The founder of SA’s only Book Town has just been awarded the prestigious English Academy of Southern Africa Gold Medal Award. He is widely-known academic Darryl Earl David and he is passionate about literature. His literary efforts have put the tiny Karoo town of Richmond on the map and brought it to the attention of writers and publishers. While Richmond’s BoekBedonnerd was the first book festival he organised in South Africa, it certainly wasn’t the last. He is also the founder of the Breyten Breytenbach Boekfees in Montagu, the Athol Fugard Festival in Richmond. the UKZN Kinderboekfees, the Olive Schreiner Literary Festival in Cradock, the UKZN Zulu Literary Museum and co-founder of the Durban Literary Festival. In addition to that he is the director of Hermanus Unesco City of Gastronomy. Adam Small Boekefees in Pniel, Alan Paton Literary Festival in Pietermaritzburg, Midlands Literary Festival in Howick and Etienne van Heerden Veldsoiree in Cradock. He pioneered Durban as a Unesco City of Literature – a first on the African continent. The latest feather in his cap has been the successful organisation of the Madibaland World Literary Festival. Darryl, who was thrilled to receive the award, said: “I am delighted because this makes me the first Afrikaans lecturer to be receive the highest honour of the English Academy.” David matriculated at Silver Heights Secondary School in Pietermaritzburg. In 2003 he moved to Howick, after having lived in Pietermaritzburg for 33 years. Darryl, a two-time winner of The Witness True Stories of KZN competition.


Hot off the press is Simon Green’s 352-page soft-cover book, Anglo-Boer War Blockhouses: A Field Guide. This is a companion to his previously published Anglo-Boer War Blockhouses:A Military Engineer’s Perspective, and it offers an extensive review of the blockhouses left standing in South Africa. “A first-of-its-kind guide, it can be used for virtual visits to learn more about these military structures, or to get ‘boots on the ground’ experience,” says Simon. “My aim is to bring the blockhouses to the attention of Boer War tour guides and self-drive visitors. Built 120 years ago, these structures were occupied for years by lonely and bored ‘Tommy Atkins’ and they have a story to tell of military industrial proportions.” Simon visited virtually every site, excepting a few “whose isolation and inaccessibility speak volumes about the challenges of the South African veld.” The guide also acts as a record of the current condition of the sites, all of which have sadly been vandalised by humans and ravaged by the weather. Thirty of the structures are protected by government legislation which has proved ineffective. “One day this guide may be the sole source of reference to an important aspect of our national heritage,” says Simon. The full-colour book, published by Porcupine Press, is available at R480 until the end of January, 2022. More from


Simon Green’s book, Anglo-Boer War Blockhouses – A Military Engineer’s Perspective, is still available for R420. It takes an analytical look at the how the construction of over 9 000 small fortifications sought to change the course of the war. It traces all aspects of the blockhouses before and during the war and examines what conditions were like inside these structures. “Initially they were intended to protect key bridges, but they morphed into mass-produced, low cost, pre-fabricated forts deployed in long lines across the veld.” This is illustrated with details of how they were built, manned and operated in a system designed to defeat roving Boer Commandos. The “blockhouse strategy” used by Lord Kitchener during the guerrilla phase of the war is examined as part of the wider strategy used to bring the war to its conclusion. Through detailed analysis and the lens of military expert the Simon strives to answer the question “Did the blockhouses win the war or were they merely the strategy of a ‘Blockhead’?” More from


Also hot off the press, just in time for Christmas and ideal for armchair travellers in this time of Covid and lockdowns are two new books from well-known historian and key-note public speaker, Dr Dean Allen. His long-awaited Frontier Land Volume 1 explores one of South Africa’s most captivating regions – The Eastern Cape. This is a land rich in history and brimming with people with fascinating tales to tell. This beautiful, full-colour, well-illustrated book takes readers on a journey to forgotten towns as it tells captivating and dramatic stories of the people and places at the heart of this historic region. Books which cost R295 per copy plus courier fees, can be ordered from A special package, including Frontier Land and This Day in History, costs R550, plus courier. This Day in History (also R295 if ordered alone) is a fascinating look at often-forgotten stories that shaped the world. There is one for each day. Originally from Somerset in England, now living in Somerset West, South Africa, Dean is well-known across the Karoo for his tours of Matjiesfontein and his popular book Empire, War and Cricket in South Africa. Dean is a research associate at Bournemouth University in the UK and at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, He has lectured at universities in South Africa, the UK, Ireland and Australia and has published widely on the history and politics of sport and society throughout the British Empire, most notably in South Africa. He also offers online courses in history.

DISCOVER MATJIESFONTEIN with Dean Allen from January 24 – 26, 2022. The village tour costs R750 per person. Affordable accommodation is available at the Karoo 1 Hotel, 22 km away from De Doorns, north of Touws River and 1.30 hours drive away from Cape Town international airport. This interesting venue has original buildings dating back to 1756. More from


Hailed as “the doctor of history” in some places Dean Allen has a passion for the subject. Like Rudyard Kipling he believes that “we would all remember our history if it was told in the form of stories.” He believes that understanding the past will give us a clearer picture of the present. And that as Abraham Lincoln said, in the context of The American Civil War of 1861 to 1865: “Human nature will not change.” He stressed “We will always have weak and strong, silly and wise, bad and good. Let us therefore study incidents and learn wisdom from them.” Dean loves telling stories from history and learning from the past. “I also love sharing this passion with the people who sign up for my course.” Among the lectures are: an introduction to sport and why it matters; the evolution of sport through the ages; the Victorians and the making of modern sport; the business of sport; social issues in sport; mega-events: sport and gender issues; sport, not politics in the 20th century; national identity and sport and race in South Africa. More from


“Thanks for your latest Round-up, which mentions a puzzle regarding the Alexander cousins,” writes military historian Major Willem Steenkamp. “I would guess that Alexander was the one from 3rd NSW Mounted Rifles (NSW MR). This particular regiment was probably raised from one specific area and when in SA was incorporated, along with other individual regiments, into a larger body, namely the Australian Commonwealth Horse. The same thing happened in the British Army. For instance. regular regiments, each made up of a plethora of small volunteer (i.e. existing part-time) units in the London area were formed into the City Imperial Volunteers (CIV). Each Volunteer Unit contributed a company or two of troops and each company retained its regimental identity. After the war each CIV sub-unit was granted regimental battle honours.


January is the time to enjoy a Neethling peach. This delicious juicy cultivar was cultivated on Picardy in the Prince Albert district in the late 1800s by Pieter Kuiper Neethling, states historian Ailsa Tudhope. He arrived in 1876 and on learning that deciduous fruit had been grown in this area since the 1760’s, decided to concentrate on the Neethling. It was an instant winner. This cultivar, which is still grown in the area, has a good yellow colour, excellent flavour and firm texture. In addition to farming Pieter ran a general dealer business, called Alport, for Canadian immigrant Percy Alport, brother-in-law of Sir John Charles Molteno, first Premier of the Cape. Percy had a general dealer and other businesses in Beaufort West and he also owned the wool washing plant at Klaarstroom. In 1901 Pieter helped establish the Prince Albert municipality and served as the first mayor. It is said that when Pieter died at 10:00 on October 10, 1937, at the age of 90. the Dutch Reformed Church clock stopped.


In December, 1899, Queen Victoria decided to “raise the spirits” of men serving in South Africa by sending a special greeting. She commissioned Britain’s three foremost chocolate manufacturers – Cadbury, Fry and Rowntree – to make 100 000 chocolate bars, weighing half a pound (226 grams) each and packed them into tins bearing the inscription: “I wish you a happy New Year, Victoria Reg.” in her handwriting. The chocolate makers, all from long lines of Quakers, were opposed to profiting from the war, so they donated the chocolate. Different firms were commissioned to make the tins. There are, therefore, slight variations in their dimensions, colouring, printing and portrait medallion of the Queen, however, they all had rounded corners and fitted easily into uniform pockets. At the end of 1899 the British army certainly needed cheering as it just suffered dreadful defeats during Black Week, from 10 – 17 December, at Stormberg, Magersfontein and Colenso, So, despite a French cartoonist quipping: “Oh yeah, Victoria, chocolate’s just the thing for treating all the wounded you’ve got,” the chocolate tins were extremely well-received. The gift was so esteemed by some soldiers that they posted the tins back home to their families.


One of the Canadian soldiers who sent his chocolate home was Private C Jackson. In a letter to his father, he wrote: “I have just received a box of chocolates. Her majesty’s present to the South African soldiers. It just arrived today. It is very nice, in fact almost too good to keep here. There is such a demand for them by the officers and everybody else, as mementos. In fact, I have been offered £5 for mine and at the Cape as much as £10 is being paid, So, you will readily understand why I am sending mine home. Somebody might take a fancy to it as they did to my match safe. Take good care of it until I return, which I expect will be in a few months.” Sadly, Private Jackson never did get back to Canada. He was one of the first to fall on Bloody Sunday, February 18, 1900, at Paardeberg, only a few weeks after he wrote the letter. A small cardboard box of chocolates, with a picture of Lord Roberts on the bottom left corner and Queen Victoria in the top right corner, and dating back December, 1900, when Lord Roberts was appointed commander in chief of all forces in South Africa, also turned up in Canada states


Roland Welensky, (later Sir Roy) who was knighted and became Prime Minister of Rhodesia has a link with Willowmore. His grandfather, Ignatius Wilhelm Ferreira, who is buried on the farm, Schilpadbeen, where over six generations of Ferreiras have farmed, was among the first farmers in this district. He farmed here with cattle, small stock, fruit, flowers and vegetables. They also made brandy, but their still was destroyed during the Anglo-Boer War. Aletta Maria Catherina Ignatina, fondly known as Leah, the eldest daughter of Ignatius Willem and Maria Elizabeth Ferreira, married Michael Welensky who hailed from Wilno and was of Lithuanian Jewish origin. Before coming to South Africa, he was a trader in Russia and horse-smuggler during the Franco-Prussian War. After first emigrating to the USA where he was a saloon-keeper, he came to South Africa but later settled in the then Rhodesia. Sir Roy was the second youngest of their 12 children. He often described himself as “half Jewish, half Afrikaner but 100% British”.


One Round-up reader, who prefers to remain anonymous, was amused to read that John Garlick declined a knighthood. “Unassuming modesty must run in the family,” he said, ”When I was in the army we had a member of the Garlick family serving in the ranks. We kept an eye on him, identified him as potential officer material and so offered him selection for officer training. A lot of youngsters would have taken it up, but not Garlick. He said he was happy to remain with his mates.”


On December 15, 1901 Corporal Dawson and Trooper Meyer of the Carnarvon District Mounted Troops rode out to Zeekoegat in the district, unaware that Boers under Commandant J C Naude had just arrived there. Shots were exchanged, Dawson was mortally wounded, and Meyer was captured. Both men were stripped, however, Meyer was allowed to keep his boots. The farm owner, a Mr van Heerden, arrived and Dawson, who was dying, asked him to pray for him, Dawson then gave his ring to Meyer to hand to his wife. After the Boers left, Van Heerden took Dawson’s body to Carnarvon for burial.


Professor Ingrid Byerley from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, in the USA, thoroughly enjoyed the review Peter Elliott’s book, Thomas Muir: ‘Lad O’ Pairts’ in the December Round-up. She writes “What a fascinating story about Thomas and his influence on education In the Cape. His life reminded me of my dad’s journeys across the Cape. He was Melville van der Spuy, who in addition to being highly-respected music teacher and organist, was also head of musical education in the Cape. His post as inspector of the music educational programmes took him across the province to all schools to ensure the standard of music.” Ingrid is a South African ethnomusicologist / anthropologist /educationalist whose roots reach back to Laingsburg where she and her sister, Nicolette were given their first music lessons by their father, the town’s music teacher and organist at the local Dutch Reformed Church, and their mom, Lorraine. Both girls went on to make names for themselves in the international world of music (their story is told in Round-up No 98, March, 2002). Her sister, Nicolette, who lives in Dripping Springs is Executive Director Emeritus at Suzuki Music Institute of Dallas. The Solomon-van Wyk concert hall premises of the Suzuki Institute in Dallas has just been named in honour of Nicolette and her husband, South African composer Carl van Wyk.


Like her dad, Ingrid Bianca Byerly also travels in her capacity as an educator. Her travels, however, are not restricted to the Cape, she regularly tours the world teaching the Anthropology of Music and Global Music. Some sessions have been part of the Semester at Sea’s voyages around the Mediterranean Basin, and on round-the-world trips. Ingrid considers teaching on a ship as the ultimate privilege. She is Director of the Humanitarian Challenges Focus Program, Senior Lecturing Fellow and Research Scholar in the Departments of Music and Cultural Anthropology, and lead facilitator of Public Speaking with the Thompson Writing Program and Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. Her own research focuses on the study of music in global social protest especially through music revolutions. In the decade leading up to the end of apartheid, she served as teacher and lecturer in cross-cultural communications in South Africa. She combined her training in classical music with her fascination of the role of contemporary protest music in politics. She has taught study skills, protest literature, and inter-cultural communication in South Africa, England, Russia, Europe and the USA.


Ida’s Line is a dramatically-told, poignant, historically-accurate story that plays out from 1930 to 1948. At its core is a fractured, old-Afrikaner, Oudtshoorn family dealing with the turmoil of anti-Semitism, racial hatred, politics, the residual Boer War animosity towards “The English” and the turmoil of WWII. Central to the tale is Ida Joubert, a member of a white middle-class family, who begins to re-evaluate the world in which she lives. This results in constant conflict with her bigoted, patriarchal father and his high-handed attitude towards women. Disaster looms when she is attracted to Reuben May, a coloured man, while assisting in an educational programme. They fall in love and he wants to marry her. Explosive scenes erupt when she tries to introduce him to her parents. Overwhelmed by the level of rejection in his world, she finds she is faced with a tearing emotional choice – Reuben, turmoil and rejection, or her family. It’s a well-told, gripping, true South African tale. Barbara is a published poet and author of several children’s books. ​She has taught creative writing to children and students from Gabon and Niewoudtville. ​Her love of history led to her writing Botrivier: The Story of a Village in 2010. Barbara loves the Karoo and Oudtshoorn, which once was her grandfather’s home town and is central to many of his stories. Ida’s Line is the result of ten years research, much of which was done in CP Nel Museum. It costs R270 and can be ordered from More from


Who would have thought a potato could help a man choose a good wife? Well, when writing her book Aberdeen, A Retreat of the Future, Wendy van Schalkwyk was visited by Dirk Stegman, a farmer from Rietbron area, who handed her a card headed “Peeling a Potato”. It advised bachelors to watch a girl when she was peeling a potato. “If she cuts the peelings very thick, you will know she is extravagant. If she leaves the eyes, she is lazy. If she washes them in only once, she is dirty. If she uses too much fat to fry them, she is greasy. If she lets them burn, she is careless and will make no man happy, but if you see a girl who knows how to wash a potato, peel it thinly, boil and cook it well, then marry her even if she is poor and ugly. She will make a good wife.”

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams – Henry David Thoreau