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 spirit of Manna in the Desert. “This was exciting,” says Craig. “We believe the programme will be broadcast within two months.” Alfred, a descendant of the “Griquatown Andersons,” was born on Kamferskraal, in Nelspoort, in 1860. His mother died 11 years later, she was only 38. His father Henry, a cousin of Sir John Charles Molteno, “Lion of Beaufort West,” and first premier of the Cape, was a big, powerful, imperious man, most particular about grammar, pronunciation and the correct use of the English language usage. A staunch supporter of the Cape Town Museum he often, according to author Lawrence Green, sent them excellent Lammergeyer (golden eagle) specimens. Alfred and his brothers worked immensely hard on this farm which Henry managed for Sir John and, despite great hardships, Alfred developed an undying love for the Karoo. The “Great Drought” of 1877 almost broke his heart. Hundreds of head of cattle died, thousands of lambs had to be slaughtered as they were born, and dead birds were everywhere. The following year was no better and 1879 brought a dreadful flood with torrential rains that caused havoc. Alfred could take no more. So, in 1880, aged 20, he left the farm for good, first going to Beaufort West, then to Kimberley, in search of work. He ended up in Johannesburg where he became a successful stockbroker. His love for the Karoo, however, never died. He wrote Manna in the Desert when he was 60. When published in 1920 it received many positive reviews. The Diamond Fields Advertiser prophetically stated: “This book will survive when much of the ephemeral literature of the day is on the scrap-heap.”


Prince Albert’s Dr Sue Milton has been nominated as Shoprite/Checkers Woman of the Year in the category Science and Empowerment. This nomination honours her immense contribution to the ecology of the region as well as her role as a conservationist and researcher into the plants and animals of the Karoo. Sue has done a great deal to promote the Karoo through many papers and books written on this area. She works unstintingly sharing her knowledge of the region with everyone from major role-players to children. She firmly believes there are many ways to use the plants and animals without destroying the resources. She has great plans for the future, and these include setting up conservation areas and a seed nursery. The winner of the Shoprite/Checkers Woman of the Year Award will be announced at 20h00 on SABC2 on August 8, 2007.


The Klein Karoo has exquisite landscapes and a wealth of fascinating natural history. Those interested in finding out more should join Dr John Almond of Natura Viva on one of his three-day outings in October. There is a choice of a fully-catered tour (R2130 per person) from October 4 to 7, or a dinner-only tour (R1800 per person) from October 11 to 14. Both are based at Red Stone Hills Guest Farm, near Calitzdorp, where participants will be accommodated in three- or four-star guest cottages. Both programmes cover a broad range of local natural history, with a special focus on geology, fossils, landscapes and vegetation. “Tuition is through slide lectures, al fresco field talks, scenic drives along quiet back roads, and walks in Karoo veld, as well as through mountain kloofs,” says John. “While participants will have sufficient time to relax and appreciate the peaceful Klein Karoo countryside in the company of like-minded nature lovers, they must be fit enough to walk comfortably over rocky veld for a couple of hours if they want to enjoy the outings to the full.” The programme commences at 14h00 on the first day and finishes after lunch on the last.


One of the world’s top architectural awards is to be presented to Prince Albert’s Sally Arnold, a fine art designer. She will travel to Cologne in Germany in October to receive this prestigious international award for her design of the façade of the new sports hall at Delheicht School, Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg. According to The Prince Albert Friend of June 2007, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS) awarded this Gold Medal to the Delheicht School Project for “exemplary sports and leisure facilities.” While Sally only moved to Prince Albert in 1999, she is no stranger to the Karoo. She was born in the Eastern Cape and grew up on a sheep farm. After finishing school, she studied fine arts at the Cape Technical College and from there went to the Royal Academy in Antwerp, Belgium. She mastered in art history in Munich and Frankfurt, in Germany, and after that lived in Europe for 30 years. Her design-winning award comprises a 100m² of undulating stainless-steel cable net with lime green Plexiglas shapes sandwiched into its upper third. She worked on this assignment for over three years with colleagues at Witry & Witry, a Luxembourg-based architectural firm. Only three gold medals are to be awarded this year. They go to the olympic stadium in Berlin, the speed skating hall in Turin and the Nanjing Sports Park in China. Sally has exhibited work in South Africa and abroad since 1996. In 2001 she set up the Skuinshuis Scholarship to fund a female student interested in studying art, architecture, dancing or music at a South African college. The fund is currently assisting a Swartberg High School student.


An exciting one-day workshop, the first of its kind in South Africa, will be held in Sutherland on September 13. It is being arranged by the Arid Areas Programme, a partnership between the University of the Free State (UFS) and Rhodes University, and it will follow the Arid Zone Ecology Forum which has also chosen South Africa’s “coldest town” as a meeting place this year. The Arid Areas Workshop will be addressed by several top speakers, all authorities in their fields. The keynote address will be given by Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe, a champion of the Central Karoo District Development Node. The current status of the area will be discussed by Professor Etienne Nel from Rhodes University, in a talk entitled A Century of Change in the Great Karoo. Professor Doreen Atkinson will then deliver a comparative report on arid area initiatives in Western, Eastern and Northern Cape, Free State, Kalahari and Namaqualand. Her talk will also cover the need for inter-provincial collaboration. Socio-economic development in the arid areas and what makes this unique will be covered by Jannie Cloete (UFS), while natural and social sciences will be discussed by Dr Nicky Allsop from the University of the Western Cape. Professor Lochner Marais (UFS) will present an introduction to desert knowledge based on discussions held in Australia and on AridNET. Dr Kopano Taole, from the National Institute for Higher Education in the Northern Cape, will talk on building intellectual capacity in the Arid Areas. Poverty and marginalisation in these areas, as well as what can be learnt from the Griqua and “karretjiemense,” will be discussed by Professor Mike De Jongh of UNISA. After lunch Mark Ingle (UFS), will report on arid area products, markets, services and technologies. The closing discussion, “The Way Forward” will be led by Professor Lucius Botes. The workshop fee (R150 per person) includes teas and a finger lunch.


The Arid Areas Programme was launched earlier this year to promote socio-economic research on the Karoo, Kalahari, Namaqualand and Namib. It was the brain child of Professors Doreen Atkinson, Etienne Nel, Lucius Botes and Lochner Marais, who before setting the programme in motion spent a great deal of time discussing the feasibility of their ideas with key role players throughout the arid zone. A start-up grant from the Open Society Foundation set the programme on its feet and enabled organizers, to interview a wide range of government officials, researchers and stakeholders. Then, funding was received from the National Research Foundation and this was used to assist 18 students involved in post-graduate research on housing, land reform, environmental management, business development, tourism, cultural history, heritage management, agriculture, municipal commonage, migration and small towns. “The workshop, which follows on the Arid Zone Ecology Forum, is immensely important because it will enable us to report back on our own findings as well as on the student research programme,” said Doreen Atkinson. “Our aim is also to extend our partnership to other institutions and to find common ground among stakeholders regarding the current status and future prospects of socio-economic research and development in the arid areas. Our overriding priority in this programme is to generate knowledge that policy-makers, government officials, the private sector, and other decision-makers will find useful. Ultimately, our work should assist and promote developmental action and help to address and eliminate poverty.”


There’s now a new way to see the Great Karoo. Come for breakfast. Fly in breakfast trips have become popular at New Holme Guest Farm, near Hanover, says farm owner PC Ferreira. “Last month seven planes brought 16 passengers to our farm for a special taste of the Karoo. They arrived early, enjoyed a hearty traditional Karoo breakfast and then a brief exploration field trip. Many were able to catch sight of the hippos, we re-introduced last year, and this made it exciting for the visitors and for us as well. The hippos have settled well. They seem quite happy at New Holme. They’re looking healthy and contented. They seem to have enjoyed this year’s particularly cold winter.” PC also reports that many blue cranes wintered in the conservancy this year. “Visitors were able to see between 50 and 180 on some outings. We were immensely proud of this because despite the fact that these are South Africa’s national birds, they are on the endangered species list. Their presence indicated that our conservation efforts are succeeding. The new abattoir at Mieliefontein, one of the farms in the conservancy now has a capacity to slaughter about 300 lambs a day, so visitors will always be assured of finding excellent Karoo lamb on the menu,” he added. “Of course, we will also be able to handle orders.”


The successful breakfast trips have opened wider horizons for PC and Marisca Ferreira and fellow farmers in the New Holme Conservancy. “We have designed eight different day trips which will allow visitors to explore using this conservancy as a base,” says PC. Each trip includes aspects of history, as well as the natural beauty. Among the outings, which can be handled as guided tours if visitors so desire, are day trips to Gariep Dam, and to lesser known areas in the conservancy where a great variety of game can be seen, as well as excellent examples of San rock art. There is also a garden tour through New Holme, Weltevrede and Mieliefontein gardens, as well as some in Hanover. This trip takes in the local crafts shop and includes a lunch in the village. Then there is an outing to Vanderkloof, the dam with the highest wall in South Africa, and the Afrikaner village Orania. This includes a boat trip to the islands in the dam for a braai, or a meal at a local restaurant. For those with a taste for history there are outings to Graaff Reinet or Kimberley. “We also have superb birding routes and guided tours,” says PC. “We are now developing horse trails and photography tours.”


Andries Beukes, of U Travel, will soon launch The Sea Cow River Mountain Bike Trail. This will be a two-day, 110 km ride starting from New Holme Guest Farm. The route has been carefully planned to allow mountain bikers to take maximum advantage of terrain and see breathtaking scenery along the way. There are plenty of places to stop and just “soak up the atmosphere,” as well as some designed to test the skill of the riders. “We have tested the route and those who tried it out agreed it was great fun,” said Andries.


Leeu Gamka Indigenous Nursery is promoting the ‘Bushman’s Candle.’ This plant, Sarcocaulon crassicaule, is a curious African shrublet with succulent stems up that grow to a height of about 75 cm. “It grows well in the arid areas of Namaqualand, Bushmanland, the Karoo and the Namib,” says information officer, Charlotte Bothma. “It belongs to the geranium family but bears no resemblance to other family members.” In Karoo South African Wild Flower Guide, plant expert, David Shearing states: “The plant’s thick, succulent stems have thorns and an almost lumpy appearance due to the stem being slightly swollen in places where the thorns are attached. Little olive-green leaves are produced when it rains. The stem bark has a wax-like texture, is flammable and will burn even when stems are not dry. It therefore makes good kindling. Torches made from the stems are used to burn spines off of prickly pears. The plant has a thick waxy layer that protects it from moisture loss and damage from wind-blown sand, which over time can polish the stems to golden-brown.”


A prime tourist attraction in Beaufort West is Ellis’s Cycle Shop in Bird Street. It looks much the same as it did when it first opened and visitors stepping inside feel as if they’ve stepped back in time. The world’s first bicycle was made in Paris by Baron von Drais in 1816. Constructed of wood, it had no saddle nor pedals. People sat on a bar between two wheels and “walked” along. By 1819 Britain was turning out hundreds of these “pedestrian curricules,” “hobby horses” or “dandies,” as they were known. In 1839 a Scot, Kirkpatrick Macmillian, added pedals. A metal frame was introduced in 1861 and metal rims were fitted to the wooden wheels. France called these velocipèdes and England named them “bone shakers.” Rubber tyres were added in 1868 and all-metal bicycles appeared in 1869, the same year as the “high wheeler” or “penny farthing.”


A Prince Albert man once employed a man destined to become President of the United States. Few people know that Herbert Hoover once worked in South Africa as chief engineer of the Metal Deposition and Recovery Company. His signature, H C Hoover, appears on July 29, 1904, in the visitor’s book of the Geological Museum, which at the time was managed by the Transvaal Chamber of Mines. With him that day was his employer and fellow director, John Ballott. The future President of the United States made a name for himself as a mining engineer in Australia, China and elsewhere yet, his sojourn in the Transvaal awoke little attention, writes Eric Rosenthal in Stars and Stripes. He quotes one pioneer as remarking: “Hoover came, he saw, and he departed as if recognising that the Rand of those days was no place for a Quaker.” In an interview with a Durban Newspaper in 1928 Mrs Ballott said: “I know and respect Mr and Mrs Hoover. They are my greatest friends in America. Mr Hoover was my husband’s chief engineer for many years and with him he made his money. Mr Hoover is capability itself, a man of great personality and character. That same year, 1928, when the United States Presidential Campaign was in full swing, an unstamped letter arrived in Johannesburg addressed to the mayor, Mr W H Port. It was written by William A Young of Minnesota on notepaper from the Hotel Flanze in Miles City, Montana. It read: “I an informed that Herbert Hoover, the Republican nominee for President of the United States, voted in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1912. Will you please inform me by return if that is true or not?” The mayor understood the implications. If Hoover had voted in a foreign land, he would be disqualified. In reply, he, however, informed Mr Young, that it was impossible to supply any information because “all records of a municipal election that far back have long since been destroyed.” It would, indeed have been odd if Hoover had voted in South Africa because he was an American. While in South Africa Hoover, among other things, helped to start the well-known Messina Copper Mines in the then Northern Transvaal. He also became a director of these mines.

Note: Mrs Ballott was the daughter of a Free State pioneer, named Bester. According to The Star of May 1928, he was the right-hand man to Sir Harry Smith and responsible for laying out the town Harrismith.


Calvinia’s 18th Annual Hantam Meat Festival is scheduled for August 23, 24 and 25 this year. This popular festival, established to promote sheep farming and meat products, includes sheep shearing and whip-platting competitions and demonstrations how to cut up a carcass, debone meat and make soap. There is also a mock farmyard. “Over the years this festival has grown in popularity,” says museum curator, Maxi Hugo. Festivities begin with a gala ball at which the festival queen is crowned. A parade of veteran cars, drum majorettes and a competition for the best slaughter lamb (on the hoof) is planned. There will be a wide range of stalls and some will offer irresistible, traditional taste treats such as offal, baked sheep head, liver sausage, “skilpadjies,” cold mutton neck, braaied tails, chops, wors, sosaties, potjiekos and “kliprib.” The “kuierkafee” will encourage people to sit, chat and catch up on the news over a cup of tea or coffee with some delicious accompaniments. Well known artists will entertain visitors and local bands, such as “Klipwerf Orkes” en Bertie van der Sandt’s group, will keep the feet tapping until the small hours. Special entertainment has been organised for children. The energetic can take part in a marathon on Saturday, August 25.


On his trips into the interior Charl Peter Thurnberg met some incredible people. Among them was 81-year old Jacobus Botas, who had 12 sons who’d produced a progeny of 190 persons, all hale and hearty at the time. But that was not what impressed Thurnberg. It was the fact that Botas has survived an attack by a lion. When he was about 40 years old Botas was walking through a narrow pass when a lion suddenly leaped out at him. Instinctively he raised his gun and fired a shot. The lion fell down dead. But, Botas had not noticed there were two lions. Before he had time to reload the second lion charged, knocked him down and wounded him so badly with its sharp claws that he fainted. “It also gnawed his left arm and side and lacerated him terribly. Then, leaving him for dead on the ground, the lion then moved off. Perhaps it was possessed of too noble a spirit to revenge itself upon a dead man,” wrote Thurnberg. Botas’s servants carried him home. His wife immediately fetched herbs, boiled them in water and then used the decoction each day to wash his wounds before binding them up. He was quickly restored to perfect health but was never again able to use the arm which had been wounded, neither could he handle a musket. This was a pity because he was one of the best shots in the Colony, said Thunberg.

Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.
John Quincy Adams, who in 1825, became the 6th U.S. President. He was the first son of a president to be elected to the nation’s highest office He served one term, then was defeated in 1828 by Andrew Jackson.