Looking for in an interesting read? Then, The Infamous Malaboch War and More Gripping Stories From The Old Transvaal and Beyond should be just the thing. This book follows David Hilton-Barber’s earlier books on footprints in the old Transvaal on the way to Tzaneen, and Footprints in the Lowveld. Despite the fact that the Malaboch War has been extensively covered in military journals, David’s research revealed several aspects that offer a fresh look at the campaign. The war broke out when Chief Malaboch of the Bahananwa people refused to have his territory demarcated in 1888, have his huts recorded in 1891, to pay taxes or to leave his kingdom after being asked to do so by the British government in 1894. This led to military action against him. General Piet Joubert led the Transvaal forces to an overwhelming victory leading to the surrender of the Bahananwa. This war is significant because it was the first time that British residents in Pretoria were “conscripted” to serve in a punitive commando. Malaboch was captured, never sentenced, but held until 1900 when, during the Anglo-Boer War, he was released. He returned to his people and ruled until his death in 1939.


There’s much, much more in the 14 short stories in this book. They cover the founding fathers of the Ndebele Nation, the exploration of the Limpopo area, annexation of Bechuanaland, the story of Stellaland and Goshen, as well as some tales of different and interesting people. Among them are tales of Francis Oates, a forgotten naturalist; Rudyard Kipling, a man who made a great impression on the country; the Reverend S J du Toit, whose book published in 1897, made a stirring appeal to “English and Afrikaans people in the Cape to spread civilization northwards”; Rory Hensman and his elephants; Doug Starling, who some hail as a man who created the finest mountain stream fishery in the whole of Africa; and Albert Machimana, a special young man who considered himself a learner and a teacher. He wanted nothing more than to teach his brothers and sisters – Tito Mboweni, past governor of the SA Reserve Bank, was one of them. There is also a most delightful tale of an intrepid lady trader. This most delightful, entertaining and readable collection of stories covers a little-known sector of southern African history. More from David Hilton-Barber at david@footprintpress.co.za


A substantially updated edition of Jeremy C Hollman’s book entitled Customs & Beliefs of the /xam is now available in hard and soft cover, PDF and epub formats – see nyupressinfo@nyu.edu. The book, printed by Wits University Press, contains word-for-word narratives by five 19th century /xam men on topics that include ‘sorcery’, rain-making and hunting as well as the significance of eland, lions and springbok in their cosmology.


Dr Wim Myburgh’s is soon to launch a book which looks at South African women serving in the essential services of during WWII. In his cover review Dr Dorian Haarhof states that it not a look at military personnel, generals and politics, but rather a well-written and well-researched tribute to ordinary women who served as radar and artillery specialists during the war. This book salutes the innovative and dedicated Airey Fairies, the Arty Girls, as well as the Freddies and Coastal Girls of 1940 – 1945, among others. It is well illustrated and includes pictures taken at a 1980 reunion, as well as some cartoons. For more information and to order Women at War, contact wim@compueasy.net

VISIT https://karoofoundation.co.za/karoo-cameos/ for a series of cameos on small Karoo towns


During WWII there were several strategic radar stations, along South Africa’s rugged and rocky coastline. These played a pivotal role in protecting Allied supply lines. At the start of the war, men manned the stations, however by 1941 these men were needed for active service so women were recruited and trained as radar operators. The stations were built into such places as the clandestine nooks of the Cape Point cliff. Their exact location was top secret, states Lynn Harris in an article entitled The Special Signal Services (SSS) Women … in the 2017, Coriolis Interdisciplinary Journal of Maritime Studies. She states that by 1945 there were 50 SSS stations along the South African coast, manned by 507 women among whom were at least 28 were high ranking officers. Some of these women also helped to build the stations and roads that led to them. The women were provided with full military kit from toothbrush to bloomers (baggy underwear dubbed “passion killers”) and greenish- khaki great coats. They were taught how to survive in remote places. They were given detailed instruction on the operation of radar, how to detect ships and aircraft and the use of coastal artillery. They also learned to drive and care for army vehicles. They worked at isolated radar stations with sweeping views of the ocean and coastline as well as in a command center called “Freddie”. Known as “Freddie Girls” they were privy to sensitive information like ship sinkings, torpedoes, u-boats, tonnages and aircraft losses. Today the so-called SSS girls are regarded as glamorous secret agents. Their service is still considered one of the best kept secrets of the war.


ToGO or not ToGO is a book with a difference. It’s a superbly-illustrated travel guide taking even the armchair traveller to some known and lesser-known regions and places across South Africa. Compiled by Anita Henning, a photo-journalist, and editor of the popular bi-monthly magazine-cum-journal ToGOTo, this coffee table book is a collection of articles published over the last eight years. Aimed at the independent, discerning traveller, it’s much more than a travel guide. It leads to tranquil and picturesque areas, such as the early morning, mist-covered Atlantic coast, where there is even a place called Grootmis and where diamond dredgers dot the sea, as well as along remote, extreme, exhilarating, rocky mountain roads such as the one to Sehlabathebe – the plateau of the shield – a paradise in the sky. This area is home to one of the richest ground orchid concentrations in the world. The book also describes special creatures, such as the riverine rabbit, the desert frog and dwarf adder.


Detailed maps in this beautifully illustrated, 187-page, full-colour book, allow the traveller to journey confidently through KwaZulu Natal, the Free State – where there is an old mission station in a cave – across the arid plains of the Great Karoo and the flower carpets of Namaqualand to the dams of Lesotho. as well as to the Eastern Cape where villages are steeped in the history of the Frontier Wars. It’s a volume of good stories and fascinating facts. The routes are tried and tested; Anita has travelled them all sometimes more than once. In the book she offers sage advice: NEVER pass a clean toilet, NEVER pass a filling station, NEVER pass a lodge, and NEVER pass a Chinese shop. They sell almost everything – so if your bug spray runs out, that’s where you will find it. Also invaluable in the book is a glossary explaining the meaning of words such as bosluis, basters, spaza and lifaqane, plus a semantics section which gives interesting brief origins of town names.


The story of Sarah Maud Goff Heckford is one of the enjoyable tales in David Hilton-Barber’s new book, The Infamous Malaboch War…. It tells the story of a small Irish woman, sickly from birth, who suffered from a lingering, recuring illness, probably TB, which left her with a limp and a hump on her right shoulder. She also suffered from bouts of malaria, but she had an indomitable spirit. She carved out an indelible name for herself in the old Transvaal. But tragedy dogged her. Born into an aristocratic family in 1839, she seemed set for a life of luxury. She loved music, played the piano and painted. Sarah was six in 1845 when her mother and sister, Jane, died within weeks of each other. Her father, William, was never the same. Four years later he was found lying on his wife’s grave. He had taken his own life. While working the slums of London and through the1866 cholera epidemic, she met and married Nathaniel Hawthorne, a brilliant doctor, but he died ten years later. She came to South Africa as a governess. She later became a transport rider travelling in an ox wagon along lonely, dangerous, rugged roads, carrying goods to rough, rowdy miners. In time she took to mining, pegged out a claim and worked it alone. She later bought a farm and brought some family members to South Africa. She met Modjadji, the Rain Queen, acted as her advisor and did great work in education. When she died in 1903 The Times of London called her one of the most extraordinary women to whom Britain had ever given birth.


Travelling the hinterland roads in the 1800s was a very lonely and extremely dangerous experience. To overnight long-distance transport riders made for recognised outspans, where there was at least a chance of finding other wagons. Frequent reports of farmers, who had gone to town for a day to sell their wares and collect some provisions, being murdered on the road, often appeared in the Press. Such was the case of Bastiaan van Blerk and his 14-year-old son. They left home in Likhatlong in August, 1864, in search of ostrich feathers in the interior. Their story was told in a letter dated October 28, and written by the Reverend William M Ashton, a missionary, at the request of Mrs van Blerk. He said that Bastiaan, his son and a servant had left their wagon on September 1,to ride home on horseback, as they had promised to be back by the end of the month. They took the best of the feathers they had collected with them. Along the way they stopped for a short rest, fell asleep and were shot as they slept. William Camm, who had been left in charge of the wagons and who was travelling slowly along behind them, came across their bodies. He sent a messenger to summon the police, After sometime a man who had once worked for Bastiaan was arrested, tried, found guilty and hanged in Taung.


Prince Albert recently celebrated two important milestones. The village newspaper, The Prince Albert Friend, turned 110 in October and the local Dutch Reformed Church celebrated its 180th anniversary in November. This congregation was the 29th to be established and it has the 20th oldest in the Synod in the Cape. The original church, a small, thatched structure built in 1842, became too small within a decade. By 1860 a start was made on the current stately DRC which was consecrated in March, 1865. The church’s three bells came from Gillett and Bland in Croyden, in 1877, and the clock from William Soper of Londen in the same year.


The little hamlet of Alheit, 8 km from Kakamas on the way to the Augrabies Falls, has noble origins. It owes its name to a notable Rhenish missionary – Christian (also known as Christoph) Wilhelm Adolf Alheit whose surname is derived from “Adelheid”, the German word for “nobility”. He was born in Mühlhausen in Thüringen, in Germany on November 13, 1817, and he came to South Africa in 1842. He worked at mission stations in Tulbagh, at Schietfontein, which led to the development of Carnarvon, Saron and Stellenbosch, where he was head of a boys’ hostel. A third of the residents were sons of Rhenish missionaries. At the boys’ school he proved he had a great aptitude for teaching mathematics. In 1860 a second hostel was opened and was called the Rhenish Institute for the daughters of Rhenish missionaries. From these schools a Gymnasium developed, and this later turned into Victoria College and later still became the University of Stellenbosch. While stationed at Saron, a mission station about 18 km northwest of Tulbagh, Christian was killed in a horse and cart accident at the farm Steinthal, about 5 km east of Tulbagh, on March 21, 1882.

Note: Schietfontein mission station at Carnarvon was established to serve the spiritual needs of the Basters who had been living in the area since the early 1800s. It was close to the mission station at Harmsfontein which served a number of Xhosa families who had settled on land granted to the community in 1839 by the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir George Thomas Napier.


On September 14, 1847, Christian married Mathilde Johanna Sanetta Vos, the sister of the missionary Ariel Vos and daughter of the well-known Reverend M C Vos, in Tulbagh. They had two daughters and a son. Their second daughter married the missionary, Johannes Gerdener. Their only son, William Adolf, also became an ordained minister, and served at the DRC in Ceres. He drowned at Jongensklip near Kleinmond. Four of the drowned man’s sons became DRC ministers, while the fifth became a teacher of mathematics.


A commando en route to Caledon acted disgracefully stated report in The Friend of April 5, 1867. The reporter wrote that he “regretted to inform readers that when these men arrived at H K Mentz’s farm and found the owner was not home, they took the house and garden by storm.” They carried off all the fruit, vegetables and mealies, without any restraint from the officers, who did not even seem to have been nearby. The report continued by stating that this should not have happened, but “the commandants have yet to learn their duty. Instead of controlling the men in the divisions under them, they are to be seen riding out with friends, and allowing the men to scour the country in search of booty.”


Hanover-born Dr Jane Nathan was South Africa’s first female dentist. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Dental Medicine in the USA, 1917. She, however, also studied at the Universities of Cape Town, Witwatersrand, Bonn in Germany, and Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. She returned to South Africa, opened a practice in Johannesburg and represented the Transvaal Dental Society in London. Her father, Carl Nathan, who was born in Hamburg in 1838, was for a while the only Jew in Hanover. He came to South Africa in 1857 and joined his brother Edward’s legal firm in Graaff-Reinet before moving to Hanover to set up a business that stored wool bales before forwarding them on to the then Port Elizabeth. His family lived in a house that was next door to a store that burnt down in 1885. Because they were the only Jewish family in town, his children simply attended the local school and so did not get a formal Jewish education. Both did very well for themselves. So did Carl. He became me a highly respected citizen of Hanover and was known for his charitable works. In 1865 he was appointed one of six leaders of the village council – he later became chairman. He also served as Justice of the Peace for Colesberg in1869 and for Hanover in1873. He served as mayor in 1899 and was the first man to join the Town Guard during the Anglo-Boer War. At the age 64 he started an Agricultural Society and he chaired the school board for 25 years. He was the holder of eight original claims on the Kimberley Diamond Mines.


Carl Nathan’s son Manfred was a writer, lawyer and judge who made legal history. He obtained a BA with honours in literature and philosophy in 1894. He moved to Johannesburg and worked for The Star until he was admitted to the Transvaal Bar on October 26, 1897. He was the first candidate for a Doctor of Law Degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. He obtained this in 1901. He became a judge and served in the Natal Supreme Court in1928 and the Eastern Cape in 1930. He was later appointed as judge in the Special Appeals Court for Income Tax and held this post for 13 years. He served as vice-president of the SA Zionist Federation from 1904 to 1907. He was a member of the first executive of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies. His historical writings were widely respected and his biography of Paul Kruger was a standard reference for many years.


Magrietha Kok, a descendant of Cornelius Kok, the Kapteyn, Captain of Campbell from 1810-1820. recently shared the history of her hometown with visitors along The Forgotten Highway. Campbell, 48 km east of Griquatown (once Klaarwater), was originally known as Knovel Valley and then Groote Fontein, It was renamed in honour of the Reverend John Campbell, who visited in 1813.The history of the settlement dates back to 1805 when a group of Griqua, including Captain Andries Waterboer, travelled to Griquatown, in the territory of the Tswana near modern-day town of Kuruman, with missionary Jan Matthys Kok. The strong spring promised good future crops, so they named the place Knovel Valley. In 1811 William Burchell accompanied by Reverend Lambert Jansz, visited the place, took possession of the spring in the name of the London Missionary Society and named the place Groote Fontein (Great Fountain). In 1816 Cornelis Kok II was declared Kapteyn, of Campbell and soon other members of the Kok family also moved there, she said.


The Reverend John Bartlett, came to this spot as a missionary in 1825 and supervised the construction of a mission church between 1827 and 1831. Many great names of history passed through this valley. Among them were William Burchell, George Thompson, Andrew Smith, Robert Moffat, David Livingstone and G A Farini. The remains of Cornelis Kok II, who died in 1858 were exhumed from a grave threatened by agricultural encroachment, on April 19, 1961, with the intention that they be reburied at the mission church. After three years of community consultation Kapteyn Adam Kok IV presided over the disinterment which was led by Professor Philip Tobias and Dr G J Fock. After that 34 other Griqua bodies were exhumed for study at the University of the Witwatersrand. The exhumed remains of Cornelis Kok II and these other Griquas were re-interred alongside the mission church on September 23, 2007

PLEASE NOTE: Well-known author and historian, Dr Dean Allen, has launched a podcast entitled Frontier Lane where he interviewing some of South Africa’s most remarkable people in the worlds of conservation, history and the like. For more see https://www.algoafm.co.za/podcasts/frontier-land-with-dr-dean-allen

Half the fun of travel is the aesthetic of “lostness” – Ray Bradbury