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 June 2010 No 197

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2010 No 196

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2010 No 195

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2010 No 194

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 [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2010 No 193

STAKEHOLDERS AIM TO SCORE DURING WORLD CUP The Steering Committee of the Karoo Development Foundation got off to a good start planning the way ahead for the region for 2010 – set to be an action-packed year. During 2009 two conferences were held to discuss development of the Karoo and both were highly acclaimed. This inspired stakeholders to plan meetings for early in the New Year. The first is scheduled for January 22. The aim is to follow-up on the achievements of 2009 and structure plans for this year, arguably one of the most exciting in South Africa’s history. The [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2010 No 192

NEW YEAR ON THE OPEN ROAD New Year was not always celebrated in style. A W Kiernan, a missionary on a hinterland road on December 31, 1877, reported that the year ended on a sad note. A member of his travelling party, who had been ill for a week, died quite suddenly, and later another dropped dead on the way to fetch water. “We were not surprised because he seemed a person of very little vitality,” wrote the missionary. Digging graves in the hard-dry earth was a tedious task in the heat, but by 21h00 that night both men were [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2009 No 191

FOLLOW THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE HIGHLANDERS Discover Magersfontein. Relive the fateful day when the pride of Scotland, the Highland Brigade, marched into the arms of the Boers at this famous Anglo-Boer War battlefield. Steve Lunderstedt, an experienced Boer War expert and tour guide will lead a day’s march at this historic site on Saturday, December 12. The outing begins at 06h30. Participants meet at the Moth Centre in Kimberley for coffee and a quick tour of the museum, if they wish. Each will be given a map as the tour departs for Modder River at 07h00. It will stop to [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2009 No 190

ROADS TAKE YOU THERE, BUT THE PEOPLE REMAIN IN YOUR HEART! Some yearn to change course on the Road of Life – others just do it. One of these is Nicholas Yell. His adventures began when he moved to Aberdeen in the Karoo and began restoring a traditional, old ‘platdak’ (flat roofed) Karoo house. To relax he indulged two loves - photography and the absolute joy of roaring down a little-known gravel road on a dirt bike exploring the Great Karoo. In time this led to a planned “circumnavigation” – an adventure through this vast arid area. He captured it [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2009 No 189

FIRST GATEWAY OPENS The first Cape Town Routes Unlimited Gateway to the Western Province is to be opened at Beaufort West in October. “One of three gateways to the province – the others are at Storms River and Van Rhynsdorp – its aim is to offer full support to tourists giving them details of where to go, what to do, where to stay throughout the province, as well as a variety of other information to make their holiday unforgettable,” said Centre manager, Liesl Lund. “Our aim is also to offer Internet and booking services to tourists so that they can [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2009 No 188

NEW LIGHT ON AIR CRASH OF YESTERYEAR The news of an air crash on their doorstep saddened many Beaufort Westers in 1942. Details had faded till Rose’s Round-up, July 2009, brought them sharply into focus. The crash cost the life of Second Lieutenant Desmond Thornhill Gilfillan only a few days before his 21st birthday. After reading the story south African National Defence force researcher, Colonel Graham du Toit, sent Round-up a short write up covering Desmond’s military servicer record and the circumstantial report of his death. “Desmond, the son of C H Gilfillan of Teviot Station, near Middelburg in [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2009 No 187

TOP HONOUR FOR AN ICON A man, widely respected for his knowledge of the arid zone, history, and the Anglo Boer war, is to be honoured by the University of the Free State. Johan Loock, who also helped distinguished author James Mitchener with research for his acclaimed novel, The Covenant, will be awarded an honorary doctorate for his exceptional efforts in the fields of geology and earth sciences at a special function at the university on September 16. Always ready to share his knowledge with anyone keen to learn, Johan is a well-known figure of the veld in his [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2009 No 186

BRITSTOWN PRIMARY GOES GREEN Britstown’s really no different from any other small Karoo town. It has only a few thousand inhabitants, the socio-economic environment is challenging, business opportunities are limited, and unemployment is high. But the primary school has put it on the map. In 2008 Van Rensburg Primary decided to raise environmental awareness in the village and registered for the WESSA/WWF National Eco-Schools Programme. Now, it is the only school the Northern Cape Karoo area with an Eco-Schools Green Flag. This was awarded in recognition of exceptional efforts in environmental education. The school, founded in 1884, today has [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2009 No 185

LIFE TIME OF SERVICE HONOURED Prince Albert’s Dr Richard Dean was recently honoured for a life time of service to ornithology. The prestigious Gill Memorial Medal, awarded only when a deserving candidate is identified, was presented to him by Rick Nuttall, president of BirdLife South Africa at the association’s annual general meeting in Phalaborwa. Rick praised Richard’s dedication, pioneering research and willingness to assist students, youngsters entering the field, researchers, conservation biologists and birders in general Richard entered the field of ornithology from the printing industry in the 1970s when he was commissioned to undertake a field study project in [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2009 No 184

EXCELLENT CONFERENCE HOLDS GREAT PROMISE The first Karoo Development Conference, recently held in Graaff-Reinet, was a great success. Over 300 delegates, most key role players, attended. They represented a wide variety of small, medium and well-established businesses, various sectors of the tourism industry, many government departments and local authorities, as well as private entrepreneurs and their focus was the Karoo in all its aspects across the three provinces – Eastern, Western and Northern Cape. All talks were kept crisp, short and to the point. The well-chaired sessions all ran to time and question sessions were keenly monitored. There was much [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2009 No 183

FESTIVAL TIME AGAIN! This year’s Prince Albert Town and Olive Festival is scheduled to take place on May 1 and 2. Organisers say the festival will have something for everyone – theatre, music, and other live entertainment, interesting and unusual things to buy, and fantastic food stalls. They are hoping to bring the South African National Circus School to town for two full shows. There will also be “brilliant street entertainment”, including mime artists, fire eaters and stilt walkers. The Muscle Cars will be a “must see” for motoring enthusiasts. The Jazz Art Dance Company has been booked and their [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2009 No 182

FASCINATING PEEK AT PEOPLE OF THE PAST Max du Preez’s new book, Of Tricksters, Tyrants And Turncoats, is an excellent read. Typical of his work it is well-researched and well-written. The book takes readers back over 500 years and brings to life many lesser known people of the past. This is how history should be presented, particularly in schools, where all too often it is considered a deadly dull and dry. This book is a sequel to Of Warriors, Lovers and Prophets, however, its characters are perhaps more robust, colourful. The book contains amusing tales of Khoi ‘gentlemen’ who tried [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2009 No 181

EXCELLENT SPEAKERS FOR FIRST DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE Excitement is mounting in Graaff Reinet as plans mature for the First Karoo Development Conference scheduled to take place on March 26 and 27. This conference, the first of its kind, promises to be an event that everyone with an interest in the Karoo should attend. It will be opened by Daantjie Japhta, Mayor of Camdeboo Local Municipality, during a short session chaired by Prof Tienie Crous, Dean of the Faculty of Economic Sciences, at the University of the Free State (UFS). Sue van der Merwe, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Zohra Dawood, [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2009 No 180

LOOKING BACK ON 15 YEARS January 2009, sees Rose’s Round-up moving into its sixteenth year of publication. It started in January 1993, when few people had any real faith in the tourism potential of the Karoo, nevertheless it survived, and this is the 180th issue. Initially it was designed as a cost-effective little newsletter to keep six town clerks abreast of what was happening in the newly-created Central Karoo Tourism Office and because, Rose Willis’s life partner, Wally Kriek, felt it might become a “knight in shining armour for the Karoo,” he sketched a knight using a pen for a [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2008 No 179

A RARE TREASURE RE-APPEARS – AFRICANA COMES HOME A special treat is now available for history and poetry lovers. It is Songs of the Veld an anthology of protest poetry written during the Anglo-Boer War by six well known South African intellectuals (some of whom were English-speaking). These poems by C Louis Leipold, Betty Molteno, Alice Greene, Anna Purcell, Albert Cartwright and Friedrich Carl Kolbe, denounce the imperialistic methods of barbarism and scorched-earth policies of the British military forces. They were smuggled out and published anonymously in England in 1902 to protect the writers from prosecution as Martial Law still prevailed [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2008 No 178

KAROO FARMER SCOOPS TOP INTERNATIONAL PRIZE The prestigious Ermenegildo Zegna Mohair trophy, for the best bale of summer kids’ mohair in the world, was recently presented to a Willowmore farmer. And, this is the second time that veteran Angora goat farmer, Billy Colborne, has won this coveted award. According to Farmer’s Weekly of October 17, 2008, Billy the also received the top award in 2005. The announcement was made at an awards ceremony in Port Elizabeth. The prize, which always includes a length of suiting material containing some of the winner’s own mohair, will be presented in Zegna, in the [...]