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.
FIRST RUN IN JUNE Cross-country trail running is becoming popular across South Africa. To meet the needs of this market Fernkloof Wine farm, outside Prince Albert, has created a new 15km trail. This inspiring, challenging route, the brainchild of trail runner and winery owner, Diederik le Grange, passes through some picturesque and breathtaking scenery - kloofs, vineyards, water tunnels and streams. It includes steep climbs and demanding declines. The focus is on the enjoyment of running, so the trail meets the needs of beginners and experienced enthusiasts. The inaugural run, on Saturday, June l, will be sponsored by Fernkloof [...]
RARE POTS FOUND IN PRINCE ALBERT Two clay pots, typical of those used by early Khoekhoe (Hottentot) people, were recently found in the Prince Albert area after a heavy rainstorm. They had been washed out of a natural drainage channel at Waterkop smallholdings, on the outskirts of the village, and were discovered by Gareth Williams and his friend Willem Mathee, a student at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. One pot was intact and contained a dark glistening substance; the other had been broken into a number of large and small fire-blackened shards. The find greatly excited the archaeological world and [...]
RICHMOND HOSTS TOP LITERARY FESTIVAL Richmond is hosting a Fugard Festival in May. The aim is to pay tribute to Athol Fugard, the greatest living dramatist in the English-speaking world who turns 80 this year. Fugard's home town New Bethesda, launched the festival last year, but was unable to continue due to lack of funding. The Fugard Festival will run back-to-back with Richmond's J M Coetzee Festival from May 23 to 26 and organiser Darryl Earl David says: “Richmond is immensely proud to be hosting this top South African literary event and so has planned a bumper weekend. The festival [...]
TIGHTER FOCUS ON SLAVERY Marthinus van Bart, specialist heritage writer of Die Burger, has placed slavery in South Africa under the microscope. In his recently published book Kaap van Slawe, which took a decade to research, he has dug up some startling facts relating to the little-known transatlantic slave trade in general and the role of the British Empire in particular. Few realize that British slave ships plied the oceans for well over 300 years causing unimaginable misery while amassing vast fortunes. The book reveals some critical errors and inconsistencies currently available on slaves, slavery and slave route in [...]
FESTIVAL TO TICKLE THE TASTE BUDS The first annual Karoo Food Festival is scheduled to take place in Cradock from March 21 to 23. “Our aim is to use Karoo and its food to turn the area into a culinary destination,” says organiser Lisa Antrobus. “We hope to inspire ‘foodies’, who travel in search of new tastes, to adventure into the Karoo, but we also hope those who simply love the region will come to Cradock at the end of March to enjoy a feast of Karoo fare. The festival will not only focus on traditional Karoo dishes, it will [...]
JUST THE THING FOR CHRISTMAS Anyone interested in South Africa’s ecclesiastical architecture and church history will find A Platteland Pilgrimage fascinating. Designed as a companion publication to the successful 101 Country Churches, which Darryl Earl David and Philippe Menache produced in 2010, this 132-page A4, soft cover, full-colour book is packed with information on 102 churches across South Africa’s nine provinces. However, their new book, with foreword by Gabriel Fagan, offers much more than the first. Excellently compiled and beautifully illustrated, it includes a series of photographs of each church as well as interesting interior details, such as pulpits, organs, [...]
OUTRAGE AT THE ARREST OF TOP MEDICAL MAN Outrage has been expressed across the world regarding the arrest in Dubai on August 18, of Beaufort West-born Professor Cyril Karabus, 77. Cyril, one of the world’s top paediatric oncologists, was returning from Toronto in Canada where he had gone to attend a family re-union and the wedding of one of his sons. “This was the first time in many years that all five siblings were together in one country with their parents,” said his son, Michael. Cyril’s wife, Jennifer, their daughter, Sarah (also a well-known paediatrician) and her two children, [...]
NO HOLIDAYS FOR THESE LEARNERS The quality of schooling and state of education is given much publicity these days, but in 1851 a frontier school mistress stood no nonsense and took an arbitrary decision. Mrs. Eedes principal of the Retreat Boarding School for Young Ladies in Grahamstown, simply informed parents that half year school holidays had been cancelled. According to the Cape Frontier Times of June 1851, she took this step because she was not entirely satisfied with the performance of the girls in her care. They were not doing as well as they could in all subjects, so [...]
A JOURNEY OF TASTE TREATS, SURVIVAL AND EMPOWERMENT Sydda Essop’s cookery book, Karoo Kitchen, is set to find a place on the bookshelves of all Karoo lovers. Much, much more than just a recipe book, it pays homage to the Karoo, the rich cultural diversity of the region and its people. A well-illustrated, worthwhile read it is a journey of discovery, survival and empowerment and it does not pull the punches when it comes to isolation, political turmoil, and poverty. The recipes are as varied and interesting as the people of the Karoo. The book includes a wide variety [...]
IN SEARCH OF SOLUTIONS A two-day TEDx conference, scheduled to be held in Prince Albert on September 1 and 2, will search for creative ways of helping the community solve ecological problems. TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a non-profit organisation, which was started in 1984, to investigate, explore and identify environmental problems and share ideas on solving these. The Prince Albert conference, entitled Meet Me There: Working Beneath, Between, Beyond and Towards a Thriving Planet, aims to assist the local community to find solutions to difficult conflicts, through group discussion, says organiser Hélène Smit. The programme features some top [...]
SPOTLIGHT ON THE FUTURE Two top conferences will be held in the Karoo in October. The first, the Second Karoo Development Conference, takes place in Beaufort West from October 14 to 17. Discussions will focus on the future of the region, its people, and their environmental, ecological and economic role in South Africa. The programme will include talks on the effect of the SKA (Square Kilometer Array) and “fracking”, the gas exploitation of the Karoo’s shale beds. Tourism, mining management, agricultural development, the role of small towns in the general economic infrastructure, poverty alleviation and job creation, will also be [...]
FOR MUCH MORE THAN A MEAL A new cookery book, to be launched in August, promises to be a valuable addition to any Karoo library. Written by Beaufort West’s Sydda Essop, it comprises a rich collection of recipes and stories from the many diverse cultures that make up the Karoo. Sydda interviewed over 70 cooks and healers, varying in age from 20 to 90, to compile this book which contains recipes ranging from the traditional to the more exotic and including a variety of herbal remedies. Basics such as bread, beer, curry and sweets, as well as some easy-to-prepare meals, [...]
TITUS OATES REMEMBERED IN ABERDEEN The centenary of the death of Captain Lawrence “Titus” Oates was recently commemorated in the little Karoo village of Aberdeen. On March 16, 1912, Oates, a member of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, stepped out tent during a blizzard saying: “I’ll am going out. I will be some time.” He was suffering badly, and in severe pain. He never returned. Scott, and his companions, died waiting for his return. While Oates died on the ice, his death is linked to wounds received on the sun-scorched plains, outside Aberdeen in the [...]
IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN It is time to visit the Karoo once more for the ever-popular annual Prince Albert Olive Festival. This year’s event, scheduled for April 27 and 28, will centers around the Fransie Pienaar Museum, Market Square and spill out across the nearby school’s sports fields. Highlights will include stargazing, history and ghost walks, witblitz, wine and olive tasting, plus an olive pip spitting competition, a half marathon for the energetic and trips across the Swartberg Pass and into Gamkaskloof, The Hell, for explorers. Entertainment will be provided by Chris Chameleon, The Eden Minstrels and a Boeremusiek orkes [...]
IN SEARCH OF AN OLD LETTER Historic researcher Kent Rasmussen recently came across an interesting item. He wrote: “I have a copy of a letter that Charles H. Crane wrote to Mark Twain in June 1901, inviting him to write an article, apparently for The New Examiner. Mark Twain left a note indicating that he planned to answer Crane's letter, but I can find no record that he actually did. Perhaps a letter from him to Crane has been preserved somewhere.” Kent feels that Twain’s correspondence with Crane might have been mentioned in one of the early issues of the [...]
FACELIFT FOR THE SWARTBERG PASS Exciting projects are underway on the 124-year-old, Swartberg Pass, outside Prince Albert. Among these is the restoration of the dry-stone walls, a feature of this world famous, 27-km long pass, which was designed by Thomas Bain. Considered his masterpiece, it is now a World Heritage site. Convict labour used to build this pass and after work began in 1881 the project was fraught with problems. It claimed several lives. The Swartberg Pass, often compared to the breathtaking Djaraleng Pass in Asia, was officially opened on January 10, 1888 and since then it has been a [...]
TOP AWARD FOR BOOK TOWN MAN Darryl Earl David, one of the founders of Book Town Richmond, won the top prize in the highly prestigious Natal Witness Short Story Competition at the end of last year. He received the winner’s trophy and a R10 000 cheque for his story, Bliksem and Biltong Le Grange, which was also published in the first issue of The New Richmond Reader, in December. Darryl, however, was not the only winner with Karoo connections. Richmond-born, Denise Gilden, who lives in Pietermaritzburg, walked off with a prize for her debut short story, The Dream. She has [...]
CELEBRATING IN COLOUR AND STYLE Prince Albert has proved it knows how to party. So, next year, the village aims to celebrate its 250th anniversary in style. Fans are advised to start penciling dates into their diaries. The first step on the road to this milestone celebrations took place on Saturday, December 3, when the town’s new, arty dustbins were unveiled. “This collection of 94 special bins, decorated by local artists, many of whom were children, makes us confident that we now have will have the most attractive, colourful and informative dustbins in the world,” says tourism officer Zelia Mullins, [...]
‘SCOTT’S SURGEON’ REVISITS DISCOVERY A new book about a Lutheran minister’s son, who was a major role-player during the heroic period of exploration when Nansen, Amundsen, Shackleton and Scott raced each other to the poles, becomes available this month. Written by Gus Jones, Scott’s Forgotten Surgeon will be launched on board the Discovery at Dundee Heritage Museum, in Scotland, on November 24. It has a link to the Karoo - Dr Reginald Koettlitz, is buried in Cradock beside his beloved French-born wife, Marie Louise (nee Butez). A poignant love story surrounds this couple who died within two hours of [...]
END OF AN ERA The postal Round-up has come to an end. Sadly, this was inevitable because so many of its loyal readers were having trouble reading the reduced type. Also, those with access to e-mail had opted preferring a speedier service with copies that could be printed out in larger type. So, the post list dwindled and the drama of getting to the copy shop, stationers and post office seemed hardly worthwhile, particularly after I wrote off my car. So, I decided to stop producing the postal version. However, some staunch supporters flatly refused to accept this, saying they [...]