Dean Allen’s book, Empire, War & Cricket, highlights a time when Victorian society was being redefined and cricket promoted as “the imperial game, sport of the Empire”. A fascinating social and political history it weaves the development cricket, “the gentleman’s game” into the biography of arrogant, entertaining, hospitable, intriguing James D Logan, Laird of Matjiesfontein, and undoubtedly one of the most colourful men of South African history. Central to the story is Matjiesfontein, once hailed as “the cleanest place in the Colony”, the aspirations of British Empire in the South Africa in the late 19th century and the ambitions of imperialists like Cecil John Rhodes, who spent much time at the village and at Logan’s farm, Tweedside, resting, relaxing, swimming. Matjiesfontein is the stuff of legend, a piece of Scotland on the plains of the Karoo, an oasis, the place to be. Everyone who was anyone visited – Lord Randolph Churchill, the young Prince Sayyid Ali, Sultan of Zanzibar, the Duke of Hamilton, Lord Carrington, Admiral Nicholson, Sir David Gill, Olive Schreiner, Rudyard Kipling and all businessmen worth their salt. It was to this spot that Lord Hawke came with his cricket team at the height of Britain’s imperial heyday. Britain had developed an obsession for sport and cricket had captured the public imagination. It grew from a simple, pastoral sport to a powerful, competitive game and Logan became its agent, promoting “the imperial game in the golden age.” He organised matches at his village and there even created a home for one of the game’s top players – George Lohmann. Logan reigned supreme. He brought teams to this country, took them abroad and even had the manager of the English team arrested as he was about to depart for home. For those who love the game, this richly illustrated book is a must read. Published by Zebra, it is available at reputable bookstores at a cost of about R290.


Athol Fugard, who has been described by Time Magazine as the greatest living playwright, will be in Richmond for the J M Coetzee\Athol Fugard Festival from May 28 to 30. “This is undoubtedly the biggest honour for the village,” says festival organiser, Darryl David. “We urge all who can make it to join us in celebrating this momentous occasion.” No festival could be only about one person, so a packed programme is scheduled for the weekend. “Among the many entertaining performances will be the Fugard classic, The Island. This play, which is internationally acknowledged as one of the turning points in the tide against apartheid, will be performed by Mpilo Nzimande and TQ Zondi. They will also be performing in another South African classic, Woza Albert. Chris Mann, well known poet and organizer of Wordfest and Spiritfest at the Grahamstown Arts Festival, will present Rudiments of Grace, a powerful one-man drama that premiered in the Grahamstown Cathedral last year. Marc Kay will appear in two plays – one on the life of Vincent van Gogh and the other, Erlking, for which he received the Standard Bank Ovation Encore Award in 2014. University of Stellenbosch lecturer Paula Fourie will present a long-awaited talk on South African legend – the late Taliep Petersen and Diana Ferrus, who was responsible for highlighting the plight of Saartjie Baartman, will focus on another slave figure in her play, Ansela van de Caab. Leslie Howard and Tim Teale will perform their play Regret. Then, as is a special treat – photo-journalist, Chris Marais, who is so well known to Country Life readers, and Antony Osler of Stoep Zen fame, will present s special Huiskonsert on Saturday.”


Top awards will be presented during the Coetzee sector of the J M Coetzee\Athol Fugard Festival in Richmond. Organiser Darryl Davids said: “A highlight of this year’s festival will be the inaugural presentation of awards to honour the writers of self-published books. These Independent Publishers Awards will be presented at a gala dinner to winners in 15 categories. The announcement has created a great deal of excitement among authors who have published their own works. Several interesting talks on Coetzee and his work will also be presented during this sector of the festival. “They will be well worth hearing,” said Darryl.


South Africa’s first Teddy Bear Museum will be opened in Richmond during the JM Coetzee/ Athol Fugard Festival from the May 28 to 30. Housed in the Vetmuis Kombuis, owned by celebrity chef Annatjie Reynolds, this museum will display a wide variety of old, well-loved and new “characters”. Darryl David, founder of the museum, has issued a call to all teddy bear lovers to make donations to help the museum build up its collection. “Few realise the immensely important role which teddy bears have played in the lives of most people. To many these ‘treasures’ were their first ‘trusted friends’, symbols of security powerful enough to banish the terrors of darkness. No one will ever know what secrets have been told to teddy bears over the years. They are companions, they offer comfort to sick and to terminally ill children. Teddy bears are used in literacy campaigns. They inspire confidence and bravery and in courts they help children tell their stories. In instances of sexual abuse teddy bears have helped put the perpetrators behind bars. Few outgrow their teddy bears, many of these creatures accompany their owners well into adulthood. So, for all these reasons I believed we owed it to teddy bears to open a museum in their honour.” Two competitions are coupled to the opening of the museum. A Dlamini statue created by the renowned Midlands Meander ceramicist, Traci Tompkins, will be presented for the most artistic photograph or painting of a teddy bear and there will also be a prize for the best “My Teddy Bear story”. The first Teddy Bear Fair is planned for the Richmond Booktown Festival from October 22 to 24. “This will become an annual event.”


Some time ago Tony Westby-Nunn received permission from Prof Colin Coetzee to reprint his books on early Eastern Cape History. The originals are rare, collectors’ items. Tony started by printing 250 copies of the The Unfortified Villages of Sir Harry Smith and these sold out within a month. Tony ha recommenced the project to ensure that the history of the Eastern Cape Frontier Wars remains in the annals of South African History. Two books – The Unfortified Villages and Forts of the Eastern Cape Securing a Frontier, are now available on demand. Both are top class products have been greatly enhanced by the use of colour. The text remains original except for the section, Life in the Army in “The Forts, which was too poor to reproduce well. It has been upgraded by the addition of full colour images which Tony managed to obtain from the University of the Witwatersrand, which had the only copy in Africa with coloured pictures. “Colour certainly adds to the attraction of this 665+ page book.” Tony redesigned the Unfortified Military Villages and included a few paintings by Godfrey who visited the villages after the massacre. Also included is an extract from History of the British Regiments in South Africa 1795 – 1895 by Wilfred Brinton, reports by Captain T.M. Stevenson and Rev George Brown; The Redcoats apparel on the Eastern Cape Frontier; and The Broad Arrow. It now is a 94-page volume of fascinating information and stories. The books are printed to order on hi-grade, 100-g Xerox Colortech 100g paper and hardcover bound. “The whole exercise takes two weeks from receipt of payment to posting of the book,” says Tony. The Forts costs R1000,00 plus R75,00 packing and postage and the Villages R400,00 plus R75,00 P&P.


The 79th National Conference and Annual General Meeting of the S A Museums Association will be held at the Riverside Hotel in Durban from October 26 to 29. The theme of the conference is Museums for a Sustainable Society. The Association has issued a call for papers or case studies covering technology and the role of the museum in educating communities to create a sustainable natural, physical, ecological, economical, social and cultural environment. The theme seeks to highlight the role of museums in raising public awareness about the need for a society that is less wasteful, more cooperative and that uses resources in a respectful way. The deadline for submissions is June 30. Conference fee is R2 000 per person


Plans are already well in hand for the Third McGregor Poetry Festival, writes Myrna Robins. It is to take place at Temenos Retreat from August 28 to 30 and poets from across the country, the USA and Holland are scheduled to attend to present their works. The programme includes readings, recitals, workshops, open mike sessions and movies.


Gary Smith, who with his wife, Lisa, owned the beautiful, homely, Onse Rus Guest House died recently after a very long illness. Way back, when he was well, he chaired the Prince Albert Tourism Association and worked tirelessly to put the town and its surrounds on the map. He clearly appreciated the value of tourism and strove to keep the village and its community in the public eye. He was a keen Round-up supporter. He was a dynamic, familiar, well-known man about town, until his illness struck, yet as far as possible he maintained an interest in what was going on. A hospitable host Gary kept visitors well entertained and informed. Lisa continues to ensured that the guest house remains a venue of excellence. All who knew Gary will greatly miss him.


Its time South African authorities copyrighted the name ‘biltong’, says Prof Melville Saayman, Director of the Unit for Tourism Research in Economic Environments and Society (Trees) at the North West University. “Biltong is a local product and should be managed in the same way as Rooibos tea. It is a genuine product that contributes more than R2, 5 billion to the SA economy annually. If you have any thoughts in this regard pass them on to Marina Beale at the Nama Karoo Foundation


Remnants of Empire: Memory and the Northern Rhodesian Diaspora, a book based on five years of research by Pamela Shurmer-Smith, now has a website. Pamela traced people who had lived in Zambia before Independence but are now scattered across the globe to find out why they left, where they went and what they’re doing now.


The latest Nama Karoo Foundation Newsletter reports that the Wind Energy Facility (WEF) in a declared important bird area project near De Aar has been shelved. “The Department of Environ-mental Affairs and Tourism is also expected to cancel Windlab’s Ishwati and Umsindwe Emoyeni WEF plans between Murraysburg and Richmond because it feels these would cut off the biodiversity highway essential for gene and species flow on the Southern Great Escarpment,” says Nama Karoo information officer, Marina Beale. “Windlab’s consultants, who were obligated to take a ‘risk averse approach’ made no mention of the importance of blue cranes in this area.”


Old newspapers items are most amusing. For instance, on April 28, 1842, a Mr A Loxton, a man who referred to himself as “Grahamstown’s peripatetic, phreneological, wig maker and ladies’ ornamental hair piece manufacturer and stylist”, announced he intended making a trip to Port Elizabeth – on foot. This pedestrian excursion, he said, would take 36 hours. Once at his destination he proclaimed he would “diligently serve ladies and gentlemen who chose to honour him with their patronage”. He assured them that he had been patronised by the highest echelon of society and people, such as His Excellency, Governor Sir George Napier. He promised he would arrange the hair of all clients in the “first style of fashion and elegance”. He also stated all orders would be carefully, punctually and, if necessary, confidentially, handled.


During the Anglo-Boer war Dr Horace Manders invented a flying hospital. It was a cart, drawn by two horses and fitted with operation case, splints, dressings and a small supply of drinkable water. It could keep up with the cavalry and go where artillery went. He proposed that it accompany the Imperial Yeomanry regiments. Manders, who was born in Canterbury on 23 December 1853, the second son of Major Thomas Manders, of the 6th Dragoon Guards. He was educated at Marlborough College, at St Mary’s Hospital, at the Beaujon Hospital in Paris, and in Brussels. He acted as house surgeon at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and worked in the electro-therapeutic department of the East London Hospital for Children at Shadwell before the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War. He enlisted when war broke out and served as medical officer to the 12th Imperial Yeomanry brigade, later becoming a senior medical officer with the mounted troops of the 5th and 6th brigades. He received the medal with four clasps and was mentioned in despatches. After the Boer War he served in Latvia and was also a surgeon with the P and O Navigation Company. He married Elizabeth Louisa, daughter of G P Goode of Haverford West, in 1879, and they had four sons and two daughters. He went into private practice, but maintained his military interests, becoming lieutenant-colonel in the 4th battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. He retired to Chesham Bois, Bucks, where he died on 5 July 1935, states an article in The Lancet of January 13, 1900.


Early one early spring day two Karoo farmers, a Mr Cotterell and Steve Marshall, went in search of “something for the pot.” Steve decided to take his ten-year old brother, John Henry along as the lad had been nagging to go. At one spot, bursting with excitement, young John turned suddenly, but unfortunately his gun was at full cock and it fired wounding him very badly in one of his legs. He fell to the ground bleeding profusely Cotterell ran to call the boys’ father, Peter Marshall, who immediately dispatched a messenger to fetch Dr. Hart. The doctor immediately rode out, but half way to the scene of the accident was stopped with the sad news the young boy was dead. The Cape and Frontier Times of September 12, 1889, said the “awful calamity” was widely regretted.


The editor of Quains Dictionary of Medicine summarily dismissed South Africa in 1884. He wrote: The Cape of Good Hope is hot and dry. The climate is variable and liable to sudden storms. Living there is dear and locomotion is extremely difficult. I do not recommend it as a place to visit.”

CAN YOU HELP? Graham Viney is looking for pictures of the Royal visit to the Karoo in 1947

DATE TO DIARISE: July 19 to 23 50th Annual Congress of the Grasslands Society of Southern Africa.

There is no sweeter pleasure than to surprise a man by giving him more than he hopes for.Charles Baudelaire