The 6th annual Schreiner/Karoo Writers Festival – Skrywersfees / Umnyhadala Wababhali – will be held in Cradock from July 23 to 26. “As ever this festival features a delightful mix of stories, tours, walks, talks, videos, books – old and new – glimpses of history, theatre productions, poetry readings and fireside chats, as well as many opportunities to enjoy the clean, fresh Karoo air and star-studded night skies,” says organizer, Lisa Antrobus Ker. “Book and Karoo lovers can rest, relax, unwind, browse and enjoy the region’s widely known, warm, friendly hospitality, traditional food and fresh farm produce. They will also be able to meet some of their favourite authors, communicate with like-minded people, and make new friends.” Apart from the full-day NELM Youth Programmes, at the Vusubutu Centre on Thursday and Friday and the special, annual Neville Alexander memorial lecture at Sonskyndienssentrum, everything takes place at three historic venues in town, and all are within easy walking distance of each other. These are, Schreiner House, St Peter’s Hall and Victoria Manor. “At each there will be coffee on tap as well as places to enjoy the glorious Karoo winter sunshine and chat,” says Lisa. More from lisa@tuishuise.co.za


Malcolm Hacksley will deliver this year’s Neville Alexander memorial lecture at the Sonsskyn- dienssentrum at 17:30 on Thursday, July 23. It is entitled Soveel talen als je kan / Soveel malen ben je man. Michausdal High School headmaster, Leon van Wyk, who knew Dr Alexander, will present as memoir of the man and his work, and after this there will be several readings of Alexander’s work by some students of the school. Tickets for this session cost R40. Tea will be served at the end of the evening in aid of school funds.


Neville Edward was born in Cradock on October 22, 1936, to David James Alexander, a carpenter, and, his wife, Dimbiti (nee Bisho), a schoolteacher. His maternal grandmother, Jarsa Bisho, an Ethiopian slave, was rescued by the British. Educated at the Holy Rosary Convent, in Cradock, Neville matriculated in 1952 and moved to Cape Town where he spent six years at UCT studying German and History. During this time Alexander joined and founded several student and revolutionary movements and became a staunch supporter of multilingualism. After completing his MA thesis on the Silesia Baroque drama of Andreas Gryphius and Daniel Caspar von Lohenstein in 1961, he received the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship Award to study at the University of Tübingen. There he completed his PhD dissertation on style change in the dramatic work of Gerhart Hauptmann. Alexander was arrested in 1963 and convicted of conspiracy to commit sabotage. In 1964 he was sent to Robben Island where he spent ten years as a fellow-prisoner of Nelson Mandela. On his release he did pioneering work in the field of linguistic diversity, multilingualism, as well as on the planning and creation viable language policies in South Africa. His work focused on the tension between multilingualism and the hegemony of English in the public sphere. Alexander held several top jobs in the field of education and in 2008 received the Linguapax Prize in recognition of his 20-year professional contribution to linguistic diversity and multilingual education on post-apartheid South Africa. Alexander died from cancer on 27 August 2012. He was 75 years old.


The spotlight will fall on the history of Matjiesfontein at this year’s Schreiner/Karoo Writers Festival. Four talks at Schreiner House, starting from 09h00 on July 24, will focus on Olive Schreiner’s special association with this little village. The cost of attending these is R100. In the first, An Objective Life, Professor Paul Walters and Jeremy Fogg will discuss Olive’s love for Matjiesfontein and review the significance of her time in this village against the backdrop of individualistic people who crossed her path. In a letter, penned on March 25, 1890, she wrote: “This is the ideal place I have… been longing for.” She added: “Such a sense of wild exhilaration and freedom comes to me when I walk over the Karoo… this mixture of civilization and the most untamed freedom; the barren mountains, the wild Karoo and the railway train…” In yet another letter, written on April 5, she stated: “I love the Karoo … the effect of this scenery is to make me so silent and strong and self-contained …” These presenters feel that life at Matjiesfontein fed Olive’s soul and that she was possibly happier and healthier in this little Karoo village than at any other time in her troubled life.


Professors Dorothy Driver and Tony Voss from Australia will follow up with a discussion of Olive’s posthumously published novel, From Man to Man or Perhaps Only. ”. Olive worked, on and off for 15 years, on this book that covers the human capacity to dream of a future society no longer regulated by damaging racial and gender relations. She regarded it as perhaps more important than The Story of an African Farm. “It is in advance of its time,” she said and added “I love the two women in my book.” She was referring to sisters Rebekah and Bertie – respectively ‘victims’ of marriage and prostitution. When she died in 1920 the manuscript was incomplete, and she had not yet made a final decision about a title. The alternate Perhaps Only, comes from a line in the text: “Perhaps only God knew what lights and shadows were.” Olive Schreiner left instructions that, after her death, all uncompleted work should be destroyed, but Cron, her husband did not agree. He edited the manuscript of this novel and published it in 1926. He added his own summary of a final chapter which he said Olive had recounted to him. Now, nearly 90 years later, South African born, Dorothy Driver, a well known academic, editor and literary critic, who lives in Australia, has corrected Cron’s editing and other errors, and provided another ending, written by Olive, in a letter to a friend. This new book will be launched at the festival.

NOTE: Dorothy Driver is Professor of English at the University of Adelaide, in Australia, and Emerita Professor at UCT where she retains an Honorary Research Associateship. Her major research interests are in the constructions and representations of race and gender, under and after apartheid, and in writing by women. She has published works on Nadine Gordimer, Bessie Head, Noni Jabavu, Njabulo Ndebele, Olive Schreiner, Pauline Smith, Yvonne Vera and Zoë Wicomb.


Irish academic Dr Clare Gill will deliver a talk entitled Liars and Damned Lies at Schreiner House during the festival on July 23. It covers Olive Schreiner, the Politics of Publicity in the Periodical Press and newspapers of the day. Clare explains: “Olive’s literary career corresponded with the era of ‘the newspapers for the millions’ when technological innovation and the pioneering techniques of the New Journalism brought papers and periodicals within the reach of unprecedented numbers of readers.” Clare’s talk will trace Olive’s extensive and sometimes surprising representation in the press throughout her extraordinary career. It will cast new light on her significance as a cultural and political figure. Clare has a PhD from Queen’s University in Belfast, lectured there and at Southampton University before moving to the University of St Andrew’s in Scotland. Her first monograph, Olive Schreiner and the Politics of Print Culture, is to be published later this year by Edinburgh University Press. She is also currently co-editing an issue of the journal Women’s Writing which explores the work of Victorian women writers.


The Lairds of Matjiesfontein, two colourful, larger than life men – James D Logan and David Rawdon – will be introduced at afternoon session at Schreiner House on Thursday. This talk will be delivered by Dean Allen, author of Empire, War and Cricket. After that, Dr Pamela Matseko, will present the first of two volumes in the series Publications of the Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature. Pamela works as a co-editor and translator with Jeff Opland, who holds a huge personal collection of rare historic isiXhosa writings. The volumes, which bring forgotten isiXhosa texts back to readers also each contains parallel English translations thus opening a new world of SA literature to non-isiXhosa readers and speakers. The first volume, which is to be launched at the festival, is Isizwe Esinembali. It includes moral debates, in verse, as well as histories, newspaper columns and the like, written by William Gqoba in the Eastern Cape between 1873 and 1888. The cost of attending both these sessions is R50.


Thursday ends on a high note with the staging of the widely acclaimed, powerful play, Cape of Rebels, written by Cradock-based Tony Jackman, directed by Christopher Weare, and stage directed in St Peter’s Hall, is by John Caviggia. This is a must-see at the cost of R80 a ticket. Cape of Rebels tackles freedom of the press during two different, yet parallel periods of unrest in South Africa – the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 and the Struggle in the late 1980s to early 1990s. The play puts Louis Leipoldt, then a young reporter, on the stage with the formidable Marie Koopmans de Wet, scourge of the British colonial authorities, dubbed “the queen of the rebel ladies” during the martial law period of the Anglo-Boer War. These two appear with teachers-turned-activists and life-long lovers Betty Molteno and Alice Greene. They form part of the ‘Cape Clutch’, who wrote poetry underground to be published in Europe and America to tell the world what was happening to Cape Rebels at the hands of British forces. Then, in the more recent period, viewers meet a South African Struggle journalist and a British reporter who cover such stories as PW Botha’s Rubicon speech, the End Conscription Campaign, and the Trojan Horse Massacre. Asked about the relevance of this play in an interview with Lifestyle and Entertainment, Tony said: “The very existence of this play rests on the premise that we must always know as much as we can about what has happened before, in order better to be able to tackle any recurrence of such attitudes in our future or, more tangibly, in our present in South Africa and the world right now. There is much relevance in a world in which there are Isis beheadings, kidnapped schoolgirls and planes flying into skyscrapers.”


The festival also focuses on words, pictures, action and stories in 3D. As highlight of day two’s morning the session at Schreiner house, is entitled Writers in Conversation. During this segment author and columnist, Helen Waine talks to Diane Cassere about writing in the Karoo and matters of the heart. Then, Jill Wovaardt, from the Dictionary Unit at Rhodes University, delivers a talk entitled Of Dagga, Dictionaries And Rainbow English. Tickets for both sessions cost R50. At St Peter’s Hall, at 10h30 Etienne van Heerden and Coenie de Villiers will discuss ideas, memories, dreams, and the art of story-telling, as well as their recent Karoo documentary, Toorwoorde, made in collaboration with Kyknet for the series ‘n Ander Wệreld. The documentary will be screened. Tickets for this session costs R40. During this session Etienne will also discuss his new novel, which has a strong Cradock flavour and which is due to be published next year. It has already won an award under its working title Sjinees. Other highlights include an armchair tour with Karoo Keepsakes team Chris and Julie Marais; the launch of Chris Marais’s new book, The Journey Man, tales of a roving photo-journalist, and readings by Jurie Taljaard. This session costs R30, which includes a glass of sherry. Then there will be a soup and sherry session costing R80 at 19h30 at Victoria Manor, when David Muller performs Oom Schalk from the Heart – an evening with Herman Charles Bosman. Proceeds for this session will go to Nomzamo Special Day Care Centre.


On both days, at around 15h00 there will be literary walking tours of old Cradock, led by Brian Wilmot, curator of the Schreiner Museum. These depart from Schreiner House and cost R30. On Friday, a minibus tour of Lingelihle township -entitled In the Footsteps of James Calata and Matthew Goniwe – also costing R30 and led by Amos Nteta, departs from Victoria Manor. Then the Victorian photographs of Cradock photographer, W W Lidbetter come to life in a slide show presented by Liz de Wet. On Sunday a bus tour of Cradock’s old buildings entitled Stories in Stone, departs from Victoria Manor under the guidance of architect Theresa Hardman. And for the energetic there will be a climb to the Schreiner sarcophagus on top of Buffelskop. This is privately organized tour and bookings need to be made with Dirk Visser cradocksaad1@isat.co.za at least 24 hrs in advance. Book lovers will be able to “shop” at a pop-up Clarke’s Bookshop, or browse a second-hand book table. Visitors can also enjoy art in the church, or buy artisan breads and other Karoo delicacies, such as springbok biltong and sosaties at a special market in St Peter’s grounds. On each day there will be open microphone sessions, costing R30 each, and featuring speakers of the day. For more check the festival’s official website www.karoowritersfestival.weebly.com, or book at cradockfestivalbookings@gmail.com.

AND, IN PRINCE ALBERT … Tel Fourie Munro 023 5411 563 / 074 639 4304

Greg Mills and Jeffrey Herbst will be talking about their book ‘How South Africa Works – and must do better’ at the Showroom Theatre in Prince Albert on 18th July. The book begins with a review of South Africa’s major economic challenges and then describes what might reasonably be expect after 20 years given the experience of other countries. It focuses on specific sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, services and mining, which are critical to the country’s future and illustrative of the policy challenges facing government, business and labour. It emphasises the incentives and choice, examines social grants, education and mechanisms which help people not only escape destitution but help them become employable. It also identifies steps that some entrepreneurs have taken to build world-class enterprises and highlights how to learn from these efforts. The fundamental claim of How South Africa Works is that the overwhelming challenge that South Africa faces, and has failed to address, is unemployment. Current statistics are appalling. If unemployment is not addressed, it will be impossible to sustainably lift people out of poverty, say the authors.

NOTE: Greg Mills, director of the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation, is widely published on international affairs, development and security. He is an adviser to African governments, a regular columnist for local and international newspapers, and the author of the bestselling books, such as Why Africa is Poor: And What Africans Can Do About It . Jeffrey Herbst is the 16th President of Colgate University, a leading liberal arts college in the United States. He started his career as a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University where he taught for 18 years. He has written extensively on political and international affairs. His primary research interests are the politics of sub-Saharan Africa, the politics of political and economic reform and the politics of boundaries. He has served on the Advisory Board of the Brenthurst Foundation since 2005


Professor Michael de Jongh an authority of the gypsey-like nomad “karretjiemense” of the Karoo, will be the guest speaker at the Prince Albert Cultural Foundation AGM on July 15. The meeting takes place in the Anglican Church Hall, at 18h30. Professor de Jongh has invested years of research into the lives of these nomads, mostly sheep shearers of the Karoo. His address, entitled The Invisible Karretjie People of the Great Karoo promises to be a fascinating.

The S A Book Fair, largest fair of its kind, takes place in Johannesburg from July 31 to August 2. Over 100 authors, writers, poets, publishers and playwrights will share their experiences, talents and knowledge in this three-day event

People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.”- Logan Pearsall Smith, American-born essayist, critic, and a writer on historical semantics.


Lords, lairds, dukes, and Britain’s queen
Are forever linked to the dryland scene.
Victoria and Albert, will remain
With many governors on the thirstland plain.

Among these Lord Charles gave family’s names
To little towns across the plains.
Soon brilliant Beauforts, were a part
Of Africa’s great, growing heart.

Somerset, both East and West
Honour this Lord, at whose behest
Worcester, the Boland town so friendly,
Was named in honour of brother Henry.

Then Peregrine Maitland to Richmond granted
His in-law’s name – they were enchanted
Colesberg shared Sir Lowry’s fame
A duke to Bedford gave his name.

George Grey, Cradock, Caledon
Gave their names a local spin.
Then Donkin and Chris Barnard play
Roles in Beaufort, to this day.

Donkin kept his wife’s heart forever
in a casket, like a treasure.
And Barnard, transplant pioneer
with brothers spent his boyhood there.

The Scottish clergy, who came to guide
far-flung flocks, all took pride,
Robertson, Fraser, Sutherland too
Added their names to the Great Karoo

Graaff-Reinet was Murray’s home
From there he far and wide did roam
Naming Aberdeen, Bethesda, Murraysburg
As he travelled preaching God’s own word.

Hanover, shares a German name
It also shares Olive Schreiner’s fame.
Afrikaners then tried for par
Naming Noupoort, Middleburg, De Aar.

Vos, Brits, Loxton and Merwe, too
With Laing and Willis, are in the Karoo.
William Moore became Willowmore,
Sharing fame with men of yore.

Matjiesfontein – quite unique
of a “Scottish Laird” and spa did speak
Uniondale paid tribute to
the end of old, the start of new.

So shakers, movers, men of merit
Were honoured and in this zone got credit
People, weather, politics and chance
Wove a tapestry of rich romance.