The inaugural South Africa Independent Publishers Awards dinner, recently held in Richmond, during the J M Coetze\Athol Fugard Festival, was an exciting gala event. Virtually every category was keenly contested. The Miriam Tlali Prize for autobiography was unanimously awarded to the late Edwin Jackson for Flight of the Moth, which was published with encouragement of Booktown Richmond. This prize was named in honour of the first black woman to publish a novel in English. Judges were astounded that a simple farmer, faced with a terminal disease, could pen a book of such immense beauty. The John Kannemeyer Prize, named to honour one of the country’s top biographers, was won by Angie Butler for The Quest for Frank Wild. The judges complimented her for bringing Wild, “a man more famous than Shackleton”, back from oblivion in a fairytale-like story. The prize for an architectural publication, named in honour of Sandra Antrobus, who has restored so many houses in Cradock, went to Darryl Earl David and Philippe Menache for A Platteland Pilgrimage: 102 Country Churches of South Africa.


The Gcina Mhlope Prize for children’s literature – named in honour of a legend in this genre – went to Leslie Wainer for The Adventures of Babba Bear. This book, with “astounding artwork” is sold with a teddy bear. “A stroke of genius,” said the judges. The Mongane Wally Serote Prize for poetry was won by Leslie Howard for Under the moon. The RRR Dhlomo Prize, named in honour of Rolfus Robert Reginald Dhlomo, the first black man to write a novel in English, was won by Nhlanhla Maake for Hyenas in a Place of Joy, a book, which judges praised for its lyrical quality, humour and originality. The Jock of the Bushveld Prize for a book on animals or pets went to KZN vet, Tod Collins, for Bull by the Horns. In this category 84-year-old Paddy Jackson also received special mention for her remarkable and beautifully illustrated book about her dog, Savoir.


The Antoinette Pienaar Award for a book in the health category went to Maritza Breitenbach for The Cookie Book. Judges were astonished that a book on the vagina could create so much interest. The Elza Miles Award for a work on fine art went to Tracy Hawthorne and Kevin Shenton’s John Meyer: A retrospective and the Obie Oberholzer Award for a book on photography was won by Heinrich van den Bergh for Reflection. The Ashwin Desai History Award was presented to Jan van der Merwe and Philippe Burger for Vrystaatse Dorpe. This award was named to honour history writer Ashwin Desai, whose book on Gandhi will be launched later this year. Ashwin also won one of the two awards in the keenly contested travel and tourism category, where the prize was named in honour of travel writer, Denis Beckett. The prize for a work featuring top photography went to Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit for Karoo Keepsakes, a pioneering work, hailed as a “hymn to the Karoo and its people.” The second half of the prize for good narrative went to Ashwin for The Archi-Texture of Durban – “a love letter to Durban” written by one of the country’s top sociologists. “This book,” said judges, “is destined to become a South African classic. It is a social history with stories of the Durban Casbah; of Papwa Swegolum, an Indian golfer, forced to accept his prize in the rain because he was a coolie; about Christmas mass at Emmanuel Cathedral before Indians were forcibly removed to Chatsworth and Phoenix and much more.”


There were also two awards for Independent Bookshops. The one for a small village shop went to John Donaldson, of Booktown Richmond, who has opened 11 bookshops, some with evocative names such as Diesel & Dust and Huis van Licht en Schaduw. The prize for a city store went to Jo Rushby of Ike’s Bookshop in Durban. There was also a prize for the Best Website, and this went to Cris Marais and Julienne du Toit for Karoospace. The Patrick Mynhardt Award for best performance at the Fugard Festival went to Pieter van Zyl for his stunning, superlative performance in The Woman With a Baby On Her Back. The BookBedonnerd Award 1, created to honour the spirit of Booktown Richmond, went to Dawn Garisch for her stunning book Dance With Suitcase, a tribute to dance therapy and BookBedonnerd Award 2, Lifetime Achievement Award, went to Athol Fugard, undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest writers.


And, finally, the Albie Sachs’s Judge Amongst Judge’s Award, went to Denis Beckett, a longtime supporter of Richmond, its Booktown, and of good writing in South Africa. “Among judges of this first competition of its kind, he set the bar the highest,” said organiser Darryl Earl David. Also, on the judging panel were Darryl Earl David, Betty Govinden, Rajendra Chetty, Leslie Howard, Beverley Roos-Muller, Rita Gilfillan, Elza Miles, Grant Leversha, Peter Baker, Mike Norris, Sheritha Ramparsad, Rozena Maart, Joanne Rushby, Juan Solis, Loraine Prinsloo, Eugene Marais, Tracy Ann Moodley and Elizabeth van den Berg.


Those who would like to know more about Cradock will enjoy the newly published Literary Walking Tour of Old Cradock. This slim, 35-page book, compiled by Brian Wilmot, Curator of Schreiner House Museum, contains extracts from the works of several authors associated with Cradock, i.e. Olive Schreiner, Guy Butler, Etienne van Heerden, Karel Schoeman and Neville Alexander. The booklet, which is available from the museum, costs R50. It features excellent pictures taken by Cradock photographer, W W Lidbetter. For more contact Brian at


Those who love books, want to know what’s new, who’s who, and who’s written what, will find Richmond is the place to be in October. Even those on the trail of a specific, special or second- hand book, will enjoy a visit to Richmond’s Booktown. The 9th annual Richmond Bookbedonnerd Book Festival, a Richmond Community Development Foundation Project, takes place from October 22 to 24 this year. As always the programme promises to be jam-packed with new works, new writers, walks, talks, treats, presentations and perhaps, even some plays. Book early, as Booktown gets more popular each year.


In-depth biodiversity impact monitoring started at Eskom’s flagship wind energy facility at Sere, near Koekenaap, in June, National Environment Month. After Sere became fully operational in March, Eskom, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and BirdLife South Africa, decided to conduct biodiversity assessments to ensure that this wind energy development did not have a negative impact on bird and bat populations. The study involves monitoring transects under the turbines and this is best done by on foot, so staff need to walk distances in excess of 35 km every day. Eskom donated 10 state-of-the-art camera traps for use in the study and staff, recruited from local communities, has been trained to use these to determine which scavengers are present on site. They also search for carcasses, capture and input data, and record GPS locations. “Finding renewable energy sources that have zero impact on the environment is an almost impossible task,” said Constant Hoogstad of EWT’s Wildlife and Energy Programme. “We try to ensure the impact is minimal.”


In 1939 a young man visited the Karoo with the aim of showcasing sheep farming. Armed with the paraphernalia of film-making and a great deal of enthusiasm Leon Schauder moved from farm to farm and dorp to dorp gathering material as he had persuaded Harry Bruce Woolfe of Gaumont Instructional Films, in London, to sponsor three “shorts” for the series Focus on the Empire. Leon returned to London, edited the material and produced three modest, creative, black-and-white documentaries, to which he wrote commentaries which were narrated by E V H Emmett, the distinguished English newsreel reader. Entitled Twelve OP, Karoo and Nonquassi. The films, which portrayed South Africa against a larger, international backdrop, were all showing in London’s West End cinemas by April, 1940, and the Ministry of Information had bought the international rights to Nonquassi. These “Schauder’s ‘shorts’ identified South Africa as part of the ‘greater Empire’, as an independent, thriving, united land with its own history and culture. The Karoo was portrayed as a microcosm of this place. “At the time South Africa was deeply divided over its continued close association with its former colonizer. The country was struggling to position itself in relation to world politics,” writes Sheila Boniface Davies. The films received good reviews locally and abroad.


Leon was the son of Adolph Schauder, an Austrian who came to South Africa at the time of the Anglo Boer War. He settled in the Eastern Cape where he became a respected civic and Jewish community leader. Adolph, who died in 1968, was regarded as the father of economic housing in the Port Elizabeth area. Leon attended Grey High School in Port Elizabeth and while there filmed the school’s rugby tour to Natal. After matriculating, he went to Johannesburg in the hopes of finding work as a photographer but was not successful. He returned to the Eastern Cape and, in1937, made In Them Our Hopes, a privately-sponsored film on the Jewish Habonim youth movement. This film won considerable local acclaim. On the strength of that, armed with referrals and testimonials, Leon moved to London. He arrived during a slump in the film industry, but eventually found work as an assistant director and later as an assistant editor. With camera in hand Leon travelled widely. WWII saw him in Egypt and Libya shooting material for African Mirror. He later went to Sudan and Eritrea to film material for the British Ministry of Information. After the war he worked on several films, joined the Union Unity Truth Service and with Henry Cornelius embarked on a trip through the Rhodesias, Nyasaland, the Belgian Congo and French Equatorial Africa, filming material for Trekgees. Leon and Henry then made the acclaimed, We of Velddrif, a portrait of the fishing village.

He had just finished working on Fishing Grounds of the World when tragedy struck. On January 25, 1947, the chartered Dakota aircraft, in which he was to travel back to South Africa, crashed on take-off at Croydon Airport and he was killed. Schauder campaigned tirelessly to develop the S A film industry and place it on a sound financial footing. He was a great loss to the industry.


Schauder’s film, Nonquassi, is kept in the British Film Institute Archives. “The Great Xhosa Cattle Killing of 1857 has been imagined and re-imagined many times over the years. It charts not only the shifting ‘truth’ of that event but also the ways in which it is relevant and useable for different communities at various points in the country’s history,” says Sheila Boniface. “In 1933, H I E Dhlomo said ‘the tragedy of Nongqause, is the tragedy of all countries, all times, all races.’ Schauder, perhaps, saw it as such. His film is neither primarily nor particularly a Xhosa story. Despite its brevity – it’s only12 minutes long – it is a complex piece, a mixed ethnography of history, melodrama, propaganda and disparate narrative. Schauder used the Cattle Killing as part of a wider project to promote South Africa, to contextualize and explain race relations. He set up an unlikely parallel: between the Xhosa Cattle-Killing and the anticipated self-destruction of the Nazis. Such an equation might seem absurd, even outrageous from a 21st century point of view. Yet that was not how the film was perceived when it was released and seen by thousands of people,” said Sheila.


The Free State Mail cart was robbed between Fauresmith and Colesberg in January 1860. Three men, standing next to a broken-down cart, hailed the post rider and asked him to help find a small pole, or piece of wood, to mend their cart. The good-natured man obligingly set off, reported the Graaff Reinet Advertiser of February 1. While he was away the men cut open the mail bags, perhaps searching for money, destroyed letters and buried others nearby. When the post rider returned, they gave him brandy and he became drunk. The police later arrested the men. One, an Englishman and deserter from some regimental band, gave his name as Stanfield, but this was an alias. The other Kerr, said he was a shoemaker and the third, Clayton, a young Afrikaner, turned State evidence, and gave sufficient information to prove the guilt of the others,” stated the newspaper.


Feeling stressed, in need of peace, tranquility and the champagne air of the Karoo, Dave Jackson’s recently considered a visit Matjiesfontein. This brought back memories of his first visit, says Dave, whose father’s great uncle, Alfred De Jager Jackson, wrote Manna in the Desert, on the family farm at Nelspoort. Dave loves Matjiesfontein and the Karoo and over the years has enjoyed several visits to this historic spot. During his first stay in 1979 he had a strange experience. “As a 23-year-old medical rep I ended up over-nighting in the old Losieshuis – I knew nothing of Mastjiesfontein’s ghosts. I enjoyed dinner, drinks and few liqueurs with other reps, then went to my room and settled to sleep soundly in the four-poster bed. One of the others, a woman, was also booked into the Losieshuis and had a room down the passage from mine. It was the only other occupied room. At some stage during the night I was vaguely aware of a presence in the room, but it didn’t bother, nor actually wake me. I was definitely not scared. Next morning the female rep joined me at breakfast looking distinctly rattled. “I didn’t sleep a wink,” she blurted out. “The bloody place’s haunted!” My maternal grandfather, an assistant manager of Cape Town’s Grand Hotel in the early 1900’s told me that Jimmy Logan, like him, was a Freemason and held Masonic meetings in the Losieshuis. Perhaps there’s a connection, who knows?”


Autobiographical, social and industrial history writer, Len Thompson, is hoping to trace a woman who once worked in early Kimberley as a governess. Len, who lived in South Africa from 1966 to 1973, wrote a book, A Rough Diamond in South Africa, detailing his experiences as a mining engineer. A woman, named Gillian, contacted him when the book was published and showed him photographs of early Kimberley, Beaufort West and the farm, Lemoenfontein. She asked him to help her trace her maternal grandmother, Emily Kimber, who was born in Lambeth on the June 8, 1875, and came to South Africa in 1892 to work as a governess. Her charges were Madge, Gladys, Sybil and Harry, but Gillian has no idea of their surname. She seems to have cared for them for years because she had pictures of them at various ages. Emily married Leonard Stanley Nash in Dulwich on July 8, 1905.


Ingrid Paterson, who lives in Scotland, is searching for information on the Wolhuters of early Beaufort West. Her great grandmother, Wilhelmina Elisabeth Wolhuter, born 1842, was the wife of John Christie. She died in 1907. Ingrid would like to know more of the relationship between Wilhelmina and Harry Wolhuter, the first game ranger at the Kruger National Park.

Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker – then all things are at risk – Ralph Waldo Emerson

BELOW are two poems on Karoo towns penned by Johan de Jager, a reader who lives in Laingsburg.

Laingsburg (Oer pinakoteek)

God se kinderkuns
van eens toe die wêreld nog jonk was,
lê op oeroue leie gegrif
in sepia pastel en poeierdroë akwarel,
deur gutse van -loë en -ci uitgestal,
diep beleë in lae,
deur trae gange van tyd
verouder tot lydsame litogravure
van gewese plante en diere:
embrios in eiers versteen,
drek koproliete, skedels en kake,
met die tand van die tyd
tans strenger ter sake
nou dat sterre in bane
momentum verloor en dit blyk,
dat die aardbol ook stellig
stolspoed gaan bereik.

Johann de Jager. Onrus. 5/2/`15

Sutherland. (Matth 18:3 – … as julle nie verander en soos die kindertjies word nie…).

Hoe groot is `n ster?
Vra `n kind.
en as jy vingertaal
van `n kind kan verstaan
sal ook jy tot wysheid
van die *id oorgaan.
Want `n ster is maar klein,
dit lê nommer pas
in die tweevingerkring
van `n kinderhand vas,
met duimpie se maat
teen duimpie gekrom
wat soos `n O vir sterogies
uit die alfabet kom.
Want `n kind
sien `n ster soos hy is
en gewis as niks meer
dan `n vuurvliegie nie,
`n nuwe figuur in die ou diereriem
wat wiggelaars en -loë
met hul lis wil deurpriem.

J de J Onrus 6/2/`15