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.
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 [...]
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”, [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 – [...]
RETRACING THE STEPS OF AN EXPLORER A group of young adventurers recently arrived in Beaufort West seeking the place where Polish explorer Kazimierz Nowak spent a night in 1935. This was an odd request, and it so intrigued Caroline Bedeker at the Beaufort West Museum, that she went to considerable trouble trying to assist them. The group is placing plaques along Nowak’s route because he was the first man to travel alone on foot and by bicycle across Africa. His 40 000 km journey started in November 1931, and took five years to complete. Nowak cycled most of the way, but [...]
KAROO ASH HEAP REVEALS LINKS TO THREE WARS Two well known researchers recently made an interesting find in the Karoo. Dr Johan Loock and Cobus Dreyer, from the University of the Free State, were conducting studies to evaluate the impact of a proposed extension electric power line on artefacts and the ecology in the area of farms such as Leeukloof, Bultfontein and Gansfontein, northwest of Beaufort West. Archaeologist Cobus Dreyer says many cultural and historic finds were made along the route. “We found were substantial surface scatters of Later Stone Age flakes and pottery, lower and upper grinding stones and [...]
POP THE CORKS - THIS IS NUMBER 200 This is the 200th issue of Rose’s Round-up, so it’s time to once again pop the corks and let the bubbly flow. Round-up has come a long way since it started in January 1993. Initially only ten copies were printed to keep six town clerks abreast of the tourism plans of the then Regional Services Council. However, within only a few hours that changed because councillors also asked for copies. Within a year Rose’s Round-up was carrying news of the Karoo across the world. While residing in the Karoo I produced 116 [...]
FORGOTTEN LINE BACK IN THE LIMELIGHT The long forgotten Klipplaat railway line is back in the news. Cape Town’s Ray Hattingh discovered more about this isolated line and the Klipplaat station in Boon Boonzaaier's book, Tracks across the Veld. “According to Boonzaaier the Klipplaat to Oudtshoorn section of this rail route was opened in stages from 1902. The entire line was opened for traffic on March 1, 1904. This line through the arid Klein Karoo and Camdeboo areas needed engines with large water tanks and the problem was solved by the introduction of the Vanderbilt-tendered Class 19D's during 1948 [...]
TOP CANADIAN AND HIS COWBOYS DESTINED FOR BOOK TOWN The words ‘cowboys” and “Canada” coupled to “The Great Karoo” recently caught Darryl David’s eye as he surfed the ‘net. They grabbed his attention because his e.mail address is “cowboys” and Peter Baker, the co-organiser of Richmond’s Book Town Festival is Canadian. Both are always interested in anything that mentions Karoo. The site promoted a novel, The Great Karoo, written by Fred Stenson, one of Canada’s top authors. Highly acclaimed by the international press it was praised by Canadian critics for ‘illuminating a lost chapter of the country’s history.” The book [...]
FESTIVAL TO SALUTE OLIVE Olive Schreiner will be saluted in Cradock from July 2 to 4. The man behind this idea is Darryl David, co- founder of Richmond’s Book Town Festival and a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg. Sandra Antrobus, owner of Die Tuishuise, in Cradock, helped him plan this Spirit of Schreiner Festival. “While working one day we said wouldn’t it be fun if Olive Schreiner could come down from Buffelskop and tell us what she’d like for this inaugural festival. The idea took hold and we chatted about how chuffed she would be to join [...]
RARE FIND AMAZES SCIENTISTS Researchers at the Nama Karoo Foundation recently found a new mammal species in their area. It was an African Weasel and, at almost the same size as a matchbox, it is the smallest carnivore on the Continent. But that is not its sole claim to fame, states the NKF newsletter Karoo News. Professor Graham Kerley of Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, who identified the specimen for the Foundation, said this animal had the longest copulation period – over one hour – and the shortest gestation period among mammal species. He added that the find [...]
STRUCK BY DISASTER – PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN A bolt of lightning struck my computer and wiped out a great deal of information. Among this was the Round-up mailing list. This is a total disaster. I feel as if both hands have been cut off as I now have no computer, no e.mail addresses and no mailing list. I have borrowed a PC and am working from an old back-up list and I am appealing to all readers who get this issue to help if they can. If you know of anyone who should have received a copy of [...]
ATTENTION BOOK LOVERS Planning for this year’s Richmond Book Fair is well underway. Key promoter, Peter Baker, confirms dates are set for October 22 to 24, and that response from writers has been phenomenal. He promises an impressive forum of speakers. “Almost all have confirmed for 2010 and the list for 2011 is steadily filling,” he says. “The World Cup will no doubt dominate the first half of the year, but after that we expect the focus to be on the commemoration of 150 years of Indian settlement in South Africa. So, with this in mind, and as another [...]