FIRST SERIOUS LOOK KAROO’S ‘COLOURED’ MUSIC

A new book, written by Marie Jorritsma, a senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, takes a closer look at so-called “coloured music”. This pioneering work, the first to make a serious attempt to place the music of the Coloured Community into the wider acoustical landscape of South Africa, studies the three church congregations in Graaff-Reinet. It covers the challenges of inscribing Coloured voices, examines hymns and how they affect history, the inter-relationships between “mission music” and its counterpart in the independent African church, as well as singing in the “the Queen’s English”, and songs of mothers. Published by Temple University Press, this 216-page book, entitled Sonic Spaces of the Karoo, also takes a closer look at choruses and choir music and presents an interesting history of traditional, religious and cultural songs and their accompaniment. The music is examined as part of a living archive preserved by the community in the face of a legacy of slavery, colonial and apartheid oppression. In Sonic Spaces of the Karoo Jorritsma manages to eradicate the belief that the music of the South African Coloured community is inferior to European and African music. She underlines the fact that it deserves recognition in its own right and she stresses that it has a legitimate place in the realms of South Africa contemporary music.

ROMANCE AVAILABLE AGAIN

Graham Ross’s extremely popular book, The Romance of Cape Mountain Passes, is back in the bookstores. This work, first published in 2002, has been out of print for over a year, but now a fifth edition in hard cover is being made available by Sunbird/Jonathan Ball Publishers. Interestingly enough the publishers received 850 advance orders as soon as the announcement to reprint was made.

ALL ROADS LEAD TO “MECCA” IN THE KAROO

All roads will lead to the tiny Karoo village of Nieu Bethesda on “Heritage weekend”. The annual Absa Fugard Festival, now in its third year, takes place there from September 23 to 26. Lovers of theatre, music and the arts will congregate to enjoy a weekend packed with diverse entertainment in a delightfully picturesque environment. The festival, which has grown to become the largest of its kind in the world, is bigger and better than before claim the organizers and this year artists from across the country will flood to Nieu Bethesda, home of South Africa’s top playwright, novelist, actor and director, Athol Fugard, to pay tribute to him. Fugard is internationally recognized for his contribution to the arts and his struggle against apartheid. The village has delightful restaurants, coffee shops, galleries and outdoor entertainment, but festival organizers warn: “There is no petrol, bank or credit card facilities, so make sure your tank and your wallet are full before you leave home.”

MURRAYSBURG IN THE SPOTLIGHT

A new book which takes a closer look at Murraysburg has just been printed. The 207-page Murraysburg 150 Jaar compiled by Izak Malherbe, Charl Conradie and Alida Pienaar, tells the story of the development of this town and district over a century and a half. It covers early settlers, the establishment of the town, its many interesting people and the role they have played in the greater South African picture. Among them are writers, poets, scientists, musicians, top sportsmen and people who have contributed greatly to business and agriculture. The book also contains stories of the Anglo-Boer war and it covers an interesting period in South Africa when a major search for oil was mounted in the Murraysburg district. A delightful read, this book costs R250 (Plus postage). It can be ordered from Alida Pienaar, 34 Spioenkop Road, Hartebos, 6520.

TAKING CARE OF A POISONED ARROW

A bow and arrow are the principal weapons of the Bushman writes Lieutenant Arnold W Hudson in Trekking the Great Thirstland. “The tip is always poisoned. I have not been able to find out what the poison consists of, but I believe it comes from a root, caterpillar or grub. I do know, however, that it is most deadly and fatal, even to big game such as eland and giraffe. The poison is a slow worker, and an animal lives for several hours after being hit. The Bushman’s practice is to wait for half a day and then follow up the spoor until he finds the dead body of his victim. The flesh in which the arrow is stuck is cut out and the remainder is quite safely used for food. An arrow is made of hollow reed, fitted with a detachable arrowhead. When not in use the poisoned point is inverted and kept inside the hollow reed to prevent the owner accidentally scratching himself with it. When game comes into sight it is repositioned and instantly ready for use.”

LORDS OF THE DANCE

Bushmen and Hottentots all loved dancing. In Trekking the Thirstland, Lieutenant Arnold W Hudson states: “They will continue their revels all night. Round and round in circles they go all the time singing a weird chant and if by chance one of them possesses a concertina, their cup of happiness is full. The old, middle-aged and young, all take part. The girls ogle just as if they are properly civilized and the young bloods puff out their chests and think themselves fine fellows. Their dress sense differs. The Hottentot women love colour and pride themselves on their choices of gaudy dress, parasols and the like, while the men like to wear a piece of coloured print around hats and waists as a belt. The Bushmen dress more primitively. The man wears brayed skin tied around the middle and passed up between the legs and the woman also wears a brayed skin, but hers is a good deal larger, though tied in the same way. Both men and women use a brayed hartbeeste skin for a blanket, which women utilize as a means of carrying melons, babies and even small children, by throwing it over their shoulders. The weights they will cary in this way are really extraordinary.”

AARDVARK HITS THE JACKPOT

The first nugget found at the goldfields, 50km from Prince Albert in 1871, was dug up by an aardvark. This nugget, found in an aardvark hole on Spreeuwfontein, a farm belonging to Mr Lodewyk Bothma, weighed 2,5 oz. It was rounded, water worn and had a few crystals adhering to it. No further finds were made until 1891 when a shepherd picked up a nugget weighing 6 dwt 23 grms on the neighboring farm Klein Waterval. This news spread like wildfire and on August 4, 1891, 19 050 morgen on the farm Spreeuwfontein was thrown open to the public. Within short 500 people had arrived; 1 042 claims were staked and registered and digging began at a feverish pace. By September 20, 1891, a further 3 898 morgen was added to the public diggings. All in all, 504 oz of gold was found at these diggings. The largest quantity found by one man was 100 oz and this came from the claim of Mr P H du Plessis, the original prospector. Mrs Ruby Muller, mother of Louis Muller, owner of Klein Waterval, wrote in her diary: “Mr du Plessis sent away samples for which he got a few thousand pounds”. In reality Du Plessis received £5 000 – an enormous sum in those days. It was an exciting time and Lodewyk Bothma immediately began planning a town on Spreeufontein. He aimed to call it Gatsplaas because of the first nugget being found in an aardvark hole. His enthusiasm for the project was shared by N J Gillet, who wrote; “There is no word in our language expressive enough to convey an idea of the richness of the Prince Albert Goldfields.” Gillet was a driving force behind the plans for the town. It was rapidly created. It had two shops, a hotel and a post office.” A house in present-day Prince Albert is called The Ark and it was built from wood initially used to build the hotel at Gatsplaas.

GHOST STILL ON PATROL

During the Anglo-Boer War a Captain Hicks was placed in charge of a group of fearfully inefficient “poor whites”.

It was said they were only in the war for the money and so inefficient that poor Hicks was at a loss as to what to do with them. The locals jokingly called them DMTs “Delirium Military Tremens”. This group of misfits and Hicks were stationed on the farm The Willows, near Middelburg, and it was here that the poor captain was shot dead right on the doorstep of the house by a Boer sharpshooter. Locals say his ghost still roams feebly about at certain times of the year. No one has any explanation as to what became of his sloppy band of soldiers.

CALLING ALL BOOK LOVERS – DON’T MISS THE RICHMOND BOOK FAIR. This year’s event, packed as ever with good talks, entertainment and many books stalls, takes place from OCTOBER 27 TO 30

FOLLOWED IN HER FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS

Dorothea, the fifth daughter of Dr Wilhelm Bleek, the man who did great work capturing the San language, followed in her father’s footsteps. She was born in Mowbray, Cape Town, in 1873, but at the age of 11 moved to Germany with her family. There she completed her schooling and trained as a teacher. The family returned to South Africa in 1904. Dorothea had always been interested in the work done by her father, a noted philologist, who, with his sister-in-law, Lucy Lloyd, pioneered the enormous task of recording the language and folklore of the /Xam and the !Kung people in the late 1800s, so she joined her aunt in continuing this task. In 1905, while teaching in Cradock, Dorothea met Helen Tongue, also a teacher, and also interested in rock art. Helen pioneered a new method of rock art tracing. Their shared interest took them to a site near Cradock where Helen was already working and after spending time there they decided to take their research further afield.

EXPLORING ART GALLERIES OF THE VELD

At the beginning of 1906, Dorothea and Helen took a train trip from Cradock to Bloemfontein and Ladybrand where they continued work started at various rock art sites recorded in George Stow’s manuscript, Native Races of South Africa. Towards the end of the year they were off to an area around the Maluti Mountains of the then Basutholand (now Lesotho) which was rich in rock art. Their third and last trip together took them to Fauresmith and on to Luckhoff, however, later on her own Dorothea visited several other areas, in South Africa and in neighboring countries, which were rich in rock art. In 1910 she visited the area near Prieska in the Northern Cape, from where some of the San informants interviewed by her father and aunt had originated, states an article in the South African Rock Art Digital Archive. Subsequent travels included trips to other parts of the Northern Cape, the eastern Transvaal, South West Africa (present-day Namibia), Bechuanaland (Botswana), Angola and Tanganyika (Tanzania). In 1923 she published The Mantis and His Friends: Bushman Folklore and, after her death, a Bushman Dictionary was published. The notebooks which Dorothea had inherited from her father and aunt were donated to the University of Cape Town shortly after she died in 1948.

ROCK ART CAPTIVATES A VICTORIAN GENTLEMAN

George Stow was 21 years old when he arrived in Port Elizabeth in 1843. A geologist by profession, he was “a Victorian gentleman of many talents,” said his friends. He was a historian, ethnographer, artist, cartographer, writer and poet. The South African veld beckoned him, and rock art fascinated him. It took him into caves and shelters across the hinterland. George started recording rock art in the 1860s, and in a letter to T. Rupert Jones, published in Nature in 1870, he wrote: “During the last three years I have been making pilgrimages to the various old Bushman caves in the mountains in the Colony and Kaffraria, and, as paintings are becoming obliterated very fast, it struck me that it would be well to make copies of them before these interesting relics of an almost extinct race are entirely destroyed.” In a letter written to Lucy Lloyd in June 1877, he outlined a plan to record rock art with the help of a young Bushman. Without much funding, George recorded rock art throughout his life, not only to preserve it for posterity, but to prove the San’s extensive and lengthy occupation of the country. He wrote Native Races of South Africa in 1880 but could not find a publisher. This manuscript was eventually only published in 1905. George died of heart failure in Heilbron in 1882 and after his death, his scientific papers and cartoons of Bushman paintings were sent to a friend Charles Sirr Orpen, brother of Joseph Millard Orpen, an Irishman who loved rock art.

AN IRISHMAN EXPLORED THE ROCKS

Joseph Millard Orpen, an Irishman, emigrated to the Cape in 1848. He was 20 years old and he took up sheep farming. He later moved to the Free State where he became a surveyor and politician. He was a self-taught geologist and at the suggestion of his brother Charles’s close friend, George William Stow he started copying rock art. Joseph single handedly tracked and found Qing, one of the last survivors of the Drakensberg San. With Qing he travelled to rock art sites and in the evenings while sitting around a camp fire, Qing, would provide insights on the meaning of these drawings. Joseph diligently recorded these conversations and explanations and thanks to him, researchers today are able to understand the meaning of much of the rock art. Despite being somewhat of an imperialist Joseph had a deep interest in the indigenous people of South Africa states an article in the African Rock Art; Digital Archive. In July 1874, he wrote an article entitled A Glimpse into the Mythology of the Maluti Bushmen for the Cape Monthly Magazine.

Note: More on rock art researchers of the Karoo in the next issue

TIME TO SAY GOODBYE

“The best will go,” states a short item in the Beaufort Courier of Tuesday, February 7, 1888, referring to the departure from the Karoo of Mr W H Barrett. This highly respected and popular man served as station master in De Aar for quite a number of years and the whole town was saddened to hear that he was to succeed Mr Donn as goods agent in Kimberley. Colleagues and friends gathered on January 26, to bid him farewell at a formal dinner and to present him with a “handsome timepiece bearing a suitable inscription.” The food was excellent and so was the company. Many friends lined the station platform the next day to wave him and his family farewell as the train taking them to Kimberley steamed out of the station.

TRIBUTES TO A GREAT MAN

It was dark on the afternoon of October 13, 1899, when the news of Major-General Andrew Wauchope’s death reached Edinburgh. It flashed through the town and suburbs like wildfire – Red Mick as he was known to family and friends – had been killed at the head of the Scottish Brigade at Magersfontein. Slowly the news permeated into the country side and out to the border areas. The initial shock was followed by disbelief, then horror, as the full impact struck. Then a terrible gloom followed as individual families gathered around members of the Wauchope clan to grieve. Scotland as a whole mourned the loss of Wauchope. “There is no other soldier whose death would have produced a like impression,” wrote his biographer. One Edinburgh woman is reputed to have said: “Even the man who brings our milk in the morning is grieving for him.” Wauchope’s father was injured in a hunting accident and died at the age of 56, his brother William inherited the estate, but also died, leaving Andrew to become Laird of Niddrie, their country home, which was often referred to as “an oasis of the Black Country.” Andrew was at times shy, highly strung and nervous, but he had a fiery temper which would flare if disparaging remarks were made about his red hair and freckles. He was casual, even careless in dress. He often went out in an old coat, straw hat, and unpolished shoes. In fact some said he did not care whether the clothes he wore were his own or not, so his elegant and painfully precise brother, William, kept his wardrobe under lock and key at all times. Despite all this Andrew was totally impeccable when it came to his uniform. He loved cricket, boating, riding and hunting, but said his friends, was never more than a fair shot. He was a man of deeds and few words. He was sadly missed. In addition to the memorials to him at Matjiesfontein, in the Karoo, where he is buried, memorials were erected by public subscription in Niddrie Village, in the Presbyterian church where he worshipped at York and at Perth and on the village green at Yetholm.

CLOSER LOOK AT THE ARID ZONE

The Arid Zone Econogy Forum for 2011 will be held at Nieuwoudtville this year. The programme includes several thought-provoking lectures. Among these will be a talk by evolutionary ecologist Dr Allen Ellis, a senior lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch. His topic is “Pollinator mediated floral divergence in the absence of pollinator shifts”. His current research focuses on specialised of interactions between plants and insects and how this influences floristic diversity. Much of his work is centered on the mass spring flowering displays of Namaqualand. Dr Quinton Martins, co-founder and project manager of the Cape Leopard Trust, will discuss predators in the eco-system and why it is bad to remove them. Prof Tim O’Connor, observation science specialist at the South African Environmental Observation Network and an Honorary staff member at the University of the Witwatersrand, will discuss a ‘system’ approach for arid environments. Prof Justin O’Riain, a behavioural ecologist of international repute who has applied his expertise to the challenges posed by human-wildlife conflict, will share some of the highlights on his research into mammalian adaptations to life in arid areas. Dr Bob Scholes systems ecologist with 30 years of experience in African dryland ecosystems, will be present a paper entitled “Measuring the benefits of diverse ecosystems”. Dr Wijnand Swart a lecturer in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of the Free State, will talk about Food Security in Water Scarce Regions, and Dr Verstraete, a physicist, will discuss the proposed Global Drylands Observing System (GDOS) focusing on the need to integrate natural and human sciences. His talk will cover some new perspectives on remote sensing from space, which have recently delivered significant results.


A high standard of living is usually accompanied by a low standard of thinking.

Marya Mannes, 1930s feature editor of Vogue, acclaimed writer and and one of America’s best-known critics of the 1960s and 1970s. She started out studying scripture. Died at the age of 85 in New York in 1990.