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.
KAROO PARLIAMENT CANCELLED The 3rd Karoo Parliament, which was to have been held in Laingsburg in September this year, has been indefinitely postponed. “Several factors, beyond the control of the organisers, have led to the Trustees approving this decision,” says Professor Doreen Atkinson. YEOMEN SOLDIERING ON Yeomen of the Karoo, the story of the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, near Richmond, is now in its final stages of production. “Working on this incredible story of a unique hospital, never seen before, nor again, was a fascinating journey,” say authors Rose Willis, Dr Arnold van Dyk and Professor Kay de Villiers. “While working [...]
ATTENTION WRITERS AND READERS The 7th Annual Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival takes place in Cradock from July 21 to 24 this year. “This is the perfect place to indulge in warm Karoo hospitality; feast on fabulous farm food, mingle with like-minded spirits and marvel at the wonders of the Karoo,” says organiser Lisa Antrobus Ker. “Visitors will be able to meet old friends, make new ones; enjoy fireside chats and open microphone sessions.” The programme is packed with top level speakers and interesting outings. “Visitors should not miss the literary walk, a drive to the Mountain Zebra National Park, a tour [...]
IN SEARCH OF VULTURE PHOTOS Well-known ornithologist, Richard Dean, is writing a book on the bird collectors in southern Africa. Part of the story includes information on the military men who collected birds. The army section includes information on the two men who helped Colonel Sloggett collect material around the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at Deelfontein during the Anglo-Boer War. Richard is now searching for photographs of the vulture colony at Nelspoort – it was one of the largest in the Karoo. Richard says: “The colony became extinct in the early 1900s.” There was also a huge vulture colony at Gamkaspoort, [...]
OH YUM – IT’S CRADOCK The Karoo Food Festival, a feast of food and fun, takes place in Cradock from April 29 to May 1. Festivities kick off with a carnival, which promises to be highly entertaining, at the Meeting Ground at Cradock High School. Tickets cost R20 per person and children under 5 will be allowed in for free. “Live music and great food will set the pace,” says organizer Lisa Antrobus. “Visitors will be able to “build” their own feasts and choose their own portions. Among the typical Karoo dishes on offer will be skaapstertjies, bazaar-sosaties, gourmet boeries, [...]
ALL FOR THE SAKE OF THE RABBIT The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Drylands Conservation Programme has proved successful, reports senior field officer, Bonnie Schumann. This programme focuses not only on the conservation of the critically endangered riverine rabbit, but also on socio-economic upliftment opportunities for the rural community in this area and the provision of jobs during habitat restoration. “The restoration techniques improve habitats and the biodiversity of the ecosystem to ensure the survival of this unique, threatened species, and the other species sharing the riparian areas,” said Bonnie. “With quite some trepidation we planted out about 3 000 nursery-grown Karoo plants [...]
DESERT TOURISM GROWS APACE Desert tourism is growing steadily. Previously a difficult product to sell, “dryland tourism” has now become a recognized niche market across the world for discerning arid zone travelers. “Perceptions have changed from down market and cheap to exciting and adventurous. Remoteness, bareness, silence and solitude have become drawcards,” says Doreen Atkinson, an authority on Karoo tourism. In an article in the Journal of Arid Environments, she states that the Karoo is reaping dividends from the trend towards “getting away” and really exploring the great outdoors. “The Karoo is no longer considered hostile, dangerous or boring. It [...]
FOR ALL WHO LOVE PRINCE ALBERT There’s a treat in store for all who love Prince Albert. A new book, compiled by Cultural Foundation members, Lydia Barella, Mary Anne Botha, Judy Maguire and Derek Thomas, has just become available. Prince Albert - Sense of History, Sense of Place, celebrates the town’s unique cultural and environmental history covering everything from geology, palaeontology, archaeology and anthropology to architecture and agriculture. These are brought to life through stories of the people who settled in the area, among them the De Beers, of the original farm, De Queekvalleij, as well as residents of Bo-dorp, [...]
TOP AWARDS FOR CONSERVATION Towards the end of last year conservationists, Sue and Richard Dean, received two top awards. One was a Cape Nature Stewardship award for excellence in the field of conservation and the other a special award for their outstanding contribution to biodiversity conservation in the Western Cape. Both were for work done at Wolwekraal Nature Reserve, a small 113 ha protected area on a farm, near Prince Albert. Richard and Sue identified this spot as a conservation area in 2005. In 2013 Wolwekraal farm owners and the Department of Environment Affairs officials signed a Memorandum of Agreement [...]
CELEBRATING MEDICINE IN THE KAROO A Medical Humanities Literary Festival, scheduled for the 10th anniversary of the Richmond Booktown Book Fair in October 2016, will celebrate medicine in the Karoo. The event follows on the opening of South Africa's first Museum of Optometry and Ophthalmology at this year’s event. The new museum was established to salute the work of Albert Gaston Eugen Fick, the developer of the contact lens. Way back in the late 1880s several people began speculating on the possibility of applying a lens or shell directly on to the eye to correct visual disorders. A variety [...]
ANNUAL TREAT FOR BOOK LOVERS The ever-popular Richmond Literary Festival, Boek Bedonnered, is scheduled for October 22 to 24. The programme, designed to appeal to the hearts of all book lovers, is jam-packed with exciting launches, good reads, talks and poetry sessions. One of the highlights is a discussion with South Africa’s greatest living Afrikaans poet, Breyten Breytenbach, about his new book, a compilation of all his public speeches over the past 50 years. This will be undertaken by Dominique Botha and Riaan Malan. Another highlight will be the official opening of the Museum of Optometry and Ophthalmology by [...]
A FESTIVAL OF READING (AND WRITING) Print has not died. The Association of American Publishers say that e-books are having a tough time and that their sales dropped by about 10% in the first five months of this year. This was encouraging to the organisers of Prince Albert’s annual Leesfees. Their aim is to develop a culture of reading and a love of books. This year’s event, scheduled for November 4 to 7, includes talks by bestselling authors, but the festival is not only about books and publishing, the programme includes discussions of writing techniques, a workshop, poetry, performances, [...]
FIRST CONFERENCE OF ITS KIND IN SA The first Depth Leadership Trust Conference to be held in South Africa will take place in Prince Albert from September 3 to 5. The theme is Crucibles of Leadership and the programme includes top speakers, each a specialist on his or her field. Among them will be clinical psychologists, artists, authors, academics, corporate and government leaders. Conference organisers explain that the term “depth” refers to a leadership approach that uses the theories and practices of depth psychology, a formal sub-discipline of clinical psychology. These theories, which have been used for more than [...]
THE MAN WHO WENT TO TIMBUKTU REMEMBERS Chris Marais’s memoirs, The Journey Man, was successfully launched at the Cradock Writers Festival. This book, a great read, tells the exciting tale of a photo-journalist’s experiences across Africa and in more than 50 foreign spots, including Mongolia, Borneo, Timbuktu, Madagascar and the French Quarter of New Orleans. It’s the inside storey of a roving reporter’s life on newspapers such as The Pretoria News, The Rand Daily Mail and The Sunday Tribune, and on magazines such as Scope, Style, Country Life (more recently) as well as a slew of international airline publications before [...]
TIME TO CELEBRATE WRITERS Tel No 082 932 8864 The 6th annual Schreiner/Karoo Writers Festival – Skrywersfees / Umnyhadala Wababhali – will be held in Cradock from July 23 to 26. “As ever this festival features a delightful mix of stories, tours, walks, talks, videos, books – old and new – glimpses of history, theatre productions, poetry readings and fireside chats, as well as many opportunities to enjoy the clean, fresh Karoo air and star-studded night skies,” says organizer, Lisa Antrobus Ker. “Book and Karoo lovers can rest, relax, unwind, browse and enjoy the region’s widely known, warm, friendly hospitality, traditional [...]
AND THE WINNERS ARE ... The inaugural South Africa Independent Publishers Awards dinner, recently held in Richmond, during the J M Coetze\Athol Fugard Festival, was an exciting gala event. Virtually every category was keenly contested. The Miriam Tlali Prize for autobiography was unanimously awarded to the late Edwin Jackson for Flight of the Moth, which was published with encouragement of Booktown Richmond. This prize was named in honour of the first black woman to publish a novel in English. Judges were astounded that a simple farmer, faced with a terminal disease, could pen a book of such immense beauty. [...]
DON’T FORGET THIS FESTIVAL South Africa’s greatest living playwright, Athol Fugard, will be speaking at J M Coetzee\Athol Fugard festival in Richmond on Saturday, May 30. This is an occasion not to be missed. This year’s event, the third of its kind, boasts a programme is packed with talks, readings, poetry and plays. The festival opens at 09h00 on Thursday, May 28, with a documentary entitled Falls The Shadow, The Life and Times of Athol Fugard. From there the programme moves on through interesting items and the day ends with the first self-publishing awards’ dinner the Supper Club. Many [...]
EMPIRE, WAR & CRICKET – A RICH, REWARDING READ Dean Allen’s book, Empire, War & Cricket, highlights a time when Victorian society was being redefined and cricket promoted as “the imperial game, sport of the Empire”. A fascinating social and political history it weaves the development cricket, “the gentleman’s game” into the biography of arrogant, entertaining, hospitable, intriguing James D Logan, Laird of Matjiesfontein, and undoubtedly one of the most colourful men of South African history. Central to the story is Matjiesfontein, once hailed as “the cleanest place in the Colony”, the aspirations of British Empire in the South Africa [...]
COMING SOON – THE LAIRD AND HIS CONTRIBUTION TO CRICKET Dr Dean Allen’s long-awaited book, Empire, War and Cricket in South Africa: Logan of Matjiesfontein, is to be launched in early April. The book, published by Zebra Press, explores how James D Logan, Laird of Matjiesfontein, and one of SA great entrepreneurs, established a health resort for the rich and famous in the far-flung Karoo, as well as how he developed and promoted cricket from this remote spot, despite gathering clouds of war. A unique social and political history, this well-researched biography looks at life in the late 1800s [...]
JOIN THE FUN – THIRD LEAP DAY FOR FROGS South Africa is home to some 120 species of frogs, each fascinating in its own way. To celebrate this, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is once again organising a Leap Day for Frogs on Saturday, February 28. This will be the third day of its kind and the aim of the day is to celebrate the diversity of frogs, their behavior and habitats, raise awareness about these amphibians and highlight the fact that globally they are the most threatened of all vertebrates – 30% of all South African frogs are vulnerable [...]
TWO NEW POWER PLANTS PLANNED The Department of Energy has announced the creation of two new CSP (concentrating solar thermal power) plants in the Northern Cape. One will be the first of its kind in Africa. Kathu Solar Park and Redstone Solar Thermal Power are the preferred bidders and each company will build a 100MW capacity plants capable of storing solar power generated during daylight hours. The new plants will add to the five already commissioned in this hot, dry province. The Kathu Consortium’s plant will incorporate parabolic trough technology and will be equipped with a molten-salt storage system that [...]