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.
ANGORA RAM FOR THE KING A young Angora ram from Prince Albert has been presented to King Letsie III of Lesotho. This gesture was made by the Ladybrand-based agricultural company, OVK, (Oos Vrystaat Kaap Bedryf Ltd), as part of its efforts to promote wool and mohair production in the Mountain Kingdom. The ram came from the Van Hasselts in Prince Albert, who are widely known for breeding high quality stock and the presentation was made when OVK presented plans and proposals for increasing market share in Lesotho to the king and other dignitaries. In a news story on Radio [...]
RARE FIND Earlier this year, an Endangered Wildlife Critical Rivers Survey team discovered a rare fresh water mussel at Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve. This is the first creature of its kind to be found in the reserve and only the second recording of the species in the Northern Cape. While netting and measuring endangered Clanwilliam sandfish, senior field officer, Bonnie Schumann, spotted the remains of an “otter meal” - an opened mussel with bits of stringy meat still attached. She searched the gravelly river bed and found mussel of a species listed as near threatened. “Fresh water mussels are indicators of [...]
A CULINARY ADVENTURE IN THE DRYLAND Justin Bonello, well known South African cooking raconteur, and host of the SA Braai Master TV show, has just launched a new book. With his crew he spent two-years kicking up dust and exploring the bye-ways of the Karoo in an effort to discover the pulse of the dryland. His mission was simple. He wanted to capture the soul of the thirstland, witness its struggle for survival, experience the wide-open spaces, clean, crisp, clear fresh air and endless starry nights. He wanted to learn more of the San, to meet the modern-day people and [...]
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES ... Freelance photojournalists and hinterland adventurers, Chris and Julie Marais, have just launched a new book in their highly-acclaimed Karoo series which has introduced this region to people across the world. To celebrate the arrival of Karoo Keepsakes II, which follows on the success of its predecessor, they are offering three of their popular books for the price of two - titles include Karoo Keepsakes I (and now II), 101 Karoo Towns, Karoo Knapsak I and II. All are available in print or e-book format Karoo Keepsakes II continues the story of unusual people and little-known [...]
KAROO PARLIAMENT TO MEET AGAIN The fifth Karoo Parliament will meet in the Vusubuntu Hall, Cradock, on November 5 and 6. The programme addresses tourism, health and the economy. Keynote speaker, Professor Tim Noakes, from the University of Cape Town, will discuss A Healthy Karoo and Why Nutrition is Essential for Local Development. Other speakers will cover various aspects of health and wellness, foetal alcohol syndrome, tourism, the Olive Schreiner Route, Karoo cuisine, arts, education and shale gas mining. Special sessions will deal with water recycling, energising the economy, and revitalising central business districts. Organiser, Professor Doreen Atkinson, said: “We [...]
NEW BOER WAR BOOK AVAILABLE A new book, No 6 in the Cape Commando Series, is now available from Taffy and David Shearing. Entitled Malan Attacks Richmond, it tells of events in this isolated Karoo village during the Anglo-Boer War. “The war in this area was interesting,” said Taffy. “The town was far from rail, yet residents, led by their dynamic, determined magistrate, George James Boyes, put up a fight on two occasions against the Boer commandos under Wynand Malan. We have included Malan’s subsequent career as a guerrilla fighter in this 195-page book which includes 184 photographs, many [...]
LITERARY FESTIVAL NOT TO BE MISSED Tel. Darryl 081-391-8689 / Peter 011-447-2517 The J M Coetzee and Fugard Festivals will be hosted back to back in Richmond from May 22 to 24. "At these SA's Nobel Laureates will be celebrated in a top-class programme with something of interest for everyone," says organiser, Darryl David. Luli Callinicos will talk on her biography of Oliver Tambo and The World that Made Mandela. Renowned TV personality Patricia Glynn will discuss Dawid Kruiper a well-known name in the Northern Cape. Following on the success of his first novel, One Hand Washes the Other, [...]
BOER WAR ENTHUSIASTS TO MEET Richmond’s Third Anglo-Boer War Conference and Commemorative Weekend is scheduled to take place from May 29 to 31. Organisers have developed an interesting programme, featuring lectures by top speakers, outings to neighbouring towns, field trips to interesting places and walks through the village. These will cover a wide variety of aspects of the war. “This three-day event has been designed to provide a forum for enthusiasts to share information and knowledge, on this important sector of South African history, so a series of social events and free time for discussion has been included in the [...]
PEEL BACK THROUGH THE AGES Tim Sale’s one hour ten-minute-long film, Layers of The Karoo, is must see for all who love the vast, limitless, open spaces of the Great Karoo. It starts about 280 million years ago, when huge, strange-looking creatures, ancestors of modern mammals, lumbered across the land. From there, the layers are peeled back through various extinctions, like the dinosaurs, to the earliest hominids and right up to homo sapiens. The story continues, taking a close look human development; through the lives of the Bushman, the Khoi and early European settlement. Some emotional subjects, such as [...]
FOUR NEW RESERVES PLANNED TO BOOST EASTERN CAPE The Eastern Cape Karoo is to get four new nature reserves. The areas were recently approved for declaration by Mcebisi Jonas, MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism He also declared a new protected area. The reserves include Kromme River Hoogte Nature Reserve, a 442-ha area outside Uniondale; Baviaanskloof Hartland Nature Reserve near Willowmore, Royalston, a 17-hectare development being handled by Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and Lambas, a nature reserve in the area of the Mhlontlo Local Municipality. This lies north-east side of the provincial border between Mthatha and Mt Frere [...]
MANY FESTIVITIES ON THE CARDS Cradock is the place to be. This town celebrates its bicentennial this year and it intends to do so in style. First on the cards will be the Food Festival on March 21 and 22. Cradock came into being in 1814 as the last of as line of forts built along the lower Fish River by the then governor, Sir John Cradock. His aim was to try to contain the Xhosa people east of the river, eliminate unrest and establish harmony in the area. Although intended as a fort, Cradock never saw conflict and in [...]
DISCOVER BARRYDALE Leslie Howard’s new book, Barrydale Unplugged, is a treasure trove of stories. The tale begins 500-million years ago, when the Karoo was an inland sea, and tells of tiny creatures that left fossilized remains for experts to study. It moves on to the earliest indigenous inhabitants and from there travels through time bringing the town and district to life as it tells of the first farmers, the road builders and dwellers around the warm water springs. Fauna and flora are central to the theme. Then comes the village, its residents and churches. Skirmishes and clashes of the [...]
ROUND-UP - A MAGNIFICENT JOURNEY! The first issue of Rose’s Round-up appeared in early January 1993. Its aim? To inform six town clerks of what was happening in the fledgling Central Karoo tourist office. In those days not many believed in tourism in the Karoo. In fact, when the CEO of the then Central Karoo Regional Services Council appointed Rose Willis as tourism co-ordinator he warned there would be almost nothing to co-ordinate. Time proved him wrong, but to be fair, he had a point - way back then few saw the Karoo as a destination. Most rushed down the [...]
NEW AIRPORT UNDER CONSTRUCTION Construction of a new small-scale airport at Somerset East is scheduled to start mid-month. This project, estimated to cost about R12-million, will greatly assist tourism in the area. “Additional funds will be accessed to pave the road between Somerset East and Addo,” said Rob Beach, business manager of Blue Crane Development, the company responsible for the project. He told Travel News Weekly that work would be on-going for six to eight months and that the airport, designed to handle chartered and commercial flights, would open in mid-2014. “About 65 percent of the work on the [...]
BOOKS GALORE FOR THE 7TH YEAR Richmond celebrates the seventh anniversary of Booktown this year from October 24 to 27. As ever the programme for this immensely popular “Boekbedonnered” festival, as it has become known, is jam-packed with interesting talks, presentations and launches. The programme (on page 2) includes exhibitions and outings. Among these is an early afternoon “walkabout” conducted by local resident, Dave Clemens, an authority on Karoo architecture, as well as a short walk up Vegkop conducting by Anglo-Boer War experts, John Donaldson and Chris Sheldon. This stroll trails off from the Supper Club at 17h00 and [...]
NEW BOOK FOR LOVERS OF KAROO CUISINE There’s a new book for Karoo and Karoo cuisine enthusiasts. Veld to Fork, written by Gordon Wright, a Graaff-Reinet chef and guesthouse owner, is more than just another collection of recipes. This 160-page, soft-covered book, published by Struik Lifestyle, showcases delicious dishes against awe-inspiring and beautiful Karoo landscapes. Gordon combines tradition and culinary flair with fresh local ingredients to present 82 mouth-watering dishes for every occasion. Obviously, Karoo lamb, beef, free-range chicken and venison take pride of place, but soups, side dishes and superb desserts are included along with preserves and baked goods. [...]
NEW FOCUS ON CONCENTRATION CAMPS On the subject of Anglo-Boer War concentration camps many might argue that it’s all been said. Not so Elizabeth van Heyningen. For years she waded through long-forgotten, dusty archival material in South Africa and Britain to produce a fresh perspective, a social history of the camps. The result is a comprehensive, well-balanced and immensely interesting 400-page book covering everything from overcrowding, poor rations, malnutrition, disease, death and orphans, to music and inmate employment. Elizabeth also scrutenised camp mythology. “These were not simply places to which women, children and old men were sent. Neither were [...]
ONE WEBSITE SAYS IT ALL The popular www.karoospace.co.za website is being relaunched in Beta format. “The site, which is dedicated to the promotion, celebration and protection of the Karoo, has been upgraded and greatly improved,” says photojournalist, Chris Marais. “It is now designed bring a huge collection of pictures and stories of the region, it’s people, their cultural and heritage, to the widest possible audience in the most user-friendly way.” The Great Karoo, once a swamp, now a semi-desert and the largest plateau of its kind outside of Asia, is a constant source of fascination to many. Generally, about 4 [...]
CRADOCK WRITERS FESTIVAL DRAWS BIG NAMES Cradock’s 4th Annual Karoo Writers Festival, scheduled for August 9 to 11, promises to be the best yet, say organisers. The programme includes internationally known authors, top South Africa writers, and some exciting excursions. “The festival has grown steadily since its inception, but as far as interest and input are concerned, it has truly ‘taken off’ this year,” says Brian Wilmot, one of the organisers and curator of Cradock’s Olive Schreiner Museum. “An excellent mix of new and well-loved writers will talk, read, socialize at leisurely meals and participate in fireside chats. Among [...]
FANCY AN ICE SWIM? The annual Speedo Ice Swim Africa is scheduled to take place in Fraserburg's Nuwe Dam on the weekend of July 12 to 14. Normally, the water temperature in this dam, which is close to Sutherland, one of the coldest places in the country, is 5ºC or less in July and average winter temperature in this area is about -11ºC. Buffelsfontein, a farm in the district, holds the country's official record for the lowest temperature of -18,6ºC and Sutherland itself experienced an extreme low of -16,4ºC on July 12, 2003. So, Nuwe Dam, l 400 metres [...]