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 October 2008 No 177

CONSERVE EVERYTHING FROM AARDVARKS TO ZEBRAS The Nama Karoo Foundation (NKF) has launched a booklet that stresses the need for conservation. Karoo Landowners Conservation Guidelines covers a wide range of issues related to the preservation of the country’s natural heritage and is available free as a PDF download, or as a hard copy costing R20. In addition to advising farmers on how to ensure that veld creatures, such as tortoises, can access water on their farms, the guide includes valuable information on how to handle the conservation of a wide range of fauna and flora. The NKF says “many of [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2008 No 176

INTERESTED IN WEATHER FOLKLORE? If you have any weather-related folklore or other stories to share Dr Peter Alcock, who lives in Pietermaritzburg, would like to hear from you. He is in the final stages of compiling a book on myths, legends and stories relating to climate and weather patterns in South Africa. He has a mass of material rooted in San, Khoi-Khoi and African culture, plus interesting facts relating to place names, plants, the rainbow, rain, hail, snow, etc. He has also collected stories on specific and peculiar behaviours of birds, insects and animals, as well as tales on [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2008 No 175

GET A TASTE OF THE KAROO IN OCTOBER A new cookbook will be on the shelves in October. It is the result of a move to the Karoo in 1990 which made it possible for Rose Willis to indulge her two great loves – historic research and cooking. “Friends scoffed when, after a particularly busy time in Johannesburg’s world of public relations, we announced we were going to drive down the road, find a house we liked and move to there,” she said, “But, we did just that and so I found myself in the Karoo. Never having been out [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2008 No 174

ALL YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW AND MUCH, MUCH MORE Struik has just launched a magnificent new book on the Great Karoo. Written by tour guide Leon Nell, a Zambian by birth, and entitled The Great Karoo, it covers the geology, palaeontology, fauna, flora and cultural heritage of this vast arid zone, which the author has divided into 11 sub-regions or mini-karoos. The 256-page book, lavishly illustrated in full colour, but with black-and-white photographs to enhance the history sections, contains everything that anyone would ever want to know about the Karoo and much, much more. It discusses land evolution, the [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2008 No 173

A CLOSER LOOK AT INDIGENOUS PLANTS The Indigenous Plant Use Forum (IPUF) will hold its 2008 conference at the Volkskool, in Graaff Reinet, from July 7 to10. The main theme of this conference, the 11th of its kind, will be “Value Adding.” In addition to enhancing knowledge of indigenous plants, their conservation and cultivation, the seminar will cover the use of indigenous plants in ethno-veterinary medicine, Sutherlandia as a multi-purpose tonic, and aloes for health and beauty. Several other medicinal plants and their uses will be discussed on a field trip to a nearby farm led by three local experts. [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2008 No 172

WELL-DRESSED PORCUPINES Two porcupines in the Nieuwoudtsville area are now wearing collars. These are the first of 16 state-of-the-art GPS collars sponsored by Boekenhoutskloof, makers of Porcupine Ridge Wine, for a project being run by researcher Christy Bragg. Hotgroup, South African manufacturers of collars with global position system (GPS) technology, worked long and hard with Christy to develop a collar that would not cause discomfort. Several prototypes were tested before they agreed on a product light enough not to chafe or irritate the animals in any way. Christy felt so strongly about this that she had the final product riveted [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2008 No 171

NEW GUIDE TO TREASURES OF THE ARID ZONE The latest “Getaway Guide,” launched by Sunbird Publishers, has been compiled by well known Karoo photo-journalists Brent Naude-Moseley and Steve Moseley, long time residents of Loxton. The Getaway Guide to Karoo, Kalahari and Namaqualand, sub-titled Out and About in the Northern Cape, takes readers into one of the most remote, rugged and rustic areas of the sub-continent, covering all major game parks, nature reserves, major tourist attractions, stop-overs, B&Bs, campsites, farm stays and 4 x 4 trails. Packed with information, it superbly captures the stark beauty and hidden treasures of this vast [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2008 No 170

PLANS TO REPAIR DAMAGE, CREATE JOBS AND HELP THE BUNNIES An indigenous nursery has been established at Loxton by The Endangered Wildlife Trust's Riverine Rabbit Working Group (EWT-RRWG). The objective is to propagate plants to rehabilitate the riparian vegetation of the Great and Upper Karoo where floods, overgrazing and failed agricultural projects have caused damage that cannot be naturally reversed. This has resulted in a loss of biodiversity and habitat for the critically endangered riverine rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis) that relies on such vegetation for survival. A ground-breaking project, the first of its kind in the Karoo to offer members of [...]

Rose’s Round-up February 2008 No 169

NOW THERE’S AN ART GALLERY ON A KAROO STATION Jean Veasey, a keen artist specialising in portraits and wild life studies, is opening an art gallery on the platform at Matjiesfontein Railway Station. The Station Gallery, next door to the Marie Rawdon Museum, will include a workshop area for outreach art projects. The first of these, held in December last year, was led by Anita Glenister, who will show some of her own work at the inaugural exhibition. Clay animals, made by local school children and other youngsters in the area who attended her classes, will also be on [...]

Rose’s Round-up January 2008 No 168

DISCOVER THE QUIETER SIDE OF LIFE Fancy a “relaxed, but gently stimulating excursion” into the Karoo? Register now for John Almond of Naturaviva’s trip to the Worcester Robertson area. The first outing (March 7 to 9) was over-subscribed, so he proposes taking a second tour from March 14 to 16. The trip starts near Rawsonville and follows a route as far east as Cogman's Kloof along quiet, scenic back roads where John shares information on the area’s natural history, ecology, geological highlights and landscape evolution. “Participants must be fit enough to survive several hours on foot in rocky terrain so [...]

Rose’s Round-up December 2007 No 167

NEW BOOK CAPTURES SPIRIT OF THE KAROO Jonathan Deale’s just-published book, Timeless Karoo, captures the magic of the Great Karoo. Magnificent photographs make it much more than a travel guide. This 180-page full colour book is a fascinating compendium of fact, folklore and natural history. Maps guide visitors to secret valleys, hidden plains and intriguing tiny towns. Timeless Karoo takes readers on a journey through the Karoo of yesteryear, the present-day region and hints at its future. Those who love the area will appreciate this book and it will be invaluable to those bent on exploring. It will help them [...]

Rose’s Round-up November 2007 No 166

WHEN IS LAMB KAROO LAMB? Should Karoo lamb be branded? Should it have a stamp of origin, a guarantee of quality? Johan Kirsten of the University of Port Elizabeth thinks so. In a study presented earlier this year he proposed farmers and stakeholders should investigate the need to promote Karoo lamb as a product of excellence. “The Karoo itself has become synonymous with quality, tradition and wholesomeness,” he says. “The mutton of the region has been part of South Africa’s cultural heritage and Cape cuisine for over a hundred years. In recent times this product’s reputation for quality has allowed [...]

Rose’s Round-up October 2007 No 165

UCT SUMMER SCHOOL - TREAT FOR KAROO CONNOISSEURS Are you a Karoo connoisseur or would you simply like to know more about this vast, arid zone? Whichever it is, the UCT Summer School, from January 28 to February l, 2008, is the place for you. A series of special lectures on various aspects of the Karoo and some of its treasures will be delivered by natural history educator, specialist field guide and palaeontologist, Dr John Almond. “Karoo for Connoisseurs has been specifically designed to appeal to Karoo-lovers and enlighten those who have dismissed the Great Karoo as an abominable desolation [...]

Rose’s Round-up September 2007 No 164

HELENA MARINCOWITZ REMEMBERED A plaque is to be erected in Prince Albert’s Fransie Pienaar Museum in memory of Helena Marincowitz, who died a short while ago. A model of this plaque, which is being presented by Heritage South Africa to honour Helena’s great contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage in the Karoo, was unveiled at a dinner at the Swartberg Hotel recently. Former mayor, Dawid Rossouw paid tribute to Helena’s love of the Karoo and her efforts at keeping it in the public eye. “Helena loved the Karoo and above all Prince Albert. She made a highly significant contribution [...]

Rose’s Round-up August 2007 No 163

DROUGHT UNDER THE MICROSCOPE This year’s Arid Zone Ecology Forum will focus on drought. “Drought as a Driver” is the theme and, during meetings at the Dutch Reformed Church Hall in Sutherland, from September 10 to 13, many physical, ecological and socio-economic effects of drought will be examined. The programme has been divided into six sections covering climate change, hydrology, and the effects of drought on vegetation, fauna, humans and the economy. The session on climate change will review planning and management, as well as moisture sources and precipitation. One paper entitled “Is the Karoo drying up?” will evaluate [...]

Rose’s Round-up July 2007 No 162

‘MANNA’ BECOMES A TV STAR When Alfred de Jager Jackson wrote Manna in the Desert there was no TV, so he couldn’t share visual images of the world he loved with his readers. But today this is possible and those who enjoyed the reprinted version of this book, published in 2006 by his great-grandson, Craig Elstob, will soon be able to see Alfred’s beloved world on the SABC2 programme 50/50. A TV crew recently visited Nelspoort and Jonathan Rands interviewed present-day farmers Louis Reynolds (Kamferskraal), Peter Lund (Bleakhouse), Andre Lund (Elandsfontein) and Tiny Middleton (Content), to help capture the [...]

Rose’s Round-up June 2007 No 161

EXPERT TAKES ON NEW CHALLENGE The Environmental Wildlife Trust (EWT) has appointed Petro Botha, to co-ordinate a challenging project - the rehabilitation of riverine habitat areas along seasonal rivers of the Central and Upper Karoo. Degraded and eroded patches between habitats will be re-vegetated to slow erosion. Petro is passionate about conservation and excited about her new post at the EWT Regional Office in Loxton. She obtained her degree in Zoology in 1998. After completing an Honours Degree in Wildlife Management, she represented Africa in an International Programme at Walt Disney World in Orlando, in the United States. She [...]

Rose’s Round-up May 2007 No 160

LAWRENCE GREEN’S KAROO TO BE REPRINTED …Lawrence G Green’s ever popular book, Karoo, first published in 1955, is to be reprinted. In this work Green captures the essence of this vast arid land – the Great Karoo, Little Karoo, far corners of the North Western Cape and Namaqualand. He writes of inventors, indigenous people, patriarchs and other fascinating characters, who have all lived in the solitude and silence of this fascinating area. They are all as essential a part of the Karoo as the mountains, plains, dry river beds, baboons, jackals, sheep, springbok, trekbokke and the San rock engravings. Originally [...]

Rose’s Round-up April 2007 No 159

BIOLOGICAL WONDER OF THE WORLD HONOURED The Succulent Karoo is one of the biological wonders of the world. “Its biodiversity and range of endemic plants is unrivalled among the arid zones of the world.” says Jonas Nghishidi, chairman of the Namibian Succulent Karoo Ecosystems Programme. “Of course, this makes it an ideal tourist attraction for those interested in ecology, so for quite some time now we have been working hard at creating an awareness of this area and stressing the importance of its conservation to all communities.” Now, to further these objectives the SKEP Namibian team is developing a range [...]

Rose’s Round-up March 2007 No 158

ABERDEEN COMES TO LIFE IN ENGLISH A farmers’ wife in Aberdeen, who couldn’t even type, has just published a book on the history of the town. And, this 168-page book, illustrated by almost 200 fascinating black and white photographs, is the first cultural history ever to be produced about Aberdeen in English. Written by Wendy van Schalkwyk, a long-time resident of the area, and published by Westyby-Nunn Publishers in Cape Town, Aberdeen of the Cape – A Retreat of the Future, contains many long-forgotten stories, anecdotes and descriptive articles. These not only cover the history but include items on the [...]