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 R200.00 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 October 2021 No 334

NEW NATIONAL PARK South African National Parks (SANParks) and World Wide Fund (WWF) are working together to create a new national park in Eastern Cape. It will be located in the mountains near the Lesotho border and close to Naude’s Nek pass, which at 2500m is one of South Africa’s highest lying roads This new NE Cape Grasslands National Park will cover a 30 000ha protected area. “The aim is to contribute towards the conservation of grasslands and water security,” explained SANParks acting CEO Dr Luthando Dziba. “The NE Cape Grasslands National Park will take a somewhat different form to traditional [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2021 No 333

SPOTLIGHT ON THE DRC Philippe Menache and Helmut Wolff, both great admirers of church architecture, have just launched a new book entitled Die NG Kerk. This 136-page full-colour book features comprehensive text covering 139 Dutch Reformed Churches across the country. It also gives brief background details on the little towns in which these churches are situated, as well as historical details of the architects. In addition, special interior and exterior features are also highlighted. Sadly, say the authors, the country’s declining economy, poverty and depopulation of the platteland, have left their mark and some of these beautiful buildings have been [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2021 No 332

NEW BOOK COVERS 963 DAYS AND MORE A new set of books, which will be of interest to Boer War enthusiasts, has just been published. Entitled The Anglo-Boer War 963 Days it is written by Pieter G Cloete and consists of two A4 soft-cover books – a 410-page main volume and a 50-page addendum of maps, facts and statistics. The main volume gives a concise, day-by-day, blow-by-blow, account of the eleven months preceding the ultimatum and the 963 days of the war from the start of hostilities to the signing of the Peace Treaty. The main book chronologically covers political [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2021 No 331

CAMEOS OF THE KAROO The Karoo Development Foundation has started placing a series of Cameos on its website. These are compiled by Rose Willlis, a recognised chronicler of the Karoo since she started writing Rose’s Round-up in January, 1993. They are edited by KDF trustee Professor Doreen Atkinson. who has almost three decades of experience in issues related to government, agriculture, water, tourism and heritage in the Karoo. Currently on line are Adendorp, Kendrew, Murrayburg, Noupoort, Three Sisters, and Wolwefontein. But why cameos? Well, a cameo is a gem, a carving, part of a larger object, mostly of stone [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2021 No 330

AN ODE TO THE KAROO Hidden Karoo, in 300 pages of true beauty, takes readers on an extensive journey across the vast plains allowing them to discover the true magic of the Karoo in all its forms. Patricia Kramer’s passion for historic architecture shines through the entire book. A palaeolithic archaeologist, she has spent much time recording South Africa’s historic buildings, particularly those in danger of collapse or demolition, In a series of photo-essays, she tells of conservation and neglect and poses the question of what the future holds. Alain Proust’s excellent photographs, capture the beauty of the modern-day land [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2021 No 329

NEW READ FOR KAROO LOVERS Hidden Karoo, launched in March, is a treat for Karoo lovers. Written by Patricia Kramer, with photographs by Alain Proust, it captures the Karoo’s vast landscape, flat-topped mountains, conical hills, scrubby bushes and hidden valleys. “Here pioneers carved roads out of rock to set down roots in an unforgiving environment.” says Patricia. “Here dreams were born and legends made. In this ancient place rocks and fossilized footprints tell the story.” Hidden Karoo, a series of photo-essays, tells of conservation and neglect “One town boasts splendidly restored buildings, while along a dusty road lies another - [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2021 No 328

ATLAS FOR BOER WAR BUFFS Well-known author, Chris “Bulldog” Ash, launched a comprehensive military atlas covering every aspect of the Anglo-Boer War on February 2 this year. The Boer War Atlas has 230 full-colour maps, which cover the conflict on a strategic, operational and tactical level and guide the reader through each stage of the war. There are also detailed diagrams and ORBATs (orders of battle). By showing how every operation and battle fits into the bigger picture this publication enables readers to better understand the war and the British victory The book covers the famous battles, lesser-known ones and [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2021 No 327

FLOOD VICTIMS REMEMBERED On the 40th anniversary of Laingsburg’s severe and devastating flood (January 25, 1981) the town honoured those who died. A touchingly simple grave-like memorial was laid out in the shade of a tree at the Flood Museum. On it 104 small karoo stones, one for each resident who was lost, have been placed on it. Their names are simply written. Some stones also have a short message of remembrance. This museum was initiated by local resident and librarian, Francis van Wyk, who for many years has collected items relating to the flood and the town’s cultural [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2021 No 326

INTRIGUING ART ON DISPLAY The Bushman Heritage Museum in New Bethesda, the only one of its kind in South Africa, is exhibiting a range of intriguing lino prints. These, like other artwork at the centre. these explore the ancient wisdom. rich culture and mythology of the /Xam, states the museum website. They have been done by resident artists Gerald Mei, Naasley Swiers and Sandra Sweers and they depict porcupines, zebras, baboons, a lion and eland as well as Kraggen’s precious, eland, the rain bull, the trickster, and a female hunter. They are for sale and proceeds will go towards the [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2021 No 325

NEW BOOKS FOR HISTORY BUFFS Dr Dean Author, a popular lecturer – particularly at Matjiesfontein – historian and author of Empire, War and Cricket in South Africa, is working on two new books. The first is a collection of 365 illustrated stories from his extremely popular series, This Week In History and the second, Frontier Land, is a fully illustrated account of his recent travels through the Eastern Cape. This Week in History takes a fascinating look at stories that have shaped the world, over the centuries and in various countries, but which over time have been forgotten. It covers [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2020 No 324

NEW BLOCKHOUSE BOOK AVAILABLE A new book entitled Anglo-Boer War Blockhouses - A Military Engineer's Perspective has just become available. This 310-page, self-published book, written by Simon Green, and printed by Porcupine Press, offers a fresh look at how the construction of over 9 000 small fortifications sought to change the course of the war. It is full of interesting information for the casual enthusiast and the history buff. The book examines all aspects of blockhouses. It tells the reader about blockhouses before the war, how they came to be used in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War, their concept, design [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2020 No 323

NEW BOOK TELLS OF MORE THAN WAR A new book which investigates the link between Croatia and South Africa towards the end of the 1800s has just been published. It is the result of four years of in-depth research by Zvonimir Navala, who was born in Croatia in 1946, completed his schooling and university studies there and came to South Africa with his family in the 1990s to complete his research. The book, Croats in the Anglo-Boer War, South Africa 1899 – 1902, covers much more than the war. It discusses the interconnections between the two countries and it the [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2020 No 322

END OF THE ROAD - A NEW BEGINNING? For the first time in 13 years, Richmond’s immensely popular, annual BookBedonnerd Book Festival will perhaps not take place at the end of October. It has had to be cancelled, not being because of COVID, but because the Northern Cape Provincial Government has refused to fund the project. Organisers, Darryl David and Peter Baker, say that they fear that this might be the end of the road for the only Booktown in South Africa. They have, however, not totally given up hope. “Perhaps with a bit of financial support we will [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2020 No 321

JUST PERFECT FOR CHRISTMAS There is no place quite like the Karoo. It’s hailed as the world’s friendliest arid zone, filled with characters, creative folk, stories, history and ghosts. Now, just as people begin to think of Christmas presents, hinterland photo-journalists Chris Marais and Julie du Toit, are launching a new book, Karoo Roads. In it they share their experiences of travelling the highways and byways of this vast area, taking readers to fascinating places, spaces and breath-taking scenery. Their “roads” pass Marcella de Boom’s uncommissioned statues at Loxton, the lonely, isolated graves near the site of the old [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2020 No 320

NEW BOOK CAPTURES THE DRAMA Anglo-Boer War enthusiasts may be interested in a new book covering accounts of lawyers caught up in the tumult of the Jameson Raid. Lawyers in Turmoil - The Johannesburg Conspiracy of 1895, written by Judge Owen Rogers, has been hailed as “dense, engrossing and a vivid historical account,” by Justice Edwin Cameron. Rogers has drawn on a wealth of published and archival material to present a lively, occasionally provocative, account of what took place in the dock, at the bar, on the bench and behind the scenes. He poses some interesting questions, such as: [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2020 No 319

A SALUTE TO THE SETTLERS The Eastern Cape branch of the SA Genealogical Society has just launched a new book to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the 1820 settlers. Entitled 1820 Settlers and Other Early British Settlers to the Cape Colony, this well-illustrated 500-page book, edited by branch vice-chairman, John Wilmot, pays tribute to the role that these settlers played in building South Africa. “In their stark ignorance these intrepid people made pitiful blunders and mostly learned the hard way through tenacious toil and tears. They stood their ground, with indomitable spirit and by grim determination, steadfast [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2020 No 318

THEY ARE NOW ALL THERE At last a full set of Rose’s Round up is now available on the Ancestors website. The gaps are gone and the 30 missing issues have been uploaded thanks to Manny Pereira, of A-One Computer Solutions in Bloubergstrand, Cape Town. The early copies that were poorly printed on an old dot-matrix machine and consequently copied very badly. I started trying to retype them, but then Manny offered to convert them into Word. He steadily worked his way through a higgledy-piggledy array of scans, returned the pages for proofing and slowly the gap was closed. The [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2020 No 317

PLANS FOR A NEW KAROO FESTIVAL   Looking positively to the future Richmonders are planning a  new festival linked to oral traditions, storytelling and the wool industry.  It will be named “Spinning a Yarn”.  Organisers, Peter Baker and Darryl David, (the men who created the Bookbedonnerd Book Festival in 2007 and put Richmond on the map by making it South Africa’s only Book Town) have approached some organisations such as the Mohair Spinners Industry and the local government for sponsorship. They are also planning to get talented crafts people in the area to pass on their skills to others [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2020 No 316

TOP SA CONSERVATIONISTS TO SPEAK IN LONDON Rhino conservation comes under the spotlight at the Royal Geographical Society Spring Talk in Kensington, London, on April 2. Three top South African experts, with roots in the Eastern Cape, will address the delegates and detail some of the horrors of rhino poaching. Their theme will be Creating a Rhino Stronghold. The key speaker is Dr William Fowlds, the wildlife veterinary surgeon educated in Grahamstown and Onderstepoort, who set up the ARCC (African Rhino Conservation Collaboration). Its main aim is to co-ordinate effective action against poaching. Will’s passion for conservation stems from his [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2020 No 315

NEW BOOK FOR BOER WAR BUFFS Boer War researcher Allen Duff has just launched a book which is bound to intrigue followers of the history of the South African War. Entitled Boer War Narratives of the Cape Colony it tells of unusual happenings and adventures experienced by Boer Commandos and British Colonial Forces during skirmishes and engagements in the Cape Colony. “Some of these reveal quite bizarre confrontations with the ‘fickle finger of fate’”, says Allen. Among the tales are stories of the train attack at Ganna Station, north of Beaufort West, the experiences of the Australian contingents during the [...]