Rose’s Round-Up Newsletters are fascinating factual tales and stories on South African history by Rose Willis. Rose also better known as “Karoo Rose” publishes a monthly newsletter mainly covering snippets of Karoo history. We provide an online archive of her newsletters.

For almost three decades now Rose’s Round up has delivered a monthly “breath of the Karoo” to its readers. Over the years it has shared the spirit of the dryland with a wide cross section of readers. You can subscribe to Rose’s Round-Up by emailing her here for a small fee of R120.00 for 12 e-mailed copies

Initially, bashed out on an aged manual typewriter its 4 A-4 pages were sized down to an A-5 format and then photocopied double-sided onto one A-4 page to save costs. This was an economic necessity as there was no communications budget and the aim of the newsletter  was simply to inform six town clerks of promotional plans being brewed by the then new Central Karoo Regional Tourism Office. The first copy was delivered to the office of the Beaufort West’s town clerk and almost instantly he requested a “couple of extra copies to pass around to council members”.

Only 10 copies of the first issue were initially printed. Then, more councillors asked for copies, a press mailing list was compiled and requests rolled in from former residents and those interested in the Karoo. The publication was designed to be quickly read over a cup of coffee; its mission was to inform and educate and in so doing to encourage market development.  Despite its humble image and being strange by the standards of the glossy and glitzy promotional material of the day and it soon proved itself to be a winner.  Among the first notes of praise was one calling Round-up the “cutest” news sheet in the country. Readers began to copy Round-up and send it to friends and family across the country and abroad, where for many it was a link with home.  Round-up quickly grew into a powerful, respected marketing tool, it encouraged the establishment of guest houses and helped create a farm holiday association and by December, 1993, it had encouraged a professor from a Russian University to visit and spend a few days on a guest farm. In 1994 it assisted the United Nations delegation who came to see that the elections were free and fair. In June 1996 Round-up was elected as the top municipal communications tool in South Africa. An official was presented by the premier of the Northern Cape in Kuruman to the sound of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best”.

Old residents loved it. They began to share memories which were published and this led to more and more stories flooding in.   Historians and family history researchers began to ask for help. Requests were published and as answers rolled in, the information was published and much original and “lost” information was re-gained. Experts gladly shared their knowledge and all talks and seminars given were covered. Round up was a  knowledge pool into which students could dip at will.  It even helped a Texas school boy create a winning class project on Professor Chris Barnard. 

Within four years, Round-up’s circulation had grown to such an extent that mailing costs threatened to kill it. A nominal postage was requested and despite smirks, the publication went on to build a huge base of paid subscribers as it carried stories about the Karoo to readers by post and email in 24 countries, which included England, the United States, Russia, Scotland, Canada, Brazil, Turkey, India, Australia, North Korea, Japan, Zambia and Zimbabwe as well as many places in South Africa. Readership was (and still is) all but impossible to calculate as many readers pass it on, copy, fax or email it to friends, relations and business associates.

And when the time has come to pop a cork and let the bubbly flow – when  Rose’s Round-up has reached its 100th issue – nostalgia overwhelmed many readers and took advantage of wandering off down memory lane to recall unforgettable boating days at Beaufort West’s Springfontein Dam, strolling along Lover’s Lane to  steal a kiss, picnics at the Waterfall or in the poplar grove on Molteno Pass. Some remembered playing truant and drinking ginger beer,  “or was it sherry” in the bushes on the banks of the Gamka River, others remembered ‘borrowing” cars,  while yet others told of dreadful schoolboy pranks dating back to the days of outside loos and bucket toilets.

 On its centenary a reader in India, wrote: “This country is so crowded and noisy that I look forward to Round-up. Each issue brings the tranquillity and freshness of the Karoo’s calm open spaces to this busy place.” A UK reader said: “Every issue offers a feast of reading and each seems better than its predecessor. We love the breath of fresh Karoo air each Round-up brings to grey old London!” from Germany came a note saying “each Round-up  brings the magnificence of the Great Karoo to Europe.” And in the United States, a former Laingsburg lass said: “I am overjoyed each time Round-up pops up on my computer screen. Each issue is so full of zest and flavour I can taste and smell the Karoo as I read.”

Local readers also added their congratulations A Hanover resident, wrote: Round-up has been a source of joy for many years. I remember receiving it when I worked in the mining district of central Johannesburg. Each issue carried me to a place where I never thought I would ever live. Now I am here.  God bless it and you!” “There’s nothing quite like Round-up it’s the best tourism newsletter in the country,” says radio journalist and travel writer. One wag quipped: “Round-up may well be the name of a weedkiller, but this Round-up has promoted nothing but a growth of interest in the Karoo,” Tourism operators were also very complimentary and one said: “The planet would just not be the same without it!” he wrote.

Then Rose’s life partner died and she left the Karoo, but Round-up came with her.  She re-located with her family in Bloemfontein where she broadened the base of the publication to cover the whole of the dryland and this once again encouraged the readership to grow.  With the philosophy of the Pen is Mightier than the Sword, under the banner of a little knight in a tin suit who brandishes a pen and spurs his cynical horse, Round up too continues ever onward.

You can read all about Rose here and subscribe to her newsletter latest Rose’s Round-Up for a small fee.

 

 

Rose’s Round-up January 2019 No 301

RARE FABERGÉ JEWEL LINKED TO SOUTH AFRICA A breathtakingly beautiful Fabergé flower was presented to the Queen’s Own Worcesterhire Hussars, an Imperial Yeomanry regiment, when they returned from the Anglo-Boer War in 1903. First raised in 1794, this regiment again served as cavalry in WWI but converted to an anti-tank unit for WWII. In 1899 when volunteers were called for 3,021 men reacted immediately and the regiment was chosen from these - 16 NCOs were killed and 20 wounded in South Africa. The magnificent piece came from Georgina, Countess of Dudley, wife of William Ward, second in command of [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2018 No 300

A REASON TO CELEBRATE Rose’s Round-up has a reason to celebrate. This little newsletter turns 300 this month and it is 25 years old. The road, since the publication of the first issue in January 1993, has been an exciting one. Round-up’s initial aim was to persuade six town clerks to use history to promote tourism. These men represented Beaufort West, Prince Albert, Richmond, Victoria West, Loxton and Laingsburg, as well as Nelspoort, Merriman, Klaarstroom, Hutchinson, Leeu Gamka, Prince Albert Road Station, Matjiesfontein and Deelfontein*, the site of the Imperial Yeomanry tent hospital during the Anglo-Boer War. This was the [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2018 No 299

THE BOER WAR COMES TO TOWN Ever wondered what life was like when the Boer War hit the small Karoo villages? A recently launched book, The Forgotten Front, reveals this in an interesting way. It details how the war touched the lives of the ordinary man in the street in and around Colesberg. Townsfolk were suddenly caught up in the extraordinary circumstances of war. People who had lived tranquil lives were suddenly thrown into turmoil and surrounded by soldiers. The story, written by Professor Mike de Jongh and Belinda Gordon, is gathered from historic documents, newspapers, diaries and letters. General [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2018 No 298

PICK A PLACE AND JUST GO THERE Freelance photojournalists, Chris Marais and Juliette du Toit, travel widely across the thirstland and are often asked which is their favourite town. Like loving parents, they find something special in almost every one, however, they decided to find out what appealed to others. On their Karoospace and Facebook pages they listed 38 towns and asked which one their followers preferred. Some nominated five or six places, but for the purposes of the poll only the top one was counted. Top favourites - in order of preference - were: Prince Albert, Willowmore, Graaff-Reinet and [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2018 No 297

REMEMBERING THE FORGOTTEN FRONTIER A new book, covering details of the Anglo-Boer War in the Karoo and Colesberg area, in particular, is now available. Entitled The Forgotten Front, Untold Stories of the Anglo-Boer War in the Karoo, it is written by Michael de Jongh, Professor Emreritus in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at UNISA, and widely known for his books on the “karretjie people” as well as Belinda Gordon, who formerly worked at Colesberg’s Kemper Museum. The book is based on research which Belinda started in 1990. It highlights the significance of the confrontations along the southern or [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2018 No 296

HONOURING THE 60 WHO NEVER CAME HOME Professor Anthony Stimson and Jenny Humphries, in Australia, are co-authoring a book on the South African War Memorial in Adelaide. Said to be the finest equestrian statue in Australia, it was erected by public subscription in honour of the 60 men who served in South Australian contingents during the Anglo-Boer War but did not return. The memorial was unveiled on June 6, 1904. “Its story has been told, but not the stories of the 60 men named on it. We are filling in that gap and the book will tell each man’s story. [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2018 No 295

ATTENTION ALL INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS It is once again time for the annual Independent Publishers Awards Competition. This highly contested event is the only competition of its kind in South Africa and it culminates in a gala awards banquet at the end of the Richmond Book Town Festival in the Karoo at the end of October, each year. The competition, which has various categories, honours all self-published authors and brings their works to the attention of a wider audience. Any self-published author wishing to enter should contact Darrel David, Book Town organiser and coordinator of the panel of judges. FAREWELL, DEAR [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2018 No 294

A GUIDE TO BEAUTIFUL BRIDGES The beautiful bridges of the Eastern Cape intrigue many tourists and photographers. Their creation is closely linked to the life of British civil engineer, Joseph Newey, who was responsible for the erection of nine stone arch bridges and about 70 iron lattice, girder and timber bridges in the last quarter of the 19th century. The full story behind the construction of these magnificent bridges is told in Bridging the Eastern Cape – The Life and Work of Joseph Newey, a beautifully illustrated, 134-page coffee table-type book, was written by King Williams Town-born Dennis Walters, [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2018 No 293

FOR ENERGETIC OUTDOOR ENTHUSIASTS … Energetic Karoo outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the Meiringspoort Trail Run and Mountain Bike Challenge which takes place in De Rust, on May 26 this year. The runs first covers 9,5km and 19,5km and the mountain bike courses, 27,5 km and 60,5 km. Both events start at 07:00. Mountain bike enthusiasts will also enjoy the Lazy Hippo Stage Race in the Karoo Gariep Nature Reserve on New Holme Guest Farm in Hanover. The routes pass through some beautiful scenery and include interesting challenges. This family friendly event will be held from July 6 to 8. [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2018 No 292

DON’T MISS THE BEST WINE FESTIVAL IN THE KAROO The 5th annual Stoep Wine Tasting Weekend - “the best little wine festival in the Karoo” - will take place in Graaff-Reinet on May 25 and 26. Organisers say it will be bigger and better than ever before. Already 31 wine estates, as well as many craft beer, brandy and gin makers, have confirmed their attendance. A highlight of the weekend will be the launch of well-known chef, Gordon Wright's, latest book Karoo Food. The programme includes food demonstrations and master classes. A CELEBRATION OF GARDENS The 14th annual Bedford Garden [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2018 No 291

ATTENTION ALL FOODIES The ever-popular annual Karoo Food Festival takes place again in Cradock this year from April 27 to 30. This event is a must for food lovers, particularly those who enjoy the special flavours of the Karoo lamb and venison. Remember, however, that this is an extremely popular event, so booking is essential. The programme, as usual, includes something for everyone. There will be paid and free food, wine and craft beer tastings, as well as a variety of food demonstrations and master classes. Several activities, especially designed to amuse and entertain children, also form part of the [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2018 No 290

SYMPOSIUM COMMEMMORATES THE GREAT ‘FLU This year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the world’s most deadly pandemics – the Spanish or Great Flu. It infected 500-million people and occurred in even in the remotest places. It came to South Africa on ships docking at Durban and Cape Town, says historian, Howard Philips, who will be one of the speakers at a symposium to commemorate this greatest medical catastrophe of all time. The flu travelled inland on South Africa’s well-developed railway network and the country’s migrant labour force helped to rapidly spread it across the country. The economy came [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2018 No 289

SPECIAL WEEKEND FOR HISTORY BUFFS A special Anglo-Boer War weekend, hosted by the War Museum in Bloemfontein and the Lord Milner Hotel, will take place at Matjiesfontein from March 16 to 18. The programme includes top speakers such as Tokkie Pretorius, director of the Anglo-Boer War Museum, who will discuss Soldiers of the Queen, Dr Johan Loock, who will review the famous and controversial Boer Commandant, Gideon Scheepers, Allan Duff will cover the activities of the commandoes of General Wynand Malan and Commandant Willem Fouche during the last week of the war, Dr Dean Allen will conduct a walking tour [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2017 No 288

YEOMEN IS A WINNER! Yeomen of the Karoo by Rose Willis, Dr Arnold van Dyk and Prof Kay de Villiers, won two prizes at the third annual S A Independent Publishers Awards, at the Richmond Booktown Festival. It was the winner in the Medical Category, and it shared the best of the best award with Ashwin Desai’s latest novel and Heather Costaras’s biography. The announcement was made by festival organizer, Darryl David, at a gala dinner on Wednesday, October 2. Yeomen of the Karoo, the story of the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deelfontein, was edited by Dr Suzette Botha, the [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2017 No 287

BLOEMFONTEIN LAUNCH FOR PRESIDENT’S LETTERS The Van Riebeeck Society’s latest volume (No 48 in the Second Series) will be launched at the Anglo-Boer War Museum, Monument Road, Bloemfontein, on Saturday, November 25, at 11:00. Entitled Selections from the Letters of President M T Steyn, 1904–1910, this work was edited by Con de Wet and Elizabeth van Heyningen and translated by Chris van der Merwe. Both editors will deliver short talks at the War Museum and answer questions. ALL ROADS LEAD TO RICHMOND This year’s Richmond BookBedonnerd Festival (from October 25 to 28) is going to be special. It’s the 10th [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2017 No 286

KAROO PROVIDES SOME OF THE MAGIC The Karoo has helped generate some of the magic in the recently released film, The Dark Tower. Based on eight novels in Stephen King’s fantasy, horror and science fiction series the tale ranges from the Mid-World, created in remote, arid, semi-desert Tankwa Karoo National Park, to modern-day New York. Mesmerising caves and weirdly shaped red rocks in the Cederberg Mountains introduce a dramatic parallel universe and allow audiences across the world to see some captivating and unique local locations. Manni Village, for instance, was built at Rawsonville, near Worcester. Production designer, Christopher Glass, said [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2017 No 285

FESTIVAL NOT TO BE MISSED A literary festival to honour South African author, Etienne van Heerden, will be held in Cradock from September 22 to 24. Arranged by well-known Karoo festival organizer Darryl David, it is the first event of its kind and promises to be a winner. “Van Heerden’s work is fiction at its best,” says Herman de Coninck, (NRC Handelsblad, Amsterdam), adding that: “You will have to read Van Heerden if you want to know anything about South Africa.” As the winner of two Hertzog prizes, and almost every Afrikaans literary award, Van Heerden, a son of the Karoo, is [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2017 No 284

IT’S ALL IN THE RECORDS Church records are the oldest records in South Africa. Churches keep records of baptisms and burials performed from the church or on church property. Church Minute books also have a great deal of interesting information, depending on how efficient the minister was Beaufort West’s Anglican Rev Guy Gething kept detailed notes, particularly on burials. Until 1778 the Dutch Reformed Church (Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk or NGK) was the only official church in South Africa. This church's records date from 1665. The next oldest church is the Lutheran Church with records dating back to 1778. Anglican Church [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2017 No 283

BOER WAR SERVICE MEN HONOURED DOWN UNDER Canberra, in Australia, now has a National Boer War Memorial after 115 years and it looks great reported John Sweetman. The official dedication took place on May 31, this year. This was followed by Boer War Day on June 4, 2017, when the Boer War Memorial Society of Western Australia paid tribute the 16,000 Australian men and women who served in South Africa from 1899 to 1902. For this anniversary commemoration and reconciliation service, held in Kings Park, Perth, the Botanical Parks and Gardens Authority completely restored and upgraded the memorial and 77mm [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2017 No 282

NEW BOOK HIGHLIGHTS COLLECTORS AND COLLECTIONS An exciting new “bird book” has just been released. Entitled Warriors, Dilettantes and Businessmen - Bird collectors during the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries in southern Africa, it was written by Prince Albert’s Dr Richard Dean, a man who is widely known and highly respected in birding and history circles. The book covers the collectors and collections of bird specimens, from 1850 to 1950, across an area immensely rich in bird life. This was a period during which the interest in Africa was high and museum collections, in Britain in particular, were growing rapidly. Natural [...]