The ever-popular Richmond Literary Festival, Boek Bedonnered, is scheduled for October 22 to 24. The programme, designed to appeal to the hearts of all book lovers, is jam-packed with exciting launches, good reads, talks and poetry sessions. One of the highlights is a discussion with South Africa’s greatest living Afrikaans poet, Breyten Breytenbach, about his new book, a compilation of all his public speeches over the past 50 years. This will be undertaken by Dominique Botha and Riaan Malan. Another highlight will be the official opening of the Museum of Optometry and Ophthalmology by Sheritha Ramparsad and Harrie Siertsma at 16h30 on Thursday. The museum has been located in Richmond because, Adolf Eugen Fick, the inventor of the contact lens once lived and worked in this Karoo village and much of his original research was done here. The programme kicks off at 09h00 on Thursday with Susan Coetzer’s Oros For The Soul. Organisers thought was an apt title to introduce a book festival in the Karoo, the land of thirst – particularly as the country is currently in the grips of a mega-drought. A number of launches are scheduled. These include In Search Of The Rarest Bird In The World, plus a debut anthology, The Laughing Dove and Other Poems, by Vernon Head, Cullen, a debut novel by Underberg vet, Tod Collins, and the latest in a trilogy on country churches by Philippe Menache and Darryl David.


Undoubtedly the most controversial book at this year’s festival will be The South African Gandhi, Stretcher Bearer of The Empire, say the organisers. Written by Aswin Desai and Goolam Vahed this book is said to “write the indentured and working class back into South African history”. Jonty Driver will be discussing ‘The Man With The Suitcase: The Life, Execution and Rehabilitation of a Liberal Terrorist’ – this is the story of John Harris, the 1964 station bomber. Among the interesting biographies to be presented are Philipa Hobbs’s, Listening to Distant Thunder, The Art of Peter Clark; Friedel Hansen’s Die Handdruk van die Dood, a book on Eugene Marais; Linda Koorts’s D F Malan, Ode Krige’s Carl Otto Hager – a tale of a man who designed many hinterland churches and Anthea Garman’s Antjie Krog. Photo-journalist Chris Marias will discuss his popular new book, The Journey Man, Hannes Beukes, Namibia’s Long Road to Freedom, John Hislop, Wheatfields and Windmills, Marion Whitehead, Passes and Poorts of South Africa and Jan van der Merwe, Noordkaapse Dorpe. Carolyn Metcalfe will discuss a work on her beautiful bowls, and Chris Perold, The Art of Norman Dunn. Also, on the programme is Harry Kalmer’s 1000 Stories Oor Johannesburg, Garbrielle Lubowski’s Death of Anton Lubowski and much, much more.


The Karoo Parliament will hold three caucus sessions in the auditorium of the Laingsburg Flood Museum on November 13. The first covers Karoo Food Tourism, and conveners are Gordon and Rose Wright (Graaff-Reinet), Derek Carstens (Cradock) and Adri Smit (Murraysburg). The caucus on Karoo lamb will be led by Prof Johann Kirsten, and the one on Style And Structure for Future Karoo Parliaments will be chaired by Professor Doreen Atkinson. All interested parties are welcome to attend.


Some of the most beautiful churches in South Africa are found in the hinterland. They range from magnificent gothic edifices to humble dressed stone buildings. To honour these Darryl David and Philippe Menache have produced three books, the third and final of which has become available. “This 164-page volume follows the style of 101 Country Churches of South Africa, and A Platteland Pilgrimage. It features church buildings not recorded in the two previous books and also has more photographs of church interiors> There is also a 16-page feature on architect Wynand Louw, whose considerable achievements have been somewhat under-rated,” say the authors. The book, costs R300.00, excluding postage


The seven-day, 541 km, Cape Pioneer Trek Mountain Bike Race, which starts at Mossel Bay on October 18, offers a wide variety of challenges. The route is a unique combination of excitingly diverse trails, and includes breathtaking forest, mountain and Karoo landscapes. “The urban element that takes the race to spectators,” say the organisers. “Riders can soak up sea spray with a spin on the beach, before heading off through George and lush coastal pine forests towards the Outeniquas, for the first “big-mountain challenge”, then it is on to Oudtshoorn, De Rust, Meiringspoort, Prince Albert, the Swartberg and Calitzdorp, to the finish in Oudtshoorn.


Angling, cycling, tube floating, a 4 x 4 route, potjiekos competition, fun run and vintage car parade are among the highlights of Bonnievale’s 21st annual festival. This year’s event will be held in the new Outdoor Arena from October 30 to November 1. The programme includes music, good food and a few unusual challenges.


The Fairview Traverse Dryland Trail Run is described as a magical, mysterious and unforgettable adventure. The race starts inside the Cango Caves at 16h30 on November 5 and follows an 8km route passing several exquisite stalactites and stalagmites. At the exit of the caves, runners head for De Hoek Mountain Resort along the old Swartberg Hiking Trail, an undulating track, the oldest in the area and featuring challenging short, steep climbs. The next day’s run starts at the historic Swartberg Pass at 07h30. The first 5 kms of this 27 km sector are hard going but offer awe-inspiring views and are offset by a fast, downhill run to Ou Tol. Then, 12km of superb Klein Karoo scenery follow before the route switches back for an 8km run to De Hoek. The third stage starts in the Rust and Vrede Parking area, at Raubenheimer Dam, just a few hundred meters from one of the most beautiful waterfalls in South Africa. This 26 km route includes a run along the dam wall, through De Kombuys. There is a fast-flowing, 14km spectator-friendly, fun run along old-fashioned cross-country trails near De Hoek Mountain Resort.


Robert Blair, Cradock’s Clerk of the Peace put up a notice on September 28, 1841, advising residents that a highwayman was operating in the area. His name was Stuurman Soldaat said Blair who issued a warrant for his arrest. The warrant advised all field cornets, constables, other officers of the law and private persons that if they saw Soldaat they could apprehend him and lodge him in the nearest jail with instructions that he be forwarded to Cradock. Blair described Soldaat as being “25 and thick-set with curled upper lip, “The toe next the big toe on his right foot is cut off at the second joint.” Soldaat formerly a member of No.4 Company of the Cape Corps once resided at Steenboksvlakte near Cradock, where he worked as a servant. He absconded from his job to take up highway robbery as he found this more lucrative, stated the Cape Frontier Times of October 7. “His wife, Kaatje, and a young red brindled Greyhound are mostly with him,” stated the newspaper.


There is a curious link between Ponds Beauty creams, the Great Escape of WWII and Deelfontein in the Karoo. Geogiana Mary Curzon, granddaughter of Lady Georgie, Countess Howe, one of the two society ladies who created the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital, near Richmond, was a Ponds Model. Thomas Ponds chose her to promote his “two creams” – cold cream and vanishing cream – and her face appeared in newspaper and magazine advertisements across the globe in the 1930s. But that was not her only claim to fame. She had another unusual link to South Africa. She met and fell in love with international skier, barrister and RAF pilot, Squadron Leader Roger Joyce Bushell, who was born in Springs and who organised what was considered the most extravagant escape ever attempted by WWII prisoners of war – the escape from the German POW camp, Stalag Luft III. (The film, the Great Escape, was based on this). Georgina met Roger before the war at a christening in Belgravia in 1935. They fell deeply in love, but his plans to marry her were thwarted by her father, Francis, only son of Georgiana Elizabeth Spencer-Churchill and Richard George Penn Curzon, 4th Earl Howe. He was not impressed by Roger’s social standing. He called him “a penniless South African barrister” and arranged for her to marry one of his motor racing colleagues, Glen Kidson. Despite having a son their marriage was short lived and she filed for divorce on the grounds of adultery with her stepmother. This story emerges in Simon Pearson’s book, The Great Escaper. Georgiana is said to have always held a torch for Roger. She placed a romantic “In Memoriam Poems” in The Times for years after his murder and she signed them off as “Love is immortal”.


South African-born Reginald Cuthbert “Cuth” Mullins interrupted his medical studies in England to come back to the land of his birth during the Anglo Boer War. In 1900, when a call was made for more doctors to go to South Africa, he joined the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital staff and was sent to Pretoria. Cuth was born in Grahamstown in 1873. His father was Rev Canon Robert John Mullins, a missionary. After completing his studies at St Andrew’s College, in Grahamstown, where his family had lived for many years, Cuth moved to England to study medicine at Keble College at Oxford University. Then, the Anglo-Boer War broke out, but at the end of this campaign he returned to England complete his studies at Guys Hospital. After qualifying he again returned to South Africa to work as a medical officer on the Rand, then later moved back to Grahamstown to set up a practice with Dr. Drury. Back in his home town he took on the role of medical officer at St Andrew’s College, his old school, and also became president of the Grahamstown branch of the British Medical Association. He served with the RAMC during WWI and was mentioned in despatches. In1937 he retired from medicine and moved to his son’s farm, Faber’s Kraal in the highlands area outside Grahamstown. He died there in 1938. His brother, Charles, who was badly wounded during the Anglo-Boer War, was also awarded the VC for gallantry.


With rugby being on most people’s lips these days, it is interesting to note that Cuth Mullins was also a well-known international rugby player. His father was credited with bringing the game to Grahamstown and, before leaving to study medicine in England, Cuth played as a rugby union forward in South Africa. In England he made a name for himself playing for Oxford University, where he won a sporting “blue”. Walter Julius Carey, who later became Bishop of Bloemfontein, played in the Oxford team alongside Cuth Mullins at the time. Cuth was selected as a member of the British international rugby team that toured South Africa in 1896 – this placed him in the strange situation of representing Britain against his homeland. He played in 13 of the 21 tour matches, as well as in two Tests. Oddly enough, Robert Johnson, who fought alongside his brother Charles, and was also awarded a VC for his involvement in the same action at Elandslaagte, was also a member of this British touring team. Cuth captained the Guys Hospital Rugby team for two years when he returned to England to complete his studies.


Professor Donal McCracken has an interesting angle on the Anglo-Boer War. He will be sharing this with members of the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the S A Military History Society at a function scheduled for December 10. His talk is entitled How the Irish won the Anglo-Boer War


John Sweetman, an Anglo Boer War historian who lives in Australia, reminds Round-up readers that the first Australian to be killed in this war is buried at Leeu Gamka, 52kms from Prince Albert. His grave can be clearly seen near the fence of a little farm about 2 km from the station. “There are two Boer War headstones in this little cemetery. One remembers Private J. Schultz, 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards and Private J. Lynn, 1st Battalion, Scots Guards, both of whom died of wounds received at the Battle of Belmont on November 23, 1899. What is particularly interesting is that Private Schultz was the tallest soldier in the British Army. He stood almost 7ft (2.13m) tall and he was the first Australian to die in this war,” says John. Because Schultz cut such a fine figure in his uniform, he was said to have been a favourite at Royal Functions. Sadly, his height must also have made his an easy target for the Boers.” The second headstone is for Sergeant P. Fallon, 3rd Battalion, Royal Lancaster Regiment, who was accidentally killed at Luttig Station on November 2, 1901. John would love to hear from anyone who knows anything more of Private Schultz.


Dorren Jackson, a Round-up reader who works on an oil rig, wrote: “I was most intrigued by the story of Shirley Jackson’s search for the grave of her husband’s grandfather. Many years ago, I saw a deceased memorial notice in the Cape Times for Dorren Jackson. After the initial surprise of seeing my name, which is not a common one, in such a column, I found out that the notice had been placed in the newspaper by this man’s sister who, at the time was working for Boland bank in Caledon. She was one of the Jacksons of Korteshoven farm, near Grabouw. It turned out that this Dorren Jackson died in an aircraft accident while in training with the SAAF just at the start WWII. I recently come across a photo of my father, Lionel Gordon Jackson, on Korteshoven farm together with Dorren Jackson. Both were wearing shorts and Rondebosch School blazers. The picture was taken long before the war. Because distances to the Karoo farms at Nelspoort were so great Dorren Jackson would invite my Father to Korteshoven farm for week-ends. Before he passed away, my Dad mentioned wryly told me that the two of them used to sit up in a tree and smoke cigarettes. He named me Dorren in memory of his friendship with this man and of the hospitality received from his family


Few people are aware of the extensive work undertaken by the Endangered Wildlife Trust. In Issue No 59 of EWT Talk CEO Yolan Friedman states that in addition to its work across South Africa this organisation it has undertaken projects in 13 African countries to address the plight of nearly 80 threatened species of plants and animals. “We are proud of this achievement as conservation becomes increasingly more challenging in today’s complex world modern. Our team comprises over 110 enthusiastic, passionate conservationists in the form of full-time staff, students and interns. Our projects are many, varied and interesting.” The EWT’s Cape Critical Rivers partnership recently successfully rescued 380 endangered sandfish from succumbing to predation by alien fish through a carefully managed relocating project. The EWT also reduced the risk of further alien invasive fish spreading to key catchments areas, where they threaten indigenous species – by removing them from high-risk dams and reservoirs. The stocking of alien species in farm dams poses a huge risk of biological invasions into the natural system, where these species have an adverse impact.

We can’t all be heroes, someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by – Will Rogers

The Rhino’s Eyes
A poem by Jesse Weinberg

There once was a time when they roamed free, of invisible killers, of certainty.
When a fight was fair, the odds were known, and death was surely rare.
Their lives were theirs, to grow and share, to hold their own, to win their dare.
And now here we are, their enemy and their friend, their puzzle that won’t end.
His defences are defenceless, senses become senseless, motion, motionless.
There he finally lies, humiliated, exhausted, agonized.
Against a gentle wind, a silent sun, he finally closes his eyes…the rhino, dies.

This beautiful, poignant poem is reprinted from EWT Talk, Issue 59: July – September 2015