The fifth Karoo Parliament will meet in the Vusubuntu Hall, Cradock, on November 5 and 6. The programme addresses tourism, health and the economy. Keynote speaker, Professor Tim Noakes, from the University of Cape Town, will discuss A Healthy Karoo and Why Nutrition is Essential for Local Development. Other speakers will cover various aspects of health and wellness, foetal alcohol syndrome, tourism, the Olive Schreiner Route, Karoo cuisine, arts, education and shale gas mining. Special sessions will deal with water recycling, energising the economy, and revitalising central business districts. Organiser, Professor Doreen Atkinson, said: “We hope to encourage practical, meaningful discussions between municipal officials, businesses, NGOs, CBOs, planners, academics and all who have a deep and genuine interest in the Karoo. This parliament will focus strongly on action.” She reminded delegates that space would be available in the Vusibuntu Centre for displays.


The first annual SME Observatory Conference to be held in South Africa will take place at the University of the Free State, from September 28 to 30. It begins after the opening of the Digital Planetarium on Bloemfontein’s Naval Hill. Two key international speakers will lead the discussions. They are Dr Markus Pilgrim, Head of the Small Enterprise Division at the ILO in Geneva, and Prof Miroslav Rebernik, Director of the SME Observatory and Global Entrepreneurship Monitoring in Slovenia. Research results, based on information gathered from over 700 enterprises across 19 sectors, will be presented for the first time to promote an understanding of enterprise growth potential. “This information will assist practitioners, policy makers and financial institutions to gain better insight into the SME environment and its specific challenges,” says organiser Anita Harmse. “A panel of experts from the private sector, academia and the public sector will lead a variety of policy discussions and address questions. Among these are: What will the new dedicated Ministry for Small Enterprises unlock? · How will this Ministry cut through various dichotomies created by institutional policies and approaches? · What is the scope for enterprise growth in the present climate? What lessons can be learned from current enterprises, business incubator approaches, government initiatives, franchising, and family-based operations?


If you are in or near Philipstown in early October don’t miss the Draadkarretjie\Wire Car Grand Prix. This annual “race with a difference” takes place on October 4. “Wire cars are a hinterland thing,” says organiser, Kay Fourie. “Country kids don’t have the big bucks for digital stuff, so they scrimp and save until they can order a car from village craftsmen, Kiewiet Plaatjies, Nicholas Seekoei or Amos Riet. Then, they look forward to the annual race. It’s the greatest fun.”


One of South Africa’s first notable art music composers, Arnoldus Christiaan Vlok van Wyk, was born on the Calvinia farm, Klavervlei on April 6, 1916. He was the sixth of eight children born to Helena van Dyk, whose family, was said to be descended from the 17th century court painter Anthony van Dyck. Arnoldus’s father, for whom he was named, was less refined. He was a bad farmer and businessman and abused his wife and children, most of whom showed musical talent which they were not allowed to develop. One daughter, Minnie, Arnoldus’s favourite sister, however, learned to play the piano and she gave him some lessons. He began “improvising dramatic piano accompaniments for stories told by anyone soft-hearted enough to pay him a sixpence.” At the age of 16, Arnoldus was sent as a boarder to Stellenbosch Boys’ High School, where he took piano lessons from Miss C.E. van der Merwe and cellist Hans Endler. The following year his beloved mother and elder sister died within weeks of each other. Their deaths hit him badly, yet he continued to study for an overseas piano scholarship, but sadly was not successful. After matriculating he took a job in Cape Town where he met Charles Weich, music critic of Die Burger. Weich persuaded him to perform in public for the first time at an Oranjeklub concert of works by unknown South African composers. The public loved him. Suddenly he had an audience for his talents.


In 1938, Arnoldus enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch for a BA-degree, but soon interrupted his studies to go to London. There he enrolled at Royal Academy of Music where he was the first South African composer to receive a Performing Right Scholarship. This was initially granted was for one academic year, but Arnoldus obtained permission to continue his studies until 1944. During this time, he received many awards and prizes. In 1946 he returned home to heart-warming welcome. For the next few years he toured the country composing and giving piano recitals, mostly organised by the Reddingdaadbond, an organisation established in 1939 to promote classical music appreciation among rural communities. Towards the end of his career Arnoldus composed some interesting unaccompanied vocal works. When he died in 1983 Howard Ferguson said: “He was a slow, meticulous worker and extremely self-critical. He had a habit of revising works after their first performance, or sometimes withdrawing them altogether. One wonders whether he was not too self-critical” Musicologist, Jacques Pierre Malan paid tribute to him by saying: “He was our first sovereign sound-master.”


An international Military History Conference, commemorating the 115th Anniversary Anglo Boer War and the centenary of The Great War, will be held at Talana Museum in Dundee, from October 20 to 22. The programme features some top talks by well-known speakers, such as Ken Gillings, Charles Leach, Johan Wasserman, of the University of KZN, Prof Fransjohan Pretorius, of the University of Pretoria, Steve Watt, Louis Strachan and Meurig Jones. Prof Philip Everitt, will analyse the tactics of Lt-Gen Charles Warren. Prof Louis Changuion, will discuss the death of Lord Kitchener and Dr Phylomena Badsey will talk on The Anglo-Boer War as a training ground for nurses in the Great War. There will also be a video presentation by Dr. Spencer Jones, senior lecturer in Armed Forces and War Studies, at the University of Wolverhampton. New, revised editions of the Anglo-Boer War Battle Series – ten books in total – will also be launched at this conference. More from Pam McFadden info@talana.co.za Tel. 034 212 2654 or 079 490 5933 or Ken Gillings, ken.gillings@mweb.co.za.


The S A Military History Society’s newsletter reports that problems at the printers have delayed the publication of Dr. Dean Allen’s book Empire, War and Cricket in South Africa: Logan of Matjiesfontein. It was due in May 2014. Dr Allen will advise a new date as soon as he can.


Just before the outbreak of WW1, a young Jewish man came to South Africa in search of better health. He was Isaac Rosenberg, a celebrated artist and poet who, for a while, was the toast of local society. Then he returned to Europe, enlisted and his “half-used life” was blasted to extinction near Arras, on April Fool’s Day in 1918, writes Stephen Gray in the Mail and Guardian. Now, Isaac, whose special genius is said to have been unlocked in South Africa, is now classed among the great war poets, like Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen. Bristol-born Isaac came from a poverty-stricken family and “joined up”, taking “the king’s shilling” more to help his family financially, than out of a feeling of patriotic glory. He was the eldest of six children. His father, Dovber, a refugee pedlar from the shtetls of Lithuania and his mother, Hacha, a seamstress, eked out a living for the family in the East End slums of London. In June 1914, Isaac, who suffered from a non-tubercular lung complaint, cadged £12 from family and friends to buy a ticket on a Cape Town-bound Union Castle steamer. He firmly believed Africa’s sunlight and clean fresh air would cure his respiratory condition. He was edgy, depressed and sickly when he left home, but shortly after arriving here he reported: “Coming away has changed me marvellously. I feel more confident and mature.” South Africa invigorated Isaac and fostered his genius, states Stephen. Here he felt himself “a creature of exquisite civilization, planted in a barbarous land!”


Initially Isaac hoped to make a living as a portraiture artist, in South Africa. Before leaving London, he had held a successful exhibition and his works were known in South Africa. In Cape Town he also wrote and lectured on European art history. His talents were soon recognised by Betty Molteno and she became his patron, inviting him to stay at her brother Sir James’s home in Rondebosch. For the first time in his life Isaac had a room of his own and unheard of luxuries, such as coffee in bed and having his shoes polished. All might have worked out well and he may even have been able to visit his Uncle Perez, who was a rabbi in Johannesburg, had Archduke Franz Ferdinand, not been killed in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. War broke out and, by October 1915, Isaac felt compelled to return to Europe and enlist. He was sent to the Western Front in France in June 1916. Throughout his time in the tranches he wrote poetry, some of which is hailed among the most outstanding written during the war. Isaac was killed with the rest of the 11th Battalion of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, on April l, 1918. Years later when bits of what might have been his corpse were exhumed from a mass grave, his family in the East End London ghetto was sent a bill for three shillings and sixpence, so that he might rest under a Star of David with “Artist and Poet” on his tombstone. Critics say some of Isaac’s best work was done in South Africa.


“The advancement of human consciousness can be mapped the quest to access the landscapes of the spirit and the life hereafter,” writes Heather Dugmore in an article on www.karoospace.co.za. “This drive has replayed itself out over the millennia – from the ancient Egyptians to the Khoi and San of Southern Africa. Both mummified their dead with sacred embalming extracts to keep them intact for the life hereafter. The best local example is a 2 000-year-old Khoisan mummy that was discovered in a cave in the Baviaanskloof Mountains of the Eastern Cape, not far from Shamwari. The mummy was embalmed with the scales of the Boophone bulb, a member of the March lily family. The Khoisan people believe this bulb had the power to transport the dead through the doorway of the spirit to the life hereafter. The plant is revered and feared by the Khoisan for this reason. They regard it as enormously powerful. Khoisan herbalists who traditionally share their knowledge of healing plants will not discuss the powers of the Boophone. They will not even go near the bulb when they see it growing in the wild.” Professor Ben-Erik van Wyk, believes the plant might well have been used in traditional Khoisan trance rituals. “It is highly poisonous and the line between a trance and fatal dose is extremely fine,” he says. “Absolute precision is required.”


After the Anglo-Boer War about 600 South African families, disenchanted with the British Victory, left for South America. There they were assigned 2000 hectares of land by General Julio Roca’s government. The first group of 30, led by Lewis Baumann from Bloemfontein, left Table Bay Harbour, aboard The Highland Fling, at the end of April 1902, bound for Comodoro Rivadavia in the Argentina. Thirty more left in November 1902, and on October 10 the following year a group of 102 people, led by CJ N Visser, arrived in Comodoro Rivadavia. A further 323 sailed from Cape Town in September 1905 and after that several small parties departed between 1906 and 1908. The emigrants were mainly Afrikaans-speaking “Dutch” residents of the Colony. Most came from the Eastern Cape. There were, however, a sprinkling of English-speaking colonists including some Irishmen, Australians and even an American. Most travelled on British Passports as the Cape was a British Colony. Harrington Fillmore, a former resident of Beaufort West, went out with the first group, writes his great, great nephew Ian van Zyl, who lives in Canada. Shortly after disembarking Harrington visited Welsh farmers in Trelew to buy sheep. The round trip took three months. It seems Harrington did well for himself in his new homeland and it appears that a road, which exists to this day in Comodoro Rivadavia, was named in his honour.


The Boers, who were considered experienced farmers, were invited to Argentina because it was thought that they could help develop the land. They lived in tents and huts until they could build homes. Some later still trekked into the hinterland and some joined the Welsh colonists who had arrived 20 years earlier. Along the way they gave Afrikaans names to the koppies i.e. Spioenkop, Spitzkop and Transvaalkop. Sadly, settlement in their new country was not totally satisfactory, states the Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa. The area allocated to them was uninhabited, terribly isolated and had a harsh climate. Winters were severe and fierce blizzards were not unusual. There were neither roads nor bridges and grazing was sparse. Certainly the “luxurious grazing” promised by Captain Camillo Ricchiardi and Lewis Baumann, joint promoters of the scheme, did not exist. The heaviest setback came in 1925 when an exceptionally heavy snowfall resulted in great loss of sheep, forcing many to leave the area and make a fresh start.


Lucerne, often hailed as the King of fodder crops, came to South Africa from South America in 1861. It was initially grown in the Worcester district, but quickly spread to the Karoo. It is said to have been introduced to the Outdshoorn area by Ernst de Marillac. Lucerne is indigenous to Mesopotamia. The Persian armies took it to Media and Greece in 470 BC. It moved to Italy in 100 BC and from here to the rest of Europe and North Africa. Spaniards, who called the crop alfalfa, based on an Arabic word meaning “best fodder”, took the crop to South America.


Zipporah Cronwright (nee Featherstone) was Samuel Cron Cronwright’s mother and Olive Schreiner’s mother-in-law. The surname Cronwright, an amalgamation of Cron and Wright, was adopted by the family in 1857. Zipporah came from 1820 settler stock and married the son of Peter Wright, a missionary for the LMS in Grahamstown in 1860. After her husband died in 1888, Zipporah lived mainly with her daughter, Ella Beatrice Featherstone Cronwright, in Hopetown. She died in 1912, from a stroke preceded by breast cancer. From Olive’s letters it appears that Cron and his brothers supported their mother and sisters financially after their father’s death. This appears to have continued after his marriage to Olive in 1894. None of his sisters seem ever to have worked.

Think as much as you can, as long as you can, as well as you can. – Theodore Hesburgh