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 July 2012 No 222

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2012 No 221

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, [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2012 No 220

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2012 No 219

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2012 No 218

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2012 No 217

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2012 No 216

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2011 No 215

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, [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2011 No 214

‘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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2011 No 213

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2011 No 212

FIRST SERIOUS LOOK KAROO’S ‘COLOURED’ MUSIC A new book, written by Marie Jorritsma, a senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, takes a closer look at so-called “coloured music”. This pioneering work, the first to make a serious attempt to place the music of the Coloured Community into the wider acoustical landscape of South Africa, studies the three church congregations in Graaff-Reinet. It covers the challenges of inscribing Coloured voices, examines hymns and how they affect history, the inter-relationships between “mission music” and its counterpart in the independent African church, as well as singing in the “the Queen’s English”, [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2011 No 211

ALL REBELS CAPTURED IN NEW BOOK Taffy and David Shearing have just completed another valuable work on the Anglo-Boer War. Entitled The Rebel Record, this 983-page, three volume series contains the names of 15,433 Cape colonists who joined the Transvaal and Orange Free State forces as rebels during the war. Ideal for military historians, genealogists and family historians it forms the database of Taffy’s 2004 University of Stellenbosch doctoral dissertation The Cape Rebel of the South African War. In the foreword Prof Albert Grundlingh of Stellenbosch University says, “Taffy and David have been exceptional in mining the rich history of [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2011 No 210

FORGOTTEN SURGEON REMEMBERED A new book on Dr Reginald Koettlitz, who travelled with Scott’s first expedition to Antarctica and is buried in Cradock, will soon be available. Entitled Scott’s Forgotten Surgeon and written by Aubrey A (Gus) Jones, this well-researched book, contains previously unseen photographs and archive material, such as correspondence with Nansen. Koettlitz, the son of a Reformed Lutheran Church minister and an English woman, completed his schooling at Dover College and studied medicine at Guy's Hospital in London. On qualifying he worked as a general practitioner in a country village for eight years. Then, in 1894, he [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2011 No 209

OUTWARD-BOUND FROM PRINCE ALBERT Prince Albert’s Dick Metcalf claims to have “Karoo-blood” in his veins. A keen historic researcher, photographer and explorer, with longstanding family ties to this fascinating arid area, he loves nothing more than travelling through the vast, ancient Karoo thirstland. To share his love of the area he recently devised 27 trips for fellow adventurers and published them in a small, well-illustrated, black-and- white, wire-bound booklet entitled Outward-bound from Prince Albert. It is available from the Fransie Pienaar Museum. Using the book as a guide, visitors can travel across the Swartberg Pass to the Cango Caves and [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2011 No 208

WHERE DID YOU GET THAT HAT? Wellknown Prince Albert artist, Christine Thomas, is presenting a new exhibition. Entitled Een Mens Het Baie Name (One Person Has Many Names) it opens on April l and celebrates the words, works and world of Piet Balelie, a colourful local personality. “The exhibition is a multi-dimensional portrait of Piet, his extraordinary clothing and colourful hats,” says Christine. “Each hat in itself is a story and sums up Piet’s philosophy of life. He is illiterate, yet has an enviable ability to use words, stories, rhymes, riddles and jokes to share his world with others. His [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2011 No 207

BECOME BETTER ACQUAINTED WITH OLIVE A new biography on Olive Schreiner is proving popular. Written by Heather Parker Lewis, it is not a political work, but concentrates rather on Olive’s day-to-day life, marriage, wardrobe and medicine chest. Olive lived simply in the “uptight” era of Victorian respectability. When no woman dared to be seen without stockings, she shunned these together with corsets and stays. Olive also skinny-dipped and sunbathed in the altogether. Sadly, in later life she was so poor that she packed the inside of her coat with newspaper to keep warm. Olive Schreiner - The Other Side of [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2011 No 206

PAR FOR THE COURSE? Golf was first played at St Andrews in Scotland over 600 years ago, so it is little wonder that this venue is steeped in wonderful stories. According to Sporting Life’s Golf News some of the sand traps have very individualistic names relating to ginger beer, spectacles and the best spot to catch a lassie. One large bunker and two nearby smaller ones at the 10th hole have a historic link to South Africa and the Anglo-Boer War. The large one is the Kruger bunker, nearby is Mrs Kruger and Kruger’s mistress. The story goes that [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2011 No 205

A BALLADE OF WORDS AND IMAGES A rainbow of light shimmering through a dewdrop almost 80 years ago has resulted in a book which captures the essence of the Karoo. Tom Burgers’s Karoo Pastoral encapsulates the spirit of the Karoo in extraordinarily beautiful photographs coupled to the works of some of South Africa’s finest poets. Among these are emotive works, such as Dolf van Niekerk’s Dubbel Ster and Jan F Cilliers’s Die Vlakte, which have been translated for the English version of the book by Deryck Uys. No ordinary travel book, Karoo Pastoral is a journey through the endless, limitless [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2011 No 204

KAROO FARMING EXPERIENCE SAVES A BABY Arthur Charles Jackson converted to Christianity in a Karoo sheep pasture. He had dreamed of becoming a farmer and when in his teens went to help out on a Kuilspoort, a farm belonging to his father’s cousin, Julius Jackson. While out in the veld one day Charles had an epiphany “beside a Karoo bush” and gave himself to God A de Jager Jackson tells the story in Manna In The Desert: In 1894 our cousin, Charles, was overcome by the forlorn state of shepherds, lonely deaths, rude and summary burials and absence of aid [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2010 No 203

AND THE DREAM REMAINS An icon of the Karoo has passed on, but his dreams will never die. David Duncan Rawdon, the man, who loved life, enjoyed Spanish champagne and a good brandy will forever be remembered at his beloved Matjiesfontein. He re-created this village 40 years ago and turned it into the tourist spot that its original owner James D Logan would have envied. David, a legend in the hotel industry, an inspiration to many, a mentor, a guru, discovered Matjiesfontein in about 1960. By then he had a long list of top class hotels to his credit – [...]