South Africa’s greatest living playwright, Athol Fugard, will be speaking at J M Coetzee\Athol Fugard festival in Richmond on Saturday, May 30. This is an occasion not to be missed. This year’s event, the third of its kind, boasts a programme is packed with talks, readings, poetry and plays. The festival opens at 09h00 on Thursday, May 28, with a documentary entitled Falls The Shadow, The Life and Times of Athol Fugard. From there the programme moves on through interesting items and the day ends with the first self-publishing awards’ dinner the Supper Club. Many interesting items are on the cards for Friday and Saturday morning. Then, Athol Fugard will be speaking at 15h00 on Saturday and his talk will be followed by the staging of his play, The Island. Then, to round off the weekend in style, there will be an old-fashioned ‘huiskonsert” given by Chris Marais and Anthony Osler


Popular author Chris Marais has written a new book. Entitled The Journey Man – A South African Reporter’s Stories, it will be launched in Spring. The latest karoospace newsletter includes items on Sir Laurens van der Post’s family house in Philippolis, some delightful stories about donkeys and an insight into the republic of the Karoo.


A Karoo poem appears on page five. Sent to Round-up by Niekie Rust, it was written by Kevin Butler and come from an anthology of 40 poems which he recently self published. Kevin is also the author of an historical novel entitled Parley with the Devil, a captivating Victorian tale of military action, young love and political intrigue set in the early Cape. The story revolves around a hard-fought campaign against the slave trade, the bitter issue of convicts landing in Cape Town and the eventual abduction of a city councilor, who was taken into bondage on the coast of West Africa. This is an entertaining and historically educational read. Kevin, a fourth generation South African, was born in Beaufort West, where his father was local dentist. He spent a carefree youth in this little Karoo town riding horses and hunting vermin to earn pocket money. After finishing his primary school he went to St Patrick’s college (CBC) in Kimberley, and later completed BA and B Sc degrees at the University of Cape Town. He then worked as a copy writer in the advertising industry but later left to launch his own cosmetic brands, which included Like Silk and Endocil skin care products. He now lives with his wife, Sue, in Somerset West.


If you’re looking for a bargain book while in Prince Albert visit Marlene Malan’s Bookshop, at 21 Meiring Street. She stocks brand new English and Afrikaans books at bargain prices. Choose from novels, poetry, children’s and teenagers’ books, educational, craft, cookery, gardening or religious books.

DID YOU KNOW: August 20 is World Mosquito Day – It commemorates Sir Ronald Ross’s discovery that female mosquitoes transmit malaria


David Shearing, a highly respected, well-loved son of the Karoo, died on May 11 at the age of 80. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him. Born in Graaff-Reinet on February 8, 1935 and christened David Anthony Blagdon Shearing, he spent his first ten years on the farm Bruinrug, in the Nelspoort district. Here his love of the Karoo was born and here the seed of his life’s work – guardianship of the Karoo – was sown. In 1945 David was sent to Bishop boarding school in Cape Town and just getting there was quite a mission. It entailed as two-day car trip over dirt roads, plus the opening and closing of hundreds of gates. After matriculating in 1952, David spent 10 years farming with his father on Bruinrug. In February 1962 that he married Hilary Ann ‘Taffy’ Lloyd and they moved to Layton, a beautiful farm in the Fraserburg district. From an early age David had wanted to know more about Karoo plants, but there was no definitive guide so he set about producing one. It took 14 years to complete, but in the end this beautiful flower guide illustrated, by Katryn van Heerden, earned him the Botanical Society’s Marloth Medal. The guide, now in its fourth edition, covers 400 plants and includes their grazing values. Together Taffy and David produced the five volume Cape Commando Series on the Boer war and gathered the names and details of 15 433 Cape rebels. This hugely interesting project took them on journeys to many half-forgotten, hidden parts of his beloved Karoo. Then he produced what he considered was his “magnum opus” – the completion of a family tree, started by his mother. The family was descended from William Clowes, Surgeon General on the Arc Royal at the Battle of the Armada. After this great victory, Queen Elizabeth 1 commanded that the family trees of all the officers be researched and written up. This led to David being able to access a wealth of information and it allowed him to trace his family back to Mattew de Wallop (1150), who came to England with William the Conqueror. Throughout his life, David, a keen supporter of Rose’s Round-up, was a very public-spirited man. No challenge was too great, no deed too small. He served on committees and chaired many community-based organisations, farmers’ associations and farmer’s unions. He was a church warden at Christ Church Anglican Church in Beaufort West. In Sedgefield, he chaired the ARP&P, local police forum and Simon van der Stel Foundation, and at Santos Haven, the house and grounds committees. David led a full and satisfying life – his was a race well run.


I was surprised to read that “there are over 650 000 known species of cacti and well over one million species of succulents in the world,” writes Professor Sue Milton-Dean of Renu-Karoo Veld Restorations. “There are, in fact, fewer than 300,000 species of plants known on earth including mosses and algae!” This item Sue was referring to was Love of Xerophytes Led to Giant Flag in the April issue of Round-up. It was quoted information from The Succulent World of Xerophytes by Heather Dugmore in Country Life, August 2010, and it seems we all used the wrong word – we should have said varieties, not species of cacti. Sue points out there are 15 000 mosses, 13 025 ferns and allies, 980 gymnosperms, 199 350 dicotyledons, 59 300 monocotyledons, 3 715 green algae, and 5956 red algae species, giving a total of 297 326 plant species. “The difference is that species are made by Nature and varieties are cultivated – the creations of humans. These are achieved by the selection of odd forms of a species, or by hybridization of two different species to create something that never was in nature. Through plant breeding people have made maybe 50 varieties from a single species. This then explains the difference between the varieties and species,” said Sue.


The Showroom Theatre in Prince Albert will be hosting the first ever In die Karoo Film Festival from July 3 to 5. This inspirational festival designed to promote independent film makers. During the three-day event works of some industry legends will be showcased. There will also be discussion as well as question and answer sessions.


Severe droughts are a constant threat in the hinterland, yet even during the severest of these farmers manage to not to totally lose heart. On January 2, 1860, The Graaff Reinet Herald reported that the severe drought that had ravaged the interior had been entirely broken, and from all parts of the colony “the most favourable reports of agricultural and pastoral interests” were being received. Heavy refreshing rains had fallen everywhere, and although the price of provisions was still excessive and the rates for carriage into the interior very heavy – a sad fact that was likely to continue for some time – a turning point had been reached and “the worst of the crisis had passed”. Farmers, stated the newspaper were “looking forward to a monster four-day show, which was scheduled is to take place at Caledon at the end of the month. “It will be something on the principle of the Highland Society show and it is to be the first joint exhibition to take place in the Western Province. Wagons have been rolling inland for several days now with stock, produce and implements for sale. The gathering is expected to be one of the largest that has ever been seen outside of the metropolis.”


A couple of weeks later the newspaper was “happy to report that the breaking of the drought was neither partial nor temporary”. It stated: “The dull, dreary aspect of the veld has been changed for one of smiling verdure, both hill and dale, forgetful of the past, beam in joyful expectation of a fruitful season and good harvest. Of course the grass will not grow instantaneously, neither will the sheep or cattle fatten in a week, Time will be required for recovery from the severe shock, but the prospect of speedy improvement, give fresh vigour, animate the hearts and brighten the countenances of all farmers. Scarcely a month has passed since the rain fell, but the change is widely felt. Farmers have once again taken courage. Ruin no longer stalks them. The merchants too are beginning to think of relieving the plethoric state of their stores and warehouses. Carriers see their occupation has not entirely vanished. Hope has once again superseded the dull, listless indifference brought on by droughts and people are once more inspired. The country has been saved.”


Life in the early hinterland was fraught with dangers. The Cape and Frontier Times of November 26, 1851, reported that Robert Pringle had a narrow escape when “rascals” stole some sheep from Thomas his neighbour one Sunday night. The marauders were traced to Eildon, where they stopped to “feast upon some of the spoils”. A patrol of 14 men, who had turned out from Cradock and neighbouring farms, to hunt them actually found them roasting the mutton of six sheep they had killed. The men were not sure how many marauders were in the robber band because they had only been able to clearly see five tracks with the sheep Thomas, however, immediately, fired and Robert, who was close to him, was taking aim when one of the robbers fired back, dangerously wounded him. A skirmish ensued during which a patrolman was shot dead. It was dark and there was so much shooting that the patrol could not get close enough to stop the vandals from escaping. When dawn broke they found Robert lying near his dead comrade. He was in great paid. He had thirteen buckshot in his face, chest and left arm. One had lodged in his forehead, another in his upper lip, near the nose, and others were in his cheeks and neck. A man rode immediately to Cradock to fetch Dr Armstrong, who had only arrived in the village the day before. He raced to the scene where he was able to remove some of the shot, but thought it advisable not to “meddle further” as Robert had lost a lot of blood and was in great pain. The Doctor said that he had never seen such a narrow escape. Two days later Robert was able to spit up some shot from his throat. The other man had been killed by a ball, and patrol man had also been hit by a pistol ball, and five buckshot had passed through the brim of his hat. By the time of going to press Robert was still in critical condition.

Diarise: Prince Albert Winter School (August 7 – 16) and the Prince Albert Leesfees (November 6 – 8) Local photographer Louis Botha will launch his first book of portraits at this festival.


Leipoldt loved cooking, eating and writing about food. Leipoldt’s Cellar & Kitchen, has a delightful description that truly tickles the taste buds. Leipoldt describes a dinner in Clanwilliam, the town of his birth. There was “home-baked bread, crisp-edged and loose in the crumb, made from farm wheat ground between stone rollers of homemade machinery in an oak-shaded farm mill-house, where the water splashed monotonously over the slits of the big wooden wheel, and the big tarantula spiders twinkled their diamond eyes from between cobwebs dusty with the powdered flour. White bean soup, richly-creamed was served with snippets of black-toasted bread followed, by a savoury stew made from the half-opened buds of the scented aponogeton (waterblommetjies), the white, pink-tinged wellknown little water lily that grows in masses on the Cape’s ponds. This was served with deliciously steamed rice, each grain separate and distinct from its fellow, fully expanded and glistening in its miniver whiteness. Also on the table were amber-coloured sweet potatoes, in a thin syrup, a braised Muscovy duck, meltingly tender, stuffed with onions and sage, plus a salad of cooked beetroot, decorated with hard-boiled eggs. The meal was completed by a dessert, a baked custard, served with stewed peaches, sun-dried and flavoured with cinnamon and the peel of a tangerine orange. And, finally, a good, strong, subtly aromatic coffee, made from beans freshly toasted and ground that afternoon was served with a choice of Van der Hum liqueur or a glass of rich, golden muscadel.”


Great sadness followed the death of Mr. A. C. Wilde, a once well-known figure of the Cape Bar, on 1894. He was the sixth son of Sir John Wilde, Judge Advocate of New South Wales, and also, at one time Chief Justice of Cape Colony, as well as the nephew of Thomas Wilde, Baron Truro, Lord Chancellor. Wilde began his career at the age of 20 as attorney of the Cape Supreme Court. He afterwards became Secretary to the Chief Justice, Civil Commissioner and Resident Magistrate at Mossel Bay, Swellendam, and Port Elizabeth. None of his judgments were ever reversed. He took the lead in philanthropic movements throughout the Eastern Cape where he introduced Sunday closing, and improved conditions of the prisons. Wilde was instrumental in raising Prince Alfred’s Guard, a splendid volunteer corps of which he was Colonel. He retired from public life in 1889, and returned to England. He was sadly missed in the Cape Colony where he was a great social favourite, stated the S A Magazine of March 31, 1894,


“A war is an odd meeting place,” said the Scottish Professor John Chiene, in an address to surgery students at Edinburgh University’s McEwan Hall in October, 1900. Yet, when he arrived in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War, he said, he found himself among many old students of this university. Until then he had not fully understood the power of the medical school, its imperial character or the strong bonds of union that existed among it members. Even at St Helena, he came across an Edinburgh man (Dr Roe) doing good work among the Boer sick. Everywhere he went he found old pupils – some who had gone out to serve with the army, some who had settled in South Africa. All were happy to see him and those in charge of Boer ambulances were especially glad, he said. Chiene visited many military hospitals while in South Africa during the Boer War. He saw both British and Boer sick and wounded men being accorded good treatment. It was scarcely necessary to say that no difference was made in their treatment by medical officers, nurses or orderlies. Chiene praised the facilities and treatment at the huge Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, near Richmond in the Karoo. He also spoke of the typhoid conditions he saw on the veld near the Norvalspont hospital. His talk was carried in full in The British Medical Journal, October 20, 1900.

Don’t worry about avoiding temptation. As you get older it will avoid you. – Joey Adams

The Great Karoo

My thoughts fly back across the years,
To happy memoirs past,
Images of yesterday,
Of purple hills and spaces vast.

Along a dusty, winding road,
A lonely windmill turns.
Sheep gather at a drinking trough,
While sun , relentless, burns.

A white-washed farmhouse shimmers,
Beneath a pea-green roof,
Across a parched, dry riverbed,
Goats browse on the hoof.

The farmer’s podgy wife, within,
Boils a shank of hog,
Her teenage son with sun-bleached hair,
Grooms his fluffy dog.

At night a crackling fire,
When oil lamps light the home,
While jewels in an ink-black sky,
Sparkle from their starry dome.

Inside the tractor shed is heard,
The hooting of an owl,
And from atop a nearby kop,
A jackal’s haunting howl.

Bright, cloudless morning brings,
The bleating of Merino stock;
Drovers and a barking hound,
To move and shear the restless flock.

And when another day is done,
With orange sunset on the hills,
Our farmer turns for home,
To rest his weary farming skills.