has been in the kitchen for 63 years and has cooked for people such as Aristotle Onassis, the Shah of Iran, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and the Kuwaiti royal family. All the tandoori dishes are made in a specially made iron stove made by a Hungarian blacksmith in 1914. Other food is cooked on a large vintage coal stove or gas stoves. There are no microwaves. Kapitan's moved upstairs to its current location from the shop next door in 1959, when the Brazilian ambassador cut the opening ribbon. Kapitan then opened a restaurant in San Paolo and was a regular traveller to Brazil until he sold the place 9 years ago.

When Sir Seretse, the founding president of Botswana, was undergoing medical treatment in Johannesburg, Kapitan's was the only restaurant willing to accommodate his white wife Ruth and accompanying black cabinet ministers. Back then, 95% of Kapitan's trade was black but today it is 95% white. Nelson Mandela took Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela to Kapitan's on their first date.

Having been married a few times, Madanjit is still married to his Brazilian wife Marjorie or Marge (Margareta), who he married in 1959 and with whom he has 7 children. He has 11 children, including 3 sons  - an engineer, a salesman and a music teacher. There are 13 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

A trip down memory lane

Bill Hatley (83) of Worthing, England, recently took a trip down memory lane - in Cape Town. Bill's visit was a gift from his sons, Anthony and Chris, who had been fascinated by his stories of their father's time as an ambulance driver in World War II. Bill was 19 years old when he arrived in Cape Town in 1941 onboard the ship Sierra Leone from Newcastle. He was a member of 1 Squadron, RAF, which was based at Brooklyn Air Force Base (later renamed to Ysterplaat). He spent 3 years there. Bill also worked on the Spitfire and Harvard aircraft, when not doing ambulance duty. When off duty, he was often found playing drums with a dance orchestra at the Rotanda Hotel in Camps Bay.

Ghostly money earner

Donald Lamont, owner of the Swartberg Hotel in Prince Albert, has decided that the resident ghost must earn its keep. He hasn't seen the ghost. The 2 large oil paintings in the restaurant also undergo strange changes once a month. Hotel staff and some visitors claim to have seen it. The hotel was built in 1886. Donald often uses local story teller, Ailse Tudhope, to present ghostly story evenings at the hotel. He also offers a Ghost Walk around the town's Victorian and Edwardian buildings.

Commonwealth war graves

South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand recently agreed on a plan for the renovation and maintenance of about 25 000 Commonwealth war graves in South Africa. A memorandum of understanding was signed at the Heroes Acre Cemetery in Pretoria between Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan and British high commissioner Paul Boateng. It would see the UK government, in co-operation with private organisations and individuals, putting up £800 000 for the restoration of graves of Commonwealth soldiers at 222 South African cemeteries who died in the Anglo-Boer War. A further £150 000 would be made available annually for maintenance.

Barton Keep

One of Pretoria's loveliest heritage homes may soon have a new owner. The present owners, the Hervormde Kerk, are looking at selling Barton Keep, the home of Pretoria's first elected mayor, to Dansa International College. Barton Keep is 'n declared national monument and its owners are legally bound to preserve it. The house has stone walls, a tower and balconies. It is at 218 Jacob Maré Street and was built in 1888 for Edmund (Eddie) Bourke (Jan 1852-30 Aug 1926) who was mayor from 1903 to 1904. It is one of the few remaining examples of the pseudo-Middle Ages style with Victorian elements. The plans were drawn up in the Netherlands and the house was built by Dutch builders. Anton van Wouw decorated one of the larger rooms.

Edmund Francis Bourke was born in Pietermaritzburg, the eldest son of John Bourke, early Natal settler who was the third son of Patrick Bourke of Kentuck, County Mayo, Ireland. After school, Edmund became a clerk at Messrs Fass and Co., learning accountancy. He took charge of Henry Russell's business in Pretoria in 1877, and returned to Natal in 1878 to assume temporary charge of the Fass business in Durban. In 1879 he was back in Pretoria and opened a general merchant store, Bourke and Co.. He sold the business which had grown by another store, to John Jack. Bourke also owned Black Mill on the corner of Queen and Vermeulen Streets. With George Heys, he was co-owner of a gold-mine at Mamre (Slaaihoek) near Machadodorp. On the establishment of the Pretoria Chamber of Commerce in 1891 he was elected its first president. Generous in his patronage of hospitals, schools, and sporting bodies, he contributed to the founding of both the St Ethelreda School for Girls (1893) and the Staatsmeisjeschool (1894). He was a founder of the Pretoria Club (1885). His will provided various bequests to the Pretoria town council, the Pretoria Public Library, the State Library and to several benevolent and Wesleyan organisations in Pretoria and Pietermaritzburg. He married Eleanor Griffin of Pietermaritzburg in 1881 and had five children. Bourke Street in Pretoria is named after him.

17 December 2005

17th century find on top of Stone Age find

Mark Solms, professor of neuroscience at the University of Cape Town, found an archaeological treasure buried under the driveway of his Franschhoek farm. Soon, a team of archaeologists had turned the manicured garden and most of the driveway of the Cape wine farm into an excavation site. They are uncovering the remains of a three-roomed house dating back to the late 17th century, which was built on top of a 6000-year-old late Stone Age settlement. Professor Solms had found blue-and-white Dutch porcelain shards in his front yard. He uncovered more blue-and-white Delft pottery and, when he uncovered the corner of the house, he called in the archaeologists, who had missed the find on an earlier dig. Among the neatly packed stones of the 300-year-old foundation wall, archaeologists found the remains of a late Stone Age settlement, the first to be excavated in the Boland. The farm’s first transfer deed was drawn up in 1693 and according to that, its first owner was Dutch settler Hans Silberbach, who was married to a freed slave, Ansela van de Caab.

ATKV 75 years old

The Afrikaanse Taal- en Kultuurvereniging (ATKV) celebrated its 75th anniversary earlier this year. They are known as doers instead of talkers, and organise music festivals, choir festivals and debating competitions. The cultural organisation also operates writers' schools, trains youth leaders and encourages the arts in the Afrikaans community.

Baptist centenary

A Baptist tradition has endured in the Cambridge area from the arrival of the first British and German settlers. In August, the Cambridge Baptist Church in Hebbes Street celebrated its centenary. Before the 1900s there were two Baptist churches in East London - one in Porter Street (mainly German settlers), and the other in Buffalo Street (mainly English settlers). The Buffalo Street church hired the Temperance Hall for Sunday services. In 1905, the Cambridge Baptist Church became a separate self-governing body. Since then, it has grown and seen changes like the building of the Hebbes Street church and additional halls. A display of historical photographs and other memorabilia was exhibited at the church.

Granny's video

Grace Masuku (70) is the matriarch of the Bakgatla tribe in the Pilanesberg. She was worried that the tribe's traditions and heritage would be forgotten by the younger generations, so she took a leap into the information age in order to preserve them. She made a documentary video for her 18 great-grandchildren. From Nkoko... with love was screened on SABC2. With filmmaker Karin Slater's help, Grace discusses the tribe's traditions on birth, marriage, motherhood, age and death.

Claiming land Kruger gave them

The descendants of three Indian settlers who knew Paul Kruger have lodged one of South Africa’s biggest land claims on property worth more than R150-million. The Bakharia family from Rustenburg is claiming land in North West Province that includes buildings belonging to the Bafokeng nation, which has made a fortune from the area’s platinum mines. Among the properties are the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, Bafokeng Plaza, a police station and a service station. The Bakharia family had valued the land at between R150-million and R180-million. The original Bakharia brothers - Suliman Ahmed, Ismail Mohammed and Mahmood Ahmed - settled on a farm in Rustenburg after arriving in South Africa. The farm was owned by President Kruger of the Transvaal, who allowed them to live and trade there. During the Anglo-Boer War, the brothers gave the Boer fighters food and shelter. Kruger gave them the farm Kookfontein in recognition of this. The land was later expropriated under apartheid. Details of the claim emerged at the recent insolvency hearing of Mahmood Ahmed Bakharia’s grandson, Suliman Bakharia, who was declared insolvent in 1998 when his general dealer business ran into difficulties. Families of the 3 brothers left certain members of the family out of their claim. Disputes arose over who was the rightful owner of the land, who had shares and who didn’t.

Gold Route for East Rand

Almost all the East Rand towns were founded thanks to the gold rush. Now there are efforts under way to bring this heritage to the general public. A Gold Route is planned, stretching from the Rand Refinery in Germiston through Boksburg and Benoni to the New Kleinfontein Mine outside Brakpan. Visitors will be able to see the refinery where all the gold nuggets are melted and processed into pure gold. A visit to the ERPM mining village in Boksburg is also on the cards, as is the mine strikers' route of 1912, 1913, 1922 and 1946. The first general miners' strike was in 1912. A year later, 4 500 Black miners surrounded the Benoni police station, demanding the release of their 3 spokesmen. In 1922 White and Black miners went on strike about working conditions. In 1946 about 40 000 miners went on strike. Modderfontein, the first dynamite factory founded in 1896 as the Dynamite Company, is also to be part of the Gold Route. For more information about the Gold Route, call (011) 452 7392.

Found after 40 years

Arthur Brown and his sisters were raised at the King William's Town Children's Home. In 1953 they went their separate ways. The girls married and Arthur lost track of them over the years. One of Arthur's Standard 4 classmates, Merle Erasmus, met up with him again in their 70s. After Merle's family met Arthur, they found that Merle at one point had lived in the same street as one of his sisters. A plea was published in You magazine's Desperately Seeking column, but no response was received. Undeterred, Merle placed another plea a few months later. Finally a man in Cape Town called, saying he knew where one of the sisters, Thora, was. A trip to Alexandria and Uitenhage followed for the siblings. Arthur's sisters had tried to contact him over a radio programme but he never heard that programme. His youngest sister, Evelyn, has still not been found. Due to an accident experienced during her childhood Evelyn experiences epileptic fits which had her admitted to a care home in Cape Town. The home has since closed down and Evelyn has not been able to be traced.

Jubilee Year at St Alban's Anglican Church

St Alban's Anglican Church in Vincent, East London, celebrated its jubilee this year. A jubilee magazine was published to coincide with the birthday and includes mention of such parishioners as Dr Marjorie Courteney Latimer and Oriel Batton. The congregation heard the memorable Jubilee Song, composed and written by members of St Alban's worship group, which is included on a CD of all-original music, composed and performed by various members of the church, titled One Hope.

Telephone wire art

The popular telephone-wire bowls in South Africa had their origin in Zulu night watchmen on the mines in the 1950s. According to a new book by Durban's Marisa Fick-Jordaan, telephone (or scoobie) wire was first used to decorate knobkerries and the lids of traditional beer pots. The former fashion designer who founded the BAT Shop at Durban’s BAT Centre in 1994, wrote the book, Wired — Contemporary Zulu Telephone-wire Baskets, with US art collector, David Arment. Her research revealed that scoobie wire became available in South Africa in the 1930s, and that in the 1950s it was first used to decorate knobkerries and bottles by Zulu men working on the Johannesburg mines.

Museums going digital

Nine of Johannesburg's museums will benefit from about R5-million which is being spent on creating a single database to record details of more than a million items stored the museums. When complete, it will be available on the Internet where one will be able to search the collection of historical photographs, papers, paintings and centuries-old artefacts such as axes, drums, and beadwork. The project is part of more than R12-million being spent on Johannesburg's council-owned museums.
The Gauteng provincial government has also given R4.2-million for physical upgrades to MuseuMAfricA in Newtown whose collections include Africana, the Bensusan photography museum and a geological collection. The money will be used to double the amount of exhibition space, to 2700m². The museum will also benefit from a R2-million donation from the National Lottery Board, which will be used to build a new geological exhibition. This collection, the oldest in Johannesburg, includes rare rock specimens. MuseuMAfricA is housed in a 92-year-old building that was Johannesburg's first fruit and vegetable market. It was renovated in the 1990s. The museum’s collection began as a private collection. In 1935 the council bought it and the collection was opened to the public and housed in the Johannesburg Library. In 1994 it was relocated to MuseuMAfricA.

Tolstoy Farm to be heritage site

Tolstoy Farm, home to Mahatma Gandhi, on and off, between 1910 and 1913, will be developed into a heritage site at a cost of about R860 000. The farm will form part of a Struggle route that includes Soweto’s Hector Pietersen Museum and the Regina Mundi church. The land is now owned by brick factory Corobrik, which has agreed to donate 4ha. Plans for the farm include a peace museum and a resource centre that will contain resistance documents. Gandhi’s great-granddaughter, Kirti Menon, heads the Gandhi Committee which is working on the project. Gandhi arrived in South Africa in 1893 as a 23-year-old lawyer and spent 21 years developing his philosophy of non-violence. The farm was named after Russian author Leo Tolstoy, whom Gandhi admired. Gandhi used the farm as an experiment in communal living.

N/u language

A CD has been made that preserves the N/u language of the !Khomani San. It was recorded by Thabo Olivier of Lingo Software and is offered free to anyone wanting to learn the language. Olivier spent a year working on the project, mostly in Upington. The vocabulary of 74 words was expanded to 140 words. As far as he could tell, the language is only spoken by 7 people, although there are between 3 000 and 4 000 !Khomani Sans, who speak mostly Afrikaans.

Miniature steam train needs new engine

The miniature steam train at the Fountains Valley in Pretoria needs a new diesel engine, as it takes almost 2 hours to get the steam engine going. Flip Reimers has been the train driver since 1997. The train was built in 1947 and has been in operation since 1948. In October 1979, it became the property if the Round Table 87 and runs on Sundays from 10:00 to 15:00. The much-needed diesel engine needs to have 2 to 4 cylinders giving about 40 horsepower. All income from train rides goes into the Round Table's welfare work. For more information, call Mr. Wessels at 082 378 9647.

New National Library under construction

The new R160m four-storey National Library, under construction in Pretoria's central business district, will have about 33 000m² of space for its book collections, reading rooms and other facilities scattered in various buildings around the city. It will provide about 1 800 seats for library users. The site will become part of Government Boulevard, linking the city centre with the Union Buildings. It is set to open in 2007. The modern glass-and-brick building will have a raised public piazza leading to its entrance, steel and glass covered walkways and ramps, double-volume reading rooms with views onto the streets, and conveyer belts linking the different sections. The National Library came into existence through the merger in 1999 of the former State Library in Pretoria and the former South African Library in Cape Town. The National Library is the custodian of South Africa's documentary heritage, receiving - in terms of the Legal Deposit Act - a copy of every book, magazine, newspaper, government document and any other document published in South Africa. The library has a collection of over 3 million items from legal deposits, donations, and exchange agreements. The new building is expected to store over 3.5-million documents over the next 20 years.

Where is Mbuyisa?

On 16 June 1976, 18-year-old Mbuyisa Makhubu was photographed by Sam Nzima carrying the dying Hector Pietersen during the Soweto riots, alongside Hector's sister Antoinette. Mbuyisa later disappeared. His sister, Ntsiki, who was then 22, said that her brother fled to Botswana the same year after the shooting. He phoned his mother towards the end of the year saying he was moving to Nigeria. He wrote several letters to his mother from Nigeria. In one of the letters he said he was studying medicine. The last time he wrote to her was in the late 1970s when he said that he was very sick and sent a picture of himself looking very frail. It was at the same time when he said he would go to Tanzania because the situation was bad in Nigeria.

His family has asked the South African government to help find him. His brother, Raul, and the rest of the family tried to find him several times over the past years. Their efforts have included seeking help from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and approaching President Thabo Mbeki. His mother died on 11 April 2004, not knowing what happened to him. Raul lives a few houses away from the Hector Pietersen Museum in Orlando West, as does Ntsiki. The Makhubu family do not celebrate Youth Day, but come together to mourn their loss. Anyone with information can call the investigating officer, Inspector John Ngobeni, on 082-455-7897.

Film director Feizel Mamdoo made a documentary, What Happened to Mbuyisa?, which was the first South African piece to be invited to participate in the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, the most prestigious event dedicated to movies about real life. Feizel was actively involved in politics in the 1980s and later studied at the University of Essex. On his return to South Africa, he worked as a researcher, assistant producer and director of films and corporate videos. This documentary was financed by the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, and the production company, Endemol.

14 December 2005

Maverick: Extraordinary women from South Africa's history

Maverick: Extraordinary women from South Africa's history, by Lauren Beukes
Published by Oshun Books, 2005
ISBN: 1770070508
Softcover, 288 pages
This book spans 350 years of history and covers the lives of 18 of South Africa’s most famous, and notorious, women, including Brenda Fassie, Daisy de Melker, Sara Bartmann, Ingrid Jonker, Helen Joseph, Nongqawuse, Bessie Head, Boer commando Sarah Raal, Krotoa-Eva the translator for Jan van Riebeeck, Black Sophie the brothel queen of Bree Street, the first black movie star and Drum cover girl, Dolly Rathebe, and Glenda Kemp, the snake-dancing stripper of the 1970s. Even Rifles, the Navy leopard is profiled. Lauren did a lot of research and consulted with experts ranging from historians to family members. Glenda Kemp was the only "maverick" still alive. She is now a devout Christian schoolteacher.

Logan treasures on auction

December 3 and 4 saw the multi-million rand collection auction of antiques from the manor house at Matjiesfontein and the estate of James Douglas Logan and his heir and grandson Major John D L Buist, who died in June. James, a wealthy Scotsman, lived in Matjiesfontein in the late 1800s. He pioneered waterborne systems for sewage, owned the first private home in South Africa to have electric lighting and had the country's first flushing toilets. His friends included authors Rudyard Kipling and Olive Schreiner, Winston Churchill's father, Randolph, and Cecil John Rhodes. The collection was stored in Tweedside Manor House where James lived and which John occupied until his death. The collection was inherited by Logan's great-granddaughter, Jennifer Hart. Unwilling to keep all the items, she decided to sell.

The items on auction included a 1939 vintage car valued at over R1-million. There were also rifles, cutlery, crockery, carpets, rugs, furniture, paintings, autographed photographs, sculptures, a five-metre long billiard table and a Scottish Highland Infantry mess uniform complete with kilt and sporin. Lot 702 was a large oil on canvas painting of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes. Also on sale was signage from Matjiesfontein. The letters, papers and books that belonged to the Logan family were not on auction. These will possibly be sold at a later stage. Among them are letters between Olive Schreiner and James, as well as letters to Gertrude Logan, James' daughter. Schreiner, author of the acclaimed Story of an African Farm, lived in Matjiesfontein from 1890 to 1892. The Olive Schreiner Museum in Cradock would love to acquire the letters to add to their collections of Schreiner memorabilia.

Pierre de Villiers, a property developer from Cape Town, paid just under R1,5-million for his father's Christmas present. The retired Hermanus businessman, Charles, was at home when his son rang him to tell him that he was now the owner of the world's only 1939 Jensen Tourer. The bidding started at R800 000 and ended soon after at R1 450 000 - excluding the auctioneer's 10% commission. Pierre already owns vintage sports cars dating from the 1960s. The Jensen is a British-made legend, assembled in West Bromwich, near Birmingham.

A silver-plated soup tureen went for R36 000; a silver-plated turkey chaff dish bearing the logo of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange went for R27 000; the five-metre long billiard table sold for R31 000 while one of its antique scoreboards went for R19 000; three Hugo Naude paintings went for R22 000, R23 000 and R20 000.

Hotelier David Rawdon bought the whole town of Matjiesfontein in 1968, and one of the conditions of the deal was that Tweedside Lodge would become Rawdon’s property when John died. The home is to be turned into a spa and hotel.

James arrived in South Africa in when he was shipwrecked near Simon’s Town. He walked to Cape Town and got a job on the railways. From being a penniless porter, he built himself up into one of the wealthiest men in South Africa. He owned hotels, a wine and liquor store in Cape Town, and at one stage, he held all the railway catering contracts from Cape Town to Bulawayo. He suffered from a bad chest condition and was drawn to Matjiesfontein for the clean Karoo air. He built Tweedside Lodge and founded the village around the railway stop in the 1890s, soon turning it into a popular tourist destination. A perfectionist, he brought in the London street lamp posts that remain in the village. He arranged for the African Banking Corp (later Standard Bank) to establish an office and administer his business empire from Matjiesfontein. In partnership with the Castle Steamship Company, James offered round trips to Matjiesfontein to English travellers. By the time the Anglo-Boer War broke out in 1899, the village had become a popular health and holiday destination, drawing aristocrats from Britain and Europe. When the war started, Matjiesfontein served as a command headquarters and home to many British officers. Some of the top British regiments were based there, including the Coldstream Guards, the Seventeenth Lancers, the Middlesex Regiment and the Highland Brigade.

CD about Indian Christians in South Africa

The Hindu and Christian communities have produced a CD that traces the history of South African Indian Christians. The CD was produced by Dr Gabrielle Naidoo, director of the Gospel Foundation International, and narrated by Dr Tholsiah Naidoo, head of the Indian Academy. Roots tells the story of Indian Christians in South Africa since 1860. For more details contact (031) 577-5140

Danie Craven's link to Steytlerville

The Karoo town of Steytlerville is just over 2 hours’ drive from Port Elizabeth. With a population of 4 000, life has been laid back since the ostrich industry collapsed in the early 1900s and sheep farming fell due to ongoing drought and a drop in wool prices. The only hotel, the Karoo Hotel, is 2kms out of town as Steytlerville was founded when drinking was a major sin.

Steytlerville was established on the farm Doorschpoort in 1876 and named after Reverend Steytler whose efforts resulted in the establishment of a Dutch Reformed Congregation. Mr Roselt, a surveyor, was contracted to subdivide the farm. In September 1880 these erven were auctioned and fetched prices ranging from £80 to £30 an erf.

The wide Main Street of Steytlerville was designed at the time to allow ox wagons to turn around. The NG church of the Edwardian period can seat 3 000. It was built in the early 1900s for £16 000. Bats have taken over the ancient belfry at St Peter’s Anglican Church, and bat droppings are only swept away 20 minutes before a service. The town was home to the late Afrikaans poet and writer A G Visser.

The town is also famous for worms - thanks to Jan Claasens, otherwise known as Jan Pampoen because of the many Jan Claasens in Steytlerville. Jan Pampoen is a small stock farmer who supplements his income by selling what are said to be the longest earthworms in the world. He digs the 2 metre long bush worms from bone dry soil and sells them to fishermen in an area that receives less than 250mm of rainfall annually! According to Danie Craven who’s spent much of his life just outside Steytlerville on the farm Noorspoort, like his greatgrandfather and his father before him, the fishing is good. Danie is the grandson of the late South African rugby supremo Dr Danie Craven. His father, George, established ROEP (Restore our Endangered Platteland) in the 1980s in a bid to save Karoo towns from becoming depopulated. Danie is continuing his efforts.

Danie Craven married Beyera Hayward in 1938. Their eldest son George started farming on Noorspoort in 1977. In 1863, George Nathaniel John Hayward (1826 - 1890), son of the 1820 Settler, James Hayward (1799-1882), bought the farms Noordse Poort (whose first recorded owner was G C Strydom in 1820) and de Poort from Marx for £1 000. The transfer took place in 1871 and T I Ferreira, F Gerds and J Mosel were listed as co-owners. Hayward probably bought out his partners over a period. The farm later became known as Noorspoort. The original farmhouse was demolished in about 1950.

Riena Raymer, aka Tannie Riena, is Steytlerville’s answer to storyteller Herman Charles Bosman. She is Danie's great aunt. Steytlerville's history has been preserved in the Steytlerville Museum which was opened in September 1967, thanks to Reina Raymer's efforts.

Abraham Levy Centre sold

Port Elizabeth's Reverend Abraham Levy Centre in Perridgevale was sold earlier this year to property developers. Port Elizabeth Hebrew Congregation president Denzil Levy, after whose father the centre is named, said the multi-million rand deal was signed after a unanimous vote by congregation members. The main synagogue will be converted into about 25 residential units in an upmarket loft style. The complex consists of the main synagogue and the adjoining Abraham Levy hall and ancillary rooms, a flat and upstairs office. A small synagogue in the main hall will continue to be used for worship by the congregation. Levy, an architect by profession, said the synagogue’s congregation was down from a once-flourishing 1 200 to 280. The synagogue was built in 1955 and the Abraham Levy Centre in 1970. The buildings were too expensive to maintain and this was the reason behind the sale.

A Tarantula in the Karoo

Aberdeen in the Karoo only has one tarred road, the rest are gravel. In Stockenstroom Street you'll find Pagel House, a guesthouse owned by Lyn Dugmore. Lyn, an antiques collector, has decorated the house in its original Victorian style, a perfect fit for her antiques. She has travelled and worked as a nurse in Switzerland for many years before settling in the Karoo. Pagel House was named after its famous owner Wilhelm Pagel, who was the Pagel’s Circus master and strongman.

Aberdeen used to be a watering point for horses and was visited by Voortrekkers on their way inland. The town was built on a natural water reservoir, with springs on the nearby farms. A stone post office was built in Aberdeen in 1898, by accident as it was intended for Grahamstown. The builders arrived in Aberdeen and, being unfamiliar with the area, believed they were in Grahamstown and so set to work. Because of their mistake they weren’t paid a cent for their efforts. Aberdeen still has its first home near the town centre. The Homestead was built in 1820 on the farm Brakkefontein and later became Aberdeen. Brakkefontein was renamed in 1855 after Aberdeen in Scotland, the birthplace of Reverend Andrew Murray, the Dutch Reformed minister in Graaff-Reinet at the time. The Homestead still has its original yellowwood floor and oxblood-stained oregon ceilings and is now a guesthouse owned by Clyde and Desné Cole, who settled in Aberdeen after sailing the Caribbean.

Resident Wendy van Schalkwyk is writing a book about the town, which is rich in Anglo-Boer war legends. Carel van Heerden, a Boer rebel, was shot and killed in front of the Dutch Reformed Church, while British soldier Captain Lawrence Oats was shot in the leg and nursed in the town.

The Dutch Reformed Church has a 51.2m-high steeple. A maintenance lift called Tarantula, takes tourists up the church tower. The Tarantula was born when the congregation restored the tower. The tower was built with raw stone that disintegrates as the paint peels off. It was too expensive to hire facades to paint and restore the tower, due to its immense height, so a long term sustainable solution was looked into. After successful fund raising, Retief van Rensburg, a farmer and air drill contractor, of the Beaufort West district, took three months to design, build the Tarantula and install it at the church. The name Tarantula refers to the eight-legged steel structure installed at the base of the steeple. On its test run the Tarantula pulled up 14 passengers and 2 bakkies into the air. It would have cost the church R70 000 to erect facades and have the tower painted once. Now the church members do maintenance work themselves on a continual basis and receive money from tourists riding up the tower.

The church was built in different stages and the tower, its latest addition, was completed in 1907. In the church yard, an olive tree grows which was cultivated from a sprout a previous minister picked in the garden of Gethsemane. Every year the olives are harvested, pickled and sold at an auction. Inside the church, wool portraits of Bible history from the creation to the judgement day, line the walls.

First rugby playing school?

St Andrew’s College celebrated its 150th jubilee earlier this year. A rugby festival formed part of the celebrations, as St Andrew's was one of the earliest schools, if not the earliest in the country, to play "rugby football” in 1875. The school's staff were originally from England and Ireland, and had experienced the game in their student days and brought the sport to St Andrew’s. At that time, Cape Town-based Diocesan College (Bishops) and the South African College School (Sacs) were playing a form of the game known as “Gog’s game” (Winchester rules). Old Andrean Nick Mallett, who in 1974 captained the St Andrew’s 1st XV, went on to play for and coach South Africa. The current Springbok coach Jake White was a former teacher at the school.

Slagtersnek Rebellion beam in museum

Emile Badenhorst is also curator of the Somerset East Museum and was responsible for bringing the Slagtersnek Rebellion beam back to the Eastern Cape earlier this year. The beam was used as a gallows on 09 March 1816 to hang five Boer leaders after the Slagtersnek Rebellion in 1815. Emile discovered the beam in the storage rooms of the South African Museum (now Iziko Museum) in Cape Town. It took 5 years of phoning and organising to bring it to Somerset East. The beam was offered to the museum in the 1980s but the former curator turned it down because it was too sensitive.

The beam still bears the bolt holes which secured it to a wooden structure and turned it into a gallows. The leather riempie rope snapped in mid execution and another had to be found to complete the hanging. Normally prisoners would be set free if the rope snapped but not in this case and the men’s wives and children who were forced to attend the hanging had to watch them being hanged again.

The rebellion started in 1815 after Cornelius Freek Bezuidenhout was gunned down by Khoi soldiers led by the British near Cookhouse. Bezuidenhout was on the run in the mountains after failing to appear in court for the maltreatment of a labourer. This led to a rising of frontier Boers. Forty-six men stood trial in Uitenhage. Some were fined, others lost their farms, but 5 leaders were sentenced to death. The rebellion was one of the reasons for the Great Trek.

After the hangings the beam was returned to its original purpose which was as a ceiling support in a farm’s pigsty. It was eventually removed and became an icon of Afrikaner nationalism. In 1949, it was transported to the opening of the completed Voortrekker Monument outside Pretoria, after being paraded through Middelburg, Colesburg, Bloemfortein, Winburg, Ventersburg and Parys en route. It ended up at the Cape Town Historical Museum in 1989.

Fook Island

Somerset East is home to the restored Walter Battiss Art Gallery. Now the town hopes that the artist’s imaginary Fook Kingdom does for Somerset East what the Helen Martins’ Owlhouse has done for Nieu Bethesda. In 1998, a year after curator Emile Badenhorst took up the job in the Paulet Street building built as an officer’s mess for British officers in 1818, the back wall of the decaying building collapsed and the national monument was forced to close its doors to the public. Six years of restoration work followed before it opened again.

The national monument was run as a hotel by Walter Battiss’ parents in the early 1900s. In 1938, years after his family left the Battiss Private Hotel, Walter visited Europe where he was influenced by Pablo Picasso. Back in South Africa, he combined this with his interest in archaeology and ancient art rock art. He was guest of honour at the opening of the gallery in 1981, which also houses his books and historical photographs of his family. He died in August 1982, aged 76, from a heart attack while working at a winter retreat on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.

Fook was the imaginary world he dreamed up from and for which he created realistic artifacts such as stamps, money, passports and drivers' licenses. His own colourful Fook passport is stamped with official stamps of Australia, Britain and Germany. The Island of Fook had fantastical birds, large-nosed kings, key-like dancing objects and dinosaur-like creatures, all created in his Pretoria home. Walter would hold court as King Ferd the Third aka Rex Insular Fookis, or the King of Fook. A Fookian flag flew in the garden whenever he was at home and he created his own Fookian language. Norman Catherine, the former East London artist, was his partner in creating the Fook artifacts.

Ship's wheel to fund bakery for the poor

A Kirkwood missionary, Attie van Wyk, wants to sell an antique ship’s wheel and use the money to start a baking empowerment scheme near Humansdorp. The SS Lyngenfjord was a Norwegian cargo steamer which ran aground on 14 January 1938 at Huisklip. The ship’s original wheel, made of Burmese teak, was one of only two parts of the ship to be salvaged when it sank. The only other item recovered was a piece of the ship’s rudder. It still has the original copper dome in the middle, and has been in Attie's family since 1967 and he inherited it from his father who was also a missionary. He is hoping to sell it back to the company that owned the ship, Norwegian and American Shipping. The last time he had the wheel valued was in 1995 when the Greenwich Maritime Museum told him it was worth £50 000. If the wheel is sold, Attie hopes to have a handing-over ceremony at Huisklip, which will also serve as the launch of the project. He would like to have members of the Rademeyer family who helped to rescue the survivors as part of the project. He is also hoping that relatives of the only woman who was aboard the ship will also be able to attend. Attie is trying to locate a female relative of the woman, Madame Margueritte Goufon.

WWI soldier honoured with novel and play

Marguerite Poland’s powerful novel, Iron Love, was adapted into a play by Ingrid Wylde, and performed by a cast from St Andrew’s College and the Diocesan School for Girls in Grahamstown. The play was staged in the St Andrew’s College Drill Hall, which features as the dance venue in the novel. The powerful story about coming of age, love, death and memory, is based around the short life of Charles Fraser, grandson of the missionary Taberer, from St Matthew’s Mission. Charles was a boy at St Andrew’s College in 1913 and was killed during World War I. Poland’s novel was published in 1999.

Historical Cock House in Grahamstown

The Cock House guesthouse and restaurant in Grahamstown, one of the town’s most historical buildings, was put up for sale earlier this year for R3,95-million. It was built for an ivory merchant and later owned by author Andre P Brink. Past guests include Nelson Mandela and the Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney. A national heritage site, the Market Street property has been run as a guesthouse since 1991 by present owner Belinda Tudge. She and her husband, Peter, who died in 2003, bought the house in 1990.

The original plot of land was granted to Benjamin Norden in May 1826. A a Jewish merchant and pioneer from London who became one of Grahamstown's well-known citizens and successful ivory trader, he also was responsible for the inauguration of the first Jewish congregation in South Africa. In 1835 he sold the plot and premises to Dr John Atherstone for £850.00. He was the most prominent among Grahamstown's first medical practitioners and a former resident surgeon at Guy's Hospital in London. He was also the father of Dr William Guyborne Atherstone, who identified the Eureka diamond in 1867 which led to the diamond rush in South Africa.

In the 1870s the property passed to the Honourable William Cock, a Cornish settler of 1820 who is best known for establishing the original harbour at Port Alfred at the mouth of the Kowie River. He built up a fortune through trading beef to the British army and to St Helena and Mauritius, and established a shipping line to carry the cargo. He died there in 1876 and the guesthouse is named after him.

Towards the end of the 1800s, the Webber family owned the house and renamed the property Adelphi House. In the early 1900s John Henry Webber, then Mayor of Grahamstown, added a Burmese teak trellis-work veranda. Renowned South African author Andre P Brink wrote four of his novels while living there from 1971 to 1981, including Dry White Season and Rumours of Rain. He was responsible for much of the initial restoration work. The room which he had used as his study was converted into a library.

Because the building is a heritage site, its exterior cannot be changed. The old yellowwood ceilings and beams in the stables were recycled to create the bar and most of the tables and desks.

Mystery Ghosts Tours in Port Elizabeth

Magician Mark Rose-Christie runs Mystery Ghost Tours in Port Elizabeth, visiting cemeteries, schools, hospitals and historic houses throughout the city. The Port Elizabeth-based magician also runs ghost tours in other cities. His stories are drawn from police files, library archives and hospital reports, and are highlighted by current residents’ stories of first-hand encounters.

One of the stories is about St George’s Preparatory School. The current residents are convinced there is a ghost at the school. Footsteps are often heard footsteps going out of a bedroom, onto the landing and down the stairs. The bedroom was the room where the original owner, John Daverin, lived in the house and was called Knockfierna (Fairies on the Hill) when it was built in 1838. Another story is of a 20-year-old phantom hitchhiker in Target Kloof, who thumbs a lift from unsuspecting motorists. As the motorist is about to stop for him, he vanishes into the night. The Port Elizabeth tour includes the Buckingham Road house which suffered 71 fires in recent years. Then there is the story of a Provincial Hospital nun ghost, who appears in the older wards and comforts patients at night with a glass of water. The Port Elizabeth St George’s Club ghost of an 1820 Settler is known to tip the old paintings so skew at times that some of them crash to the floor.

Mark, a former Grey High School pupil, spent 4 years researching for the tour, which takes 4 hours on a luxury bus and stops for refreshments along the way.

Jan Harmsgat

Jan Harmsgat is a country house on the outskirts of Swellendam. The house was originally slave quarters. Lady Anne Barnard stayed there and wrote in her diary about Jan Harman’s schat (treasure). Johannes Harman Jansz Potgieter was born.in 1674 on a farm near the Langeberg Mountains. He was married in 1714, and the farm appears on the grant of 1723 as Jan Harmansz Schat (treasure). He was gored to death by a buffalo and later found in an aardvark hole.
In 1731 the grazing rights were granted to Jacobus Botha, a well-known hunter whose career was brought to an end a few years later, when he shot a lion, and the lioness (which he had not seen) attacked and mauled him. He recovered but was not able to hunt again, and in 1734 Governor de la Fontaine made a freehold grant to him, for services rendered, of the farm Jan Harmans Gat which he was then occupying. The farm was described as "vier uur te perd van die dorp Swellendam". Botha lived to the age of 90, dying in 1782, and his 12 sons gave him 190 grandchildren.

In 1789 the farm was owned by Hermanus Steyn de Jonge. In 1765 he married the widow Margaretha van Staden. In addition to farming, he also sat on the District Council of Swellendam. In 1795 the farmers rebelled against the Dutch and declared themselves independent of the Cape Government. Hermanus Steyn was chosen as the president of the new Republic of Swellendam, which lasted for 3 months before the British assumed control of the Cape Colony. He is buried on the farm in a small plot marked by a granite gravestone.

F.J.van Eeden, a member of the Legislature and grandson of Gideon van Zyl, inherited the farm and changed the name to Nooitgedacht. One day, while in a Legislature meetig, he became so angry about a proposed excise duty, that he had all the vineyards cut down, and planted orange trees in their place. Four giant old orange trees which had been planted by Hermanus Steyn, produced wagon loads of oranges for 150 years, but were then cut down by van Eeden, and 5 dozen orangewood chairs made from the timber.

In 1988, Judi Rebstein (maiden name van Eeden) came across the dilapidated farm and recognised it from old photographs as the farm once owned by her great-great-grandmother. After working in theatre and film production, Judi settled at Jan Harmsgat with her husband Brin. They restored the old slave quarters and the old wine cellar. The wine cellar contains the old wine tank where Hermanus Steyn once made wine enjoyed by the Swellendam rebels.

The Wilderness history

Hugo Leggatt, a retired physicist and science teacher, is working on a book about the history of The Wilderness. He was encouraged to start the book by his friend, the late Wilderness author, Victor Smith who left meticulous notes during his life time in The Wilderness. Hugo, in his 60s, settled in the town in 1947 as a 7 year old boy. One of his pupils at Bishops in Cape Town was billionaire Mark Shuttleworth. When Mark blasted off into space in April 2002 aboard the Soyuz Mission, Hugo was there to witness the event. Hugo’s sons have carried on the adventurous spirit. Nick was a crewman on Cheyenne, the yacht skippered by Steve Fosset on a record-breaking around-the-world challenge. Chris is a paddler and rock climber, and owns Eden Adventures, an ecotourism company. Mike is a founder member of The Wilderness and Lakes Environmental Action Forum, as well as an antique furniture restorer. If you can contribute to The Wilderness history book, contact Hugo at (044) 877-0267 or hleggatt@pixie.co.za

Cabaret focuses on Cape slave history

Natalia da Rocha's play, Wa’ Was Djy?, is a tribute to the Cape artists of the 19760s and 1970s - including Jonathan Butler, Zane Adams, The Rockets and The Invaders. Natalia started a production company, Rainbow Worx, in 1995. This latest production was recently performed in Nanning, China. The actors are currently working on a cabaret, Die Slavin ­ As’sie Wind soe Waai, to go on stage next month. Die Slavin is about the slaves at the Cape and helped Natalia find out more about her roots.

Glen Avon Farm

Bill and Alison Brown run a bed and breakfast on their livestock farm, Glen Avon, near Somerset East. Hart Cottage is the restored wattle and daub cottage built by Robert Hart in 1817 when he settled on the farm. The farm has been in their family for 6 generations. Robert was Bill’s great-great-great grandfather. Pictures of him and wife Hannah are proudly displayed on the lounge walls. The cottage's last permanent resident was Robert's great-grandson, Lennox Brown, who moved out in 1938. The cottage was furnished with wrought iron beds, yellow wood dressers and tables dating back to the early residents. A watermill which dates back to the early 1800s was also built by Robert, and remained in use until 1992. The machinery and equipment used was shipped to Port Elizabeth and transported by ox-wagon via the old Zuurberg Pass to Glen Avon, some 200 kilometres. The yellowwood, sneezewood and olivewood used to build the three-storey mill were sourced on the farm. Area farmers would camp there while milling their wheat or mielies. There are barely-legible messages written in pencil on the wooden beams - "Ek was hier April 1892 met 27 zaken koren, J L van der Venter". J J Prinsloo, of nearby Spreeuwkloof, was a frequent visitor in the early 1900s and left a number of messages. Even back then, there was a “No smoking or spitting” law - as shown by an ink scribbling on the beam.

02 October 2005

Mrs Culture

Earlier this year, Bets de Klerk, known as Centurion's Mrs Culture, retired after 21 years. She worked at the Centurion library and art gallery. It will not be a full retireent, as Bets is setting up a seminar centre at her smallholding outside Pretoria. In 1984 Bets created the cultural position at the then Lyttelton library. There were only four cultural societies in the area but by 1999, when she moved to the art gallery, there were 32 clubs and socities using the library's meeting rooms.

28 August 2005

Former prisoner heads museum

A former Robben Island prisoner was appointed as the new chief executive officer of the Robben Island Museum, earlier this year. Paul Langa (54) is a an ANC veteran born in Soweto. He studied political science at Wits University. In 1977 he left South Africa to join uMkonto weSizwe but was arrested in the same year and served 14 years on Robben Island as a political prisoner.

27 August 2005

Voortrekker Monument keeps pace and grows

Since its opening in 1949, the Voortrekker Monument has watched over Pretoria. The little museum that used to be in the restaurant area, was moved and today showcases many Great Trek artefacts, including the Bible given to the Trekkers in Grahamstown.
In 2001, Fort Schanskop was incorporated into the Voortrekker Monument. This Anglo-Boer War fort houses the Danie Theron statue which was moved there in 2002 from Potchefstroom. There is also a replica of the Tanganjika Monument which was erected in 1953 in Tanzania by the descendants of the Boers who moved there are the Anglo-Boer War.
The 341 hectares around the Voortrekker monument are home to various animals including zebras, various species of buck, and pheasants. There are ox-wagon rides, horse rides, as well as walking and mountain bike trails. The chapel is often used for weddings. Future plans include a heritage centre.

31 July 2005

7 world heritage sites

South Africa now has 7 world heritage sites. The Vredefort Dome, spanning the Free State and the North West provinces, is the latest one declared. The Vredefort Dome is the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world, formed an estimated two billion years ago when a giant meteorite hit the earth close to where Vredefort is today. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has allocated R18m from its poverty-relief programme for tourism and infrastructural development of the site. These funds would be used for the eradication of alien invasive vegetation, hiking trails and the construction of a tourism centre.

The Mapungubwe kingdom

In 2000, the then 23 year old Sian TILEY-NEL, author of Mapungubwe: South Africa's crown jewels, became the youngest curator of a South African museum - the Mapungubwe Museum in the Ou Lettere building, University of Pretoria. The museum covers the history of the first South African kingdom between 1220 and 1290. The people of the Mapungubwe kingdom mined gold, copper and iron in the Limpopo area. They created intricate jewellery from these minerals. Their skills as potters and sculpturers can also be seen. Archaeologists have dug up interesting finds since the first finds on 01 January 1933. In 1947, General Jan SMUTS proclaimed the area around Mapungubwe as the Dongola heritage area, but the following year, when the National Party came into power, it was one of the first proclamations they scrapped. In 2003 Mapungubwe was declared a world heritage site by Unesco and last September the Mapungubwe National Park was proclaimed.

Sol DAVIDS, the Mensch of Monument

Sol DAVIDS of Monument, Krugersdorp, is known as the Mensch of Monument. He recently celebrated his 90th birthday at the Noordheuwel Bowling Club. Oom Sol lives in Piet Joubert Street in Monument, where he settled after WW2. He refers to himself as a Free State Jew from Ficksburg. He volunteered for service during WW2 in the British Army and served in Somaliland, North Africa. A transfer to England follwed 5 years later, where he was an officer in the Royal Armoured Call. After the war, he settled in Krugersdorp and started Sol Davids Furniture in Luipaardsvlei. He married Pearl, who passed away recently. They had 2 sons and a daughter. Oom Sol has been an active member of various community organisations and clubs, including the Krugersdorp Chamber of Commerce, the Krugersdorp Arts Festival, Rotary and the bowling club.

Family History Fair in Durban, 24 Sept 2005

A Family history Fair is to be held at the Family History Centre in Montgomery Lane (off Silverton between Vause and Lancaster Roads) in Durban on Saturday 24th September 2005 (Heritage Day) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be about 12 -15 stands with various items of interest, plus research assistance, Internet connection, and various talks and film shows. There will be no charge for stands and entry to the public will be free. For more information, contact Jenny Harries, Director, Family History Centre, Durban - Tel/Fax 031-2022386 or cell 083-6614457.

Libraries in crisis

The government is being asked to consider a new deal for South Africa's 1 240 public libraries. Provinces, who are responsible for the libraries, are not getting money from central government to meet their responsibilities. In the past, libraries had been run 90% by municipalities. Since 1996 the provinces were meant to control the libraries but they have no money to do so. Municipalities had on the whole continued paying staff salaries and looking after the infrastructure, the buildings and grounds. However, faced with growing demand for basic services such as water, cleansing and sewage, the municipalities were cutting back on library budgets, which led to cuts in staff and opening hours, and even the closure of some libraries.
A libraries working group was set up by the print industry, and after research in all 9 provinces, made recommendations to the national Department of Arts and Culture earlier this year. The group recommended municipalities should continue to look after library buildings and other infrastructure. Another recommendation was that provinces should build capacity in libraries, so they were able to tell the province what books they wanted for their particular readers and appoint appropriate staff.

A Kruger at St Andrews

The British Open at St. Andrews in Scotland has a touch of South Africa. Between the 9th and 10th hole, there are 3 small sand bunkers. The biggest one is named Kruger, the next one is Mrs Kruger and the smallest one is Kruger's mistress. This dates back to the start of the Anglo-Boer War when the darling of St. Andrews was Lt. Frederick Guthrie TAIT. He could smack a golf ball further than anyone else - he was the British amateur golf champion in 1896 and 1898. Freddie was also an officer in the Black Watch, one of Scotland's most famous regiments. In 1899 he was given a send-off reception before leaving for the war in South Africa. In December 1899 he was wounded during the Battle of Magersfontein. In February 1900, he died on the battlefield near Kimberley. The day the Scots back home heard of his death, they built an effigy of Kruger and burnt it in a sand bunker at St Andrews. And that is how the bunker got its name.

SAA Museum

The South African Airways Museum is now open to the public. It was started in 1986 by a group of volunteers at Jan Smuts Airport (now Johannesburg International Airport). The museum is now based at the Transvaal Aviation Club's club house at Rand Airport in Germiston.
South African Airways was founded in 1934, making it one of the world's oldest national airlines. The museum depicts its early history, including scale models of the aircraft, uniforms and personnel. Nearby you can see the Boeing 747 Lebombo which flew over Ellis Park before the start of the Rugby World Cup final between the Springboks and the All Blacks on 24 June 1995. The Boeing was donated to the museum and made its historic landing on the short and narrow runway at Rand Airport on 05 March 2004. Other past aircraft show the different tail insignia used, from the orange with a blue and white stripe with the small flying springbok (1960 to 1984), to the orange with the larger flying springbok (1984 to 1994) to the current multi-coloured tail (from 1994 onwards). For more information contact Barry ELS at 082 859 6100.

Kimberley diamonds lead to Bentley classic

The idea of a race between a Bentley car and the Blue Train in France goes back to a wager that Woolf BARNATO had with some friends in 1930. Woolf wanted to test Bentley's advertising claims that their car was faster than the Blue Train.
Woolf's father was Barney BARNATO who, with Cecil RHODES, became wealthy by developing the Kimberley diamond mines. While sailing home to England, Barney mysteriously disappeared overboard. Woolf, then 2 years old and accompanying his father, became an instant millionaire.
In the late 1920s, Woolf joined the "Bentley Boys," a group of young men who favored W.O. BENTLEY's big, fast sports cars. Four of the Bentley Boys owned adjoining flats in London's Grosvenor Square. They were serious racers, part of the official Bentley race team determined to win LeMans. Their first win came in 1927, the last in 1930 with Woolf sharing the driving duties. Woolf propped up the Bentley Motor Car company with his business savvy, eventually becoming chairman.
The Blue Train (le Train Bleue) was as legendary as the racing Bentleys. It was the quickest and most luxurious transport from the Riviera to Calais and then, via the English Channel to Dover, where it was loaded on to a ferry to London's Victoria station.
Woolf took up the wager, setting out in a specially-bodied Bentley coupe. In those days the entire trip would have been made on 2-lane roads at speeds exceeding 100 mph. Woolf arrived in Calais ahead of the Blue Train, continued by ferry and beat the train to its final destination in London by 4 minutes. That very Bentley is now revered as the Blue Train Special.

Family Bible saved from garbage heap

Bessie LINDE (born LOOCK), a resident of the Kokanje retirement home in Modimolle (Nylstroom), saved a family Bible from the garbage dump. The Bible was found by Thelma SETHOLE, who took it to Bessie. She took it to Prof. Petra KAHL at Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit. There was a family tree in the Bible, which made tracing the rightful owner easier. Prof. KAHL eventually handed it over to Jack LOOCK, a former Senator. The family had moved from Willowmore to Middelburg, Mpumalanga. It is estimated that the Bible is more than 100 years old. It has now been bequethed to Johan Hendrik LOOCK.

Family Bible printed in 1702

Flip VAN VUUREN (73) of Modimolle (Nylstroom) who retired recently as co-owner of the Shrangri-La Hotel, is the proud owner of a family Bible inherited from his mother. Flip, a former Police member, was christened Philippus Jacobus Wilhelmus Buys Jansen VAN VUUREN, after his grandfather. The Afrikaans family Bible, known as a Statebybel, was printed in the Netherlands in 1702 and was bought by Flip's grandfather, who received it by ship. During the voyage, the Bible sustained water damage, which is still visible. Grandfather VAN VUUREN made the first entry of his family tree in the Bible - his marriage in 1895 to to Maria Elizabeth BUYS. According to family lore, the Bible was buried during the Anglo-Boer War.

Internship leads to photo find

An intern journalist found a work placement a lot more rewarding by going through old newspaper issues recently in East London. Sibongile Mkani was paging through back issues of GO!, the community newspaper, when she came across a photo of her grandfather Nqabisile Mgwangqa (now 84) - posing for a Buffalo City Tourism poster. It features him with his hat raised and wearing a red tie - although he was not aware that the photo was used. He lives in the village of Esikhobeni, where Sibongile showed him the poster.

New Prince Albert village book

The Prince Albert’s Writers' Guild has produced a book covering the town’s history, culture, architecture and traditions, titled Prince Albert (Kweekvallei): landmark events, colourful characters and the free style of an historic Karoo town, a retrospective view. The 120-page book contains many photographs and maps. It covers the earliest inhabitants who lived in area during Stone Age times, the Khoi-Khoi and San, and Zacharias DE BEER, owner of the first farm, Kweekvallei. Other topics include the town’s gables, designed by Carl LOTZ, the 1891 Gold Rush and Khoi-San remedies.

Oldest double-storey commercial building in the Transvaal

The Lewis and Marks building in Barberton was built in 1886 by Isaac LEWIS and his cousin Sammy MARKS. It is reputed to be the first double-storey commercial building built in the Transvaal. It was the premises for the original Bank of Africa. The building is going to sell on auction soon. It was built in Zuid Afrikaansche architectural style and has been zoned for commercial use by the Barberton municipality. No major renovations have taken place on the building.

12 April 2005

Old Elephant Tree collapses

One of Durban's living national monuments, a 200-year-old umkhuhlu tree (a forest mahogany or Trichilia Dregeana), collapsed in March. It was known as the elephant tree because it was part of the old Berea forest which served as a refuge for elephant herds until the mid 1850s. Many attempts had been made to preserve the tree. Although the main trunk and some branches of the elephant tree survived the collapse, the remains of the tree are now so unstable that a decision would have to be taken soon on whether to fell it completely or to fence off the area to prevent injury to passers-by.
Durban's Berea used to be thickly forested. In 1839, Swedish naturalist Johan Wahlberg got so lost in the dense groves around Mitchell Park that he had to fire several shots from his hunting rifle to summon a rescue party. According to Durban historian Prof. Donal McCracken, elephants used to wander through the forest 150 years ago on their way to the Umgeni River. When the village of Durban was established in 1824, the Berea forest was inhabited by elephant, buffalo, leopard and the occasional lion. In the 1850s the larger game animals were killed, or forced to vacate their grounds. The last recorded lion left its footprints next to the Botanic Gardens in 1854.

Heritage transformation

Speaking at the recent opening of the Heritage Transformation Indaba in Kempton Park, Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan promised that the transformation of the heritage sector will not seek to "negate or obliterate the experience of any of our communities". He said the transformation process aimed to correct historical distortions of the past and that his department intended to liberate, depict and give equal prominence to the cultures, experiences and stories of indigenous peoples. Legislation such as the SA Geographical Names Council Act and the National Heritage Resources Act were proof of the government's vision to "emancipate our heritage terrain from colonial bondage". Jordan also announced he would be establishing a panel to help in the development of a national strategy that would focus on the collection, preservation and promotion of living heritage. The panel would consist of practitioners and other experts who dealt with the various forms of living heritage. Experts in various aspects of living heritage, defined as intangible cultural heritage such as oral history, rituals, skills and technique, were set to meet in September at a national consultative forum.

Reclaiming family art

A US District Judge dismissed a lawsuit in February by four descendants of a German woman who had sought to recover a Vincent van Gogh painting from actress Elizabeth Taylor. According to the descendants of Margarete Mauthner, the actress failed to review the ownership history of View of the Asylum of Saint-Remy before acquiring it. The family asked for restitution and the painting, which has been appraised between $10 million and $15 million.
The plaintiffs were Mauthner's great-grandchildren - Andrew J. Orkin, a lawyer in Hamilton, Ontario, and his two South African siblings Mark Orkin (head of the Human Sciences Research Council) and Sarah-Rose Josepha Adler, and their uncle A. Heinrich Zille. The plaintiffs have never claimed that Nazis took the painting off Mauthner at gunpoint. European Jews sold property during the Holocaust era under acute political pressure and economic duress. In 2002 the Orkins first indicated that they were investigating Taylor's painting. In June 1954, the German government compensated them for the forced sale of their home in Berlin in August 1938 and for the loss of pension funds seized by the Nazis.
Judge Gary Klausner ruled that a state law only permitted the plaintiffs to sue in the three years after property was taken. Another state law that froze the statute of limitations until the property was located didn't apply. The 1998 federal Holocaust Victims Redress Act was passed to compensate Holocaust victims who lost possessions during World War II. It urges all governments to facilitate the return of private and public property, including artwork, to victims of Nazi pillaging who can prove they are the rightful owners.
Taylor's lawyers said Mauthner voluntarily sold the painting, which depicts the asylum where van Gogh lived toward the end of his life. Citing a German art book, they said Mauthner owned more than one van Gogh painting and sold her last one, View of the Sea at St Maries, in 1933 to help finance her family's move from Berlin for South Africa in 1939. According to Taylor's court documents, a letter dated 21 October 1933 by one of the employees of the gallery to which Mauthner sold the painting wrote: "Mauthner would certainly not have decided upon this course of action were it not for her nephew's moving away to seek a new life in another country [South Africa], and this provides a use of the money for a purpose that is dearer to her heart than owning the painting."
Taylor said Mauthner bought the disputed painting in 1907 from Paul Cassirer and later sold the painting back to him. It was then acquired by a Berlin art dealer, Marcel Goldschmidt, and later by Alfred Wolf. In 1963, Wolf's heirs decided to sell his collection through Sotheby's in 1963. That year, Taylor's father, Francis Taylor, bought the painting on his daughter's behalf for £92,000. The sales brochure had warned that the painting was likely confiscated by the Nazis, according to the lawsuit. Two catalogues raisonné, one written in 1928 and another in 1939, named Mauthner as the owner of the painting. A catalogue raisonné is a complete documentation, compiled by a recognised scholar, of an artist’s production. The documents are widely accepted in art circles as the definitive history of a piece of art.
Mauthner died in 1947 at age 84. As a young woman in Berlin, she was part of an association of progressive artists, and was instrumental in introducing van Gogh to Germany. She also translated his letters into German in 1907.

First location in South Africa?

Beaufort West became South Africa's first fully-fledged municipality in 1837 and is the birthplace of world famous heart surgeon Chris Barnard and politician Patricia de Lille. The area is also said to be a favourite with many ghosts. The mountain winds of the Nuweveld are said to carry the cries of a mother searching for her child. The waterspook whips up clouds to hide himself, while a Jewish peddler hitches a ride near Prince Albert and then disappears after getting out of your vehicle.
Circa 1878, the city fathers banished Blacks and Coloureds to the outskirts, probably the first location in South Africa. By the 1900s the township, called The Location, was home to 466 adults and 514 children, the majority of whom were Coloureds, and by 1925 the government proclaimed it a Bantu area.

Breedekloof

Pieter du Toit is one of the Breedekloof area's oldest residents and the local historian. He is a 10th-generation descendant of the du Toit who settled on the farm Klipdrift in 1716 and after whom the Du Toitskloof mountain range was named. His Huguenot ancestors first settled the area in the early 1700s on lands granted by Governor Willem van der Stel. Generations later, the same families still farm there - du Toit, du Preez and le Roux. A branch of the du Toit family has farmed Jasonsfontein for five generations.
Besides wine, Breedekloof is also famous for its moskonfyt. Jan le Roux of Pokkraal, a farm named after the deadly pox epidemic of the early 1700s, is renowned for making vast quantities of the preserve from fermented ripe grapes. He owns a collection of trekker wagons built in 1717.
Six generations of Louws have farmed in the Slanghoek Valley. Eensgevonden is one of the oldest farmhouses in the area, dating back to the early 1700s. Owner Sally McDermott left the oil industry in Dallas to settle in the area. She farms grapes for Daschbosch winery and runs self-catering cottages.
Sutherland House, the newest guest-house in the area, is owned by Victor and Kyle, who swapped careers in London for Rawsonville where they renovated the 1890 homestead.

King Langalibalele of the AmaHlubi

The 19th century King Langalibalele of the AmaHlubi in KwaZulu-Natal may become part of declared national heritage. Representatives of the AmaHlubi are in discussions with the South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra).
According to the king's great-great-grandson, Prince Bekithemba Langalibalele, chairman of the AmaHlubi National Working Committee, the AmaHlubi was the largest tribe in south-east Africa during the 1800s. On 03 November 1873, the Battle of Langalibalele broke out after King Langalibalele refused to register guns which his male tribal members had received as payment for working on the Kimberley diamond mines. The Natal Carbineers under Lord Durnford attempted to storm Langalibalele Pass losing five men in the process. According to the AmaHlubi royal house, the imperial troops had been ordered to eradicate the amaHlubi. More than 200 young men, women and children were killed, cattle valued in today's terms at R21m were slaughtered and villages destroyed. Lord Durnford spent nine months in the area.
The king fled to Lesotho where he was eventually arrested. His trial was South Africa's first treason trial, and he was convicted of murder, treason and rebellion and exiled to the Cape Colony, and banished to Robben Island for life in 1874. In August 1875, he was transferred and held at Uitvlugt near Pinelands, where he was incarcerated for 12 years. He died under house arrest in 1889. His grave, kept secret by the amaHlubi for over 60 years, lies within the borders of the Giant`s Castle Game Reserve and was has been visited by one of his most illustrious blood decedents, Nelson Mandela. Langa, the oldest township in the Western Cape, was named after him in 1923.
King Langalibalele was born in the Umzinyati area in Utrecht in 1818. After a skirmish with Zulu king Mpande in 1848 he settled his people around the Klip River and after a few years they were forced to move by the British colonial authorities and relocated to Estcourt. The amaHlubi won more than 8,000 hectares of their land back in 2000 under the government land restitution. They are still demanding restitution from the British government in terms of the 1875 proclamation by Queen Victoria, which promised to compensate them for their losses during the Battle of Langalibalele. In October 2004, the then British High Commissioner to South Africa, Ann Grant, handed over a chair, a leopard skin cape and a staff, symbols of monarchy taken by the troops, back to King Langalibalele II.

09 April 2005

Pretoria Rugby Club

Pretoria's oldest rugby club, the Pretoria Rugby Club located in Totius Street, Groenkloof, could close down. According to Chris le Grange, chairperson of the Pretoria Sports Union (PSU), main organising body administering the rugby club, the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality (CTMM) served an eviction order on them in October last year, ordering them to vacate the premises by 28 February 2005. PSU has since appealed this notice on the grounds that their rent has been paid up until December 2010, and according to the legal firm representing the CTMM in this affair, Roestoff, Venter & Kruse, this appeal is still pending in the High Court.

Uitenhage's history

A book on Uitenhage's 200 years, Uitenhage 200: 1804-2004, was recently launched. The work was started by Dr. C.G. Henning, who was born in Uitenhage and formerly of the University of Durban-Westville. He passed away before he was able to complete it. In April 2003, Dr. Otto Terblanche, senior lecturer in history at the University of Port Elizabeth, was asked to complete the lavishly illustrated coffee table book. The previous book on Uitenhage was W.S.J. Sellick's Uitenhage Past and Present, 1804-1904, which was published in 1905. Copies of the new book can be ordered from Ms. van der Mescht by phoning 041-9941371.

Award for Olive Schreiner

Former activist Barbara Schreiner, great-great-grand-niece of Olive Schreiner, was present at the recent presentation of a Presidential Citation, the certificate of The Order of Ikhamanga, presented posthumously to the Schreiner family, by President Thabo Mbeki. Professor Deneys Schreiner and his wife, Else, well-known Pietermaritzburg academics and philanthropists, were also present. The event also included the official opening of the newly built Ikhamanga Hall at the Olive Schreiner Museum in Cradock, which houses all of Olive Schreiner's works, as well as those of other South African human rights activists and politicians. Among the most popular works by Olive is the highly-acclaimed novel, The Story of an African Farm.

27 March 2005

Helderberg Hotel closes

The historic Helderberg Hotel in Somerset West, which was built in 1908, has been sold to a foreign national, possibly to be turned into offices. The last owner, George Gardiner, sold the nine-bedroomed property for about R1,8-million. Gardiner bought the hotel in 1991 at an auction, which had resulted from the collapse of Masterbond. There's little historical information about the hotel, bar some faded pictures. It is believed that the hotel was the reason for the first bank being established in Somerset West. Standard Bank employees used to travel from Stellenbosch and offer banking services for a day. The bank eventually refused to establish a permanent branch in the town unless there was a place for its employees to stay. The hotel boomed in the days of sales representatives, who became regulars not only at the Helderberg, but also at the many country hotels across the country as they plied their trade. Other hotels that have long gone include the Metropole, Da Gama and Majestic hotels, which were all situated in Strand, and Alexandra Hotel in Somerset West.

Surfing museums

The new Surfing Museum in Jeffrey's Bay was set up by Rupert Chadwick, who has lived in the surfing town for more than 30 years. The museum is in the Quiksilver building and offers free entry to the public. There is also a surf museum in Durban. The history of surfing in the Border (East London) region has been well documented by members of the Border Surfing Association.

More name changes

Queenstown could soon become Komani and failing that Queen Nonesi Town, while Whittlesea could become Hewu, according to the Eastern Cape Geographical Names Committee. Four out of 10 constituencies comprising political parties, civil organisations, churches and ward committees had supported the name Komani. Komani had been the name of one of the sons of King Qhwesha of the Ndungane tribe who lived in the Queenstown area. Queenstown had always been called Komani by Xhosa- speakers. The river in the area had also been named the Komani River after the king's son. Queen Nonesi Town was inspired by Queen Nonesi who lived in the area until she was driven out by British troops to Libode. Hewu referred to the mountainous landscape in Whittlesea was situated.

Port Elizabeth’s architectural heritage

Port Elizabeth's much-loved Margaret Harradine, former Africana librarian, has embarked on her post-retirement career by launching a book that should be treasured by all who love Port Elizabeth’s architectural heritage. Her Chronology, published a few years back, is a useful historical record full of photographs of Port Elizabeth. The new book, Hills Covered With Cottages: Port Elizabeth’s Lost Streetscapes, is another important historical record. It records, street by street, road by road, lost scenes of Port Elizabeth, covering 200 years. During her work as Africana librarian, Margaret made a computer compilation of every photograph of the town, showing streets, businesses, homes, institutions and the scenes which have now ceased to exist or which have been transformed through modernisation, city growth and demolition. The book was sponsored by the Port Elizabeth Historical Society, which will run off copies on the demand. The cost is R300.

26 March 2005

No. 7 Castle Hill Museum, Port Elizabeth

The No. 7 Castle Hill Museum has a new curator who has a passion for history. Grizel Hart (54) started her new job in February. She was born in Grahamstown and has lived in the Eastern Cape for 30 years. Her husband, Hugh, was a farmer near Cathcart for many years. Grizel became involved in the town’s C.M. van Coller Museum and went on to head Stormburg Tourism, which covers the region from Hogsback to Sterkstroom, Molteno, Cathcart and Queenstown.
Grizel was a Copeland, descended from the British family who had ceramic factories in Stoke-on-Trent, and whose descendants co-founded Birch’s clothing stores in Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth. Hugh is a 6th generation descendant of Robert Hart, who went to the Eastern Cape prior to the 1820 British Settlers.
The Harts have spent the last four and a half years in Thornhill and then Jeffreys Bay, before moving to Port Elizabeth for Grizel's job. They live in a 1920s house in the historic suburb of Richmond Hill.

Another history fan is Jenny Bennie (58), who besides being responsible for the Port Elizabeth Museum’s cultural history collection, also curates Bayworld’s temporary and permanent exhibitions and oversees the running of both No. 7 Castle Hill and the Prince Alfred Guard Museum.
After moving from East London in 1974, Jenny joined the Port Elizabeth Historical Society committee and was invited to sit on the Advisory Committee of No 7. She took up her position at the Port Elizabeth Museum 6 years later, after being widowed with two small children. Her first love is the Maritime History collection. She is one of only three South Africans with a masters degree in maritime archeology.

15 March 2005

Renaming in Durban

In the first phase of renaming major streets in Durban, nine new names will soon be on display. The first municipal building to be renamed is the Martin West Building, which will be known as Florence Mkhize Building, after a former councillor recognised for her charity work. New street names include Masabalala Yengwa, who was a provincial secretary of the African National Congress at the time when Luthuli was president. His name will replace NMR Avenue. Alice Street will be named after Johannes Nkosi, who died in that street in 1930 while leading an anti-dompas campaign. Stanger Street will be known as Stalwart Simelane Street. Simelane was a treasurer of the ANC in the 1950s. The M4 southern freeway will be named after Luthuli. Margaret Mncadi, the first president of the ANC Women's League in Natal, has been recommended for the Victoria Embankment. Grey/Broad Street will be renamed Yusuf Daddoo. Commercial Road will become Bram Fischer Road, and the M4 northern freeway will be named after Ruth First. The process of removing Durban's colonial street names, statues and council buildings is now at an advanced stage.

Point Road, Durban

Hindu leaders are angry at the official proposal to rename Durban’s notorious Point Road after Mahatma Gandhi. They say renaming Point Road, which was known as a red light district, after Gandhi was insulting and immoral. President of the South African Hindu Dharma Sabha, Ram Maharaj, said the road is associated with immoral and illegal behaviour which would stigmatise and tarnish the purity of Gandhi’s image. He would prefer to rename Grey Street after Gandhi because that was a place that was dear to the heart of the Indian community. Gandhi’s granddaughter, Ela Gandhi, said she hoped her grandfather’s name would have a positive impact on the area. However, she felt his name should have been associated with one of the bigger highways and not just a small road. According to Durban's Deputy Mayor, Logie Naidoo, the Point was where the first lot of indentured Indian labourers landed and this is the reason why the council felt that it would be appropriate to name the road after Gandhi.

Expensive new name

Pretoria was renamed to Tshwane. According to the government, oral history states that the name Tshwane originated from the first Ndebele ethnic group which had occupied the area under the leadership of Chief Musi. Tshwane, one of his six sons, ruled after his death. A recent government report put the total cost of renaming the city at R1.5-billion. The cost to the National Roads Agency would be R10-million, as there were 30 major routes entering Pretoria, each requiring at least two to three signs at a cost of R150 000 each. The Weather Bureau said it would need a budget of R100 000 to accommodate the change. The report suggested a small business would have to spend R40 000, a medium-sized business R200 000 and a large business R400 000 to facilitate the change.

Diagonal Street revamp

Diagonal Street in downtown Johannesburg, is getting going to be revamped but shop owners, some of whose families and businesses have been there for 80 years, are not too happy. The upgrade is being driven by developers of luxury apartments on the street. A Section 21 company had been set up to oversee the upgrade. The plan is to restore the area to its original state.
Diagonal Street, home of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange for 22 years, was once home to a thriving Indian community. Imtiaz Limbada's book and gift shop has been in his family since his grandfather opened it in 1920.

St Cyprian's Cathedral, Kimberley

St Cyprian's Cathedral in Kimberley will celebrate its centenary in 2007-8. The parish dates back to 1871, but the foundation stone of the current building was laid in March 1907, with the dedication taking place in May 1908.

12 March 2005

Merlot Manor sold

The historic Merlot Manor in Pietermaritzburg has been sold for a rumoured R3,6 million. The Victorian mansion, built in 1894 and situated at 41 Albany Road, Blackridge, was sold to an unidentified local resident, and will become a private residence. The mansion opened its doors to the public in 2003 as Merlot Manor, a guesthouse and restaurant run by Sunell and Denis Kotze. They bought Struan House (as Merlot Manor was originally known) from the previous owner Kerry Landon and her family, who lived in the house for almost a quarter of a century. Merlot Manor was built in 1894 by a well-known Pietermaritzburg family, the Irelands. This family gave its name to Ireland Stores, a prominent retail business in the heart of Pietermaritzburg.

Cape olive oil

The 300-year old Kloovenburg estate is a top-end wine producer and olive grower situated outside Riebeek Kasteel. After only four years in production, the Kloovenburg Estate 2004 Extra Virgin Olive Oil was voted as the best extra virgin olive oil in the Fruttato Intenso category in Italy, placing the estate amongst the top 15 extra virgin olive oil producers in the world.

04 March 2005

Biggest postbox?

Calvinia, in the Northern Cape, claims to have the biggest postbox in the world. The postbox was an old water tank which had been on the Dutch Reformed Church's grounds. The local doctor, Erwin Coetzee, said the area around the water tank was looking messy. His wife, Alta, said that the tank looked like a postbox, and so the local business chamber and residents decided to convert the water tank into a postbox in 1994. The Post Office supplied the paint. Every letter that is posted from the postbox now gets a hand-stamp with a flower as an emblem. Today the giant postbox is the most photographed place in Calvinia.

Name changes

The government is looking at forcing private property owners to change offensive names, according to Vusithemba Ndimo, chief director of language in the Department of Arts and Culture. He said this would enable the state to force the likes of farm owners and shop keepers to change names that were found to be offensive. Ndimo was addressing the committee on the progress made of reducing the backlog of more than 57 000 names nationally that needed to be changed. Most of the names of big towns and rivers have already been changed. The backlog concerns mainly names of monuments, streams and fields. According to the list drawn up by the Provincial Geographical Names Committees, the Free State had 1 920 names to change, KwaZulu-Natal 7 833, Northern Cape 9137, North West 2 386, the Eastern Cape 16 301, Gauteng 431, Mpumalanga 2 438, Limpopo 5 229 and the Western Cape 11 086.

03 March 2005

British training for SA curators

Britain is offering up to 30 training places at some of its museums to help train young South African curators. The British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Museum of London and the Horniman Museum in south London have agreed to provide six-month placements that will help South Africans develop their museum management and specialist curatorial abilities. The scheme, to cost £300 000 for the next three years, is being paid for by the British government under a partnership with the South African department of arts and culture.

The Dorchester Hotel (1937 - 2005), East London

One of East London's oldest surviving hotels, the Dorchester Hotel, famous for its seafood and Chinese restaurant, closed its doors at the end of February 2005. The hotel opened in 1937. The building's new owners, Real People, will transform the rooms into offices. The bar and kitchen will continue running as The Dorch.

Hugh LOTTERING bought the hotel in 1975 from Jack VORSTENBOS, a Dutch citizen who arrived in South Africa in 1952. In 1977, Hugh brought in Chris BURLS as a partner. In February 1989, they sold it to the WHITAKER family who owned the hotel until its closure.

The hotel's 57-year-old receptionist, Lindile "Kaunda" MCEKA, worked and lived at the hotel since October 1968. He started first as a "yard-boy" (one year), then "bar-boy" (eight years), porter (16 years) and later receptionist (12 years). He is moving to his home village near Lady Frere.