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Inthe land of Afternoon 
Lawrence G. Green 

Contents 

Below The Blue Wall 

Challenge Of The Mountains 

"Old Dutch Medicines" 

Country Hospitality 

Flora Capensis 

Africana 

Cape Stamps, Cape Money 

Weather In The Country 

On The Road 

Travellers On The Road 
Fruit Of The Cape 
Land Of Tradition 
Swartland And Beyond 
Painter Of The Land 
They Preserve The Past 
For Smokers Only 
Farms Of The Kapenaars 
Sea And River Farms 

George Rex Of Knysna 

Lloyd Of The Lagoon 



Illustrations 

Frontispiece : The coloured frontispiece was specially 
painted by Dorelle for "In the Land of Afternoon". 
Drawings by Dorelle are reproduced by courtesy of the 
"Cape Argus". The old photoglyphs are from the Arthur 
Elli ot Collection in the Cape Archives. 

Origins Of Villages 

Old House At Clanwilliam 

Brink's Inn 

Mr. Riordan And His Bush Tea 

Mountain Fire 

The Bell Tower 

Saldanha Bay Farm- House 

The Post-Cart 

Wagon Crossing A River 

Olives 

OranjeZigt 

Buck Bay Homestead 

Kersfontein On The Berg River 

Groote Post In The Darling District 

Cottages At Knysna 

George Albert Lloyd And His Family 

Index 



Chapter 1 
BElowThe Blue Wall 

my Stoep On The Rise above the village has 
wide horizons, and every window in the cottage 
holds a gieat picture of the Cape farmlands. This 
is a scene Wenning might have painted, this is a 
Leipoldtpoem 

It is not the landscape alone that grips me, for 
there is something even more spacious than the 
wise old countryside. From my stoep I can see 
beyond the veld and the mountains. This evening 
the veils of time are drawn aside and it seems 
that I am looking down the centuries of the Cape. 

I have been swimming in the dam to earn the 
glass beside my chair. It is Mm as the 
Duibanville district can be in February, and my 
five acres are baked haid lite the plains of 
BushmanlancL Next year there will be vines 
against the brown earth Next year I hope the 
dam will be shaded by willows and bamboo. 
Next summer I shall have to water the young 
fruit trees to earn ny lazy evening drink. 



This is the first time in a varied life that the 
seasons have meant anything to me. I am finding 
a new interest in planning the little farm, though 
no more ignorant novice ever tackled such a 
task. If I had started this place during my restless 
years it might have been a magnificent farm by 
now; but it would not have been my life. No, I 
do not wish to change anything, for I am finding 
peace on the friendly earth The long journey, 
exciting sometimes and in many ways satisfying, 
has halted on this brick stoep, beside the dam at 
Durbanville. If I never leave the Cape again I 
shall not fret. 

Someone brought a battery radio to my stoep this 
afternoon As a rule I prefer a book to the loud 
electric echoes of distant entertainment; but I 
listened to General Smuts and, not without 
surprise, found myself nodding agreement with 
every wdk! he spoke. Smuts was talking to the 
boy scouts, preaching an open-air philosophy. It 
was so simple and obvious that another speaker 
might have sounded ingenuous. 



"You must seek your strength in nature," Smuts 
told them. "Our society has become too artificial, 
and the world is suffering from it today. We are 
children of nature and we must live close to 
nature." He denounced newspapers and bio- 
scopes, did this stem old mountaineer) and I 
chuckled because I knew the newspapers would 
hit back at him for that. Smuts was at his best, 
and as I sit here beside my dam without even a 
shirt on my back I feel healthy and righteous. 

Now I can hear a familiar droning from the 
direction of Wingfield Always the evening 
Skymaster passes my farm at this minute, regular 
as the Blue Train or factory whistle. The only 
difference this evening is that the aircraft has not 
yet gained its usual height Beautiful in its way, 
the bright metal dazzles me for a moment It is 
right over my cottage, and lower than I have ever 
seenit I can almost glimpse the hostess carrying 
whisky to the exhausted business men riding in 
the cushioned interior. 

Fast, safe and luxurious, perhaps; but I am 
heartily pleased to be watching it from my stoep 



instead of being hurled forward within the 
padded cell. I have done with the air and all 
senseless rush. Those wartime mornings when I 
flew over the Hex River mountains in parachute 
harness belong to an almost incredible past. I 
was in good company then, but those friends 
have scattered and I am content to watch the sky 
from my stoep. 

To my mind that Skymaster is canying a cabin- 
load of nervous bceaMowns, high blood 
pressures and stomach ulcers. Ambitious men, 
reading their newspapers anxiously; men filled 
with fear, so that I wonder how they dared step 
into the aircraft Men seeking strength in wealth; 
not mere security, but far more than ever they 
can spend Some of them are "successful men" 
in the worst sense of the phrase. Success can be 
an ugly and dangerous thing, and for many the 
effort is too great and the cost too high. Where 
women are concerned, it is an even more tragic 
story. 

Of course I am too sweeping in my denunciation, 
for I cannot see inside the Skymaster this 



evening. Nevertheless, I prefer the sound of my 
windmill and the steady flow of water into the 
dam to the urgent drone of the Skymaster's four 
propellers. I have a feeling that many of the 
people up there care nothing for the bright 
pattern of the Cape below thenL 

The shadow passes, symbol of the last word in 
progress. Yet how inferior is the streamlined 
Skymaster to the old, delicate curves of the Cape 
on which those air passengers are turning their 
backs. 

The mountains have become a far blue wall, 
peaks glowing in the sunset; and soon, while the 
Skymaster roars on towards glaring Johannes- 
burg, the quiet villages of the Cape will be 
winking under the stars. . 

For me the scene is dream-lite in its darkening 
glory. I am thinking of all who lit uitspan fires 
and slept in their wagons beside the old Cape 
roads. All those who crossed the mountain 
barriers, faced the Bushmen and the wild beasts, 
suffered under pitiless suns and risked the 



flooded rivers. All who sat in wagon-sheds and 
farm-houses, telling and retelling the Cape 
folklore and legends in that expressive language 
which has become Afrikaans. 

Last time I crossed the mountains it was in the 
Blue Train I wanted to see old friends; and there 
was another motive I did not realize at the time 
... I wanted to remind myself of something. 

On the day before my journey I had been digging 
under the sun on my five acres. Now as the train 
passed Bellville I sat with two panes of glass 
between me and the rolling countty to the west; 
air-conditioned, pampered; blue leather at my 
back and a glass of unrippled sheny on the table 
against the panelled wall. 

As I sat there moving effortlessly into the north 
an old resolve hardened I knew to the day when 
I would return, so that the unrest of older 
journeys was quietened And I realized again that 
my roots were in the Cape, and that no force I 
could imagine would tear me away again for 
longer than I wished to remain elsewhere. The 



Blue Train was teaching me a lesson I knew by 
heart. 

I always have a queer feeling on this familiar run 
which, I suppose, many have shared Through 
the windows are the remembered scenes; the 
homesteads, the roads, the towns and villages 
vanishing inevitably to schedule. Many of those 
places seemed important to me on certain days of 
certain bygone years. In that store, where the 
coloured people are huddled against the comer 
wetching the train, in that country store I once 
lingered for some forgotten purpose. On some of 
these stoeps beyond the glass I enjoyed memor- 
able hospitality. On these roads I stopped at will 
to talk and listen and learn I slept at the wayside 
hotels and thought nothing of the trains that 
rolled past Now for a day the Blue Train is my 
world, and I am isolated from the world of past 
journeys. I am lite a ghost flashing helplessly 
through the scenes of a long career. It will be a 
miracle if anyone in that outside world should 
recognize me through the glass - and wave. I am 
isolated from old halts and old experiences. 



Now it is Tulbagh Road, and up the long valley I 
gaze, like a disembodied spirit, on a far cluster of 
white buildings against the green of mountain- 
side. That cluster is A valon Only the other day I 
swam there in the cold stream from the 
mountain, and walked among the buchu plants 
with legless Murrogh Nesfcdtt riding cheerfully 
beside me on his pony. That was real. A hundred 
memories framed in this window were once real. 
Now the counttyside is a memory and only the 
lunch gong of the Blue Train is real. I am not 
grumbling, for the food and wine at lunch are 
soothing. But I must record this queer 
impression 

The men who crossed these mountains in 
wagons moved in a world of reality. Speed has 
blurred everything and transformed life into a 
cinema film. Fortunately this same relentless 
speed will return me to my steep at Durbanville 
before I have time to become nostalgic. I have a 
Johannesburg newspaper which is holding me 
longer than I expected One of those fat Sunday 
newspapers, with an article by the editor headed 



"Plain Talk." I am startled to find that he is 
attacking the Cape outlook; a clever and 
querulous article. "Somewhere betweeu the Rand 
and the Cape Flats," he says, "the Transvaal man 
passes through an invisible barrier which he may 
sometimes be tempted to describe as being as 
impenetrable as the Iron Curtain of Europe. The 
people of the Cape scarcely live in the Union at 
all ... There is no inducement, except the dire 
necessity of money-making, for Cape people 
ever to leave the Western Province, and this fact 
carries with it the inevitable penalty that they 
soon cease to think beyond the Western 
Province. Somehow the most shocking and 
urgent problems of the Union seem to fade out in 
the Karoo and their impact is nicely cushioned 
for Cape Town" 

This is so true that I now know how stupid I was 
to leave - even for ten days. I should have stayed 
on my five sheltered acres. 



Neither the Skymaster nor the Blue Train can 
help anyone to understand the gracious back- 
ground of this Cape countryside. Last century 
only the people of the Cape, and a few 
discerning visitors, had a true idea of the land 
One of the books in my library, dated 1895, draws 
an amusing picture of this ignorance 

'The notion which the average Englishman, a 
generation ago, had of the Cape was truly 
curious," declared the writer. 'The inhabitants 
were supposed to be all Boers, dressed in leather 
crackers and batjes and shod with veidschoons. 
Th^ all lived in the Karoo, which was 
evoywhere outside Cape Town The people who 
were not Boers were Hottentots, and this servile 
race spoke kitchen Dutch, wore nothing but a skin 
kaross and rubbed themselves all over with sheep- 
tail fat and buchu. Nobody but the Hottentots did 
any work, nobody ever bothered to grow anything 
for sale, pay any taxes, do anything save sleep 
through the hot afternoon, smoke pipes and drink 
coffee. Evety man had a plaats which grew as 
much grain as he wanted, as many grapes as he 



cared to mate into wine of a sort, as many fruit 
ttees as he had saved pips. The rest was given 
over to native sheep and goats as would keep trim 
in mutton and milk. It was a country where it was 
always afternoon." 

I lite the last phrase most of all, for am I not 
savouring the long afternoon on rry steep? But I 
think that old writer might have thrown into the 
"curious notion" the Cape tradition of hospitality, 
honoured on all the remote farms lite a Biblical 
commandma± 

During my search for origins I came across this 
old definition of a Boen "It signifies a European 
by descent whose vernacular is the Taal and who 
uses familiarly no literary European language. It 
does not denote race of necessity; the Boer may 
be French, Dutch, Geraian, or of any other blood - 
one of the most widely spread Boer families is 
Portuguese - neither does it denote occupation. 
The Boer is oftei a fanner and stock-owner) but 
he may also be a hunter, trader, the president of a 
republic. He remains a Boer still while the Taal 
remains his only speech." 



The unknown writer of that passage likened the 
Boer to a small, medieval town in Europe, 
miraculously preserved In this town of narrow 
streets there would be hand-made carvings ova~ 
the doors, each line a work of love. The fretwork 
of a lamp-post would reveal quaint shapings such 
as no modern workman sends out On every side 
the stranger would see a narrower slower life; but 
more peaceful, more at one with itself. 

Though the people of the remote world of the 

Cape wore called Boers, they were Afrikaner. 1 
Theal, the historian, has pointed out that the 
earlier version of the word is more than two 
centuries old Burcbell, in 1811, gave this 
deQrdtion: "All those bom in the Colony speak 



Modem definitions of the term Afrikaner vary. The 
"Afrikaanse woordeboek" gives the meaning as anyone 
who belongs to the Afrikaans speaking rommunity, who 
is Afrikaans through descent or birth: Mr. C. ¥L Swart, 
Minister of Justice, has expressed the more liberal view 
that anyone rooted in South Africa and loving the country 
is an Afrikaner. 



Dutch and call themselves Africaanders, whether 
the^ are of Dutch, German or French origin." 

Innyovmtirmlreimte S. 

Malan claiming that the Huguenots were the first 
true Afrikaners. The English, Hollanders, and 
Germans, he argued, all had a fatherland to which 
they could rdnrn For the Huguenots there was no 
way back, and they left a lasting impression on 
South Africa 

But that phrase lingers in my mind - "the country 
where it is always afternoon" That holds a strong 
appeal for me, and if you analyse it, the fanciful 
picture of the Cape is not without charm. No 
doubt there were farmers, here and there, who 
tallied with the crude description Perhaps there 
are some to this day, and good luck to them. No 
woiK no taxes, tobacco, coffee, wine, fruit, 
mutton and milk; why, the more you think of it, 
the more of a paradise it becomes. 

So much has been written on the virtues of hard 
work that I think it is time to call a halt I have 
seen men ruined by work ... riiseralle wrecks, the 



victims of their own insane amtitions. Possibly 
there were one or two of them in the Skymaster 
that has now vanished from these serene skies. 
One of the most sensible mai I know said to me: 
"I don't mind a fair d^s work, butl ampepared 
to mate a stand against a hard clay's work" That 
man has made a moderate success of eveything 
he has touched, from flying to poultry faming. 
He has led a fascinating life and nothing has eve~ 
worried limfor very long. 

Many years ago an ambitious young immigrant 
challenged nry easy-going South African philo- 
sophy of life. "All you seem to think about, you 
South Africans, is the week-end," he declared 
"You do nothing but look forward to the week- 
end and hope the weather will be fine" 

ThoB was deep <x>ntempt in lis voice, but I 
survived until the time came when I could enjoy 
the idea Possilly the scathing remark gave me a 
new outlook on life, and crystallized something 
which had been lurking in the sub-conscious 




"Origins of villages aie fascinating. Many formed themselves round an uitspan or store, 

beside a drift or at the foot of a pass. " 



mind. That man doubled my pleasure in the South 
African week-end I know only one thing better - 
the long week-end, when you leave your work as 
early as possible on Friday afternoon and sleep far 
out in the countryside. 

This village of Durbanville, I am thankful to say, 
is a slow, lazy and unambitious village. It is still a 

tijAese boeredorp, full of character in spite of a 
modem garage here, a glass-fronted shop thete in 
a row of old-fashioned colonial houses and 
country stores. 

Every village has its milestones, and Durbanville 
appears to have grown up very much lite many 
others. Origins of villages are fascinating. So, up 
to a point; are their growths. You can find Cape 
villages that started as wayside inns. Many 
villages formed themselves round an uitspan or 
store, beside a drift or at the foot of a pass. The 
church was the sure nucleus in scores of places. 
Some villages grew up with characters of their 
own; others became painfully lite dorps over the 
horizon. But in nearly all of them the milestones 
were of a definite pattern. 



First the cutting up and sale of erven "Erf/' fcy 
the way, means "inheritance"; and there are two 
gieat classes - irrigated erven and dry erven An 
erf is not a farm, but fteB are people who draw 
much of their support from a water-erf. 

After a church has been built the government 
usually stepped out and allowed the village to 
develop until such time as a magistrate, and a 
gaol, became necessary. It was a great day, a 
modem amenity indeed, when the gaol was 
opened. Before long a law agent (who would also 
act as auctioneer) would set up in practice. 
Doctors, postmasters, schoolmasters arrived later. 

On such haphazard bases many of the giacious 
oak-shaded Cape villages were established Old 
people who came to nagmaal would renam and 
build cottages; the children stayed with them and 
wait to the new school. Hollanders have noted a 
family resemblance between certain Cape villages 
and those of the Ndhedands province of 
Overyzel; those with parallel lines of houses 
facing the wate~ furrows. Worcester must have 
started as an Overyzel village, each house with its 



fruit and vegetable garden. Always there was the 
huge pLein in front of the church where the 
wagons gathered 

If the houses were built on each side of a main 
road, the village was a Sttvekdorp or rydorp. In 
such places the main street is still Hoofstraat, 
Mainstraat or Kerkstraat Early traders preferred 
to settle at the cross-roads. Such a village is a 
kruisdorp. 

Old people here and there can remember the 
earliest days of places that aie now thriving 
towns no longer remote from Cape Town Tant 
Meta Wolfaardt of Robertson (102 years old in 
August 1948) trekked to the site with her 
parents in 1853. They found two houses. One 
had a wine-cellar, and a minister from Swellen- 
dam held a service once a month, after the 
inhabitants had rolled out the casks and cleaned 
the floor. They named the village Robertson in 
honour of the visiting minister. But the family of 
Tant Meta lived in tents in the centre of 
Robertson for nearly twenty years. 



Those were the years that made the Afrikaner 
independent and conservative. Every man for 
himself. "Elkeen wou baas en rtiemand KLaas," 

as they say. Cities were unfriendly and repulsive 
to then The men were horsemen and hunters, 
the finest shots in the world Old men became 
patriarchs. Traditions were built up in isolation 

I have seen a map made in 1657 on which the 
present site of Durfoanville is marked Pampoens- 
kraal. Not a dignified name, perhaps, but I can 
find no serious fault with it. Pampoenskraal it 
remained for nearly two centuries, a small 
military outpost, a grazing place and outspan - 
and a spot where the soil yielded pumpkins. In 
1806 a shadowy figure named John Jones 
secured a grant of land at Pampoenskraal, and 
this date has always been regarded as the origin 
of the unhurried and secluded village. 

Pampoenskraal watched the laying of the 
foundations of a church as eaily as 1825, and the 
deacons and elders were confinned in office by 
the government the following year. The 
ministers of this Dutch Reformed Church liked 



the place so much that from that day to this, only 
one has been called away. First in this pleasant 
gerreente was the Res. J. J. Beck He never 
served any other commiinity, and he remained at 
his post for 53 years. Since his death there have 
been only four, other ministers. 

Holman, the traveller and author, passed through 
Pampoenskraal in 1829 and found "an inn or 
rather public house kept by an Englishman and a 
black woman he had purchased for £4 17s. 6d. to 
act the part of a wife/' The inn-keeper is more 
vivid than the obscure Jones. 

It was one clays' trek from Cape Town by ox- 
wagon at that period, a hard trek along the sandy 
OU Koopse wapad. This was the road along the 
edge of the Cape Flats used from the early days 
by farmers bringing their sheep and produce to 
the ships in Table Bay. A faint spoor led through 
the dunes, between the reeds and renosterbos. 
The sand was so heavy that twenty oxen were 
needed to haul a full load; and the struggle went 
on until John Montagu put convicts to work, 



built the handepad, and planted the dunes with 
wild figs to bind the drifting sands. 

The track to Pampoenskraal left Montagu's road 
at Twelve Mile Stone, later to become Bellville. 
Pampoenskraal was named D' Urban in 1837 in 
honour of Governor Sir Benjamin D' Urban; but 
the name had to be changed half a century later 
owing to letters intended for the Natal seaport 
going constantly astray. 

D' Urban fanners v\ob outraged in 1868 when 
the government put a toll-bar between them and 
the new railway station at Bellville. They had to 
pay one and four pence for every full wagon, and 
eight pence when the wagon rehzned empty . The 
"Cape Argus" supported their protests and called 
it an " eKorbitant impost." 

Many years later it was proposed to extend a 
branch railway line to Durbanville. Again there 
was an indignation meeting and resolutions of 
protest were passed by the sensible, unambitious 
villagers. "We can do without it/' declared a 
Durbanville spokesman. "The railway will bring 



hordes of holiday-makers to the village and the 
old-fashioned charm will be destroyed." That 
was in 1907, and there has been no more railway 
nonsense since then. Durbanville prefers to be 
off the iron road. 

Most celebrated of clerical visitors was Bishop 
Grey, who called the village "a small place with 
sandy soil, without trees." He added: "It has 
nothing attractive about it" That was just over a 
century ago. He may have been right about the 
trees; he was certainly wrong about the soil, for 
it produces the finest wine in the Cape. 

In the middle of last century the village had a 
"Commercial and Literary Institute" with a 
reading room and language classes. A volunteer 
cavalry unit was formed, and five hundred 
people attended the first review. There was a flax 
factory, too, but in 1870 it was burnt down The 
telegraph line reached the village in 1890. At 
that period wagon-making was a flourishing 
industry. I wish the wheel-wrights were still at 
work. They would look up in wonder (but not in 



envy) as the Skymaster passed over their forge 
each evening. 

Those giant blue-gums which frame the 
mountains for miles along the road from 
Durbanville to Bellville were planted by the Rev. 
George Lawrence in the 'seventies of last 
century. Possibly he was thinking of Bishop 
Grey's bleak description of the district Old 
residents have told me that there was not a tree 
on the road until Mr. Lawrence stirred public 
opinion and three thousand bluegums were 
planted Some of Mr. Lawrence's trees also 
stand in the grounds of the English Church at 
Durbanville; and there is one at Bellville railway 
station 

That avenue, the most impressive array of blue- 
gums in the Cape, has seen many changes. It was 
giving shade when Bellville consisted of a tin 
shanty shared by a cafe proprietor and a black- 
smith. The sun-dappled road is one that I 
travelled in my first motor-car, a Model-T, the 
eucalyptus scent brings memories of those early 



country excursions when motoring was an 
uncertain adventure. 

Governor Sir Lowry Cole brought the first blue- 
gums to the Cape 120 years ago. He had raised 
plants from Australian seed in Mauritius; and 
nine of his seedlings were planted in the Cape 
Town botanical gardens. The largest blue-gum in 
South Africa is to be seen at Ceres. Within 
seventy years it has reached a height of 132 fed: 
and a girth of 28 feet. It stands on a bank of the 
Dwars River- a gnarled and noble descendant of 
Sir Lowry Cole' s original trees. 



When all the origins of Durbanville have been 
obscured by sky-signs I shall know where to 
seek the past centuries. They will survive on 
some of the farms. 

Wheat was grown in this district in Dutch East 
India Company's days. From my stoep I can see 
the gabled homestead and the lands and 
vineyards of Meerendal. Round the village are 
older farms, a few granted in the seventeenth 



century. Kuipecskraal, Maastricht, Rondebosch- 
jesbecg, Diemecsdal . . . this district has its 
background, its heirlooms, its old white walls set 
against the Tygecberg and the Koeberg hills. A 
great architect once said that the Cape 
countryside possessed more beautiful houses 
than any other area of the same size in the world. 
I can see fragments of that beauty from my 
stoep, and I know where to find more over the 
wide horizons. 

It is old and rich in tradition, whichever way you 
look I lite the names the old settlers gave to 
their discoveries; for sometimes they were 
inspired and the names fitted the country and 
clung to places through the centuries. Kloof is 
the only word for the type of ravine you find in 
this hinterland A poort is different from a pass, 
for it is a passage through the mountains along 
the bed of a stream Then there is the hoek which 
i s easy to enter but hard to leave save by the way 
you came. These words have no exact 
equivalents in English A spruit is not a river) a 
krantz is not merely a cliff, but a steep, rocky 



place near the summit of a berg. So you travel on 
entranced between the vleis, across the vlakres, 
through the drifts, past the kraals, over the veld 
and ruggens. Not far to the north lie Viymans- 
fontein, Kontermanskloof, Remhoogte, Wolve 
Dans, Wintervogel, Morgenwacht and Kalabas- 
kraal ... all picturesque, and some full of the 
uncertainty of adventurous times. 

In the mountains the imagination reaches it 
greatest moments. Along that blue wall to my 
right the peaks are glowing in the sunset - 
Simonsbecg, the Groot Drakenstein range, 
Heldecberg, Sneeuwkop, Paarlbecg, the Hands 
Kloof mountains; Paardebecg before me, and 
beyond that the Porceleinberg and Riebeeck 
Kasteel. Grand names indeed, but only a few at 
random from those towering names that bring up 
so vividly the mountain legends, the mysteries, 
the stories of achievement or death. 

All day the bees have swarmed in the pipe 
leading from my danL Now the first bats appear, 
making sinister and cautious swoops over the 
water. All over the Cape the flocks are coming in 



from the veld to the kraals, antique clasp Bibles 
are being opened and prayers said. This is the 
ancestral home of all Afrikaners. Every year in 
this mellow countryside, a land perfumed by 
flowers and orchards, tradition sounds a deeper 
note. This is the pure gold of South Africa, 

Chapter 2 
Challenge Of The Mountains 

Mountains Make The Cape, and I think the 
winder of ton must influence all who live 
beneath their ramparts.. When I go out to rry 
stoop tomorrow morning I know that I shall look 
first towards the distant mountains. Those 
massive, challenging ranges are ne^er exactly the 
same. 

It would be hard to find a virgin peak in the 
Western Province, though there were many a few 
decades ago. Mountaineers are now finding new 
ways to old summits; they are making frontal 
ascents where once men dared not climb. A 
wonderful company, those mountaineers. I know 
several who started in the early years of the 



century and they are still tackling the rock faces 
week after week. 

One of the oldest of them told me about the 
"Dome of Dreams." If he had not told me I think 
the whole rich experience would have been lost, 
lite so many unrecorded mountain adventures. 
Now I think often of the "Dome of Dreams." 

It is Buffels Dome, jutting up to 5,500 feet from a 
narrow kloof in the Hex River mountains. On 
three sides are great precipices; the fourth side, 
however, has a sensational ridge (known as the 
Knife Edge) linking Buffels Dome with the 
Milner Ridge Peaks. 

The first man to climb these peaks looted down 
on Buffels Dome wistfully. He imagined that the 
Dome would never be climbed, and so he called it 
the "Dome of Dreams." Yet it was not long More 
men crossed the Knife Edge, sitting with their 
legs over a drop of three thousand feet 

Then came the frontal ascents, made possible by 
the discovery of a dry waterfall with ledges and 
gullies of unsound rock leading to the summit. 



But the real drama of the "Dome of Dreams" was 
experienced by a climber who came after the 
conquerors. 

He chose a different route - "open face worl^ a 
long and dangerous climb, lite the wail of a 
house, with the rock crumbling away under our 
boots." That is how he put it During the climb he 
followei a broad ledge and came suddenly upon 
the most vivid Bushman cave painting he had 
e^e~seei 

Part of the painting was lit up by the sun from 
noon to dusk. He stood entranced at the cave 
entrance with the sun full on this marvellous 
scene - Bushmen raiders driving cattle away, 
pursued by Hottentots. Deeper in the cave, the 
painting was untouched by the sun; but such had 
been the skill of the primitive artist in mixing his 
colours that no part of the long frieze had faded. 

Ten years later ny ftiexl returned to the "Dome 
of Dreams." The painting had lived on the screen 
of his memory aril he longed to set eyes upon it 
again He reached the fcraad ledge and traversed 



towards the cave. It is a peculiarity of the Dome, 
however, that water seeps in behind the rock 
strata; at night it freezes and sometimes the rock 
is forced away. 

On his first journey there had been a short gap in 
the ledge, but he had stepped across easily. Now 
he found that the whole face of the Dome had 
changed The gap of eighteen inches had become 
the end of the ledge. There was only a smooth 
precipice before him, and no mountaineering trick 
would enable him to complete the journey to the 
cave. "One of the finest Bushman paintings in 
South Africa is there for keeps/' he said "No 
human eye will gaze into that cave again" 

The same climber told me about the drostecs' 
nests in the Cape mountains. Nowadays this 
expressive Afrikaans word means a disreputable 
wanderer) but the first drostecs were men of all 
colours who fled from the old Cape settlement 
and became outlaws. Some went northwards, but 
most of them took to the mountains. 



Etienne Bartier, the French sergeant who deserted 
from the Castle more than two centuries ago, was 
a droster. He lived in the Drakenstein mountains; 
and one Sunday morning, just as the people wbb 
leaving the Dutch Reformed Church in Suide~ 
Paari, he appeared with nine armed men and 
denounced Governor van Hmgel as a tyrant. He 
went from farm to farm urging the owners to 
refuse to pay their taxes. Barbie^ was executed 
wtenthelanltostcauglthim. That was the fate 
ofmanydrosters. 

Often the drostecs were runaway slaves. One band 
had their nest in the Simonsberg, four thousand 
feet above Stellenbosch. My friend found their 
abode under an overhanging rock. The stone wall 
the^ built is there to this day, a wall designed 
mainly to protect them from the weather. Thete 
was an old copper kettle in the nest, and part of a 
shovel of antique design 

According to a Stellenbosch legexl these drosters 
raided the farms at intervals. Their hiding place 
was discovered only as a result of a cock they had 
stolen. The avenging commando heard the 



crowing of the cock - and that was the end of the 
drosters. 

All this happened long ago, but one huge drosters' 
nest survived until about 1820 or 1830. This was 
the stronghold in the unexplored mountains 
between Waaihoek and Wellington; a "lost 
world" of deep kloofs and unclimbed precipices. 
The bush in these kloofs is so thick that many a 
party of experienced mountaineers has been 
forced back, irritated and baffled - beatm as a 
rule, however, by lack of time. 

One of the almost impenetrable kloofs, tto^ say, 
ends at a waterfall. If you can find a way up the 
waterfall, there is a fine and fertile valley where 
the last of the drosters had their sanctuary. 

For years the Bushman and Hottentot drosters 
descended upon the farms and drove off the cattle. 
Commando after commando searched for them, 
tut there was no sign of their fires at night and the 
dogs always lost the scent. 

The drosters never stole horses - the^ had no use 
for them. But the^ levied merciless toll on oxen, 



sheep and goats. Farmers who encountered the 
diosters were munteed. Farm secants vanished 
from time to time, having stolen their masters' 
guns and ammunition; so that as the years passed 
the diosters became more dangerous. 

At last a Hottentot member of the band was 
captuied in the Wagonmakers Valley. He was 
handed over to Gabriel Hugo, the Veld Comet, 
owner of the farm Waaihoek. By means which 
can be guessed, Hugo persuaded the Hottmtot to 
lead him to the drosters' nest. A large commando 
had been organised and e^ery man was 
detmrined to end the mmace. 

Th^ rode as far the horses could go. Then th^ 
followed the Hottentot on foot; and at the end of 
an exhausting day the^ had not yet reached the 
nest. Some said the Hottentot had led them astray 
and were for shooting hiiiL The Hottentot begged 
for his life and promised that he would lead them 
to the nest next day. 

At dawn the commando moved on. Soon the real 
climb began, with the men clinging to roots or 



using footholds cut into the rock and pointed out 
to them bv the Hottentot guide. At one point they 
reached a huge wooden ladder, which gave access 
to a kloof b^ond a waterfall. Another difficult 
place was crossed by the aid of a narrow stone 
bridge. 

Finally the Hottentot indicated that they were 
rearing the nest and Hugo ordered his men to 
load They crawled to the edge of a basin on the 
summit of a high ridge and looked down at last 
into the nest 

Noon, and the smoke was rising from many fires. 
There were people in front of huts and caves, 
scores of men smoking, women cooking, children 
playing. The farmers crept along the rim of the 
basin and opened fire. 

After the first volley the drosters surrendered and 
pleaded for mercy. More than a hundred prisoners 
were taken, and ftei the fames searched the 
drosters' nest It was clear they had been there for 
years - vineyards we^ flourishing and the sizes of 
fruit trees gave clear proof of long occupation 



In the caves and pondoks the farmers discovered 
heaps of skins, the horns of many stolen cattle, 
and all sorts of property that had vanished from 
their farms. Guns and gunpowder were also 
found, in such quantities that the f aimers felt they 
had been fortunate in taking the drosters by 
surprise. 

When all the drosteirs had been rounded up they 
were given loads of stolen goods to carry. As the 
last manber of the commando passed across the 
narrow stone bridge, a charge of gurpowto was 
laid and the bridge was blown up Hugo led his 
commando and all the prisoners back to the 
Wagonmaker 7 s Valley in ttumpli 

Some of the captured women and children had 
never seen white people in their lives. When they 
came down the mountain, however, they were 
even more surprised at the sight of horses. They 
called them "oxen without horns." 

Many attempts have been made to rediscover the 
drosters nest in the Waaihoek mountains. The 
legend survives; and sometimes, when farmers in 



the area lose their sheep, the^ say that a new 
generation of drostes have occupied the old 
mountain stronghold. 

About twenty-five years ago a party of members 
of the Mountain Qub believed they bad found a 
cluetothedrostes' nest They had gone deep into 
the lonely recesses of Jan du Toit s Kloof until the 
kloof became a cleft only twaity fed: wide. 
Turning a comer, they saw a pepex&cular water- 
fall, sixty feet high; and at one side a huge, rough 
ladder 

The climbers were reluctant to trust the rickety 
ladder entirely, for though massive in parts it was 
old They used their rope, passed fearfully over a 
bulge in the rock where the ladder leant outwards, 
and gained the stream above the waterfall. As the 
last climber reached the top, the ladder swayed 
sideways. The climbers ocpecbed to see the whole 
structure collapse, and wondered whether their 
retreat would be cut off . 

Not far up the bed of the stream the^ mcouiteed 
another waterfall. They speit an uncomfortatie 



night in a narrow ravine. Time was against thou 
and progress was so slow that they decided to 
rdum With the aid of the rope all of themdimbed 
down the ladder safely. For long afewards the 
my stery of the ladda~ filled their minds. 

The discovery received some publicity, and at last 
came the explanation. In the early years of this 
century a party of buchu gatherers were at work in 
the area They searched many remote kloofs forthe 
valuable herb; and one day they arrived at the 
waterfall and saw the kloof beyond the waterfall. 
Buchu grew richly there. Abel Marthinius, the 
leader, was detemined to reach it He climbed 
with one companion and gained the summit of the 
waterfall. 

It was an aclievarat. Other clintes, iirluding 
experienced members of the Mountain Qub, 
tackled the wall afewards, but failed The mm 
with Marthinius rdiised to follow him (with the 
one exception I have mentioned); but much buchu 
was going begging and Marthinius thought over 
the problem. 



He planned the ladder, cut spars in a nedghtouring 
kloof and set his men to work. That was in 
December, 1913. It took eight men four days to 
construct the ladder, and other buehu gatto^ts 
repaired it from time to time and used it during the 
next eight years. The rotting upper portion still 
hangs from the precipice beside the waterfall. 
Though the ladder was not built by drosters, it was 
an adventurous enterprise and a strange relic to 
find in a lonely kloof. 

Only in January 1949 was Jan du Toits Kloof 
conqueni Mary climbers had seen the ladder and, 
as I have said, a few had gained the ravine beyond 
and reached the fourth waterfall in the long series 
of wetefalls that bar the way to the highest point 
of the Woof. 

The six climbers who set out in January little 
knew that there were altogether fourteen water- 
falls on the route. It took them five days to cover 
ten miles - five days of incredibly hazardous 
climbing. When they came to the sixth waterfall 
they found that no detour was possible, and they 
went up the slippety rocks with the water pouring 



over theiiL One kloof they penetrated was only 
thirty inches wide. The twelfth waterfall was five 
hundred feet high, and when darkness came they 
were still climbing. There was nothing for it but 
to spend the night on a foot-wide ledge. They 
were encouraged by the certainty that this was 
unknown country. The final waterfall was also 
five hundred feet high; and at the end they had 
climbed four thousand five hundred feet from the 
kloof entrance. It was then an easy journey to the 
hut on Waaihoek peak. 

Jan du Teats Kloof, a mysterious area explored 
for the first time half way through the twentidh 
century, forms a strong contrast with DuToits- 
kloof, opened up a few months later as a national 
road 



One mountain in the Cape is more formidable 
than the Matterhom This is Tovetop - that 
sinister peak near Ladismith, the "Witch' s Head," 
a rock without an easy route. 



When this peak was fitst climbed by Gustaf 
Nefdt, a twenty year-old farmer, in 1885, the feat 
was hailed as the finest moiintaineering 
achievement ever known in any part of the world. 
Some said that only a novice, unaware of the 
danger, would have attempted it. A previous 
attempt in 1850, led by one Ziervogel, had failed 
and thete is a story that several lives were lost 

Have you ever seen Toverkop? Even at a distance 
the dome shaped head, split as tough by 
lightning, strife a peculiar chill in to onlooker 
The summit is 7,225 fed: (twice to height of 
Table Mountain), but only to last pinnacles are 
difQcult You can see Toverkop seveity miles 
away. You can walk up to to final, sundeBl 
dome, to last four hundred fed: And tlrae, 
unless you are an expert climber, you will stay. 

Sometimes the dome of Tovertop is snowbound. 
Usually in winter the rock is ice-clad, so that 
hardened climbets are defeated by cramp. Many 
who climb Toverkop leave blood from their 
fingers on the rock 



They say that a witch was crossing the mountain 
one night, and was baffled near the summit In 
her rage she split the dome with her wand So 
today there aie the Eastern and Western 
pinnacles; the Eastern ascent is an ordeal, the 
Western a climb only to be attempted by the 
most skilful mountaineers. 

Gustaf Nefdt was bom within sight of Toverkop, 
and lived all his life in the homestead at the 
entrance to Seven Weeks Poort His strength was 
in his fingers. Often he climbed the unplastered 
walls of the farmhouses for exercise, using tiny 
grips and hanging on like a fly. He owed his life 
to those queer exercises. 

Nefdt led a party of fifteen men to the base of the 
dome. They slept there; and before the others 
were awake, Nefdt went on alone, without rope, 
and chose instinctively the shortest and easiest 
route up the Western pinnacle. All except the 
first pitch. No one, I believe, ever followed 
Nefdf s exact route on that section. It was a 
superhuman feat. No other man could have done 
it without Nefdf s fingers. 



Some have argued that Nefdt had the advantage 
of grips which have since broken off. Geologists 
will not allow this theory. The rock on Toverkop 
is hard and unchanging. Nefdt climbed that wall 
as no man had ever climbed before. He may or 
may not have been aware of the risks he was 
taking, but he climbed it. 

On the summit which is about the size of a 
football field, he made a beacon and left a sock 
Then he returned more hazardously than he had 
climbed up, and told his friends that Toverkop 
had been conquered 

No one would believe hinL The walls of 
Toverkop are perpendicular) it is a grim place; 
and Nefdf s friends said they would grant him 
his triumph only wheu he brought the missing 
sock down with trim 

There was no time that day. For a fortnight Nefdt 
brooded over the disbelief which he encountered 
e^eiywhere. Then he found tv\o volunteers to 
accompany him to the summit and set off with 
witnesses to repeat the climb. 



This time he took a rope, and hauled the two 
men after trim. He was searched before the 
climb; he recovered the sock; and to make 
absolutely sure he carried a mirror and flashed to 
the incredulous people of Ladismith. That settled 
all doubts - the flashes, and the sock and the two 
men Nefdt brought down with trim 

No one e^erjeered at Ntfdt after that Fortweity- 
one years no one attempted the climb. Then, in 
April 1906, a krilliant climber tackled the 
Weston Pinnacle. He was G. F. Travers Jackson, 
a membe~ of the Alpine Qub and a man who had 
pionee^d many routes on Table Mountain and 
the country peaks. Jackson and a farmer named 
Arnold Boothman had already conquered the 
Eastern Pinnacle; now they wob detmrined to 
stand where only Nefdt and his followers had 
stood 

Jackson and Boothman had to grasp layer after 
layer of ice. Their fingers were numb when they 
reached the summit. But they wete not too 
exhausted to follow the Nefdt tradition by 
flashing to the village; and the whole village 



flashed back. The frame of Nefdf s mirror was 
still on the summit; and th^ also saw Nefdf s 
rope hanging where he had left it during the 
second descent 

Five years passed, and another party assembled 
and stared at the sandstone and polished granite of 
Toverkop's Western Pinnacle. The leader was A. 
A. Jurgens, a man who started climbing in 1902 
and never missed a week-end on the heights for 
twenty-six years. With him were the redoubtable 
W. C. Westandtwo others. 

According to legend, Tovertop is haunted. The 
coloured carriets with this party would not sleep; 
the^ lit a fire and kept it burning all night West 
and Jurgens suffei^d from cramp while roped on 
the final precipice, an experience new to both of 
them. The^ came to one narrow terrace where 
there were no hand-holds; and the^ had to sidle 
along precariously with their faces close to the 
rock. 

At one point West had to dislodge a chockstone, 
which fell into the ravine three hundred fed: 



below: Footholds near the summit said West, 
were no larger than walnuts. On the summit they 
made a fire of bushes as a signal to the people of 
Ladismith. 

West told me that he felt like a "pinned butterfly 
when cramp gripped him while stranded on the 
rock face during the descent His hat was knocked 
off, and he watched it fall vertically, touching the 
rock only once before it settled on the bottom 
ledge. 

I asked Jurgens for lis impressions. He said that if 
it had not been for a fault in the sandstone, the 
climb would have been impossible. "You had to 
push one hand into the crack, then wedge the 
other hand in the same way, and finally use 
your toes/' recalled Jurgens. "I had severe 
cramp in both hands at the top." 

It is a queer fact that though many have 
climbed Toverkop since 1885, no one has 
followed the exact route chosen by Nefdt. He 
left no written record, but it is clear enough 
that, in spite of all technical progress since 



then, Nefdt was the only man capable of 
climbing the way lie did. 

Toverkop has been climbed again and again in 
recent years. Each party has built its own 
beacon and left its own record - for Toverkop 
has its own traditions. West and Jurgens and 
their friends scratched their names on a coin 
and left it there. 

When there are a hundred beacons on 
Toverkop the Mountain Club will give a 
dinner to all surviving members who have 
done the great climb. 



What is the most difficult climb in the Cape? 
Last century, as you have seen, it was 
Toverkop. Twenty- five years ago the man 
who could make the frontal ascent of Little 
Winterhoek in the Tulbagh district was a hero 
among mountaineers. 

George Londt was the genius who led the way 
up Winterhoek frontal. On Table Mountain or 



in the country this short muscular man 
became an inspired leader, fearless to a degree 
- too bold as events proved. He loved a new 
route, and during more than a decade when he 
was in his prime he pioneered many a 
sensational overhang and almost impossible 
ascent. 

It was in December, 1920, that Londt and 
three companions started up the terrific four- 
thousand foot face of Klein Winterhoek. They 
used rubber shoes, one man standing on 
another' s head when that was the only way of 
reaching a crack above a ledge. In one place 
Londt found a grip for one hand only; he used 
the other to push himself upwards against a 
flat surface. The wall fell away into space, but 
Londt and his party went on 

They had to traverse constantly to avoid 
overhangs and bulges. The eighty-foot rope 
was often too short. If they had depended on 
footholds they would never have reached the 
summit; but handholds were enough for 
Londt. He was an expert when he came to a 



hand-traverse - which means that the feet are 
useless and dangling over a precipice. 

One point on this climb almost defeated him 
"Be ready for anything/' he called to the next 
man. He clung to a mere flake of rock over- 
head, changed fed: and climbed on That was 
Londf s finest day. The ascent of the exposed 
face lasted nine and a half hours. If the Klein 
Winterhoek climb is fairly simple today, it is 
entirely due to the beacons left all along the 
route by Londt. He was the pathfinder of the 
heights. 

Londt made his last climb on November 13, 
1927. He was tackling the final pitch of Rainbow 
Crag on Table Mountain when he fell sixty feet 
to his death. Londt had been climbing for seven- 
teen years; he had reached the highest point on 
Kilimanjaro and had made climbing history on 
many peaks. Many regard him as the finest 
mountaineer the Cape has ever produced. 



Since Londf s conquest of Klein Winterhoek, 
tv\o frontal routes of greater severity have beeu 
discovered on other Cape mountains. 

One was the frontal wall of MQner Peak, which, 
you will remember, is near the "Dome of 
Dreams." There is a ninety foot section of sheer 
rock which only the most experienced climber 
can hope to tackle successfully; and then the 
even more difficult final cliff - a really fright- 
ening precipice. Men who make light of heights 
have confessed afterwards that they found 
MQner Peak awe-inspiring. It is shorter than 
Winterhoek, but the holds are tiny. 

The other climb, I believe, has only beeu done 
once. This is the Castle Rock frontal above 
Ceres, a supreme test of climbing ability. "It is 
short but forbidding," a seasoned mountaineer 
told me." If you find a hold as large as a tickey 
on that face, you are lucky." 

The second party to attempt the climb, three men 
and one woman, were caught in a north-west 
gale on "lunch ledge" after nearly five hours 



climbLng. The^ had to spend a freezing night on 
this narrow ledge with a four-hundred foot drop 
below. A fire was a necessity. Fuel was collected 
fay dangling a volunteer over the precipice at the 
end of the rope. He tore just enough bush out of 
crevices to boil the billy. 

That night they passed the rope round their 
sleeping bags, and it saved them; for the rain 
would have washed them off, and the wind 
would have blown them away. They "abseiled" 
down next day; lowered down the rope, found a 
belay and went down again, covering the whole 
descent in this manner. Fortunately the hail came 
only when they reached the slope at the foot of 
this vertical, sensational rock 

No doubt Castle Rock frontal will be climbed 
again, but it may long maintain its place as the 
most difficult climb in the Cape. 



Many of the Cape mountains have their legends, 
and even the Toverkop tale is far less grim than 
the legend of Gordon Rock on Paarl mountain. 



Drive up the Jan Phillips Road, and you reach 
Paari Rock (or Paarl Diamant) first. Phillips, by 
the way, was the famous wagon-mater who 
agitated for the mountain road It cost £8,000 and 
Phillips paid £2,000 himself. One of the old 
signal cannon from the Dutch Company's days 
lies on Paarl Rock. Throughout the Cape these 
rusty cannon are used only on great occasions. It 
is on record that one Gddenhnys fired the Paari 
Rock cannon to celebrate Queen Victoria's 
Jubilee. This cannon was charged again in 1910 
during the Union celebrations, and Generals 
Botha and de Wet were both present when it was 
touched off. "Where is the man who is against 
Union?" inquired General de Wet rhetorically. 
"Let him stand in front of the cannon and I will 
blowhimto pieces." 

Britannia Rock was formerly Bretagne of the 
Huguenots - though I have never found the 
origin of the name. Two leaning rocks near 
Britannia form the danssaal, where open-air 

dances were once held Chains and iron poles 
were provided at the time of Prince Alfreds' 



visit; but Britannia is easily climbed; so easy is 
the slope that a jeep conquered the rock not so 
long ago. 

Finally there is Gordon Rock, and this grey 
granite dome is the home of the legend There is 
a deep crevice near the summit of the rock; anda 
boy named Gordon is said to have slipped into 
this crevice and remained there, seriously injured 
and beyond human aid His father, duly 
authorised by the landdrost fired the "mercy 
shot" that put him out of his agony . 

Official records in Paarl, I must add, have been 
searched again and again for corroboration of 
this story, but without result. A man named 
Johan de Villiecs did fall into the crack many 
years ago. He was hauled out, with nothing 
worse than a broken arm, by three schoolboys.... 

I think the Gordon Rock legend is no more than 
a scrap of folklore which has arisen in all 
countries where huge rocks repeal dark clefts. 
Probably it is true in some places. Certainly the 



story is told wherever the rock formation mates 
it credible. 

A similar legend has grown up round Baardeberg, 
between Paarl and MaLmesbury; and the old post- 
cart drivets used to halt between Ashton and 
Montagu and point to a deep fissure in the 
Cogmans Kloof Mountain, and relate a similar 
tragedy. Only there it was a youth named Botha, 
climbing in search of hone^, who missed his 
footing... 

Paarl is proud of these shining rocks above the 
town Mary believe they are the largest rocks in 
the world, and I am unable to contradict them 
Centuries ago the Bushmai of the valley looked 
at the rocks in wonder and saw in them the shapes 
of dragons. They said the dragon rocks rose up to 
gaze upon the first white people landing in Table 
Bay; and having rism, the rocks remained in their 
psresent positions. At all events you can see Table 
Bay from Paarl mountain on a clear day. 



One of the veteran climbers in the Cape is Mr. 
William C. West, whose Toverkop ascmt I have 
already described Past seventy he is still to be 
found on a mountain summit every Sunday. 

West was the first British subj ect to reach the top 
of Kilimanjaro; he has conquered many other 
peaks, and has been honoured by election to 
membership of the world's most eKclusive club 
for climbers, the Alpine Qub. (There are not 
more than half a dozen South African members.) 
Yet when you ask William West about his famous 
asoaits you find him describing the feats of lis 
rompanions. 

He has known most of the famous mountaineeis 
of his day, and has lectured on climbing before 
distinguished audiences in London, the Hague 
and Boiin General Smuts (who always calls htm 
''Kilirnanjaro'' West) has presided at his lectures 
for South African war charities. Smuts and West 
have often climbed together. 

As a boy West once met Edwerd Wbymper, the 
great mountaineer who conqueBl the Matteitoni 



He knew George Mallory, lost on Everest; and 
climbed Table Mountain with a survivor of that 
ill-fated expedition, Major N. E. Odell. Among 
Wesfs correspondents was Professor Hans 
Meyer, who mite the first Kilimanjaro ascent. 

"I was bom in England, but my mother had Swiss 
ancestors and told me I was bound to become a 
mountaineer/' West once told ma "She was right, 
though I had never climbed a peak when I arrived 
in Cape Town during the South African War. I 
was fond of botany, and that led me naturally to 
Table Mountain" 

West has not kept a complete record of lis Table 
Mountain climbs, but he speaks with pride of the 
2,600 ascents of Ope peaks (a total of 7,500,000 
fed:) made by his old mountaineeing friend Mr. 
K. Cameron West and Cameron have climbed 
Table Mountain 2 together five hundred times by 
various routes. 



The story of Table Mountain is told in "Tavern of the 
Seas" by Lawrence G. Green (Tunmrns). 



"I have never professed to be a brilliant climber, 
but in my younger days I was always ready to 
tackle anything - often with someone else in the 
lead," declared West 

In the early years of the cmtury West and lis 
friends took the train into the country and walked 
for miles to reach the peaks. Mary a Sunday night 
they weited on Wellington station for the four 
am train from Johannesburg. Now they leave 
Cape Town by car at five am and start climting 
two hours later. 

West believes that the Cape mountains produce 
some of the most brilliant cragsmen in the world. 
The young men now, he says, tackle climbs which 
he would have regarded as impassible in his 
youth- That is due to improved technique and 
clever use of the rope. 

"I have never beei in a tight comer- Iamalways 
too careful/' West remarked "But I did have a 
narrow escape once, on Slangolie Buttress on the 
Camps Bay side. I was following a fine climber 
when he dislodged a large stone and a clod of 



earth. This heavy mass glanced off my shoulder. 
That is one of the unavoidable risks of climbing, 
and it happmed only once to me." 

Wesfs climbing ability was put to its most 
practical use by the late Sir Frederick de Waal at 
the time when the Chapman's Peak drive was 
being planned. The surv^ of the route involved 
hazardous climbing, and West enjoyed a perfect 
mountaineering holiday at the spense of the 
Provincial Council. He marted the course of the 
present road with white calico strips, which 
fluttered from precipices and guided the road 
builders. 

At first no one wDiid accompany West on this 
ffightening task, but finally a coloured man 
agieed to join him. Roped together, the^ traveled 
the route from Noordhoek to Hout Bay in a day. 

In his city office Mr. West has a complete set of 
the 'TVIountain Club Journal," for which he 
recently refused an offer of £100. 

He often gazes out of lis high office window 
towerds the mountain he knows so well. He 



believes that the modem young climber is so 
skilful that the limit of achievement is being 
reached. 

"There is erough climbing by new routes, 
bowser, to keep this generation busy - and leave 
something for their successors/' sums up West, 
the veteran 



In the country, and especially in the Worcester 
area, a notable pioneer was the late Mr. Izak 
Mating. As a govemmmt surveyor he made a 
number of first ascents and accurately deteamined 
the heights of many famous peaks. 

Great Winterhoek above Tulbagh was thought for 
many years to be the highest peak in the Western 
Province. From there you can see the ocean in the 
west, Saldanha Bay, the Cedarberg range, even 
distant Tovetkop. The height of Great Winbahoek 
is 6,840 feet. But thete is a greater peak; you can 
see it from the train window as you go up through 
the Hex River mountains to the Karoo. It is 
Matroosberg, five miles from the railway line - 



7,378 feet in height The railway view reveals a 
perpendicular cliff, but on the Ceres side there is a 
perfect snow slope leading to the summit, 

Meiring has left lis name on the map. Behind 
Brandv^acht, the climber's favourite peak in the 
Worcester district you will find the Izak Meiring 
plateau, srov^covered in winter. A tronze taliet 
has been piaced in the face of a boulder at 5,300 
fed: by the Mountain Qub in memory of Meiring. 
The inscription reads: "He loved the mountains." 

Mountaineering is a new pastime, not yet a 
century old Fifty years ago a number of the 
miniature Matteriiorns of the Cape were virgin 
heights. Thei^ is still much unexplored country in 
the great bush-filled kloofs where the klipspringer 
and bushbuck roam. And eveiy week-end of the 
year the climbers are out thete, staring at possible 
lines of ascent; scrambling up buttresses; 
following cracks and "chimneys"; hammering the 
cliffs with their fists to test the soundness of the 
rock; traversing exposed ledges with only the air 
below them; roped and pinned against dangerous 
faces; fully conscious of life as the^ move up the 



p^cipices; brought fcy their own skill at last to 
distant summits. 

On the summits are the beacons aixl the records of 
past climbs that no true mountaineer will violate. 
Under small stone cairns aie the bottles and tin 
boxes in which each party leaves the record of 
the climb; romantic repositories that often 
remain for years unvisited and unopened Of 
course there have been vandals, and I am told 
that a parchment signed by climbers in the days 
of Simon van der Stel was found on Simonsberg, 
removed and lost. 

No doubt the first climbers were farmers staking 
their claims to land centuries before the 
Mountain Club was formed. They left beacons 
about three feet in height. In our time came the 
government trigonometrical survey, and more 
massive caims. Finally there are the new white- 
washed concrete cylinders which mountaineers 
dislike especially when the surveyors destroy the 
older beacons and the valuable records with 
theiiL But there are peaks the farmers and the 
surveyors could not climb. There stand the 



solitary little beacons of the climbers, and there 
they remain undisturbed. 

They remain, too, in the memories of the 
mountaineers. These heights exert a strong 
influence, lite the sea, over those who know the 
solitudes. They call men back, again and again, 
and men with the physique remain faithful even 
in old age. 

Those who can climb no more remember their 
mattresses of slangbos, the grey bush that makes 
the finest of all open-air beds. They think of 
nights when they saw the silhouettes of the 
giants against the moonlit sky; nights when the 
odour of buchu mingled with the sweet smell of 
the renosterbos in the fire; the scents of the 
winds, the mist, the wet soil, the pines and the 
flowers. 

They remember the stews they made in 
blackened tally-cans. The mountain streams 
where they rested among the ferns. The sound of 
boots on rock, rain on canvas, beetles and frogs, 
owls and jackals, and the barking of baboons. 



And above all, the high places where, on rare 
occasions, there is no sound. Mountains make 
the Cape, and every mountaineer has his own 
"Dome of Dreams." 



When the first explorers faced these mountains 
which I am gazing upon from my stoep, when 
they stared at these heights their eyes inevitably 
sought ways through the barrier. Yet they were 
seldom the real discoverers of the mountain 
passes into the hinterland. 

Sir Lowry's Pass, as we call it, is the oldest of 
all. This was the Gantouw of the Hottentots; but 
long before the Hottentots gieat herds of eland 
crossed the mountains by this route to feed 
where Somerset West now stands. They came 
down towards the sea on their spring migration 
and returned in autumn to their mountain 
pastures. 

Only three years after Van Riebeecks landing 
the first Dutch expedition followed the track 
beaten out by the hooves of the eland and saw 



False Bay from the summit. Corporal Muller was 
the leader, a lazy fellow accompanied by the 
crafty Herry, a Hottentot who had made a 
voyage in an English ship. 

One party after another bound for Sv^lendam 
and Knysna used this pass. First they called it 
Elands Pad, then Hottentots Holland Kloof, and 
much later Qnderidoof. Wagons crossed the 
mountains there in the seventeenth century; and 
for more than a hundred years the wheels scored 
the rocks so deeply that the marks are still 
visible. 

But it was dangerous. At the steepest point the 
wagons had to be unloaded. Slaves and oxen 
earned the freight or dragged it by chains. 
Andrew Sparrman, the Swedish naturalist, 
followed the rough track in 1775 and described a 
precipice down which cattle and wagons had 
often fallen. He noted the skill of the drivers, 
flicking the oxen with the long whip lashes so 
that the teams brought the wagons out of pits and 
over large stones. 




Brink' s Inn at the foot of Sir Lowry' s Pass. 



Near the foot of the pass was the farm 
Goede^erwachting, and the farmhouse became 
Brink's Irux You can still see the old road 
crossing the grounds. Many of the early 
travellers whose books are now so valuable 
toiled up the heights and shuddered as the oxen 
tore their hooves on the jagged rocks. 

It cost only £7,000 to make the pass safe, but the 
Secretary of State in London grudged the money. 
If the merchants of Cape Town had not come to 
the aid of Governor Sir Lowry Cole there would 
have been further delays. That gieat road-mater, 
Colonel Charles Mcbell, carried out the wDrk. 
Sir Lowry' s Pass was opened in 1830. One 
farmer told Mitchell that the new pass saved him 
awagonayear. 

Before the Caledon railway was built Sir 
Lowiy's Pass was the scene, evety year, of the 
famous "grain race." Some of the wheat and 
wool of the Swellendam district was loaded in 
the Breede River and went by sea to Cape Town; 
but Caledon and Bredasdorp sent their produce 
in wagons. The wagons took the old Bolandse 



pad] and when ttrae was no urgency the round 
trip, Caledon to Cape Town and back, took tm 
d^s. 

Grain was different. The new season's wheat was 
rushed to market and in 1872 a Caledon farmer 
covered the 75 miles to Cape Town in eighteen 
hours - no mean achievement It could not have 
been done in wet weather, of course, for the clay 
roads became slippeiy. Nevertheless, in ideal 
conditions, the average time during the grain race 
was twenty-four hours. 

Those drivers (usually the owners of the grain) 
must have had steel hands and wrists. The pace 
was too strenuous for one man, and leiselhouers 
(rein-holdets) helped. Each wagon loaded with 
grain weighed five thousand pounds. The horses 
must have been as magnificent as the men. 

You can still trace the halts along that busy road 
One was Knoflooks Kraal, now surrounded ty 
trees, but a Hottentot settlement on open veld in 
Van Riebeeck's time It is a very old name 
Koffiekraal was another) and this has now 



become Elgin. The section from the foot of the 
pass to Cape Town was the most difficult, owing 
to the sand Drivets were always glad to reach the 
Hardekraaltjie uitspan, on the present Site of 

Bellville; for as the name suggests, it was a firm 
patch in the sandy ocean 

The grain and wool days were the greatest days 
Sir Lowiy's Pass has known. Generations of 
wagon drivets talked round the uitspan fires at 

the foot of the pass. Tales of the road, the 
romantic road - tales that linger in the folklore of 
the people in the great districts beyond the pass. 



Water from a huge late that once covered the 
Tulbagh valley broke through the mountains 
millions of years ago and formed the Tulbagh 
Pass. 

Hottentots took their cattle through the deep 
ravine, never thinking that their descendants 
would see the Blue Train in this gap. The first 
white man to penetrate the chasm was Pieter 



Potter, sent out fcy Van Riebeeck not long after 
the lazy Mulleis' eastward journey. 

Roodezand was the dghteenth-century name of 
the pass. Thunberg the botanist went through in 
1772 and left lis impressions on record; "In some 
places it was so narrow that two wagons could not 
pass each other. It is usual for drives to give 
several terribly loud smacks with their long whips 
which are heard at a distance of several miles, so 
that the wagon that arrives first may get through 
unimpeded before anotho~ alters it" 

You remember Etienne Barbier the droster? His 
head and right hand were fixed to a pole at the 
entrance to Roodezand The pole was still there at 
the beginning of last century. This grim landmark 
has gone, but the flat boulder called Bushman's 
Rock remains. From there the Bushmen kept 
watch against their hereditary enemies, the 
Hottentots. 



Elephants led the way and stamped the original 
track that is now the Fransch Hoek pass. I have a 



letter from a man whose father watched the last 
herd of elephants crossing "Olifants Kloof into 
the interior. Fiansch Hoek, of couise, was once 
Olifants Hoek. The farinas hated the elephants, 
for the^ raided vineyards and grain lands. 

Builder of the earliest road was a farmer named S. 
J. Calls, with W. F. Hertzog as his surveyor. That 
was in 1819, and the road was called Catspad 

This man Cats followed the path taken year after 
year by the elephants migrating with their young 
to the high veld. A little goat wagon, like a child's 
plaything, carried supplies to the men working on 
the heights. This wagon, made in the eighteenth 
century and believed to be the oldest in South 
Africa, is preserved on a Fiansch Hoek farm. 
Catspad has not entirely vanished, though much 
of it is covered by bush. 

It was a rough pass that Cats built and after it had 
been in use for only four years Lord Charles 
Somerset authorised a proper road He was 
thinking not so much of the needs of the district 



as of finding work for the men of the recently 
disbanded Royal African Corps. 

These old red-coats were drinking and rioting in 
Cape Town, and the only alternative would have 
been to send them back to England at great 
expense. Loid Charles put them to work on the 
pass under the supervision of a Royal Engineers 
officer. 

Unskilled as road-maters, the soldiers cursed, 
protested- and worked They cursed the rains that 
washed them out of their tents in winter, the 
summer heat that flayed them, the leopards that 
menaced them at night On the Villiersdorp side 
they toiled in a rocky valley that they named 
PuKjatory. 

But at a cost of £8,375 the^ made a pass which 
carried wagon, and later motor traffic, for more 
than a century. It was a safe road, yet in 
November, 1867, it was the scene of the most 
sensational wagon accident the country had ever 
known I have rescued the details from the old 
Cape Town newspaper, the "Zuid Afrikaan" A 



French Hoek farmer named Letter was returning 
from Villiersdorp wifti tris bullock wagon loaded 
wifti oat sheaves and wheat His wife and baby 
and four older children and Gabriel Louw, a 
friend, were passengers in the wagon They 
reached the point where the old toll-house stood. 
Here the pole came adrift, and the wagon fell 
over the precipice - a drop of a thousand feet. 

Lotter was out of the wagon at the time. Louw, 
Mrs. Lotter and her baby, and two sons, j umped 
clear. The two remaining children fell with the 
wagon The paients saw the wagon being 
shattered against a projecting rock 

"Who could describe a parent's gratitude when 
the father, descending as fast as possible to the 
valley below, found his children alive/' said the 
newspaper report 'The boy was without a 
scratch, the girl, although much hurt and torn, 
without any fracture or serious injury." 

The old Fransch Hoek pass fell into disrepair, 
but it was not until 1930 that the Divisional 



Council labelled it "Dangerous." Then came the 
depression, and a new pass was built 

Peaks on either side of the Fransch Hoek pass 
are much higher than Table Mountain, and the 
crossing of the nek is a dramatic experience. 
This point is one of the great watersheds of the 
Cape. Here a drop of rain may split one part 
going down the Breede river to the Indian 
Ocean, the other flowing with the Berg river to 
the South Atlantic. 



Bain's Kloof has been called the "child of 
yesterday," though it will be a centenarian in 
1953. Bain's Poort was the earlier name, and the 
whole achievement is bound up with the strong 
personality of Andrew Geddes Bain. 

He was an explorer, trader, geologist and soldier 
before he left his indelible marks on the Cape 
mountains. Many of the fossil reptiles he 
collected are in the British Museum Though he 
also built Michells' Pass and the Katbecg road, 
Bain' s Kloof is his real memorial. 



Incredible though it may seem, much of the 
Bain's Kloof route was unknown country less 
than a century ago. There was great need for a 
shorter road between Cape Town and the fruitful 
basin of the Warm Bokkeveld; the farmers wece 
bringing their produce through Tulbagh pass and 
wasting days on evety journey. 

Bain was out shooting in the Worcester 
mountains with John Montagu, the energetic 
colonial secretary, and Charles Bell, surveyor- 
general. Bain noticed a kloof which seemed to 
lead in the direction of Wdlington, and pointed 
it out to his conpardons. 'You had better 
investigate/' suggested Montagu 

Farmers and even the field-comet confessed to 
Bain that they had never explored the kloof. 
Some said they had gone into the kloof in search 
of runaway slaves; but they had never reached 
the end. They thought the kloof came to a dead- 
end in a cave. 

Bain went into the mountains to mate his own 
survey. He came out eKcited. "I have discovered 



a north-west passage - but the job will be 
expensive, " he reported 

Montagu replied: "Bain' s Poort will be your next 
job. It is refreshing to work with a man of your 
zeal and energy." 

So the stupendous task began early in 1849. 
From first to last more than a thousand convicts 
broke the rock that barred the path. Soldiers 
acted as warders. Dangerous convicts worked in 
chains, and were secured at night to iron rings 
cemented into the rocks. The well-behaved men 
lived in the white- washed convict station. 

On the Wellington side the work was easy, apart 
from an attempt to cut a tunnel through one of 
the mountain spurs. This failed, and the road was 
taken for three-quarters of a mile round the 
obstacle. But on the Worcester side, spades were 
useless. Gunpowder, which cost £1,200, had to 
be used to shift the huge masses of rock. Ten 
miles of the road (which is I8Y4 miles in length) 
were blasted. 



The^ made more fuss over official openings last 
century than the public would tolerate today. 
Banquets and dances went on for days in Paari 
and Wellington- Five arches bearing Latin 
inscriptions were set up along Bain's Kloof. 
There was a ceremony at each bridge, and the 
unused gunpowder was touched off on the hill 
tops as a special treat. The convicts who had 
completed the job were granted remissions in 
their sentences. Bain's Kloof was open, after 
four and a half years of tremendous effort. 

Bain himself declared that he would rather build 
another pass than address the crowd 



Mary passes have been built since then, and there 
are two that always grip ny imagination 

One is the austere Swartberg, linking the sun- 
scorched Karoo with the green veld and forests of 
the coast A thousand convicts had to labour for 
five years on that job; and thev hacked out a road 
that runs up almost to the altitude of the Rand and 
is covered with snow in winter. One of the stone 



houses collapsed under the weight of snow while 
the pass was being built; many of the convicts 
inside died from ocposure. 

You can still see the wails of the houses used by 
the convicts. There is a convict graveyard, too - 
one hundred and fifty of them died or wbb 
acadentally killed during the building of the pass. 
The summers were hard but the winters were 
ghastly; and always the werders kept watch with 
dogs. 

It was in 1886 that Sir Gordon Sprigg, Prime 
Minister of the Cape, opened the Swartberg Pass 
and Miss Gertrude Schermtarucker broke a bottle 
of champagne on the summit. The work had cost 
£80,000. 

The other pass that still enthrals me is the Hex: 
River of rotorious reputation It was a grand 
inteiude when, as a small boy, I travelled with 
my parents bdween Cape Town and Kimbeiey in 
a train without a dining-car. Today I can wetch 
the unfolding of the high landscape with almost 
the same breathless interest 



There is a conflict of opinion about the origin of 
the name Hex River. One view is that hex should 
be hek, meaning gate, as the pass is the gate from 
the low country to the Karoo. As far back as 1717 
records show that the river was called Ekse rivier. 
But a heks (formerly spelt hex) is a witch in 
Afrikaans. So many people have been killed in 
railway accidents on the Hex River pass that a 
sinister influence seems to lurk over the majestic 
mountains. During the First World War a troop 
train was derailed there; eight men of the 
Kaffrarian Rifles were killed and eighty-nine 
injured. A stone beacon with the names of the 
victims stands at the scene of the accident. Again, 
in 1928, eight w&e killed when some of the 
coaches of a passenger train overturned and 
caught fire. There have been other tragedies since 
then. 

This is the Hex: River legend Elise Savage, 
daughter of a Huguenot farmer in the valley, was 
so beautiful that she had many suitors. She 
favoured one Jean Durand and devised a test for 



him He had to bring her a red flower that grew 
only on the ledges of the Hex: River precipices. 

Eagerly the young lover set out on his quest, and 
after hours of climbing he saw the flower. He 
had it in his hand when he fell. Some time later a 
shepherd found the body - and the withered 
flower. 

When Elise Savage realized what she had done 
she climbed the mountain and threw herself off 
the ledge where the flower had grown And now, 
on e^ery moonlight night, so they say, you can 
see a white shape on a high point in the 
mountains. 

P. J. Pretorius made the legend the theme of a 
moving Afrikaans poem: 

As maonlig oor die berge blink 

so vit soos dagletrier 

dan sienjy oor die rotse wink 

die heks van Heksrivier. 



Chapter 3 
"Old Dutch Medicines" 

Some Of The Stores Down in the village have 
modem windows, others aie the traditional Cape 

olgemeine hondelaans. But all the general 
dealers stock "Old Dutch Medicines." It will be a 
transformed countryside indeed when the last 
bottle of "Vecsterk Druppels" is sold, when 
'Turlington" is no longer in demand, when 
"Levens Essence" ceases to give instant relief to 
the troubled stomach. 

Some of these remedies aie so old that the firms 
preparing them aie unable to give me their 
origins. A few of the most famous prescriptions 
have been on sale in the Cape for at least two 
centuries without the slightest change in the 
ingiedients. I am not at all inclined to sneer at 
medicines which have lelieved the pains of 
generation after generation of country people. 

In the days when doctors were unknown in the 
platteland every farmer had his huis-apteek, a 
medicine-chest stocked with powerful herbs 



gathered and lecommended by Bushman and 
Hottentot servants. There was always a vlym or 
lancet for bleeding a patient; and the 

koppelhoring (suction horn) served the same 
purpose. Cobwebs, turpentine or tobacco leaves 
were used as bandages. 

Farmer's wives cut up potatoes and laid the 
slices on the forehead to relieve headaches. 
Powdered chalk was the great poison antidote. 
Bread mould cured many a festering wound; 
they little knew that one day it wDuld be called 
penicillin 

Before the end of the eighteenth century came 
the Halle or Hallesche medicines, originally 
imported, but later made up by the Cape Town 
apothecaries. I think the "Old Dutch Medicines" 
can trace their descent to both these sources; the 
Cape buchu, wild garlic and other bulbs and 
plants; and the almost medieval medicines from 
Europe. 

Halle medicines, advertised in the "Cape Town 
Gazette" in 1817, included "winder essence, 



Dulcis, Amara, cramp drops and red powder." 
The^ were "put up in boxes for the convenience 
of countty people." I have also studied a 
pamphlet in Nederlands, printed in 1859, and 
describing the remedies obtainable at the Engel 
Apotheek, 29 Loop Street. Dr. C. F. Juritz was 
the chemist. The pamphlet was intended as a 
household medical guide, and it gave symptoms 
and dosages. It is clear that Dr. Juritz was 
making up the mixtures that later became "Old 
Dutch Medicines." Turlington for chest 
complaints, Jamaica Gemmer Essens, Dr. Stahl' s 
Versteckende Druppels - all these were on the 
list. 

Dr. Juritz also anrounced that he had the original 
recipe for Napoleon's Borstpillen, given to him 
by a friend of the Emperor, and guaranteed to 
loosen the chest There was antimonium wine for 
children; arnica tincture to be applied outwardly 
to the head and muscles or taken internally with 
weter) asthmatic elixir and various balsams; 

bloedstillende druppels, Cajoputi oil for pains in 

the limbs, buchu azyn, Groene Amara for 



stomach ache and Hoffman's druppels for 

headache. Pynstillende druppels, zlnkings 
druppels (own recipe), koortS druppds and oog- 
water all speak for themselves. 

Testimonials at the end of the pamphlet included 
one from the great Ovamboland missionary, Dr. 
C. Hugo Hahn, who praised the eye essence and 
declared that the inflammation from which he 
had been suffering during a long journey in the 
interior had subsided. 

At the same period another chemist advertised 
alum in casks, arsenic, ipecacuanha valerian, 
jujubes, paregoric lozenges, coriander seeds and 
jalap. But the famous Cape mixtures held their 
own in the face of powerful foreign competition 

About the middle of the last centuiy "Croft s 
cures" vied with the older remedies. The name of 
Croft was a household word in the Cape for 
many years, for he was a shrewd advertiser in the 
country newspapers. Croft's 'Tincture of Life" 
was regarded as a certain specific for snakebite, 



horse-sickness, cattle diseases and distemper in 
dogs. 

Unfortxinabely the medical profession did not 
share this view, and Croft was denounced as a 
quack He defended himself vigorously in the 
"Cape Argus." Although he held no licence, 
Croft said, he had practised in the country for 
thirty-two years and had thus acquired a wider 
experience than most of those who held 
diplomas. Out of thousands he had attended, 
only six had died - and these were all young 
children. Even more astonishing was his claim 
that his services were "chiefly gratis." The 
country people believed in Croft, and he 
certainly believed in himself. 

Some of you may remember a later spell-binder, 
the celebrated Sequah, who toured the Cape by 
ox-wagon towards the end of last century. This 
"wonder doctor 7 ' had a retinue of cowboys and a 
brass-band. Wherever he went he left a trail of 
human teeth, painlessly extracted while the band 
drowned the shouts of the victims. 



He sold the famous "Sequah Oil and Prairie 
Flower Mixture/' which he described as "a sure 
cure for e^ery ailment under the sun" The lame 
hobbled to his shows and some ran home without 
their crutches. Sequah kept the sticks as trophies. 
His real name was Stevens, and he died in 1916 
in Johannesburg. There was another Sequah 
using identical methods overseas; his name was 
Hannaway Rowe, and he ne^er visited South 
Africa 



Van Riebeeck was the first surgeon to live in the 
Cape. Others arrived with the Huguenots. Some, 
lite Jean Durand who settled in the Drakenstein 
valley in 1690, had farms as well - a custom 
which has survived through the centuries. 

Those early surgeons appear to have been handy 
enough at putting up dislocations. They were 
fond of prescribing such medicines as cinnamon, 
crocus, ginger and the wonderful Peruvian bark 
now known as quinine. 



As early as 1713 the first district surgeon was 
appointed - Daniel Feyl of SteUenbosclL In the 
middle of the eighteenth century a surgeon, 
Nicolai Fuchs of Rensburg, was shipwrecked at 
Mossel Bay. He liked the Cape so much that he 
stayed on and secured two morgan near the 
church in the Land of Waverea His patients 
claimed that although he was an alien, without 
rights, he was "an individual whose services 
were indispensable to the public." Nevertheless, 
he was ordered by Governor van Plettenberg 
thirty years later to leave the country . 

It was possible in those days for a surgeon to 
qualify locally if he could satisfy the Company' s 
surgeons that he knew his work. In 1776 a 
soldier, Montauban of Rotterdam, received his 
certificate at the Castle. These early surgeons 
were also barbers., as in Europe. 

Lichtenstein met a young physician in practice at 
Swellendam in 1803. The physician confessed, 
however, that he had to travel far and wide 
selling medicines. His ordinary practice would 
not support him, for he declared: 'There is not a 



colonist who would not rather be his own 
physician" 

Medical mai were allowed to advertise, e^en in 
the nineteenth century. Here is an example from 
an 1817 issue of the "Cape Town Gazette": 

"Mr. Shand, Surgeon, Royal Navy, begs most 
respectfully to acquaint the inhabitants of 
Stellenbosch and its vicinity that he proposes to 
establish himself fto© in the various branches of 
his Profession From the otpenence and practice 
he has acquired in the service of his country in 
diff etent parts of the world, he hopes to obtain a 
small share of public confidence. He is lodging 
with the Widow Le Guetenne. Night applications 
will be equally attended to as by day." 

A Doctors' Society was formed in 1826, but the 
young doctors and the men of the old school soon 
fell out The conrnttee drew up rules, and 
country doctors were instructed to visit the gaols 
daily, attend all floggings, keep registers of cases 
attended, dispense medicines from government 
supplies and furnish regular reports. They wee 



also requited to compile notes on climate, 
prevalent diseases, the bites of venomous 
creatures and the efficacy of indigenous remedies. 

For decades after that, however, there were large 
districts without doctors. Five thousand people in 
the Qanwilliam area were without medical aid 
The country was ravaged again and again by 
smallpox, tut only those in large centres could be 
vaccinated Dr. Cooper of Somerset West 
contained in 1844 that many women were dying 
in cMd-kirth, and suggested proper training for 
rridwdves. 

As late as 1871 the "Cape Monthly Magazine" 
protested against "inferior men" known as 
pLatbelandse heelireesters being allowel tD 

attend the sick. The course favoured by the 
magazine was an app^nticeship of two years to 
an apothecary, followei by two years in a 
hospital. 

The first Afrikaner to qualify in medicine 
ovetseas was Dr. Johannes Smuts of Paari. He 
was bom in 1819, took his degrees in Holland in 



1843, and died in 1871. Twelve years before his 
death Dr. Smuts was converted to homeopathic 
medicine. Homeopaths believe that the most 
efficient drug to cure a disease is one which will 
produce the symptoms of that disease in a healthy 
petson The^ give the smallest possible doses. 
The first homeopath had set up in practice in 
Cape Town in 1857, a Mr. Hugh Eaton who 
announced that he was following the method 
originated at Leipzig by Samuel Hahnemann 

The first medical book to be published at the 
Cape was Dr. Biccard's 'Voll^eneeskuTide 
voor Zuid Afrika" in 1866. The first issue of the 
"Medical Journal" appeared eighteen years later. 

There were only 126 licensed doctors in the 
Cape Colony in 1 874, and 148 qualified 
druggists. Five years later the first South African 
woman doctor was placed on the register - Miss 
Jane Waterston of honoured memory. 

An old doctor who practised in the country in the 
'eighties of last century once told me that in 
those days there were no bad debts. In the village 



he charged five shillings a visit by day and ten 
shillings at night. When he went out to the farms 
in his Cape cart, the rate was three shillings a 
mile. And as soon as he had treated a patient, the 
farmer would go at once to his wagon-box and 
count out the fee in golden sovereigns. 

Today there are still many country doctors who 
would not change places with any city specialist. 
I know one genial medical practitioner in a 
remote Cape district who sums up lis life 
candidly, lite this: 

"I am a glorified taxi-driver, and I often have to 
go a hundred miles to see a patient. I am 
spending a fortnight in town, and already I am 
ready to return to my solitude. I lite beer, food 
and hunting. The countiy is ideal for anyone 
with my indolent nature." 



Doctors still extract teeth in the lonely districts 
of the Cape, but for some reason most of them 
dislike this work and refuse to fill cavities. Thus 



the itinerant dentist has always been a popular 
visitor deep in the platbeland. 

Not long ago I was talking to a man who 
travelled from dorp to dorp by post-cart in the 
'eighties of last century with the tools of the 
dentist's profession He had served an 
appraticeship of five years to a leading Cape 
Town dentist - the only available training at that 
period Then, at the age of nineteen, he had 
borrowed enough money to buy an outfit of his 
own and set off through the old Cape Colony. 

"I had a happy time/' he recalled. 'The doctors 
were friendly. I carried chloroform and large 
retorts of nitrous oxide; sometimes the local 
doctor would give the anaesthetic, often I gave it 
unaided: Many doctors welcomed me because I 
was able to assist them at operations. I had no 
degrees or other qualifications, but I was a vety 
good dentist." 

He hired a bedroom and sttting-room at each hotel 
and set up his drilling machine. This was operated 
fcy foot He carried a large stock of porcelain 



teeth, vulcanite and rubber, and charged twenty- 
five guineas for a full set. During his first month 
(at Mossel Bay) be made £100: Doctors and 
dentists were allowed to advertise, so that every 
village knew when he would arrive. He still has 
his bag of instruments, and he told me that he 
could still use them if anyone cared to put trim to 
the test. Such was the early career of a man who 
afterwards became famous in another field of 
enterprise - Mr. C. W. H. Kohler, founder of the 
modem Cape wine industry . 

In places so remote that even the itinerant dentist 
never called, missionaries did their best to relieve 
toothache. The Rev. Heinrich Kling of 5tenkopf 
was a natural dentist with a deft touch which had 
to be seen to be believed - so one of his patients 
assured me. When he examined a tooth te knew 
instinctively what instrument would be required; 
and without a falter he would draw the aching 
tooth. Kling was also a wise herbalist During his 
years in retiremt at Wolsele^ he filled a loft 
with Irabs gathered on the mountains. His book 



on the subject "Die Sieke Trooster/' is rare and 
valuable nowadays. 



Herbalists have always flourished in the Cape. 

The bossie dottier was at work before Van 
Riebeeck arrived; and he is still willing to 
prescribe for almost any ailment Often enough he 
is successful, for among the herbs and plants of 
the veld are some with genuine curative powers. 

Dr. L. Pappe, the official Cape botanist appears 
to have been the first to devote a pamphlet to the 
medical properties of Cape plants. It was 
published in 1850, price two shillings; and today 
it is so rare that many collectors would pay three 
guineas for a copy. Marloth and otters have 
added consideratiy to Bappe's research, but there 
are probably still many rmdical secrets of the veld 
awaiting discovery. 

A story that impressed me was related fcy a retired 
police sergeant who was at Nieuwoudtville in 
1918, during the devastating influenza epidemic. 
In the absence of a doctor, the sergeant went 



round treating 'flu victims with an infusion of tea 
made from the Sandoleanhout (or Bastolean- 
hout), a bush that grows in many parts of the 
Cape. 

Intense sweating is produced by this drink. The 
sergeant completed his cures by doses of 
ammoniated tinctuie of quinine. No one died in 
Meuwoudtville, though there were scores of 
deaths at Calvinia and Van Rhynsdorp. 

It was a plague indeed, that October epidemic. 
Many farmers had gone to Cape Town for the 
wool sales; they returned home in the grip of the 
fever and spread the infection. There were lonely 
farms on which every human being perished. 
Many isolated people could not hope for skilled 
medical attention. Stores closed in the villages, 
branch railways shut down. 

No wonder the desperate country folk resorted to 
old remedies. They hung up wild garlic in their 
rooms, wore it round their necks, ate the bulbs 
raw or boiled them in milk 



The origin of wild garlic as a medicine makes 
the queerest story of all. This knowledge came 
from the baboons. Sick baboons have often been 
observed burrowing for wild garlic. Whole 
troops were seen during the 1918 epidemic, 
staggering out of their mountain fastnesses in 
search of garlic. They, too, suffered heavy 
casualties. Nevertheless, many a farmer will tell 
you that he owes his life to wild garlic. 

Another baboon remedy which is followed 
faithfully in the platteland is an infusion of 
willow leaves for rheumatism. Baboons suffer 
from rheumatism, and farmers noticed their pet 
baboons gorging on these leaves. A world- 
famous drug for relieving pain is derived from 
the same source; but in the country, willow 
leaves are regarded by some as a lasting cure. 

Watercress is a plant with a great mecUcinal 
reputation in those parts of the Cape where it 
flourishes. It has iron and vitamins, of course, 
and it is used for asthma and other chest 
complaints, whooping cough and colds. They tell 
the tale in Riversdale of a man in the last stages 



of tuberculosis who felt an urge to eat 
watercress. After a few months of this diet he 
made a complete recovery. 

Wild sorrel, the wayside plant replaces vinegar 
in many country households. This is the same 
plant that was given to scurvy stricken sailors in 
Dutch East India Company's days. The leaves, 
which contain oxalic acid, are often used for 
cleaning brass. 

Leaves of Kruidjie (or Truidjie) roer my nie, in 
spite of the unpleasant odour, yield a decoction 
which is taken as a gargle or applied to skin 
diseases. Another favourite gargle is derived 
from the leaves of the Hottentot fig; and this 
antiseptic juice also makes a lotion for bums. 

Dyspepsia cures and remedies for stomach-ache 
are plentiful. The grey-green, resinous leaves of 
the renosterbos, infused with brandy, form a 
stimulating titters. Powler the tops, and you 
have the old-fashioned aperient for clildiea 
Then there is the kankerbos, which has failed to 
provide a cure for cancer. Mrs. Dijkman, in her 



early Afrikaans cookery book ("Kook, Koek en 
Resepten Boek, 1898") advised the silvery 
kankerbos leaves for ordinary stomach troubles. 
Long before that Thunberg the botanist recorded 
that the leaves, dried and powdered, were 
applied to sore eyes. . 

Koekmakranka-sopie is still a popular farm 
remedy for stomach-ache. (All mixtures blended 
with brandy appear to retain their chamx) The 
sweet-scented flowers appear in autumn They 
are steeped in boiling water, and when diluted 
the liquid is given to babies with teething 
troubles. Koekmakranka skin is applied to boils 
to bring them to a head; it is also useful for 
bruises and insect-bites. Wldeals (wDrmwood) 
has restored many a lost appetite. 

Some asthmatics claim that they have found 
relief by smoking dried stinkblaar (Datura 
Stramonium) leaves. This is a weed which must 
be treated with respect, however, for two seeds 
are enough to kill a child and three may finish an 
adult. Generations of South African schoolboys 
have known these seeds as malpitte because of 



the queer behaviour and delirium the^ produce. 
The poison is the alkaloid atropa belladonna. A 
sixteen-year-old boy at King William's Town 
swallowed a few seeds to avoid attending school 
and died within twenty-four hours. Stinkblaar 
poultice is an old country remedy for rheuma- 
tism, and that is harmless enough. 

Chest complaints are often treated with a dagga 

tinctUIB, OT geelblommetjie tea (Cape saffron) or 

protea syrup. Tandpynxvortel, also known as 
weter parsnip, is chev\ed to relieve toothache. 
For a headache you mate a poultice of leaves of 
the castor-oil plant The tiny fruit of the 
kissieblaar weed, pounded to a pulp, is applied to 
sores, while a prickly pear leaf poultice is relied 
upon to clear up ulcers. 

Scorpion stings are rarely fatal unless the victim is 
a young child or older person in f eeble health. A 
farmer who once received a painful scorpion sting 
told me that he called in a neighbour for advice. 
The neighbour unscrewed the stem of his pipe and 
poured the nicotine juice on to the sting. Pain and 
swelling disappeared almost immediately. 



Ammonia, petrol or paraffin are the common farm 
remedies when the modem antiverrin is not 
available. I have also heard of a six-year-old 
child, stung in the finger, whose parents plunged 
the finger into a fresh hen's egg and made the 
child keep it there for thirty minutes. The egg is 
reported to have turned blue but the child suffered 
no pain or ill-effects. 



Most famous of all the Cape veld remedies are 
buchu and bitter aloes. These are valuable 
products indeed, not merely the medicines of 
platteLand tantes but commodities in great demand 
overseas. And there is bush tea 

If my five acres were in the Cedarberg moiintains 
I woid grow bush tea and stand a chance of 
selling the crop for £1,000 a year. I was fascinated 
by what I saw and heard of bush tea in the 
Cedarberg. 

Bush tea is often confused with buchu. It is, of 
course, an entirely different plant - a legume. You 
hear it called rooi bos, heurdng tee, stekel tee. 



boer tee; thete are a number of varieties. The 
Cedarberg species is known to scientists as 
"cyclopia vogetii harv." It is mentioned in the 
Bible (Ecclesiastes: Chapter 24, Vetse 15): "I 
give a sweet smell like cinnamon and aspalathus." 
Bush tea belongs to the genus aspalathus. 

The main virtue of bush tea lies in the fact that 
you can stew it take it in large quantities and 
suffer no ill effects. It contains no tannin, no 
alkaloids. Thus it does not upset people suffering 
from heart trouble, dyspepsia or insomnia Mate 
it as strong as you lite. Try it iced with a slice of 
lenon Drink gallons of hot bush tea with 
impunity. It increases the appetite, and some 
declare that it relieves chronic catarrh and asthma. 

Dr. Peter Le Frans Nortier is the man behind the 
bush tea boom in the Clanwilliam district This 
country doctor, bom and brought up on a farm, is 
a lover of the soil. One of the first Rhodes 
scholars, he studied medicine at Pembroke 
College, Oxford, and at Liverpool. Late in 1917; 
after war service, he set up in practice at 
ClanwillianL 



A few miles outside the town Dr. Nortie~ started 
an experimental farm He grew mangos and 
avocados on the banks of the Olifanfs river, and 
developed a seedless orange that became famous. 
There I rs& him in lis cool rondavel; a friendly, 
scientific man with a peari-buttoned waistcoat and 
rorduroy trouses, a man equally familiar with 
stethoscopes and spades. 

Nearly twenty years ago Dr. Nortier decided to 
find out whether the wild bush tea could be 
cultivated. Bush tea had always found a market in 
the Cape One of my books, "Everyday life in the 
Cape Colony," published in 1902, remarks: "In 
most of the stores bush tea can be bought It costs 
sixpence a pound, looks like the clippings of a 
privet hedge, including the twigs, and is said to be 
a tonic." The demand was increasing in 1930, and 
all the bush tea was being collected more or less 
painfully fcy the same bands of coloured people 
who brought in the buehu. 

Dr. Nortiff immediatBly encountered a seed 
problem. He begged the farmers to bring him 
seed, but no one collected it When he offered to 



pay for it an aged Hottentot woman came again 
and again, receiving a stalling for each match-box 
filled with seed Evidently she had a large supply, 
and at last the doctor learnt the secret. 

The ants of the district collect rooibos seeds and 
stoiB triem undeipDiind 

rotting trie ants. Little did she imagine that 
within ten years trie pice of a match-box of seed 
would rise from a shilling to £5; trie most 
expensive vegetable seed in trie world at £80 a 
pound The scarcity is caused by trie dispersal of 
trie seeds as soon as trie pods crack. Bush tea 
grows in such lonely places that it is hard to find 
and hard to be there at trie right mommt for seed 
collecting. 

Dr. Nortier planted the seeds on Klein KJiphuis 
farm, six miles up the Bakhuis Pass. The farm is 
owned fcy Mr. W. T. Riordan, a retired magistrate; 
and the terraced garden close to the road, with its 
oranges and strawberries, is one of the sights of 
the district. From the height of two thousand feet 
you have a view of the sweltering Olifant's river 
vallev without feeling the heat. 




Mr. W. T. RiontenwithWsiB^ 

on the farm Klein Kliphuis. 



At fitst the tough seeds would not gernunabe. Dr. 
Nortier solved this problem by scarifying the 
seeds. That gave results that wete eighty per cent 
successful. The next snag came when the tiny 
bushes wera transplanted. This process must 
coincide with the rains; you must plant just after 
heavy rain at a time when more rain is due. The 
farmer who secures a fifty percent "strike" regards 
himself as lucky. 

The seed is sown in January and the seedlings are 
transplanted when about one foot in height injure. 
Under ordinary field conditions there should be a 
small crop in the second year, areasonatiecropin 
the third, and large crops during the fourth and fifth 
years. The life of the cultivated plant is about serai 
years. Wild plants live much longer. 

Mr. Rioidan settled on his farm in 1943, and when 
I visited trim four years later be had placed four 
morgen of his nine hundred morgen under bush 
tea The income from this small area was so 
satisfactory that Mr. Riordan's son (a mining 
engineer in Johannesburg) abandoned gold in 
favour of the more prof itable bush tea 



Although the whole process is still in the 
experimental stage, one farm in the Clanwilliam 
area has already yidded a £8,000 crop The crop is 
collected in February and each bush should yield, 
on an avenge, about one pound of dried tea Mr. 
Riordan secured tm lbs, from one huge bush. It 
grew to six fed: in height, but although he and his 
son studied this monster carefully, they never 
discovered the reason. 

From the point of view of scientific cultivation 
bush tea is still in its infancy. No irrigation is 
necessary. Nothing is yet known about fertilisation 
possibilities. The seed grows inpoorsarxty soil and 
flourishes where even rye will not grow. Even the 
botanical classification of the different bush teas 
has never been done propedy. 

Wtei picked the green tea is put through a chaff- 
cutting machine, frm truised with wooden 
mallets, splnkled with water and left in heaps to 
femai. NeKtdayitissur>cMedonace^ 
when it loses nearly half its weight The Cedarberg 
tea flower is small and yellow and the leaves are 
red when cured - the familiar popular rooibos of 



the grocer's shop. Another variety gives a black 
leaf, which appears to have a future from the 
blending point of view. Probably the most delicate 
flavour of all is provided by a bush tea with a small 
red flower, found only on the highest Cedarberg 
peaks. 

Mr. Riordan bought his farm "for a song/' as he 
says, in 1918 when he was stationed at Qan- 
william as magistrate's clei. For years a tenant 
paid £1 a month for the property which is now 
yielding a comfortatie income. 

BucK, hares, ants and a borer worm are the 
enemies of the bush tea plant Mr. Riordan 
considers that the hare does most damage, and is 
fencing against it. He has devised a method of 
growing wheat between the rows of tea as a 
unique windbreak. 

At one time it looked as though bush tea \\oidbe 
eKtmninated in the Cedarberg, for goats were 
grazing on it - and goats have eradicated many a 
usefii plant in many parts of the wdiIcL For- 
tunately the wild bush tea survives mountain fires; 



the stump sprouts again Cultivated bush tea, on 
the other hand, is killed by fire. 

Bush tea is popular in the fashionable cafes of the 
United States. They call it "Kaffir tea" over there; 
it is sold at seven shillings and sixpence a pound, 
and acup in a cafe costs two orthree shillings. 

Some people find the "wild" flavour of bush tea a 
little startling. The people who grow it know how 
to brew it and I am glad that I had my first cup of 
bush tea in the inspiring atmosphere of the 
Cedarberg nDuntains. At the end of a clay's 
hunting it seemed a magnificent drink. 

This is the Cedarberg way with bush tea Boil the 
water and pour one cup over the leaves. Let it 
stand forse^eral minutes, drain off the water, then 
fill the pot with boiling water and allow it to 
infuse for fifteen minutes. Put it on the stove and 
bring it to the boil as often as you lite. You may 
blend bush tea with China or Ceylon if you wish, 
but this is purely an economy measure in the 
cities. The bush tea connoisseur, way up in the 
mountains, will not tolerate a blend. 



Buchu was the ancient medicine of all the native 
races which found the gieen shrubs growing on 
their mountains. It belongs to the orange family, 
but the volatile oil of the leaves has a pepperaint 
odour. 

Coloured men, women and children go out buchu 
gathering in the mountains. Thete is a colony of 
these buchu people at Algeria, the forest station in 
the Cedarberg. Many of them have done nothing 
else all their lives; for although buchu has known 
booms and slumps, the heavy sacks of leaves 
always provide a living. 

The gatherers use their noses as well as their 
eyes. Lonely kloofs yield the largest harvests. 
(Remember the story of the ladder?) After 
clearing a patch, they note the spot and return 
after two years for another picking. 

Finest of all the many buchu varieties is the dark 
green rondebioor from the Cedarberg and 
Rketberg. The long (or oval) leaf, also known as 
steenbok buchu, comes mainly from the Tulbagh 



and Swellendam areas. It can be identified in 
winter by the small white flower. There is also 
the strongly-scented river buchu, oblong in 
shape, and found near watercourses. 

In the Cedarberg, donkeys are used to cany the 
bales of buchu. Elsewhere sacks weighing up to 
a hundred pounds are carried by the men. The 
bushes are hung up in the shade to dry, for the 
leaves would lose their colour in fierce sunlight. 
After eight to fourteen days the leaves fall off the 
stalks and the buchu is ready for sale to the 
nearest dealer. Rain is a disaster during the 
drying process, for wet leaves become white and 
valueless. 

Scientists have named the buchu varieties accor- 
ding to their scents - Barosma (heavy), Diosma 
(divine), Agathosma (good) and so on Nature 
appears to have provided the leaves with these 
aromatic oils as a protection against grazing 
animals and insects. 

Before 1910 buchu fetched only a few pence a 
pound. Then the United States chemists became 



aware of it, and during the 1914^18 war the price 
rocketed to 12s. 6d. a pound - only to slump to 
5s. overnight All through the 1939-45 war 
buchu fetched a steady 3s., and the price has 
risen since then. Buchu brings dollars and 
sterling to the Union - £20,000 a year from the 
United States and £16,000 from Britain. 

I believe the first farmer to cultivate buchu was 
the VersfeLd who settled on top of Rketberg 
mountain in the 'sixties of last century and built 
the famous old figure eight road to the summit 
Roughly three-quarters of the whole crop 
nowadays is still collected in the remote 
mountains. The gatherers also bring in ripe seed 
buds, which fetch up to twenty shillings a pound; 
and farmers with suitable mountain slopes plant 
out the seeds in April or May. 

Buchu was coming up well at Avalon, on the 
steep mountainside above Tulbagh, last time I 
was there. Murrogh Nesbitt, as I have said 
before, rode beside me on his pony. He pointed 
down the valley to another buchu farm where the 
owner had just reaped a crop worth nearly 



£5,000. And he told me how the pioneer buchu 
fanner in the valley, fearing competition, had 
planted his buchu secretly - little knowing that his 
neighbours were watching e^ety step in the 
process. 

About half the Cape buchu crop goes into buchu 
brandy and medicines made in South Africa. 
Buchu is such a universal medicine on the farms 
that it is difficult to find a complaint for which it 
is not used According to the British Pharma- 
copoeia it has a slightly diuretic action, inferior to 
that of other drugs. Amaican chemists use it as a 
cure for "hangovers." The farmer's wife in the 
Cape applies buchu vinegar to bruises and 
sprains, mates buchu tea for kidney and bladder 
disorders, and sv\aars by buchu brandy for colds, 
influaiza and stomach trouble. There is so much 
alcohol in some buchu medicines that the country 
storekeeper has to ration his coloured customer. 
It is not only the buchu they are after. 

Finally there are the bitter aloes, the flame- 
coloured spikes that grow wild along many a 
road. Aloe Ferox is cultivated fcy many farmers in 



the Riversdale district For a century and a half 
the dried juice (which looks like glue and tastes 
repulsive) has been shipped to Britain. 

For this juice holds the purgative aloin, and it will 
probably remain in demand as long as laxatives 
are sold Casual labourers flock to Albertinia 
during the tapping season, for nowhere else can 
they mate so much money. Tapper including 
many coloured womm, earn twenty-five shillings 
or more a day. 

I told you about the baboons that dosed them- 
selves with wild garlic. Aloes also attract the 
animals. Buck nibble the thick leaves. Birds and 
bees appear to recognise its medicinal value. The 
aloe has a longer record than the oldest of "Old 
Dutch Medicines.'' 

Chapter 4 
Country Hospitality 

Country Air Gives Me an appetite which has 
oflm to be anted And here on my steep nothing 
pleases me more than the wine of the country and 
the traditional farm food I say after much 



thought, and despite foreign experience, that the 
old Cape cookery at its best can stand up to some 
of the world' s finest dishes. 

Perhaps it is because my home is in the Cape. 
Nevertheless, I do not think my palate has led me 
far astray. The meals I remember with most 
pleasure are those I have enjoyed within sight of 
the Cape mountains. 

I was listening not long ago to an aged wine 
farma~ describing the land of plenty in the 
Drakenstein valley where he had spent most of his 
life. 'Those farmers and their families were 
Nature's aristocrats/' he declared "Every evening 
their tables were spread for many times the 
number in their housdiolds; almost evey evening 
they entertained people they had ne^er seei 
before. They did not get much for their wine or 
fruit The oranges went to Cape Town in large, 
square baskets on ox-wagons and fetched two 
sellings a hundred Yet nothing could be more 
delightful than the hospitality of the old Cape 
countryside before the days of motor-cars." 



Farm labourers (went on the old farmer) were 
better-nourished in those days. They earned a 
s hillin g a day and their food. Wine farmers 
slaughtered sheep and cattle and made their own 
bread, long loaves baked in ovens sealed with 
clay. A labourer's slice was four fingers thick. 
Salt snoek was the breakfast dish, with meat in 
the middle of the day and more fish at night 

That was the time when e^ery farmer made three 
liqueurs for household use - Jan Groentjie 
(petpeniint), aniseed and Van der Hum They 
were known as "the green, the white and the 
krown, " and the guest had to taste all three before 
he departed 

Probably the finest wine ever made in the Cape 
was the sweet red wine the^ kept in small casks 
on top of the large vats in the cellars. After a 
quarter of a century this wine became syrupy and 
valuable in sickness. It warmed the whole body as 
you drank it. No doubt some of these casks 
survive, but you will not find them easily. 



The Hugos of BrarchAQcht; in the Worcester 
district, had a famous wine of this type. It was laid 
down by Jacobus Francois Hugo (krown as "Oom 
Koos MoslBi^o^ie" because of his fondness for 
mustard) in 1796. The casks were replenished 
from time to time; but there was still a little of the 
original wine ldt when samples were sent to a 
Paris exhibition in 1878 aril gained a kronze 
medal. 

Bismarck, the "Iron Chancellor 7 ' of Gemiariy, 
received several bottles of this wine on his 
seventieth birthday. He liked it so much that he 
secured a further supply. When the Crown Prince 
was ill in 1882, suffering from a sore throat, 
Bismarck sent him a bottle of Hugo's wine; and 
the Crown Prince found that it comforted his 
throat 

Wines of that age are seldom drinkable to-day, 
but they have a marvellous aroma. Major Ret van 
der Byl, M.P., has some vety old wine in his 
cellar at Fairfield in the Caledon district His most 
venerable bottle was laid down ty an ancestor in 
1777. And his grandmother made several bottles 



of Van der Hum evey year, following different 
recipes. He opened one bottled in 1865 a few 
years ago and was captivated fcy the mellow 
gradousness of the liqueur. 

Here and there a stubborn wine farmer clings to 

the traj±>alie and has his grapes pressed by 
human feet. Machinery does a quicker job, but 
old-fashioned methods often pay in the wine 
industry and I would be the last to denounce such 
a picturesque scene as the tramping out of the 
grape juice. Some experts say, too, that the 
modem "eggraporr" presses the stalks and pips 
too hard, and gives the wine an acid flavour. 

They sang as they walked round the trapbalie - 
the great vat into which the baskets of grapes 
were thrown It looked primitive, but that was 
once the method in all the great wine countries 
and memorable vintages were pressed in that way. 

Young wine, not matured but about six months' 

Old, is known as Vaaljapie. This is the favourite 
everyday drink of the Cape coloured farm 
labourer? and in some districts it is difficult to get 



the heavy work of harvesting or shearing done 
without regular tots of Vaaljapie. It takes its 
name from its tawny colour) tough some 
varieties are red Vaaljapie can be a sound and 
refreshing drink, in strict moderation But a raw 
Vaaljapie, undiluted with water, has iinpleasant 
effects. 

The wine of the Cape which gives me greatest 
pleasure is one which I can buy only when I have 
a railway dinner. It is the dry red wine of 
Zormebloerri, near Simondiurri, made fcy John de 
Villiers who was killed in a motor accident in 
1 948. John de Villiers knew that the Cape soil and 
climate favour red wines rather than white. He 
approached his task with a scientific mind and 
within a few years he was taking all the important 
prizes at the Paarl wine show. That young man 
was on his way towards the production of a wine 
that would have stood up to mary a French 
burgundy. I hope that his secret has not been lost, 
for there is inspiration in a glass of ZormebloeriL 



Wine and cookery go together. In a previous 
book, 'Tavern of the Seas," I recalled HQdagonda 
Duekttfs grand books on Cape cookety and her 
fondness for wine in her recipes. She was the 
pioneer in this literary field. Her "Hilda's Where 
is It?", a recipe book of Cape, Indian and Malay 
dishes, first appeared in the 'eighties of last 
century. 

Soon aften\erds, however, came the earliest 

Afrikaans effort - "KooK Koeh en Resepten 
BoeK' by Mrs. Dijkman It was printed by the 
Patriot Ptess in Paarl, and was followed in 1904 
by an English edition Mrs. Dijkman based her 
work on a book in Nederiands, "Aaltjie, de 
Zurnige Keukenmeid/' which was the standard 
work in country kitchens during the latter half of 
last century. 

The peculiar malt of Mrs. Dijkman' s book is to 
be found in an appendix in which she preserved 
for posterity a number of old and litfle-known 
tousehold medical remedies. She explained in her 
preface: "It is not my intention to play the doctor 
or to deprive him of his dues, but simply to be of 



help while he is being called The good, kind 
doctor always found what I had done in his 
absence to be the correct thing. This gave me 
courage." 

Mrs. Dijkman' s remedies and notes on invalid 
cookety were praised by the late Dr. C. Louis 
Leipoldt He did not like her ordinary recipes so 
much, however, but preferred the authentic Cape 
Skottels and bredies of Hilda Duckitf s books. 

This century's auttority on Cape dishes is 
Jeanette van Duyn (Mrs. H M. Slade), who is 
known in every comer of South Africa as a 
demonstrator. Bom in Porterville (Cape), she first 
became a typist and then joined the staff of the 
Transvaal "Agricultural Journal." At this time she 
knew little about cooking; but she had to provide 
recipes for her journal and she teste! each one in 
her own kitchen before printing it 

Her work was noticed fay General Louis Botha, 
and at tris suggestion she was sent to universities 
in London, Canada and the United States at 
government expense to qualify as a dietician. This 



was money' well spent, for in later years Jeanette 
van Duyn was able to solve many of the South 
African country housewife's problems.. 

Jeanette van Duyn dmx>nstrated the old Cape 
recipes at Wembley. When one of the ostriches 
there laid an egg, she was able to bate a cake and 
prepare maiktert and poffertjies for Queei Mary 
and her ladies-ii>weiting. Jeanette also made 
sosaties, bredies and bobotie, seved with maize- 
rice. Queen Mary took samples and a recipe for 

koesisters away with her. 

"Miss van der Hum" is a nickname Jeanette 
earned because of her weakness for a dash of the 
liquejr in some of her sv\£et recipes. She has 
added considerably to the range of Cape cookery. 
Watermelon toffee is among her own creations. 
At a peiod when most of the railway chefs were 
foreigners, she gave special lectures on the 
preparation of Cape dishes. Her cookery books 
have done much to revive this art in South 
African households. 



Bobotie is an ancient dish, and Dr. Leipoldt once 
told me that he had discovered something very 
lite bobotie in a collection of recipes dated 300 
A.D. 

Mrs. Dijkman made her bobotie from minced 
meat (cooked or raw), bread, butter, onion, milk, 
pounded almonds, lemon juice, eggs, cuny 
powder and a small bunch of orange leaves. The 
mixture was baked and seived with boiled rice. 
Medieval recipes do include a similar dish, but 
saffron was used instead of curry powder. 

One dish brought to the Cape by prisoners who 
had served their sentences in Dutch men-o'-wer, 
was called "weitel jeefjes." It consists of bread 
soaked in milk and eggs and fried - rich and rare 
fare for men who wob little better than galley 
slaves. 

Crawfish usually appears cold nowadays, with 
mayonnaise. Dr. Leipoldt preferred the method 
of taking evetything out of the shell, pounding 
and stewing it with sherry, and then replacing it 
in the shell and pouring a curried egg sauce over 



the rich flesh Mrs. Dijkman served her crawfish 
baked, with breadcrumbs. Both these methods 
produce dishes of finer flavour than any 
mayonnaise. 

Sweet potatoes are reverenced in the platteland 
to a degree unknown in the towns. For centuries 
the "patat" has ripened in patches of dark green 
vegetation towards the end of June. In the wheat 
belt the standard winter breakfast consists of 
sweet potatoes, boiled snoek and coffee. 

They boil sweet potatoes in their skins on the 
farms. You can fry them in boiling fat for a 
change; or serve them chipped with cinnamon 
sauce; or soak them m brine arcl embody them in 
a cuny. A sweet potato salad with pickled fish is 
typical of the Cape cuisine. 

Three varieties are grown in the Western 
Province. Largest of all is the "white/' which 
runs up to nearly thirty pounds. The Port Natal 
patat is smaller, and has a more subtle flavour. 
Very sweet and yellow is the borrie patat. 



Van Riebeeck had the patat (but not the ordinary 
Irish potato) planted in the Company's garden 
very soon after his arrival. As early as 1655 this 
resolution was passed: "So too shall 'Pattat- 
tissen' be planted on Robbea Island, in order to 
determine if the dry soil will not allow them to 
grow better than they do here, as we find to our 
astonishment that they are of an extraordinarily 
excellent kind, each weighing as much as four or 
five pounds, wherefore all diligence must be 
applied to their further cultivation" Van 
Riebeeck secured the patat from Java, 

The patat, of course, belongs to an entirely 
different family from the Irish potato, though 
both appear to have their origin in America Irish 
potatoes were growing in Angola long before 
they reached the Cape; and even at the end of the 
eighteenth century the Cape fanners concen- 
trated on sweet potatoes and left the Irish variety 
to their slaves. It was not until the middle of last 
century that Irish potatoes became plentiful at 
the Cape. 



Pumpkin is the great standby in the country 
districts, though as a staple diet it has no great 
value. Those pumpkins you see ripening on so 
many roofs are usually boiled to a pulp, mixed 
withmeal, lard and salt, and served withmutton 

Bean soup is a well-known farm dish. Known as 

boontjies en rrieHes, it is often served as thick as 

porridge. Kluitjiesop is a heavy dun^iing soup. 
They also mate thrifty soup embodying the fins, 
tail, head and backbone of a geelbek with onion, 
cuny powder and lemon leaves as flavouring; and 
this is acconpanied by boiled rice. 

Boereviors is another farm product which some 
still mate in the old way. It may be defined as a 
game sausage dating back years before the Great 
Trek; a sausage in which the meat has been 
pounded with a wooden stamper rather than 
minced. 

Modem boerewors, which is not to be despised, 
is usually a mixture of lean beef with pork fat, 
seasoned with wine or vinegar. It is a dry sausage, 
made without the addition of water. Sheep-tail fat 



may be used instead of pork On the veld the 
sausage is grilled. At home it is usually heated in 
boiling water. 

Koesisters are doughnuts of Malay origin, but the 
derivation of the name is not so easy. Some say 
that a mother was busy in the kitchen one day 
when her little daughter asked her what she was 

making. "Koek, SUSt&rtjie," was the reply-hence 
the name. In the East Indies these doughnuts are 
dipped in coconut, and the Malays of Cape Town 
still observe the custom at their weddings. 

Cake is not seved at morning tea on Boland 
farms, as a rula That is the time for the special 
k)nfyt called "teewatetonfyt" romposed of 
whole fruit such as figs, oranges, nartjies and 
apricots. During the atenoon come the oliietjies, 
soetkoekies and metktet Buckwheat cakes are 
typical of the Montagu district for the buckwheat 
flourishes there. The flour is nearly white and 
mates a softer, stickier dough than wheat flour. 
Buckwheat has a delicate cereal flavour. 



Coffee is not the only beverage enjoyed on the 
farms, as some city people imagine. It is 
customary to serve coffee in bed, at breakfast, 
after lunch and at four in the afternoon Tea 
comes into its own at eleven in the morning, at 
dinner, and at nine at night 

The coffee varies, as any country traveller will 
agree Certainly there are rountry-dwdlers whose 
stomachs appear to be as strong as coffee-pots; 
they take it so often and so roncmtrated that the 
visitor can only marvel. 

Roasted wheat, crushed peas, even peach peels 
are used to form distinctive blends of which 
various households are proud. In hard times 
mealie coffee is the substitute. I have also heard 
of "ghoo coffee" made from wild almonds. The 
roasting takes the poisonous element out of 
them, but the drink is more like cocoa than 
coffee. 

For more than twenty years the great coffee- 
drinking centre of the Cape was the Afrikaner 
Koffiehuis in Church-square. It was really the 



Dutch Reformed Church Hall, built to serve as 
Sunday school hall and for church events. But in 
1916 a new hall was built elsewhere, and the 
Koffiehuis restaurant was established At one 
period you could see many famous politicians 
and Afrikaans authors and poets in the 
Koffiehuis - Langenhoven and other celebrities. 
There at least the coffee was beyond reproach. 
The building was demolished in 1938. 



Biltong is the most famous food of the veld, and 
the Cape produces the finest of all biltong - the 
bird biltong of NamaqualancL 

You seldom see it nowadays, for the Namaqua 
partridge no longer arrives in millions when the 
spring rains fill the vleis. They use only the 
breasts. Early this century the trekboecs caught 
the birds in nets and filled barrel after barrel with 
the dried, salted flesh. It is so tender that it 
crumbles between the fingers. Partridges in other 
parts of South Africa do not lend themselves to 
this treatment, and so the Namaqua partridge 



biltong, pale white in colour, remains a local and 
vanishing delicacy. 

The queer name biltong is derived from tv\o 
Afrikaans words - "bond" (haunch of venison) 
and "tang" (tongue). Strips of biltong hung up to 
diy look lite tongues. 

I have found mention of biltong in books 
published early last century; but there is an 
earlier name- "tasalletjies" or "tasaaltjies." The 
modem "tasalletjies" are strips of meat, 
peppered, salted, laid in vinegar, then dried in 
the wind and finally grilled. Going further back, 
however, one finds the Portuguese word 
"tassalho," meaning " preserved meat. It appears 
that the first biltong made at the Cape was called 
by the Portuguese name, which was later 
embodied in the Afrikaans language. 

Biltong, of course, is known by different names 
in many lands. It is a first cousin of the Canadian 
pemmican, made from bison; and it is similar to 
the charqui on which the Chilean amy climbs 
the Andes. Springbok and blesbok mate the best 



antelope biltong in South Africa Here is a 
Voortiekker recipe: 

Cut out the shoulders and haunches of the buck 
and dissect out the muscles carefully. Then 
prepare the pickle with four gallons of water) put 
a raw potato in the water and stir in salt until the 
potato floats. Add a handful of coriander and 
boil. Remove and stand until cold. Then place 
the meat in the pickle and allow it to stand for 
twelve hours. Hang from the rafters in a room 
where the biltong is in a continual draught. 

Much biltong is dried in the sun, but the 
connoisseur declares that this method robs it of 
flavour. Properly cured, biltong lasts for decades 
and matures lite wine. I have a record of an 
auction sale of 1897 biltong, held in 1918. The 
biltong had become hard as stone and fossilised 
in appearance. When filed down, it revealed a 
blood-red interior, the very essence of 
concentrated nourishment 

South African literature is full of biltong stories, 
but the most amusing anecdotes I ever heard 



were related fcy that great biltong lover, the late 
Colonel Dene^s Reitz. While serving in the 
trenches in France during the First World War, 
he received a parcel of biltong. Reitz kept cutting 
off strips and munching them until he heard an 
English officer remark: "What a hog that man is 
for tobacco." 

Reitz also told me of President Ringer's 
affection for biltong. The president had a large 
supply hanging from a tree in lis garden in 
Pretoria when the generals met at his house just 
before the South African War opened 

A grave discussion was in progress when the 
servant girl thrust her head round the door. 
"Oubaas!" she called excitedly. "Someone has 
stolen the biltong! " 

The president left the room hurriedly, followed 
by General Louis Botha, in a desperate effort to 
catch the thief. 

Beef biltong is not in the same class as springbok 
biltong, though it is a sound product when 
skilfully prepared. Ostrich biltong is tough and 



oily. Nevertheless, thousands of ostriches were 
killed and turned into biltong during the feather 
slump in Oudtshoom and after. 

Biltong does not lack medical support Years ago 
the leading London hospitals ordered quantities 
for convalescent patients. The late Dr. C. Louis 
Leipoldt described to me the tests he had carried 
out with South African biltong and Canadian 
pemmican when ShacMdon was planning his last 
Antarctic expedition The biltong was proved to 
be more nourishing. ShacWeton took hundreds of 
pounds of biltong south with him. 

Dr. Leipoldt treated duodenal ulcers with biltong. 
He declared that a pound of biltong was equal to 
three pounds of fresh meat, and that a stick of 
biltong was sufficient food for a man on a long 
day's march. Biltong has cured some people who 
were unable to eat anything else owing to 
seasickness. 

Probably the most convincing recent testimony in 
favour of biltong is that given by Jimmy 
McLougMn, a Scottish soldier who returned from 



a German prisoner-of-war camp broken in health. 
The doctors in Glasgow tried various diets and 
finally despaired of his life. Jimmy then took his 
life in his own hands and emigrated to South 
Africa with his wife and two children 

He sdtled on the Transvaal farm of "Oom Hans" 
van Rensbuig, and there he first tasted biltong. It 
saved lis life. Jinny McLougMn seit parcels of 
the life-giving Mtong to friends in Glasgow; and 
they thought so highly of it that Jimmy decided to 
set up in business as a Mtong merchant Recmtly 
he was reported to be dividing his time between 
his family in the Transvaal and the insatiable, 
Mtong-hungry grocers of Glasgow. 

It is not generally known, perhaps, that biltong 
may be served hot First you heat it on red-hot 
coals, then pound it with a wooden mallet until 
the sticks are crushed flat, and fty for five minutes 
in sheep-tail fat That makes a crisp and crumbly 
dish. 

Shredded or grated Mtong goes wall with fried 
eggs. As a sandwich filling it is eKceUent I have 



also seen Mtong omeldle, a clever comtination. 
In 1937 it became illegal to sell game Mtong in 
the Cape Province; the Transvaal and the Orange 
Free State had already set an example The ban 
was necessary. It slowed up a slaughter which had 
beei in progress ever since the modem rifle 
reached South Africa It put the "Mtong farma^' 
(also known as the "Ultong jackal") out of 
business. 

All the ''biltong farmer" needed to make a 
comfortable living was a rifle and many 
cartridges, salt, and a car. He sold Mtong and 
hides; and e^en the bones of the buck went to a 
fertiliser factory. These men were e^rterminating 
the game of the country. If the^ were caught 
exceeding the "bag limit" imposed fcy their 
shooting licences they paid £25 fines cheerfully - 
and went on shooting. When foot-and-mouth 
disease broke out they were allowed to shoot 
"unlimited wildebeest"; and they shot thousands 
and prospered. Some of them have defied the 
law for more than ten years. One who was 
caught not long ago was fined £120. He pleaded 



that his biltong was beef - but the magistrate 
knew the difference. 



Just as typical as biltong is the country 

bmaivieisaand. This form of hospitality is now 
so widespread that many people have sheltered 
fire-places built in their gardens; open-air ovens, 
tables and benches reserved for this special meal. 

You do not know how much meat you are 
capable of eating until you have stood round the 
long wood fire at a braaivleis and grilled your 
own mutton chop- and then another and another. 

Tradition demands wooden plates at a braaivleis. 

You should hold the meat over the flames on a 
pointed stick, and eat it with your fingers. 
Boerevwrs, sosaties, jacket potatoes; all these 
provide variety. There is sure to be coffee, and 
the drinks may include anything from whisky to 
wtiAits, 

Among the rare country dishes is eel - not 
smoked eel from Holland but fresh eel caught in 



one of the eastward-flowing rivers and fried or 
stewed with wine. Mrs. Dijkman does not often 
recommend wine in the kitchen, but she makes 
an exception of eels. She also tells you how to 
serve boiled eels with parsley and butter sauce, 
and eel pie. 

Eels have been found in the vleis of the Cape 
Flats. They migrate overland in suitable rountry, 
and conger eels are sometimes caught by the 
trawlers on the Agulhas Bank. I have still to see 
one on a fishmonger' s slab. 

There are centenarians among eels, running to 
eight feet in length and a girth of twenty-four 
inches. Large eels have been caught in the Dwars 
river, Ceres. For some reason which has never 
been discovered, eels do not enter west coast 
rivers. That is where you find the barbel with its 
hideous whiskers, but with a flavour as delicate 
as an eel if you have the right recipe. 

Truffles, the uixlergrouTid edible fungus which 
pervade other foods with their fragrance, are 
found in the dry, northern Cape districts. Some 



dogs detect them in cracks in the hard earth. You 
can boil them and eat them with butter, pepper and 
salt; but tb^ are at their best when cooked with 
chicken or spaghetti. BothMts. DijkmanandHQda 
Duckitt are silent on the subject of snails. 
Nevertheless, there are edible snails in the Cape 
They are not the burgundy snails that are bred so 
carefully in Fiance for the tabl^ these snails are the 
ordinary garden snails which appear after rain 
Starve them for a weet then boil in flavoured 
water, odractfrom the shell and serve with a sauce 
of chopped garlic, parsl^ and artichoke fried in 
butter. 

You may romplain that snails are not typical of the 
old Cape cookery . Well, hoe is a dish that is much 
older than the white setuerat at the Cape, one 
which e^ey farmer knows. It is tortoise, the 
grometric tortoise of the Malmesbury district 
Mary country people firmly believe that because 
the tortoise grazes on medicinal herbs, its flesh has 
a special value. The^ mate omeldtes from, tortoise 
eggs, which is harmless enough But if they go on 



eating the tortoise itself at the present rate, the 
geometric species will certainly become extinct 

Perhaps you would prefer a strip of biltong, or a 
koesister, to these last dishes on the countty menu. 
I ftrinkyou are right Weird dishes are all very well 
as an experiment, but give me the choice and I 
shall order tnmatie bredie. 

Chapter 5 
FLORA Capensis 

I AM ASHAMED TO SAY that the only flower 
within sight of iry steep is a solitary, foreign 
bougainvillea which is climting the curved wall 
near the dam Though I have a strong preference 
for almost everything belonging to the Cape, I 
have still to leam the art of growing Flora 
Capensis. 

The background of botany in the Cape grips me 
like all the rich legacies of past centuries. But I 
planned this sanctuary to supply my table; the 
fruit trees and vines came first. I also have a 
transplanted oaK, much taller than myself , which 
appears to have taken root successfully. The 



trouble about the flowets is that I have been 
spending too much time with the botanists; I have 
been listening to their stories instead of 
cultivating my garden- I have followed in the 
footsteps of Thunberg and Buichell, and I have 
brilliant memories of spring in the Darling district 
and in Namaqualand - but no Cape flowets of my 
own 

Still, I have seen and heard enough to realise that 
the Cape is one of the gieat botanical regions of 
the globe. Sunlight, the unions of flora of far 
distant ages, the varied soils of sandy coasts and 
granite rrountains, the moisture and the heat - all 
these have combined to poduce the floral 
wondeland that staggered early botanists. 

I believe the first scientific mention of Flora 
Capensis was due to the visit of a Dutch 
missionary, Heurnius, who landed at Table Bay 
on his way to the East more than a decade before 
the arrival of Van Riebeeck. He collected plants 
on the slopes of Lion's Rump and sent them to his 
brother in L^den A description of them appear- 



ed in "Theopbrastus' History of Plants/' publish- 
ed in Amsterdam in 1644. 

Then there is the strange tale of the Dutch East 
India ship that was wrecked in 1680 on the 
Guernsey coast In spring that year, lilies that the 
islanders had ne^er seen before grew on the 
Guernsey coast Long afterwords they were 
identified as the nerinas of the Table Mountain 
ledges. Only then was it pDved that the lost ship 
was carrying bulbs to Holland The lilies became 
world famous as "Guernsey lilies/' but they 
belong to the Cape. 

Late in the eighteenth century began the era of 
botanical discovery at the Cape. Governor 
Tulbagh had been sending specimens to Linnaeus, 
professor of botany at Upsala University in 
Sweden and pioneer in the classification of plants. 
James Andries Auge, who took charge of the 
Company's garden in 1747 and worked there for 
many years, made collecting trips into the interior) 
and Professor Betgius based his "Plantae 
Capensis" on Auge's specimens. But the man 
who gained the title of "father of Cape botany" 



was a pupil of Linnaeus - the Swedish scientist 
Dr. Cad Peter Thunbecg. 

Thunberg reached the Cape in 1772 as a surgeon 
in the Dutch East India Company's service. What 
a land it must have been for his trained eye and 
intelligent mind He spent three years at the Cape, 
recording faithfully not only the plants but the life 
of the country; noting the flowers and denouncing 
corrupt officials almost in the same breath. He 
was a sympathise observer among the remote 
farmers, and his descriptions of their primitive 
methods would grip any farmer today. In the 
Lange Kloof, for example, the fames had no 
wheeled vehicles; and he welched them carrying 
manure to their lands in sheepskin sacks. 
Incidentally, he was an eye-witness of the wreck 
of the Jonge Thomas. Thunberg wrote the only 
true story of Woltemade' s heroism 

Within a few days of Thunberg 7 s arrival, Andtew 
Sparrman arrived at the Cape. He, too, was a 
medical man and a Swede; he, too, had been 
encouraged by Linnaeus to explore this virgin 
botanical wonderland 



Sparrman and Thunberg made a number of 
collecting trips together, and Sparrman wrote of 
these outings: "None but a lova~ of natural history 
can imagine what pleasure we enjoyed togethff 
among the herbs and flowers. At first almost 
evay day was a rich harvest of the rarest and 
most beautiful plants; and I had almost said that at 
evay step we made one or more new discoveries. 
And as I had many Swedish friends, and 
particularly the great Linnaeus always present in 
my memory, every duplicate or ttplicate of the 
plants that I gathoed gave me a sensible 
pleasure." 

On two long journeys deep into the country, 
Thunberg was accompanied by an English 
gardener, Francis Masson of the Royal Garden of 
Kew. They travelled through Groene Kloof and 
the Zwartland, visited Saldanha Bay, the "Koud 
Bocke Veld," "Hexen Rivier 7 ' and other well- 
known places. Masson was also a writer and he 
recorded the discovery "of many curious plants," 
and in particular "a large bulbous root which the 
Dutch call veixjiftboll - poison bulb; the juice of 



which, the^ say, the Hottentots use as an 
ingredient to poison their arrows." He also noted a 
new palm "of the pith of which the Hottentots 
make their bread." 

Masson spent ten years at the Cape, leaving only 
when he feared that an "expected invasion" might 
cause the loss of his precious collection of living 
piants. He sent Erica seeds to Kew, and they 
flourished there. One of his books described the 
journeys he made with the more famous 
ThLinberg, the other book dealt with new varieties 
of stapeliae and had tm colour piates. 

Thunbecg wrote two books on the Cape flora in 
Latin; but his four-volume work 'Travels in 
Europe, Africa and Asia" was published in 
London in English. 

Not long after Thrinberg (in November 1810) 
came William John Burcbell, a highly-skilled 
botanist and zoologist. His 'Travels in the Interior 
of Southern Africa" was certainly the most 
valuable and accurate work on the country 
published up to the end of the first quarter of the 



nineteenth ceitury. Many copies were broken up 
for the beautiful colour plates, Buichell's own 
work; so that, today the two volumes are worth 
£40. 

Burchell was a small man, bold and vetsatQe. He 
had previously spent five years in St, Helena as 
schoolmaster and botanist in the English East 
India Company' s service. There he had been jilted 
by the girl who was coming out to many trim; she 
married the master of the ship instead Bucchell 
found solace in his work, and the music of his 
flute. 

He bought a wagon, oxen and stores in Cape 
Town for £600, and spent four years away from 
dvilisatLOii Somewhere near Prieska he noticed 
the thorns protecting oaMn plants from trowsing 
animals; and he began to evolve the theory of 
protective form and colouring which Darwin 
<x>mpletecL Apart from piants, lis greatest 
discovery was the white rhinoceros. 

Doting the years that Thunberg and Burchell were 
collecting at the Cape, hot-houses and 



conservatories in Europe were filled with Cape 
Flowess. Our heaths and proteas wete prized 
above all the known flowers of the earth; and the 
fashion changed only when the gorgeous tropical 
orchids arrived 

But for sixty years the "Cape house" reigned 
supreiB in the gardens of the wealthy. Hyfcrid 
gladioli, nemesias, e^en the Hottentot fig, were all 
startling novelties. 

Yet it is no wonder that the flower-lovers of 
Europe found the new arrivals so exciting. Those 
who collected at the Cape made their selections in 
the world's richest field They gazed upon 
hundreds of species of heaths and ericas; the 
magnificent proteas in widely differing forms; the 
huge pea family in the shape of trees, herbs and 
shrubs; family after family in a profusion 
unknown in Europe On Table Mountain alone 
there are two thousand species of wild flowers. 

Though the orchids ousted the Cape flowers in 
Europe more than a ceitury ago, Cape heaths 
have come into their own again recently in distant 



lands. They are grown by the acre in California 
for the cut-flo\\er trada Americans visit the Cape 
to find flame lilies, proteas and daisies for their 
own market; Australia grows Cape bulbs in huge 
quantities; and in England glass houses are 
devoted to Karoo succulent plants, which are sold 
in the bazaars. 

Fashions in flowers, as I have said, are liable to 
change as suddenly as the demand for ostrich 
feathers. In the ' nineties of last century a 
newspaper held a competition to select South 
Africa's national flower fcy popular vote. An 
overwhelming majority favoured the sevu?- 
jaartjie, the white e^edasting that grows most 
aburdantiy on the mountain slopes round Him 

For many years these flowers brought a regular 
income to the coloured people of the Elim 
mission - as much as £2,000 in a good year. Th^ 
were exported for use in funeral wreaths and as 
church decorations. Crimson everiastings are also 
found on the Western Province mountains; but the 
white flowers wera gathered for otport 



The mission people selected full blooms at a time 
when the veld was dry, from September to the end 
of December. These flowers, with their curved 
petals, are so light that it takes two thousand to 
balance a one pound weight - and the gatherers 
received one shilling a pound for them. The^ 
plucked them carefully, leaving the plants 
uninjured; sorted and packed them; all for about 
sixpence a thousand. Once the price dropped as 
low as four pence, and it went up to one and 
sixpence. 

Two thousand million everiastings, it is 
estimated, were sent away from Him and Napier 
while the trade lasted It came to an end during 
the depression in the eariy nineteen-tMrties. 
Some countries stopped the inportation of such 
luxuries as flowers; others made artificial 
everlastings from paper. Russia was an important 
customer before 1914, but not after the 
revolution 

One of the characters in the everlasting trade was 
Daniel Carse, son of an 1820 settler, who was so 
poor as ayoiingniantliatheworl^Bdonafarinin 



the Stanford district for sixpence a day. His 
father had taught him tanning, however, and 
Carse saved a little money by making rlems and 
selling them in Caledon 

At last Carse was able to buy a farm of five 
hundred morgen for £75. (Today it is valued at 
about £20,000). On the border of his farm he 
observed a mountain where sew&jaartjies grew 
profusely. His friends thought he was mad when 
he bought the mountain; but the flowers added to 
the fortune he was making. When he died in 
1942 at the age of eighty-eight, Carse was worth 
£75,000. 

Nowadays the everlastings are still collected, in 
much smaller numbers, for old-fashioned people 
in Cape villages who lite to have pillows and 
mattresses stuffed with the petals. It means 
pulling off the petals by hand Some declare that 
a mattress of everlastings will cure insomnia, and 
the flowers do mate a cool filling material. But 
the people of Elim still mourn their lost markets 
overseas. 



Chincherinchees are finding their way abroad 
again. Between the wars Cape Town florists 
shipped large consignments in cold storage to 
England, and found a ready market there during 
the winter. Some sent before Christmas were still 
in good condition at Easter, and were used as 
church decorations. The trade was worth £1 1,000 
a year until the war stopped it 

"Chinks" grow only in the Western Province. As 
far back as 1794 Thunberg, the Swedish botanist, 
described therrr. 'Tinterinties/' he said, "is a 
name given to a species of omrthogalum with a 
white flower, from the sound it produces when 
two stalks of it are nibbed together." I have also 
seen the name spelt "chinkering ching." The 
Afrikaans name is equally picturesque - 
viooitjies (little violin). Homer referred to the 
same species when he mentioned "the lilylike 
sound of the Cicada" 

The finest "chinks" for export are the later ones, 
known as the Darling variety. Mr. T. Veasfeld of 



the famous farm Slangtop, noted for spring 
flowers, cultivates "chinks" for export and has 
received huge orders from the United States. Mrs. 
Versfeld sent "chinks" to the Queerr; and the 
Queen wrote to her some time later saying that the 
flowers from Slangkop were a "white brilliance" 
at Sandringham. 

New York flowe~ shops sell "chinks" at the 
equivalent of eight pence each. They call it 
"Africa Star of BetMehem" and Amaicans find a 
special romantic glamour about the flower which 
still looks fresh after a sea passage of seren 
thousand miles. Some are shipped with waxed 
ends. Gnarrival the wax is removed and the stalks 
are placed in tepid weter. After three days the fists 
of tight buds open, and the white and fragile 
flowers with delicate yellow centres appear on the 
long chartreuse stems. 

Horses and other farm animals instinctively avoid 
the ''chink'' unless no other grazing is available. 
The plant, especially the seeds, contains a poison 
which is often fatal. 



Some of the Cape flowers are almost extinct. 
There are proteas that grow wild only in certain 
limited areas; ruthless pickets and veld f iies have 
played havoc with them. Among the rarest of all 
is the Marsh Rose. 

Mr. Hlbert Werner, Curator of Kirstenbosch, told 
me the story of the Marsh Rose A mountaineer 
found a small group of the deep ruty red blooms 
growing on a remote peak above Kldnmond 
Previously he had seen a group on one other peak. 
Both groups wob menaced by fires; and as these 
were potably the last of the species in the wild 
state, the mountaineer collected eight specimens 
and replanted them on a farm in the district He 
also gave Mr. Werner seventeen seeds, so that if 
the Marsh Rose fails to survive in its natural 
surroundings the species may not become 
extinct. 3 



Another protea which was thought to be in danger 
some time ago was trie "Blushing Bride" (serruria 
florida), which has its only home in Assegaibos- 
Hoof, five miles from Franschhoek. Many 
believed that the species had been wiped out 
after a devastating mountain fire about six years 
ago. To the delight of botanists, however, the 
"Blushing Bride" has reappeared in the Woof 
fairly recently in great profusion. This delicate 
shrub has pink flowers, the colour of a blush. 
According to Franschhoek custom, a man takes 
off his hat when he encounters the "Blushing 
Bride." 

Origins of the Cape flowers are a deep mystery. 
Generally speaking, they are different from the 
flora of the rest of the Union and the rest of 
Africa. You have to go to Western Australia to 
find a clear relationship. 



The mountaineer was Mr. D. H. Woods, who has given 
me great assistance in checking the facts in this chapter 
and the nx>untaineerjng section In August 1949 Mr. 
Werner reported that two of the seeds given to him by Mr. 
Woods had germinated 




"Some of the Cape Flowers aie almost extinct. . . 

The ' Blushing Bride' was almost wiped out by a 

devastating fire, but to the delight of Botanists it 

has reappeared 



There is a "land bridge" theory, the Wegener 
theory of continents that drifted apart; but that is 
far from satisfactory. It is possible that the Cape 
flora once covered South Africa Then the land 
dried up, and only the plants growing in the 
mountains survived the transformation Proteas 
and heaths vanish when you enter the Karoo; but 
in the mountains, the KamLesberg and Katberg, 
you will find them again The wind did not cany 
those seeds, for the distances are too great 

So there are clues in the mountains and the 
climber who is also a botanist finds a deep 
interest in the flowers of the heights. Sometimes 
they rediscover plants described by Masson and 
Thunberg and Burchell; flowers that have not 
been seen by human eye f or more than a century. 

One climber who has done great work for 
science is Mr. T. P. Stokoe, who still spends 
weeks alone in the Cape mountains although he 
is more than eighty years of age. There is not a 
range in the Western Province on which he has 
not set foot; and many new species and sub- 
species have been given his name. Probably his 



most outstanding find was Mtmetes Stokoei, a 
proteaceous plant so rare that only one is now 
known to exist in the Caledon district mountains. 
There were seven, hut Mr. Stotooe felt justified in 
taking one to Kirstenbosch in the hope that the 
species might be preserved there. The one 
survivor in the only known natural habitat was 
saved by a farmer who climbed specially to the 
site and treated it with insecticide. 



One of the standard works for South African 
botanists is sail the late Dr. Rudolf Marioth's 
"The Flora of South Africa" Owners of these 
four volumes who purchased them as the^ 
appeared between 1913 and 1932 at the original 
price of two guineas apiece are fortunate. The set 
now fetches up to £140 in good condition. 
Madoth arrived at the Cape from Bavaria 
towards the end of last century. He was an 
analytical chemist, and botany was his hobby. 
During long and lonely walks and climbs he 



made the first study of the chemistry and biology 
of Cape plants. 

Probably his greatest discovery was the "Aloe 
succotrina/' when he cleared up a mystery as 
remarkable as the Guernsey lilies. About 250 
years ago there was an aloe which no one could 
identify in the Amsterdam botanical gardens. 
Johan Commelin, the curator, described it in his 
"Horti Medici Amstelodamensis" in 1697. It was 
his rareftdly-nurtnred prize, but he admitted that 
the origin was unknown A sailor had brought it 
to the gardens and departed without saying 
where he had found this treasure. 

Botanists formed the theory that the aloe must 
have come from Socotra island (where several 
aloe varieties are found), off the Somaliland 
coast Thus the name Aloe succotrina was 
bestowed upon it. Even when aloes from the 
Cape reached Amsterdam the botanists saw no 
reason to abandon their theory; for there was 
nothing like Aloe succotrina 



Then one day in 1905, Marioth was climbing a 
rock slope on Table Mountain, twelve hundred 
feet above sea level. To his astonishment he 
came upon a cluster of the mysterious Aloe 
succotrina, with its deep green leaves. It grows 
profusely only in that one spot on Table 
Mountain, though a few more clusters have been 
found since then at Hout Bay and in the 
mountains on the far side of False Bay. That was 
a great day, for Marioth had solved a riddle that 
had puzzled botanists for centuries. 

Chapter 6 
Africana 

As The Light Fades I leave the steep and the 
dam to the bats and go indoors to my books. 
There they are, shelf upon shelf, no mean library, 
but nothing compared with the Africana collect- 
ions I have seen 

The man who made me realize the fascination of 
South African books was the late Mr. W. E. 
Fairbridge, a tireless historian and owner of a 
huge and valuable Africana library. A tall. 



cadaverous man, he was said to have invented 
the name Rhodesia; he certainly started the first 
newspaper there, in a clay and reed shack. 

During most of his life he followed the daily 
habit of jotting down items of history on cards of 
a uniform size, so that in the end there were 
many thousands of cards dealing with many 
hundreds of South African subjects ranging from 
acoms to Zulus. Biographies, weather oddities, 
the events that made news in remote places, 
botany and crime, food and fauna - tee was 
little that escaped the teen eyes of W. E. 
Fairbridge. He combed all the volumes of Theal, 
the files of early Cape newspapers, and the 
whole of his own vast collection of books, 
magazines and pamphlets, to build up this truly 
unique storehouse of information 

When he retired from business he devoted his 
whole time to the "Fairbridge cards." Many an 
hour I spent with him I found clues to stories 
which would have been lost but for this unusual 
hobby. Year after year I scented riches in the 
dust of those steel filing cabinets; and then went 



out to far places like a treasure hunter equipped 
with a chart. I knew what to seek, and sometimes 
I found it. 

With his caids and his books, Fairbridge lived an 
adventurous life over again. He died in 
Montreux, Switzerland, in 1943 at the age of 
seventy-nine. I am still studying his cards, and 
still I imagine the studious face and aquiline nose 
of W. E. Fairbridge beside me, advising, 
summing up, lecturing gently out of his wide 
experience and love of South African literatim 

Another man who helped me to form my own 
little Africana collection was the late Mr. E. P. 
Kitch, a huge and sombie second hand bookseller. 
He, too, was an authority on books - he had 
100,000 in his shop in Cape Town and it was 
seldom possible to baffle trim with an Africana 
problem. He was a liberal-minded teetotaller. 
Temperance gave trim a great interest in life, but 
he sold me many a book in praise of wine. 

At one time I think Mr. Kitch knew more about 
Africana than anyone else in the world The 



catalogue he conpled in 1903 was the first 
comprehmsive Africana list His valuations were 
shrewd and accurate, and he could tell you within 
half a guinea the current pice of a mint copy of 
any rare work dealing with South Africa, a 
Latrobe or Buichell, Barrow or Steedmaa For 
this reason he was called in by universities and 
librarians when famous collections had to be 
valued Sales of books krought out Mr. Kitch' s 
unerring judgment to the full. He had a sixth 
sense for first editions. I still find books in the 
dark recesses of his old shop, and I have seen the 
books he advised me to buy double and treble in 
value. 

Greatest of all Africana collectors was Sidn^ 
Mendelssohn, the Kimberley diamond buyer 
whose books are now in the Houses of 
Parliament He started gathering South African 
printed material at a time when many people were 
flinging valuable old pamphlets into wastepaper- 
baskets. That was shortly before the South 
African War. When my father became editor of 
the "Diamond Fields Advertiser" he ctiscovei^d a 



heap of old, unwanted publications in the office 
library; but he did not throw them away, he gave 
them to Mendelssohn. 

The collector travelled widely, bought South 
African books in London, Paris and Berlin, 
studied them and made notes of contents and 
authors. When he retired to London in 1905 with 
nearly 10,000 books and magazines he set himself 
the enormous task of compiling lis famous 
tibiiography. This two-volume work was 
published in 1910 at two guineas. If it is offered 
to you today for £40, take it 

Mendelssohn loved books more than diamonds, 
and his years of skilful collecting and research 
made his bibliography a classic. Only five 
hundred copies were printed. It covered all 
significant references to Africa that Mendelssohn 
was able to find from the days of the Portuguese 
explores to the year of Union. Mendelssohn's 
books and pictures may be examined in the 
Houses of Parliament by any responsible person. 
As far back as 1922, experts valued the collection 
at £15,000. 



The splendid Gubbins collection was burnt in the 
1931 fire at the Witevatersrand University. Dr. J. 
B. Gubbins believed that the ordinary man 
enjoyed reading about how his ancestors lived and 
worked, the food they ate and the clothes they 
wore. Besides his five thousand South African 
books he had many rare pictures and sketches. 
After the fire Dr. Gubbins set himself the task of 
replacing the lost works. He travelled as far afield 
as Australia, the Dutch East Indies, Ceylon and 
Egypt; and he ransacked the bookshops of 
London to recreate the vast picture of South 
African life which had been lost when his original 
library was burnt 

Women are to be found among the Africana 
collectors, notably Miss Killie Campbell of 
Durban. She started as a young girl, and now has 
20,000 volumes; probably the most complete 
collection of Africana relating to Natal. In Cape 
Town there is Miss M. K. Jeffreys, formerly of 
the Archives, an authority on life in the Cape 
during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It 



is possible that she is the greatest living authority 
on the subject 

Earlier than any of the collectors I have 
mentioned was a Cape Town attorney, Mr. 
Charles Aken Fairbridge of "Mimosas/' Sea 
Point In lis stately home he had thirteen 
thousand books, antique furniture and pictures. 
He was, of course, the father of Dorothea 
Fairtridge, the author. Mr. Fairtridge represented 
Caledon in the first Cape Parliament; he stocked 
the Cape rivers with the first trout and pach to be 
introduced; and designed the flag of the Cape 
Colony. As far tack as 1883 he and John Noble 
compiled a catalogue of books dealing with South 
Africa Sir Abe Bailey bought the Fairtridge 
tooks, and in 1925 he presented them to the 
South African Public Ubrary. 

Incidentally the works of Dorothea Fairbridge are 
typical of the rise in prices of Africana books. I 
have a copy of her large and beautiful "HistDric 
Houses of South Africa," probably the gem of my 
small collection. This book was published in 1922 
at three guineas. Before the war it could be 



bought for £12 10s., and after the war I had to pay 
£20. The other Fairbridge works have not reached 
the same heights. Some of her novels are still 
available at a few shillings apiece, though a first 
edition of "That Which Hath Been" is worth 
thirty shillings. 

Wise and far-sighted were those Africana 
enthusiasts who joined the Van Riebeeck Society 
when it was formed in 1918. I see that the 
complete set of the Society's twenty-eight 
publications is now worth £110. This society 
which has printed so many fine historical works 
originated in a queer way. 

The trustees of the South African Public Library 
had brought out the diary of Van Pallandt, 
secretary to General Janssens at the Cape early 
last century. General Hertzog was roused to 
anger by certain passages in the diary, and 
attacked the library trustees in the House of 
Assembly. 

This attack gave the diary such wide publicity 
that the whole edition sold out immediately. Mr. 



A. C. G. Lloyd, the librarian, then suggested that 
a society should be formed to publish further 
historical documents. The trustees had the 
money raised by the sale of the diary, and they 
were backed by Mr. JohnX. Merriman. 

So the Van Riebeeck Society came into being. 
The first volume published, a description of life 
at the Cape by Governor de Chavonnes (1714- 
1724) cost members only ten shillings. It fetched 
£21 at a recent sale; and other volumes on the 
wreck of the Grosvenor, Louis Trichardf s trek, 
early Cape Hottentots and the narratives of 
explorers are all worth many times the original 
price. 

The society's editors are now engaged on their 
most formidable task. They are preparing Van 
Riebeeck 7 s diary for publication in six or more 
volumes to mark the 1952 tercentenary of the 
Cape. This will cost more than £15,000, for Van 
Riebeeck wrote half a million words, and the 
books are to appear in Nederlands and English, 
Even the skilled translator has to struggle with 
Van Riebeeck 7 s language; many of his passages 



have baffled scholars in Holland. It was his habit 
of mixing French with Nederlands that makes 
the interpretation so hard. Only fragments of the 
massive diary have been published up to now. 
The full story covers the first ten years of the 
Cape settlement. It will reveal Van Riebeeck, the 
man, more clearly than ever before. 

Mere age is certainly not the test of value. Old 
books containing good colour-plates, however, 
aie in enormous demand A second edition of 
Barrow's 'Travels in South Africa" is now worth 
£25, while the first edition, published in 1801 
without the plates, fetches much less. Among 
fairly recent books which have risen dramatically 
in value is Pearce's "Eighteenth Century 
Architecture in South Africa;" published about 
twelve years ago at three guineas, it has reached 
£20. One wDrk which collectors are always eager 
to acquire is Mrs. A. E. RoupeH's "Specimens of 
the Flora of South Africa" There are nine 
eKquisite colour plates, and a good copy is wDrth 
£65. Old magazines, such as the "State" and 



"Cape Monthly Magazine/' are usually valuable 
only when complete sets can be offered 

I have observed a strict relationship between 
literary value and cash value. Cornell' s "Glamour 
of Prospecting/' a true narrative of adventure, is 
expensive not because it has been out-of-print for 
many years, but also because it is one of those 
books which many people lite to read and read 
again 

Book collectors often think wistfully of the old 
Cape Town bookshops where the great treasures 
of today were sold at face value - or below. There 
was not a bookshop in the town, I believe, at the 
beginning of last century. Readers had to rely on 
auction sales. An auctioneer and general merchant 
named Sheppard appears to have opened Cape 
Town's first bookshop. He advertised in 1816 that 
he kept books for sale at 21, HeerengrachL Five 
years later D. E. Wentzel of Greenmarket Square 
was offering encyclopaedias at 500 rix-dollars a 
set. He threatened to send the books on to India if 
the^ were not sold quickly. 



The great character among early Cape Town 
booksellers was Joseph Suasso de Lima He 
arrived in 1818, a Sephardic Jew from Holland, 
but later a member of the Dutch Reformed 
Churcli Small, ugly and lame, he first became 
teacher to the slave childreii To this day the 
Malays call a man with a limp "Ou de Lima" 

De Lima wrote poems, plays, almanacs and the 
first post office directory. One of his books, 
"Gedichrea" published in 1821, included a poem 
on the Cape, He also wrote a treatise on the early 
Afrikaans he heard in Cape Town, called "De 
Taal der Kapenarea" And to his credit stands the 
first Cape history published in South Africa, 
entitled "Geschiedenis van de Kaap de Goede 
Hoop," and written in the form of a catechism. 

His bookshop was in Church Street He was a 
sworn translator in a dozeu languages. His weekly 
newspaper; "De Verzaamelaar/' was full of 
society gossip and satirical humour. Yet in spite 
of all these activities he was always in debt 



African^ printed in Cape Town, began with a 
quaint Almanac, illustrated with wood-cuts, and 
bearing the imprint of Johan Christiaan Ritter. 
He was South Africa's first printer, and his tiny 
1796 Almanac was limited to four copies at 
sixpence apiece. The South African Public 
Library has a fragment of one copy. All the 
others have been lost. Search your attic or 
brandsolder, for a complete copy of Ritter 7 s 
Almanac (with its cherubs which may have been 
cut by Thibault), would be worth as much as any 
Cape triangular. 

Mr. A. M. Lewin RoHnson, the assistant 
librarian at the South African Public Library, 
showed me another early example of Cape 
printing which came to light during the 
examination of the original Lady Anne Barnard 
Idlers. It is a concert ticket dated June 9, 1800, 
and was probably printed by Ritter. The concert 
was held at "Sea Lines/' a naval hospital. 

No doubt you have glanced at the notice-board 
outside the library with the inscription "Grey, 
Dessinian and Farrbridge Collection" The 



nucleus of the library was formed by about 4,500 
books given to the Dutch Reformed Church in 
1761 by Joachim van Dessin; books on theology, 
history and science in Nederiands, German, 
French and Latin 

Dessin had bought up the libraries of smallpox 
victims, and it was a giand collection at that 
period Today it is not so valuable, though some 
of the old volumes are still worth studying - for 
example, a iiid-dghteenth century French work 
on arts and trades, describing everything from 
tailoring to boatbuilding. Dessiris books still 
belong to the Dutch Reformed Church, and only 
the Scriba can grant permission for a book to be 
removed In the early days of the library, when 
there was only a slave in charge, Cape Town 
citizens borrowed some of the best of Dessiris 
books and failed to return them 

Wine started the public library - the tax on wine 
imposed by Lord Charles Somerset in 1818 to 
"place the means of knowledge within the reach 
of the youth of this remote comer of the globe." 
Pringle the poet was the first librarian Lord 



Charles, the old hunter, suggested that there 
should be plenty of books on animals. At one 
time a military sentry guarded the door and 
scrutinized the subscribers. 

It was a poor library, however, until Governor 
Sir George Grey selected the site of the present 
buildings in the Gardens and gave his own 
collection of books and manuscripts. Not long 
before that the librarian was able to sit at his 
desk and point unerringly at any book required 
Grey's gift, of course, included the greatest 
treasure in the library, the Shakespeare first 
folio, now worth at least £20,000. 

With such rich variety it would be difficult to 
select the most valuable Africana book in the 
library. Mr. Robinson suggested Francois Le 
Vaillanf s 'Travels into the Interior of Southern 
Africa," published just before the end of the 
eighteenth century. He was a picturesque 
adventurer indeed, and his narratives have stood 
the test of much criticisnL 



There is an earlier work, however, even rarer 
than Le Vaillant That is the original Swedish 
edition of Sparrman's "Voyage to the Cape of 
Good Hope 1772-6." Andrew Sparrman was not 
only a botanist but a doctor of medicine, 
geographer and zoologist whose descriptions of 
the Cape platteland form a lively historical 
document 

The first literary work printed in Cape Town (in 
1802) appears to have been a book containing 
one poem, "De Maan," by the Rev. Meent 
Borcherds of StellenbosclL 

Travel books, some with eKcellent colour plates, 
take a high place in the list of Africana of early 
last century. Barrow and Semple, Latrobe, 
Lichtensten, Burchell - the library has them all. 
William BurcheU's two- volume work, with its 
fine illustrations, is both valuable and reliable, 
the most important book of the period Artist, 
scientist and musician, Burchell was also an 
indomitable explorer and an admirable writer. 



For more than half a century the South African 
Public Library has been a "copyright library." 
This means that the library is legally entitled to a 
free copy of every book and pamphlet published 
in South Africa; though the librarian has to 
remain alert so that no unintentional breaches of 
the law are committed. 

As a result the Afrikaans section is almost 
complete, though books in Afrikaans date back 
further than you might think. The very first 
examples, one political and the other religious, 
were printed in 1861. No copies have e^er been 
discovered. They are known only by the brief 
reviews in the newspapers. What a find to mate 
in an attic! 

You can read the first Afrikaans newspaper in 
the library, published nearly half a century 
before Afrikaans became an official language. It 
was the "Patriot" of Paarl, and early copies are 
rarities. 

Those faithful pioneers who were struggling to 
gain recognition for Afrikaans waited for this 



newspaper (as the "Patriot" said) "lite a dog for 
its meat" The "Patriot" gave them poems, 
fiction, hunting yams, nature stories and folklore 
- and politics. It was edited by the Rev. S. J. du 
Toit who also produced the first Afrikaans 
grammar book and the first Afrikaans trans- 
lations from the Bible. "Ons skiyf soos ons 
praat," was the slogan of the "Patriot." 

Before the end of last century the firm of D. F. 
du Toit of Paarl had placed 80,000 copies of 
Afrikaans books on the market According to an 
estimate I have seen, there are now more than 
1,000 different Afrikaans novels, nearly 300 
plays, about 130 books of poetry. And as I have 
said, there are few gaps in the library's 
collection The good Afrikaans novelist is in a 
happy position, for he can usually rely on a sale 
of 10,000 copies. 

Apart from the formal, official "Cape Town 
Gazette" of 1800, the oldest English newspaper 
was Faiibaim's "South African Commercial 
Advertiser." It was published from 1824 to I860, 
and recorded so many interesting events that the 



complete files are now being preserved on 
microfilnL 

A more entertaining weekly was "Sam Sly's 
Journal/' which flourished in 1843 and gave 
more intimate (and peculiar) sidelights on life in 
Cape Town Twenty years later came "Snooks 
Journal;" which set out to provide "news and 
amusement for lovers, merchants, banters, 
bakers, ladies, bachelors, maids, husbands, 
fathers, mothers, sisters and everybody - price 
sixpence." 

Africana manuscripts in the library include the 
diary of Adam Tas, Lord Macartney's account 
book, David Livingstone's notebook kept during 
the journey to the Victoria Falls, and manuscripts 
written by Olive Schreiner and Pauline Smith 

Just over a century ago a novel, 'TenThousanda 
Year" by Samuel Warren, was banned in 
England The publisher overcame the difficulty 
by having an edition printed in Cape Town, and 
copies are available - not "under the counter," 
but not for removal from the library. 



Maps are always in demand. The large collection 
in the library has not been easily accessible in 
the past, but the^ are now being rearranged so 
that all the maps of an area will be found 
immediately in one drawer. Secret maps, 
compiled during the recent war, have been added 
to the collection 

You can study a ninth century manuscript by an 
Irish monk, or borrow the latest novel (if you 
wait your turn) in the South African Public 
Library. There are now 300,000 books, insured 
for £200,000. Such is the rich store-house which 
once consisted, according to an old description, 
of "half a dozen old volumes, a Bible, tv\o skulls 
and a few native weapons." 



Archivists develop a queer sense of familiarity 
with past centuries. It comes only after years of 
study among the yellow documents, and then it 
is a strong and definite feeling. In the Cape 
Archives at the top of Queen Victoria-street they 



live again in the real world of Van Riebeeck and 
the men who followed trim 

Often an archivist cannot tell you how he 
acquired some piece of historical kr>wledge. 
There was no particular source. It seems that one 
implication after another builds up a certainty 
equal to recorded fact The road to learning 
means a long journey in the Archives, and time 
loses its importance. 

Cape Town is fortunate in having these records, 
for so much was burnt in the first half of last 
century that the survival of a great mass of 
important material was remarkable. It was not 
until 1876 that the government placed £500 on 
the estimates for the collection and editing of the 
Archives of the Cape Colony. Soon afterwards 
the Rev. H. C. V. LeLbbrandt was entrusted with 
this task; more than one man could have 
accomplished in several lifetimes. 

Leibbrandt set to work in the cellars of 
Parliament House, and Ian Colvin (in 'The Cape 
of Adventure") gave a vivid picture of lim 



"Leibbrandt the archivist sat in lis little cell 
huirhbacked with much study; a black velvet 
skull-cap over his white hair ... a ponderous and 
venerable man, surrounded by his faded 
archives." 

There was a gap when Leibbrandt retired in 
1908; and when Mr. Colin Graham Botha took 
charge four years later much historical wealth 
remained hidden in the 6,000 volumes in the 
cellars. 

Journals, day books, letters, memorials, petitions, 
reports, official notices, proclamations - the raw 
material of the Archives seems dull until you 
have had time to mate a deeper examination 
Then you find the riches; the majestic narratives 
of Portuguese priests and poets and navigators, 
Camoens, De Barros, Perestrello; the voyages of 
tall East Indiamen and the vicissitudes of old 
Cape families. In show cases are fragments of 
timber from a treasure ship lost near Camps Bay, 
a "post office stone" found on Lion's Rump, and 
the blocks from which the earliest paper money 
was printed at the Cape. 



Events recorded during certain years are hard to 
decipher because a dishonest contractor sold the 
government ink powder adulterated with sand. 
So when the archivists turn back to 1798, or 
1803, they often have to use ultra-violet rays. 
Documents written in the early years of Van 
Riebeeck are clear enough, and the stout paper 
has lasted far better than the flimsy stuff of fifty 
years ago. 

Burial rolls, slave papers, the log-book of a brig, 
maps and engravings - the Archives have been 
indexed at last and the small collection of 
Leibbcandf s day has grown to more than 70,000 
volumes. 

Among the discoveries made in recent years was 
an account of Robinson Crusoe's visit to Cape 
Town. Alexander Selkirk, returning to England 
to tell the tale of exile that Defoe wrote, spent 
three weeks in Cape Town in 1711. He had been 
rescued from his island by two British pirates, 
Rogers and Dover, and for some reason letters 
posted in Cape Town by the pirates were copied 
and preserved. There are many other references 



to pirates in other documents. Mr. Graham Botha 
made a special study of piratical exploits in 
South African waters, and found mention of 
Captain Kidd. 

Gowns worn in Cape ballrooms a century ago 
are being kept in the fireproof strong room at the 
Archives until they can be displayed in an 
historical museum Dresses with bustles, 
wedding dresses with flounces, embroidered 
frocks, parasols, ivory fans and other fine 
heirlooms are stored there. Miss Hilda Buyskes, 
a former inspector of sewing in the education 
department is the authority on last century's 
clothes. She visits the Archives to air and spray 
the needlework and dresses in the strong room 

Cinema films are also hoarded in the Archives, 
and no great historical occasion passes without a 
newsreel being added to this section. Photo- 
graphy is older than you might imagine. There 
were cameras in the Cape more than a century 
ago; and I have found the old photographs in the 
Archives more gripping than any document 



The^ call themselves "professors," those 
itinerant photographers who took Daguerreotype 
apparatus into the Cape countryside and made 
"inimitable likenesses" for lockets and brooches. 
In the middle of last century "Professor 7 ' John 
Paul had a studio in Cape Town. He announced 
that he was taking "true and correct likenesses, 
beautifully coloured, giving all the expression of 
life and beauty, within the short space of 20 
seconds." Cautious "professors," however, added 
the words "weather permitting" to their artistic 
claims. 

Landscapes came later. In 1859 the ceremony of 
laying the foundation stone of the Somerset 
Hospital in Cape Town was ptotogiapted; the 
stereoscopic views of the Cape Peninsula were 
on sale at this period 

Two thousand early negatives in the Archives 
were the work of Mr. Thomas Daniel Ravens- 
croft, who died at Hermanns in 1948 aged 96. He 
was probably the oldest photographer in the 
world at the time of his death. 



In the 'seventies of last centuiy Ravenscroft 
started travelling by ox-wagon and Cape cart, 
taking the first pictures of many Cape villages 
and their people. Later he covered the whole 
Cape Government Railways system with his 
wooden camera He ptotographed a countryside 
that has vanished and made a record more vivid 
in its own way than the most brilliant literature 
can provide Everyone knew him Members of 
huncfeeds of families stood rigid in the sun while 
Ravenscroft worked under the mysterious black 
hood 

A portrait in oils of another veteran plxtographer 
hangs in the Archives - the kindly, skilful Arthur 
Elliott, an American by birth, but a great lover of 
the Cape. He was so poor when he took up 
photography during the South African War that 
he had to borrow a quarter-plate camera. 

Soldiers camped on Green Point Common were 
his first subjects. Then he was able to buy a 
larger camera and demote more of his time to his 
life's work. Elliott realised that much of the 
historic architecture in Cape Town and the 



country districts was doomed. Thatch roofs 
caught fire; the housebreaker was active. He 
regarded it as his duty to preserve all the 
remaining beauty in photographs. 

Again and again the value of Elliott's work has 
been proved Mary a famous homestead, 
damaged by fire, has been accurately restored 
with the aid of Elliotf s photographs. Some of his 
pictures were masterpieces. The old camera artist 
chose the right lighting, the right angle, for his 
slave bells and orchard walls, his waterwheels and 
gables. 

Elliott also made reproductions of hundreds of old 
paintings, drawings, engravings and historical 
illustrations of all kinds. Thus his negatives build 
up a long stoiy, while his own pictures cover a 
period of nearly 40 years. A firm in the United 
States once offered trim £7,000 for the collection. 
Elliott refused. He wanted his pictures to find a 
home in the Cape Archives. And after his death in 
1938 the negatives were bought for the nation by 
the Historical Monuments Commission for 




The Bell Towe: One of Arthur Elliotf s studies in 
the country. 




One of the old houses at Qanwilliam ptotogiapbed by Arthur Elliot 



£2,525. The^ were worth every penny of the 
price. Dozens of authors of historical works have 
acknowledged gratefully the "plxrtographs by 
Arthur Elliott." 

Departmental records must be 30 years old before 
they are transfared to the Archives. Up to 1922 
no systmi bad been devised to protect valuable 
ctocuments; in South Africa, as in other countries, 
sources of historical knov^edge were destroyed 
Since 1922 everything has beei sorted carefully 
under the supeAtision of the Archives 
Commission Tlrae is a constant flow of "fresh" 
material - 30 years old 

From time to time, of course, the great mounds of 
paper that accumulate in the Archives have to be 
combed out. There was a huge bonfire in 1936, 
when a ton of paper (mainly worthless bluebooks) 
went into the flames. Before such a clearance, 
however, the decision is announced in the 
"Government Gazette." Everything is kept for 
two months to allow protests to be registered. 



Tea years ago the Archives received a "windfall" 
in the shape of thousands of old official 
documents from the Supreme Court vaults. 
Among them were the records of the Matrimonial 
Court Early in the eighteenth century couples 
who wished to be married had first to secure the 
appDval of this court 

When Mr. Graham Botha started work in the 
Archives in 1912, the general public had no idea 
of the value of national records. In recent years, 
however, the archivists have had to devote much 
of their time to visitors. Most inquiries are for 
family histories or details about farms. Dr. P. J. 
Venter, the assistant chief archivist, who is in 
charge in Cape Town, had to warn the public not 
long ago about the bogus family crests which are 
hawked about the country. Family crests were 
never registered in South Africa, and this is one 
branch of history where the archivist can give 
little aid. 

If you go to the private dealers in crests the 
results may be confusing. One farmer was 
supplied with a coat-of-arms in which a lion was 



prominent. The same man tried his luck with 
another dealer) and when the crest arrived the 
lion had become a jackal. Finally he wrote to the 
Archives and found that both crests were 
inventions. 

Mr. Graham Botha was once asked to settle a 
violent controversy which flaied up in tranquil 
Wellington over the origin of the town's name. 
Up to 1840 the place was Wagenmaker's Vlei; 
but when the people built their own church and 
the village began to grow, they asked the 
Governor, Sir George Napier, to allow them to 
call their village Napier. 

The request came too late, for the governor had 
just given his name to a village near Bredasdorp. 
Then it was suggested that Wageomaker's Vlei 
should be called Blencowe, in honour of 
Napier 7 s father-in-law, but he declined. Finally 
the people left the selection of the name to 
Napier, who wrote a note on the petition "Call it 
Wellington It is a disgrace to this Colony that 
not a place within it bears that name." 



So Mr. Graham Botha was able to show the very 
words to a deputation from Wellington Some of 
them wece under the impression that the name 
had arisen out of the old rivalry between Paari 
and Wagenmaker's Vlei, culminating in a local 
Waterloo. 

During more than 30 years at the Archives, Mr. 
Graham Botha traced the building of the roads 
leading out of Cape Town, the romance of the 
mountain passes and the stories of the villages 
that were bom along these routes. He has just 
completed a book on this subject, and has started 
another monumental work on social life in the 
Cape during the nineteenth century. Even in 
retirement the archivist remains under the spell 
of history. 

Much remains to be studied in the Archives. 
Miss M. K. Jeffreys, who retired recently after 
29 years there, said to me: "I feel that I have only 
touched the fringe, and I am doubly conscious of 
my ignorance." 



Posterity is unlikely to lament the loss of the 
Archives through fire. The extinguisher system 
releases gas, for water would damage the 
records. But thete was a day, years ago, when a 
famous South African historian almost caused a 
fire. As he entered the building he put his pipe in 
his pocket, and nearly set alight to himself - and 
the Archives. 



Afrikaans books and magazines opened up a new 
world of South African literature for me. If I had 
my time over again I would aim to complete 
bilingualism; for the writer soon makes the 
discovery that there are phases of South African 
life which can be oppressed more vividly in 
Afrikaans than in English. 

The origin of Afrikaans is something of a 
mystery. It seems to have come out of the 
rountiyside rather than Cape Town A learned 
professor in Holland years ago worked out a 
plausible theory called the 'Portuguese-Malay 
origin" He recalled the lingua franca spokei in 



the ports of the Dutch East Indies, a mixture of 
Dutch, Portuguese and Malay; and declared that 
the slaves trought this pidgin talk to the Cape 
with them Later research, however, has proved 
that only about 120 Portuguese and Malay words 
have remained in Afrikaans, and these are mainly 
kitchen terms. So the mystery deepened 

It must be remembered that the Dutch language at 
the time of Van Rieibeeck's landing had no 
standard spelling. Moreover, there were many 
dialects in the Netherlands, Frisian, Flemish and 
others; and something had to happen when the 
early colonists from different provinces mingled 
in a new country. The process of simplification 
began; and something with a strong resemblance 
to modem Afrikaans was being spoken as far 
back as the middle of the eighteenth century. 

The people who spoke the pre- Afrikaans of that 
period were the faunas of SteUenbosch and the 
Drakenstein valley. ThoB is evidmce that the 
slaves and other coloured people in Cape Town 
wait on using High Dutch long after the isolated 
country rommunities had shaped a simpler 



language. In time this became known as 
"Boetenhollandsch." The name is significant, for 
if the new language had sprang up among the 
Cape coloured people, it would certainly have 
gained a different description The fact is that the 
language of uneducated coloured people differs 
from Afrikaans as widely as Cockney slang 
differs from Oxford English. "Every language has 
the right to be judged by its highest cultural 
form/' as Professor C. M. van der Heever once 
remarked. 

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the 
language was pushing its way up vigorously. I 
understand that the first written example of the 
new language was a poem on the Battle of 
Muizenberg (1795) fcy an unknown writer. For 
half a century after that, however, Afrikaans was 
rarely written, and as I remarked earlier it was 
not until 1861 that Afrikaans appeared in print 

They called the language '1Boerer>Kaapsctr at 
that time, and the pioneer was a Sutherland cattle 
farmer, D. C. Estethuyze. A Cape Town firm 
published his verses; but not one copy of the 



pamphlet has ever been discovered. The work 
became known through a review in a newspaper, 
which said: "They display a most singular and 
correct power of versification and simplicity of 
thought, in some cases very pleasing, while in 
others the naive turn given to them is 
irresistible." 

Another early Afrikaans writer was "Samuel 
Zwaartman" of Fraserburg, whose "Boere- 
hriewe" (fanners' letters) and "Kaapsche 
Schetsen" were published in 1870.The writer 
who used this pen name was an Englishman, H. 
W. Cooper, who died in London In the same 
year F. W. Reitz, later President of the Free 
State, was writing articles in Afrikaans in the 
"VolksHad" and these were reprinted in the 
"Ope Monthly Magazine." It was in 1872 that 
the movement was started to secure full rights 
for Afrikaans as a language medium Amoldus 
Pannevis, a Paari teacher (and, strange to say, a 
Hollander) was a prime mover. 

The first book of Afrikaans poetry was published 
by the Argus Company in Cape Town in 1888 - 



"Vyftig Uitgesogte Afrikaanse Gedigte," edited 
by F. W. Reitz, at that time Chief Justice of the 
Orange Free State. There are probably not more 
than half a dozen copies of the first edition of the 
book in existence. Reitz made ingenious translar 
tions of certain poems in English- 'John Gilpin/' 
'Tarn o' Shanter" and "Auld Lang Syne." It is 
interesting to note that Reitz called his render- 
ings a "verafrikaansing" of the originals. 
Afrikaans was still "Cape Dutch" or the 'Taal" 
to most people. 

Among the Afrikaans publications which have 
now become valuable are sets of "Die 
Afrikaanse Almanak," which first appeared at 
Paarl in 1877 and ran (with tv\o wartime breaks) 
until 1918. Dr. P. J. Member, the author, has a 
collection of early Afrikaanse publications worth 
thousands; and it took him years to build up his 
set of the "Almanak." He enlisted the aid of 
clergymen, conpled a list of likely addresses, 
and combed the Western Province in search of 
literary rarities. Some were found in lofts, in old 
trunks and mealie sacks; and many a copy of the 



"Patriot" was found to have been gnawed by 
mice. 

Dr. Nienaber said that at the time of his search be 
could have bought the most beautiful antique 
stlnkwood furniture at low prices. One housewife 
had put her old silver in the loft because it was 
out-of-date and therefore unworthy of the dining- 
room. As for old newspapers, pamphlets and 
books - th^ could be had for the asking. 

Afrikaans began to come into its own afte~ the 
South Afhcan War, though good books in the 
language were still hard to find Such men as 
"Qnzejan" HofmeyrandG. S. Preller took part in 
the movement; they felt that the language at least 
should be preseved from the wreckage of war 
and the defeat of the republics. 

As far back as the days of Parmevis, the 
translation of the Bible into Afrikaans had been 
urged. Opposition came from the Dutch 
Reformed Church. Feeling ran so high in the early 
days that an Elder threatened to shoot "Oom 
Lokomotief" du Tort, the Afrikaans writer, for 



daring to suggest a translation. As recently as 
1919, some of the Elders declared at a Synod 
meeting that th^ could not read Afrikaans. One 
said that if the "Kerkbode," the church news- 
paper, appeared in Afrikaans it would be a heavy 
blow. 

Nevertheless, the Bible was pinted in Afrikaans 
in 1933, and fcy now nearly a million copes must 
have been published And "Die Kerkbode/' now a 
ceitury old, has been appearing in Afrikaans for 
the past sixteen years. 

Another milestone still to be reached in the 
Afrikaans journey will be the publication of the 
official dictionary. Work started on this gigantic 
task in 1926, with Professor J. J. Smith as editor. 
The finished volumes will contain about 175,000 
words. 

Professor Srrith disliked certain phonetic 
spellings in Afrikaans, and retained forms which 
linked Afrikaans words with the original 
Nededands. This view started a controversy with 
the Akademie vir Taal, Lettere en Kuns 



(language, literature and art), the ultimate 
authority recognised fcy Parliament Fortunately 
not many words are affected ; and Professor P. C. 
Schoonees, the new editor, has settled the matter 
fcy giving alternative spellings. 

Professor Schoonees appealed to the public some 
time ago for new and uncommon Afrikaans words 
and idioms. I am unable to respond, though I have 
often chuckled over some of the well-known 
idioms. "My loop rtie alleen rtie," is a superb way 
of suggesting the drunken lurch. "Langtand ee£" 

is even more subtle; it means to eat with great 
reluctance, as tough to length of the teeth is 
causing difficulty, and is often applied to children. 
"Hy staan of die horde sy kos afgeneem het" is a 
good one; for a man who looks as though the dogs 
had robbed trim of his food must be vety 
embarrassed. "Donkz'e vasmaaK' refers to a 

young man courting, but it is untranslatable. 

Many fine books published this century have 
helped to establish literary Afrikaans. Most 
successful of all was A. A. Renaar 7 s "Uit 
Oerwoud en Vlakte," of which more than 



100,000 copies have been sold. Pieoaar writes 
under the pen name of "Sangiro" (the "hare"), and 
one momLng he told me how this nickname was 
given htm in East Africa, and how he came to 
write his masterpiece. 

"Sangiro" is a powafii man with a fine head, 
greying hair aril a face that repeals a life of 
struggle. His parents wob ruined fcy the South 
African War, and they decided to trek to 
Tanganyika, where some friends had already 
settled. It was a nightmare journey; the Renaar 
family went down with malaria and the oxei died 
of East Coast fever. On some days the wagons 
only covered half a mile. Two of Sangiro' s 
bothers died They had Uackv^ete; andfteowas 
no doctor. 

At last the^ settled near Kilimanjaro and tried to 
make a living by fanning in this strange world. 
Sangiro was given the task of shooting the herds 
of bush pig that rooted up the maize at night. He 
was small for his age, and so the Masai called him 
Sangiro, "the hare." 



As a young man Sangiro took to the elephant trail. 
The ivory paid for his B.A. course at SteUenbosch 
University. But as a student he was homesick for 
the veld; his love of adventure had to find an 
outlet, and so he wrote "utt Oerwoud en 

Vlakte." 

The book was immediately acclaimed as a work 
of genius, one which has remained ever since in 
the front rank of Afrikaans literature. Sangiro 
believes that each animal has a personality of its 
own. He writes on life in the wilds with rare 
insight and sympathy. The late Sir Percy 
Fitzpatrick wrote an introduction which sums up 
what Sangiro achieved for Afrikaans literature: 
"If there should remain a doubt that Afrikaans 
can express what the eve may see, what the mind 
may conceive, what the heart may feel - well, 
this book will go a long way to have that doubt 
removed." 

As for Afrikaans poets, it is only necessary to 
quote a stanza which is, perhaps, the best-krown 
of all in Afrikaans: 



JJit die blou van onse nemel, uit die diepbe 
van ons see, 

oor ons eviige gebergbes xwar die kmnse 
ariwoordgee, 

dear ons ver veriate vlakbes met die kreun 
vanossevua - 

nls die stem van ons gdiefde, van ons land 
Suid-Afrika. 

Ons sal antvioord opjou roepsbem, ons sal 
offer wutjy vra: 

Ons sal lewe, ons sal sterwe - ons virjou, 
Suid-Afrika. 

Chapter 7 
Cape Stamps, Cape Money 

Locked Away Somewhere in my cottage is a 
stamp album which, I fondly imagine, is growing 
in value with the years. I have not added a stamp 
to that album since I was a schoolboy, andl shall 
not be surprised if the collection turns out to be 
almost worthless. 

Nevertheless, I felt a revival of interest in stamps 
not long ago while I was talking to Mr. Adrian 



Albert Jurgens of Tamboers Kloof, Cape Town 
Everyone in the South African stamp world 
knows Mr. Jurgens. His books on the subject are 
classics; his collection of "postal Africana" is 
unique. 

Yet there are people who find stamps dull and 
see no inspiration in a faded envelope addressed, 
with suitable flourishes, to Van Riebeeck. They 
ought to talk to Mr. Jurgens. The man who now 
devotes himself to lis albums has led a varied 
and often adventurous life; and the most 
remarkable story of all is one which Mr. Jurgens 
never related when he wrote his books. 

It came out when I asked Mr. Jurgens how he 
managed to gather his great collection of letters 
to all the old Cape commanders and governors. 
"Ticket beer/' he replied. 'That was the secret - 
tickey beer from a brewery at the top of Long 
sureesc. 

In lis schooldays during the South African War 
young Jurgens was in the habit of sitting on the 
ramparts of the Castle, hrooding over past 



glories. One day he saw a sergeant-major of the 
Middlesex Regiment in charge of a party 
carrying sacks to the military incinerator on 
Woodstock beach 

The sacks were filled with old documents, for 
the Castle offices were being cleared out and this 
priceless refuse was destined for the bonfire. 

Jurgens was twelve, he had been a stamp- 
collector for four years and he knew the value of 
the Cape triangular and other stamps that came 
out of the sacks. At first the sergeant-major 
would not part with a scrap of paper. Then young 
Jurgens resorted to bribery. He saved his pocket- 
money and arrived at the incinerator each week 
with half a dozen bottles. 

"Any beer today, sonny?" the sergeant-major 
would inquire. He had a large walrus moustache 
and the froth collected on it After the first bottle 
had been emptied he would turn to Jurgens and 
announce: "Help yourself, sonny." 

In that way a schoolboy was able to preserve a 
set of signed envelopes with original seals which 



it would be impossible to duplicate today. The 
stamps and documents Jurgens found are now 
worth many thousands of pounds. Yet he 
estimates that nine tenths of the "rubbish" from 
the Castle was burnt It would have been 
different if only he could have bought more beer. 

"I have collected everything in my time/' 
Jurgens told me. "Butterflies, birds' eggs and 
stuffed birds, snakes, antelope horns, 
matchboxes, cigarette-cards - I leamt something 
from every hobby." 

As a young man Mr. Jurgens owned one of the 
first motorcycles in Cape Town He used it on 
stHmp-collecting trips into the country, searched 
many a farmer 7 s loft and found many a prize. 

But his richest haul was made wheu he heard 
that a large collection was for sale. He turned the 
pages of the album to his favourite section - 
Cape of Good Hope. 

There he saw stamps which, according to a quick 
estimate, were worth £800. He had £200 in the 



savings bank and he decided to spend the lot, if 
necessary, to secure these Cape stamps. 

"How much do you want for them?" inquired 
Jurgens casually. 

"I know more about stamps than you do, and you 
can't humbug me," replied the owner." I won't 
take a penny less than £5." Jurgens was so 
excited as he drove away on his motor-bike with 
the stamps that he ran over a policeman's toes. 
That was in 1905. A year later a burglar with a 
knowledge of stamps entered the Jurgens home 
and tore the sheets containing these stamps from 
the alburiL Today they would probably fetch 
£15,000. 

A few years ago Mr. Juigens was awarded the 
Crawford Gold Medal, the highest award of the 
Royal Philatelic Society, London, in recognition 
of his published work on Cape postal history. 



The Cape stamps that all the world knows are the 
triangulars - probably the most famous and most 
popular stamps ever printed 



You may wonder how such an unusual shape, 
came to be selected. It was due to the report of a 
Stamp Commission, set up in 1 852, which 
recommended: "In order to obviate errors in 
sorting letters or stamping, we would suggest the 
adoption of a device and shape so different from 
those of the English postage stamps as to catch 
the eye at a glance, and we would propose that of 
a triangle with the figure of Hope in the centre." 

So the first triangulars were printed in London 
and issued at the Cape the following year - the 
brick-red one penny and the four penny blue. 
You can identify this first issue by the "blueing" 
of the paper, the discoloration being caused by 
the chemical action of the inks. A second issue 
without this blemish followed within a few years 
and in 1858 the first sixpenny mauve and shilling 
green triangulars appeared All these stamps 
reveal variations in colour, and some, of course, 
enhance the value. 

So many triangulars were used between 1853 
and the final set of 1864 that some can still be 
bought at low prices. Blocks of two or four are 



valuable. Other rarities are to be found among 
the interesting so-called "woodblock" issue 
printed by Paul Solomon & Co. in Cape Town in 
1861. These were, in fact, engraved on steel and 
fixed on wooden blocks for the stereotyping 
process; but the^ look rough, as though carved 
on wood, in comparison with the London 
stamps. 

The local printing was due to a consignment 
from London becoming mislaid Solomon's 
stamps were on sale for two years, the authorities 
being unaware that the stamps ordered from 
London were lying unopened in the Queen's 
warehouse at Table Bay Docks. The local 
printers made one serious error - to the delight of 
present-day stamp collectors. They printed 201 
penny stamps blue instead of red, and 346 four 
penny stamps red instead of blue. Only one 
penny unused and one four penny unused have 
come to light. Used or unused, they are now 
extremely valuable. 

One of the triangulars remains a deep mystety to 
this day. It is the four penny black. When this 



stamp burst upon philatelists in 1878, some 
renounced it as a forgery and editors of stamp 
catalogues refused to list it. There was no official 
record of a four penny black - only the four 
penny blue. 

Then someone declared he had evidence that the 
Governor of the Cape had ordered three hundred 
four penny blacks to be printed as "mourning 
stamps" at the time of the death of the Prince 
Consort Albert of England The eridmce was so 
weak that no one accepted it 

Nevertheless, four more specimens have been 
found since 1 878. One reached the collection of the 
late King George V. They wete genuine all right, 
but their origin has never been explained. Keep a 
sharp look-out for the four penny black! 

Perforation killed the romantic triangular. Stamps 
of conveitional shapes, and peforated, were 
issued in 1864, bearing the design of Hope seated 
She was to have beei caressing a lamt>; but at the 
lost mommt a merino ram was substituted, 
presumably to stimdate the wool producers. Thirty 



years later a new design showed Hope standing 
beside an anchor. 

The last of the old Cape triangiiars wet through 
the post, and were duly cancelled, in 1900. This 
was due to the enterprise of a collector who had a 
numbe~ of penny and four penny "woodblock 
repints." He posted letters bearing these stamps to 
himself, and they wee duly delivered But the 
Postmaster-General asked him not to do it again, 
and soon afterwards the triangiiars wee 
"demonetised" This was exactly what the collector 
wanted He sold the envelopes at £5 each, and 
these triangiiars bearing the 1900 mark are now 
worth far more 

Then there are the bisected triangulars - sixpenny 
stamps cut in half during the time of shortage. One 
postmaster solved the problem that way in I860, 
and for years afterwards, whenever supplies ran 
short in remote post-offices, other postmastos 
followed the sample. No one protested; the 
Postmaster-General approved Four pence was the 
ordinary letter rate at that period So letter writes 
put a penny triangular, and half a sixpenny, on 



each letter. Covers with examples of this device are 
well worth collecting. 

The craze of Cape triangiiars was started by 
London stamp dealers who advertised in the Cape 
Town papas bdween 1889 and 1899. They 
offered ten shillings a hundred, and accepted all 
dax>nina&ons of all issues - as wall they night. 
Values rose from that time, and they are still rising. 

But the Cape triangular has a charm of its own. 
The selection of that unusual shape was an 
unronscious mastestroke. It put the Cape of Good 
Hope in the forefront of countries favoured by 
collectors. And the old Cape Governments played 
fair with the philatelists of the world They never 
overburdened them with new issues, as some 
countries have done for the sate of easy revenue. 
So the Cape triangular retains its fascination. The 
charm has grown with the years and the old 
triangles of pape~ have become treasures indeed 4 



4 The most valuable Cape triangular, the WOOCMOCk 

error 4cL carmine, is now catalogued at £1,000. 



There were post offices, of a sort in the Cape 
cmturies before the "Cape three-comers" 
appeared One of the Portuguese captains who 
sailed with Cabral put into Mossel Bay in 1501 
with news of the loss of Bartholomew Diaz and 
his ship at sea This captain, Pedro d'Ataide, 
found a melkhout tree near ligh-weter marie so 
he posted lis letter in an old shoe, whichhehung 
on a branch of the tree. He also ldt a note asking 
any ship bound for Lisbon to carry his letter. 

It was a long chance, but it came off. Juan da 
Nova called at Mossel Bay a few months later and 
found the letter. Da Nova left two "post office 
stones" near the tree, which still stands and has 
been proclaimed an historical monument These 
stones are much older than any of the English, 
Dutch and Danish "post office stones" found on 
the shores of Table Bay. 

Governor Rherdus established the first regular 
Cape postal service during the last years of Dutch 
rule. Envelopes have beeu found bearing postal 



markings and dated March 2, 1792. Farmers, 
known as "postboers" and armed with muskets, 
rode with letter from one homestead to another) 
and thus letter went by relays all the way from 
Cape Town to Algoa Bay. 

This service continued under the fitst British 
occupation. Lord Macartney also sent his 
dragoons galloping inland with urgent official 
dispatches and private letters. In 1816 there was a 
postmistress at Paari; and ten years later all the 
towns in the Cape had post offices where letters 
could be franked. A circular hand stamp was used 
bearing the words "Post office," the name of the 
town and a crown. No values were shown, but the 
charge for letbeis was one s hillin g a sheet. 




Gmoftfeeariiestphotog^^ 



"Postboeis" were pooiiy paid, and a Landdrost 
named Ciller earned their gratitude ty urging 
that the^ should receive at least three rix-dollars 
an hour. Post riding, like the American pony 
express, survived until late in the century in Cape 
districts where the tracks were too rough for post- 
carts. As far back as 1825, however, there was a 
post-wagon service between Cape Town and 
Paarl. The wagon halted at the half-way house 
kept fcy the Widow Cruywagen, who supplied 
refreshments. 

Mr. Crozier, the Cape postmaster-gmeral in 1828, 
repudiated liability for money lost in the post 
"The risk in crossing rivers after heavy rains, 
particularly in the night is serious," he 
annoiincecL So he suggested a queer safeguard - 
cutting papo~ money diagonally across and 
sending batches fcy halves in different posts! 

Inns were also post offices in those days. Mr. 
Tubb of the "Fox and Hounds" at Eeste River 
was pleased to act as postmaster) while Mr. J. W. 
Butler officiated at the "Three Cups" near 
Rondebosch. 



Many country people were suspicious when 
postal facilities were first granted ivymesbury's 
first post office opened in 1846, with an 
overworked magistrate's clerk in charge because 
no one else could be found The farmers wented 
to knowwtehff their Idlers would be opened by 
the Government; and they grumbled about the 
minimum charge of four pence for a Idler from 
Malmesbury to Cape Town They carried their 
own grain to Cape Town in those days, sold it for 
cash, and did without correspondence, invoices 
and delivery notes. 

Fenny post within the borders of the small Cape 
Colony was annoirnced in 1865. Every Veld 
Comet in remote areas became the postmaster. 

Earliest of all Cape postmen was the Hottentot 
who carried messages in a forked stick The postal 
runner survives to this day. I have met him on a 
forest trail in the Cedarteg mountains; a middle- 
aged coloured man wltha sack on his back. Years 
ago he had to walk from Algeria forest station to 
Clanwilliam and back, twenty miles each way, 
three times a week. Now there is a bus service 



along the Olifantsrivier, and tris walk has been 
reduced to eight miles each way. But his home in 
the mountains is five miles from the forest station 
and he sleeps at home e^ety night That makes 
another fifteen hundred miles a year) and in his 
quarter of a century of postal service he has 
covei^d more than 1 00, 000 miles. Frederik 
Simmerie is this postman's name. His favourite 
drink is honey beer, brewed in the mountains. He 
has never been ill for more than a day, so that 
evidently his mild indulgence has done him no 
harm. 

Stamps, the rare stamps of the Cape, are found far 
more often than old coins and tokens. I am told 
that the Cape niimismatist has a heart-treaking 
task in comparison with the philatelist 

Yet the mone^ that has changed hands in the 
Cape since Van Riebeeck's day would make a 
rich pile if you could see it all jingling down into 
an old krst. The chief officer of the Dromedaris 
was rewarded in Spanish reals when he sighted 
Table Mountain Van Riebeeck paid a reward of 
fifty caroluses for the recovery of deserters. 



Guilders, rix-dollars, Modcan dollars, wae all 
used in seventeenth-century Cape Town But the 
most romantic of all the early corns were those 
heavy silver dollars known as "pieces of eight" 
Th^ were also the favourite corns of the 
colonists, and thev remained in circulation until 
1 784, when the rix-dollar (or ryksdaaler) 
appeared. 

I have handled "pieces of eight," sea-wom silver 
from a sunkei Saidanha wreck This is money 
which is somdhing more than a converdeit 
means of eKchang^ money with the genuine ring 
of adventure. "Pieces of eight" were minted in 
Spain. Lite the British sovereign of a late~ 
century, and the modem American dollar, you 
could spexl "pieces of eight" almost anywhere in 
the civilised wDild and secure full value. They 
weire the great trade coins of their day. On their 
reverse they bore the design of the scrolled pillars 
of Hercules; so they were also known as "pillar 
dollars"; and the familiar American dollar sign of 
today was evolved from that pillar and scroll. 



Dutch ducats, gold coins about the size of a 
s hillin g but much thinner, circulated at the Cape 
before the end of the seventeenth centuty. The 
exchange rate was eight s hillin gs and four pence. 
These golden ducats boie a knight in armour. 
There were also silver ducatoons, similar to 
"pieces of eight," but minted in Holland. 

The rix-dollar was worth four shillings and two 
pence in English money; while one skilling 
amounted to a trifle rnore than sixpmoe. Venetian 
sequins wob also slapped on to trie tavern 
coulters of old Cape Town; and as they were gold 
they wob treated with respect 

English spade guineas, Indian rupees and 
pagodas, Portuguese escudos, lotris d'ois of 
France, and the oblong pieces of beaten gold 
called toobans from distant Japan wete all 
accepted readily enough on the shores of Table 

Long afte~ the "pieces of eight" came trie 
magnificent Maria Theresa dollars, first struck in 
Vienna in 1780, and still minted with the same 



design and date in recent years for primitive 
peoples who liked money to look lite money. 
Maria Theresa dollars fluctuated according to trie 
value of silver) but trie traveller who carried them 
came off better than trie man with weird small 
change There must have been confusion in many 
a Cape Town counting house in the days whoi 
mohurs mingled with stuivers. 

English coins became legal tender at the Cape in 
1806, and the heavy "cartwheel" penny pieces 
bearing the head of George HI soon became 
known as "dubbeLtjes," as the^ were worth two 
pence. Dutch coins still circulated, however, and 
it was not until 1826 that the public accounts of 
the colony were kept in pounds, shillings and 
pence. 

Oddities of the early nineteenth centuiy were trie 
bronze and silver tokens struck ky trie London 
Missionary Society in 1815 for use on their 
mission stations at trie Cape. Mary other 
organizations and firms followed this example 
last century; and collectors who specialise in 
tokens have a wide field 



Country stores, police canteens, mining 
companies, tramways, wine merchants, breweries, 
hotels, dairies and many others issued their own 
brass, celluloid, white metal, nickel, aluminium, 
copper, bronze or pewter tokens. Cape Town had 
a half-penny newspaper, the "Evening Express," 
in 1880; and as the newsboys were always short 
of change, the publisher solved the problem by 
having ten thousand bronze tokens made in 
Birmingham. They were of farthing size, and bore 
the words: "Good for One Copy Evening Express 
- Fredk. R Lovegrove and Co., Printers, Cape 
Town." Thousands vanished after the manner of 
small coins, and collectors now seek these tokens 



While Napoleon was living in exile on St Helena 
the busy island received its own coinage for the 
first time. The coins bore the arms of the English 
East India Company, and circulated at the Cape as 
freely as on the island 

You still heer one and sixpence referred to as a 
dollar at the Cape This may be traced back to a 
government notice of 1825 in which the people of 



the Cape were informed that they could exchange 
British silver money for new paper rix-dollars at 
the rate of one s hillin g and sixpence for each rix- 
dollar. 

It is not generally known that Australian gold 
coins, minted in Sydney were declared legal 
texter at the Cape in the 'Sixties of last century. 
But it was not until 1874 that the first truly South 
African coins found their way to the Cape, and 
then the^ were "Burgers ponde" of fte Ziid 
Afnkaanscbe RepuUiek which President Burgers 
had ordeed from England They are extremely 
rare, for only 837 goldei pounds were struck and 
many were converted into watch-pendants and 
brooches. All the Kruga~ series f bllowed, and some 
remained in circulation until the Union abandoned 
the gold standard Proof sets, coins with the double 
shaft error, and the celebrated "Marks tickey" in 
gold are the great prizes among Krugff coins. The 
wagon eror was committed by a German die- 
sinker who had iwe~ seei a wagon with one shaft 
and refused to believe that such a vehicle existed 



Paper money first appeared at the Cape in 1782 
when Holland was at war with England and the 
shortage of metal currency had become acute. 
French soldiers in the service of the Dutch East 
India Company wae clamouring for their pay. 
Th^ received it in the shape of parchment and 
cardboard tokens embossed with the V O C 
monogram and signed by high officials. These 
notes wera called in and redeemed; and few have 
survived the bonfire, 

British notes \aob issued during the first British 
occupation of the Cape, Farmers evidently had 
great faith in these notes, for in 1802 the official 
"Gazette" romplained of a scarcity of paper money 
as a result of hoarding in the country. The 
"Gaz&te" also mmtioned the murder of a farmer 
for the sate of lis paper rix-dollars; and it quoted 
another farmer who had lost his savings when a 
mouse found its way into his strong-box and 
gnawei the paper into 'Inconceivably small and 
worthless pieces." 

In the 'twenties of last century the Cape Town 
butchers issued their own notes, called "slachier's 



hrieven/' in payment for cattle. One firm of 
merchants in the Swellendam area had handsome 
banknotes printed in England, bearing the name of 
the firm but otherwise resembling Bank of England 
notes. 

Banks opened branches in the country from 1837 
onwards. Some of the early notes they issued for 
local use repeal pleasant mgravings of people and 
agricultural somes. But decade afte~ decade passed 
before all the people in the country decided that 
banks were to be trusted. Business was done on a 
cash basis, mainly in gold, and many tales are 
told in the Cape of farmers who kept their money 
hidden in or around their homesteads. 

One favourite hiding place was the ash-heap at 
the back of the house. It took so long to unearth a 
skin bag of sovereigns from the ash-heap that the 
farmer relied upon catching a possible thief in 
the act Others felt secure when they locked up 
their hoards in massive wagon-boxes. 

Storekeepers in many villages acted as banters, 
and were trusted implicitly. They had safes; and 



some charged for the storage of money. This 
appeared reasonable enough to farmers who 
were accustomed to paying for the stabling of 
their horses in the dorp. I have been assured by a 
retired bank manager that in the early years of 
this century, he had the greatest difficulty in 
convincing some of his clients that the bank 
would pay interest on deposits - and return the 
capital on demand. "Magtig!" That was almost 
incredible generosity. 

In the North- West Cape, when the railway was 
being built from De Aar to Prieska in 1903-04, 
transport riders and owners of horses and 
donkeys made fortunes. Then the Germans came 
over the border to buy transport animals for their 
war against the Hottentots and Hereros; and the 
insistent demand sent the price of a donkey up to 
£10. My friend the bank manager saw boxes 
inches deep in German gold twenty-mark pieces. 

It was not always sheer ignorance that led people 
to keep large amounts of mone^ on their farms. 
"Kontant," hard cash, was the rule of the veld, as 
I have said; and men buying farms and stock in 



distant places simply had to have the mone^ 
close at hand. A buyer with a cheque book would 
have had a cold reception in those days. The 
horse dealer earned a bladsak on lis shoulders 

and counted out the money from that leather bag. 

Nevertheless, some of the hiding-places were 
more ingenious than the ash-heap. A farmer 
would pretend to be examining the walls of his 
well; but all the time he would be hollowing out 
a cavity above water-level where he could store 
his capital. 

As a rule he told his wife. One farmer who kept 
the secret to his dying moment very nearly took 
his money with him to the grave. Years before he 
had ronstructed a false bottom in a coffin stored 
in an outhouse, and placed thousands of 
sovereigns between the planks. He was thrown 
from his horse and killed If the servants had not 
complained of the weight of the coffin, the 
money wDuld ne^er have been discovered But 
the widow was naturally wondering and when she 
saw that six farm labourers were hardly able to lift 



the coffla she guessed the hiding place 
immediately. 

Many are the legends of hoards buried on farms in 
the Cape. Obviously some of these tales must be 
true. Qftei the newspapers report chance 
discoveries of sovereigns in the country. A great 
deal of money was buried during the South 
African War, when the men went on commando. 
No doubt thousands of sovereigns renain to this 
day in the earth. 

Now that electronic devices are available to detect 
buried metal there will be a revival of treasure 
hunting. The law on "treasure trove" in South 
Africa is clear enough. If you find anything 
valuable yourself on your own farm, you will 
probably be allowed to retain the lot 'Treasure 
trove" means tteasure that was buried so long ago 
that there can be no claimant 

If someone else finds money accidentally on your 
farm, the law requires you to split fifty-fifty with 
him Before starting an organised treasure hunt on 
another person's property, however, a proper 



legal document should be drawn 153. If you find 
treasure trove after a deliberate search, the whole 
amount will belong to the owner of the property 
in the absmce of a previous agreemmt 

Cape stamps. Cape money! The whole tale of 
sudden and unexpected wealth is not yet told. I 
have no clues, but I am never surprised when I 
hear that someone else has uncoveted a small 
fortune. 

Chapter 8 
Weather In The Country 

ONLY Three Feet FROM My Chair is my 

circular dam, sunk to the level of the steep. In 
summer the bats swoop over it during this 
evening hour. Tonight the swallows are passing 
low across the water - a certain sign that it will 
rain tomorrow. 

Counny people, like sailors, are full of wisdom 
about the weather, and I am not prepared to 
argue with them or recall false prophecies. They 
and their ancestors have watched these skies and 
mountains for centuries. It would be surprising if 



some reliable weather lore had not come out of 
such long observation 

Many of their sayings, of course, aie older than 
thev^temanattheC^pe. Mary a proved) came 
with Van Riebeeck and the Huguenots and the 
first English fanners. In the English countryside 
the peacock's cry announces changing weather) 
in the Cape the call to heed is that of the 
bokmakierie. 

Probably the sheep are the most sensitive 
weather forecasters in the whole farmyard. When 
the sheep graze aimlessly there will be no change 
for days. If a flock is seen moving purposefully 
in one direction, the wind will come from that 
quarter. Sheep move into the lee of the hills 
before a gale, and turn their back to rain that has 
yet to fall. 

Baboons aie not always available to aid the 
forecaster, but gieat faith is placed by fanners on 
their movements. 

In the Oudtshoom district the ostriches dance 
before the rain Other farmers have to be content 



with the light-hearted gambols of horses and 
mules, which hold their tails up when the rain 
clouds gather. 

Bees sheltering in their lives; ducks searching 
for snails; garden spiders spinning short threads; 
frogs croaking in the daytime; ants hurrying 
about their business; gnats and mosquitoes flying 
in short circles; these are the small signs which 
add up in the farmer's mind to mean rain within 
twenty- four hours. 

According to the scientists, the moon has no 
effect on the weather - the sun is the great 
influence. But do not mention this piece of 
modem meteorology in the countty. Here it is 
firmly believed that a large moon halo means 
misty weather, while a narrow halo will bring a 
gale. A golden full moon is the warning that rain 
is near) while a red full moon is the sign of fine, 
settled weather. If the crescent moon appears 
with its horns upwards, then it is "holding the 
water" and there will be no rain 



Clouds are more reliable, though the 
interpretation of cloud behaviour varies from 
district to district. A wisp of cloud on a local 
mountain tells the farmer more than the 
barometer. Wind, temperature and cloud 
formations are considered in the farmers sub- 
conscious mind, and then you hear a forecast that 
is more often right than wrong. 

An early rroming mirage suggests a gale before 
sunset. Along the coast of the Western Province, 
cocks crowing early in the evening are 
announcing a misty morning, no matter how 
clear the evening sky may be. And if the gulls fly 
inland, heavy waather is on the way. 

Long range weather forecasting started in the 
country. Old prophets took careful note of the 
weather during the first twelve days of January 
each year, and then issued their forecasts for the 
year. A hot, dry New Year's Day, for example, 
meant that the whole of January would be dry. 
Rain on January 4 or 5 signified a wet April or 
May, and so on. I must say that I would be 



inclined to place more faith in the call of the 
bokmakierie. 

Our waather, of course, comes from the west. 
Before the war the meteorologists had no 
regular, accurate readings from that quarter. It 
was only when the Union Government set up a 
weather station on Tristan da Cunha that the 
forecasters began to feel more confident about 
their prophecies. The main problem became one 
of estimating how long a storm that hit Tristan 
would take to reach the Cape. 

As a rule, weather rolls across the two thousand 
miles of empty ocean at about thirty miles an 
hour. Thus an error of three to six hours is 
pardonable. Nevertheless, the experts wish there 
was an intermediate island, or a weather ship 
such as Britain maintains in the North Atlantic. 
That would reduce the guesswork considerably. 

The long range forecasters mate use of statistics 
from an island in the Cape Horn region and from 
New Zealand They say that the island provides 
data by which the mean winter temperature of 



Cape Town can be predicted nearly a year ahead; 
while the air pressure over New Zealand will give 
Cape Town's winter rainfall nearly a year ahead 
Working backwards to the beginning of this 
century, they have found that they would have 
been right eight times out of ten 

Finally there are the ele^e>year cycles of 
sunspots, those gas eddies swirling out from the 
interior of the sun which influence the \\aatha~. 
Rain in the Cape is heaviest within a year or tavo 
of the maximum sunspot activity. But this is still 
far from an exact science. 



There is something about the weather in this land 
that starts controversies and encourages scientists 
and others to put their ideas into print. I have a 
catalogue of books and papers on South African 
metrorology dated 1885; and even in those far-off 
days there was an abundance of literature on the 
subject. Today the books would fill a library. 

Long before 1885 they were already convinced 
that South Africa was drying up. Dr. Fritsch had 



put forward his theory that it was due to the 
improvident natives cutting down trees. Robert 
Moffat the missionary had noted that the 
destruction of wild olives in numbers near 
Griquatown had caused a diminution in springs. 
Dr. John Shaw had blamed overstocking, which 
led to a change of vegetation and finally a change 
of climate. Dr. Andrew Smith had observed the 
disappearance of "sea-cows" from the Kuruman 
river, where th^ had been found "within the 
memory of persons still living." Andersson the 
explorer had reported that "the Namaquas are 
loud in their complaints that less rain falls now in 
their country than a quarter of a century back." 

The popular fallacy that South Africa is drying up 
still persists. Do not believe it The gieat central 
plateau of the Union is not becoming a deset; and 
the level of the weter in bore-holes is not falling. 
Drought is no new thing. It is a ghastly thing 
when you observe the effects closely - but not 
new. 

I have a memory of the drought of 1928 in the 
Prince Albert district It was the most severe 



drought the oldest farmer could remember. Not 
three inches of rain had fallen during thirty-six 
months, and many farmers had left their homes 
and were working on the roads at half-a-crown a 
day. Old men who had owned motor-cars before 
the drought; working under the sun just for their 
food. 

In the village, with its cprniftuit gardens and cool 
dams, it was hard to believe it But the 
government was issuing mealie meal and beans, 
fat and soap. The school principal told me that he 
had started a soup kitehei when he found the 
children fainting in the classrooms. And scattered 
over the veld were the bones of the sheep and 
cattle. 

Amid such scenes you may feel that the 
pessimists are right Nevertheless, if you go 
deeper into the subject, you will find that neither 
history nor statistics support the idea that the 
countty is more arid than it has been for ages. 

Go back to the journals of the old Commanders at 
the Cape, to Van Riebeeck himself, and you will 



sense a familiar ring in the notes on the weather, 
their expeiences were exactly the same as ours. 
Rain came in March or April; but the^ always 
complained of the long dry season In feet it was 
simply normal Cape weather 

Van Riebeeck was the fitst drought reporter, and 
as so many descriptions have appeared since then 
it is worth recalling the words he wrote on the day 
of his landing: "It appears the dry season now, the 
ground being cracked and the rivulets dry." 

Early travellers left distressing records of the 
droughts they ercountered, clear proof that some 
areas have always lived on the verge of famine. 
There was difficulty in collecting the taxes in 
1711 and 1712 owing to drought In April 1786 
the Berg River ceased to flow. Lichtenstein 
mentioned that in the Roggeveld in 1803 half the 
cattle perished But he fell into the usual trap of 
imagining that the climate had changed 'The 
charade^ of the Roggeveld has in the course of 
years undergone a consideBUe change/' he 
wrote. "Old people remanber very well that half a 
century ago the superabundance of wete~ in the 



district was such that in the middle of summer the 
nearest neighbours could not get to each other on 
account of the rives and morasses and there 
seldom passed a week without profuse rain, while 
of late there have been whole summers without a 
storm/' 

But there have been vraxterfii seasons in the 
Roggeveld since then- and, of course, devastating 
droughts. If accurate weather records had been 
kept, no seious variation would have been found 
in the average rainfall each decade. 

The great droughts last century occurred in the 
years 1816, from 1827 to 1832, in 1846, from 
1858 to 1866 and in 1883. From the descriptions 
available it is probable that the dry years of 
1858-66 were the worst South Africa had known 
since Van Riebeeck's arrival. This century the 
years 1904 and 1905 were bad; and the Cape was 
so hard hit in 1919 that "old inhabitants asserted 
that it was the most terrible drought South Africa 
had experienced." That sentence comes from an 
official report I wish the "old inhabitants" could 
have discussed the matter with their great-great- 



grandfathers. They would have heard the same 
story. 

Aliwol North, I believe, is the only inland centre 
which has recorded e^ery drop of rain accurately 
from 1866 to the present day. And the worst year 
was 1932, when only 10.24 inches fell. A study 
of the chart compiled at Aliwol North reveals no 
decline in rainfall. The average for the district is 
nearly 23 inches. 

Long ago that famous meteorologist. Dr. J. R. 
Sutton of Kimberley, pointed out that it was 
South Africa's fortune, and misfortune, to be in 
the latitude of the southern anti-cyclone belt. 
This belt extends right round the world on or 
about 30 degrees of south latitude - a region of 
normally high barometric pressure and no great 
cloudiness. Under such conditions you must 
expect bright sunshine - and droughts. Where 
this belt crosses the land the rainfall is scanty, 
except on eastern margins - Durban and Buenos 
Ayres, for example - and in certain mountainous 
areas. The rule is that rainfall decreases as you 
cross the continents within this belt from east to 



west. There is a similar belt north of the equator. 
All the hot deserts of the world lie under these 
belts. 

So when the anti-cyclone reigns supreme, when 
the barometer stands abnormally high day after 
day for months, the drought continues. It is 
thought that the state of the vast Antarctic ice 
field may have some influence on the anti- 
cyclone belt; hence the lonely meteorological 
stations which the Union Government maintains 
on southern islands. 

Enough rain falls in South Africa to turn the 
country into a garden. It is the burning of 
mountain slopes, the destruction of the natural 
sponge of vegetation that causes drought 
conditions. Earth dams are washed away. The 
water rushes off to the oceans. Someone once 
remarked that the finest soil in South Africa lies 
at the river mouths - fathoms deep beneath the 
sea. 

When the rain does come you hear no talk of 
South Africa drying up. Officially the wettest spot 



is in the mountains above Paari, which catch 200 
inches of rain ayear. But the flood dfects are more 
dramatic elsewhere. 5 

Have you &ior experienced a cloudburst on the 
Karoo? Unlucky the motorists who is caught out at 
such times; for he sees the raging waters and ne^er 
knows wb&ber he will reach lis destination. That 
is the time when bridges go and areas of parched 
veld become a sea Beaufort West knows all about 
these suddei floods. Again and again the Gamka 
River has sv\ept into the town I drove through 
Beaufort West soon after the most destructive 
floods in its history had subsided. The people wob 
asleep wtoi the river burst its banks. A man 
delivelng milk was sv\ept away and drowned. 

Neady every house and shop was swamped. 
Guests at hotels had to take refuge upstairs. In the 
post office nsd; morning the telegraph operator 



5 Floods along the Orange River are described in 
'To the River's End" by Lawrence G. Green 
(Timmins). 



kept in touch with the outside world while the 
water rose almost to the level of his instruments. 

Damage on that occasion anDunted to £100,000. 
Homeless people had to live in garages and stables. 
The most suiprising part of the disaster was that 
the milkman was the only victim to lose lis life. 
Streets were lite farm tracks afte~ the flood; the 
waters had rushed through the town for two hours. 

Yet, as I have said, this was no new story. Beaufort 
West was menaced fcy floods in 1869, and all the 
men of the village went out in lashing rain to 
attempt to save the dam. The^ had rockets ready 
for use as the danger signal; and at eleven o'clock 
in the morning the rockets went off. 

Eveyone in Beaufort West wetehed the scene 
from high ground The wete~ carried tree-trunks 
into the village, wells collapsed into the roaring 
waters and it was three hours More the people 
could return to their flooded homes. Beaufort West 
was a small place in those days, but the damage 
was estimated at £60,000. 



Rain tarings out the frogs. Sooner or later you are 
bound to meet someone who has seen a "rain of 
frogs." Tales of fish from the sky are also common 
in the countryside and it is well that you should 
know the truth 

Often the frog story is due to faulty obsevation. 
Mr. Walter Rose, the Cape Town naturalist 
followed up such reports for years in an attempt to 
find someone who could give an accurate, first- 
hand description of frogs descending from the 
sky. He failed completely, and finally decided 
that the frogs were on the ground all the time and 
had merely leapt out of their hiding-places to 
welcome the rain 

Nevertheless, small colonies of frogs and small 
fish have been sucked up by whirlwinds passing 
over dams and deposited miles away. There is no 
reason to be sceptical unless such reports state 
that many thousands of frogs came from aloft. 

Rain of various colours has been observed in 
South Africa For red rain you need a strong 
windstorm to charge the air with particles of the 



red sand of the Kalahari. After that a shower is 
essential; and showers are rare on the edge of the 
desert. But when it does come at the right 
moment, red rain falls. Black, yellow and green 
rain are other rare spectacles; and all are due to 
coloured particles of sand or microscopic plants 
whirled aloft by the wind. I have never heard of 
red snow in South Africa, though this weird 
effect has been noted in countries where tiny red 
plants give their colour to melting fields of snow. 
Unlike the rain, of course, the snow does not 
become red until it has fallen. 

Hail can be dangerous, and a severe hailstorm on 
the veld is a full-blooded melodrama of the 
weather. It comes with a threatening rumble lite 
an express train, a dark mass advancing swiftly 
behind a screen of lightning. This is Nature's 
artillery barrage. As the lightning stabs the veld 
you can see the ground has become white with 
fallen hailstones. 

In a town of corrugated iron roofs the noise is 
terrifying. Large hailstones go through the iron 
sheets and thatch like bullets. Natives have been 



battered to death by hail. Maddened horses dash 
over the krantzes. Birds are killed by the 
thousand. One farmer in the Karoo lost thirteen 
hundred sheep in a single hailstomL Cattle, 
goats, ostriches are killed by the masses of ice. 
The antelopes cannot escape. Even the fish in the 
rivers share the fate of creatures exposed to the 
full force. No wonder the farm people shelter 
under their tables when a violent hailstorm is at 
its height. 

Hailstones weighing more than two pounds each 
have been picked up after such storms. The 
specific gravity of a hailstone is low, but the 
velocity is considerable. You see hailstones 
described in various ways in the newspapers, and 
there is no need to exaggerate; hailstones go up 
the scale from walnuts, pigeon's eggs, hen's 
eggs, oranges, man's fist, man's palm, cricket 
balls, right up to brickbats and slabs of ice. 

There is not much profit in hail, but I heard once 
of a Cape farmer who found so many dead birds 
near his homestead after a storm that he plucked 
them, sent them to market and received £24. 



Another farmer made the discovery that whisky 
blended admirably with hailstones. And a police 
officer, whose back was bruised by hail, spent a 
fortnight in bed and found that his accident 
policy covered the risk. 



After the Roodepoort disaster of November, 
1948, evetyone knows what a tornado can do. 
The Cape countryside is not immune from this 
sudden terror, striking without warning; more 
fearful than flood, perhaps, because it is so 
unexpected. 

"Dust devils" are small and conparatively 
harmless tornadoes. Most of them are too weak 
to be anything more than a nuisance to motorists; 
and some of the stronger ones cross open country 
and encounter nothing they can damage. 
Sometimes a farmer' s bam is rolled up lite paper 
and deposited some distance away. Or the old 
willow trees round the dam may be twisted off at 
ground level. Or the men at a road camp may 



stand helpless and dismayed while their tents are 
whirled aloft 

Old residents of MaLmesbury in the Cape 
Province remember a far more nerve-racking 
experience. Before dawn on September 29, 1905, 
a coloured shepherd sleeping under a bush 
outside the town awoke to a sound he had never 
heard before. It was lite approaching gunfire. 

In spite of the blackness and the beating of the 
rain, the shepherd declared that he saw a huge 
cloud lite a ball. The cloud struck the ground 
and turned into wind Within a few moments that 
wind, a true tornado, had wrecked the centre of 
Malmesbury. 

One heavy sleeper was awakened by his brother. 
"The town has been shattered - my house has 
fallen ia and my wife and children are under the 
ruins," shouted the brother. They went out into 
streets blocked by trees, corrugated iron and 
masonry. They passed men, women and children 
in nightclothes; people sobbing and shivering. 



They rescued the wife and three children, but the 
fourth child was dead. 

At daybreak the bewildered people saw that 
about a hunted houses, the Roman Catholic 
church, the Masonic Lodge and several stores 
had lost their roofs. A number of houses had 
been completely wrecked The swollen river had 
entered the town, aided the devastating wind, 
and washed away the railway line. Malmesbury 
was a town of homeless people. Though many 
were injured, the total death-roll was five, nearly 
all children 

Among the shattered buildings was the double- 
storeyed Commercial Hotel. "I woke up to the 
sound of the wind moaning in the blue-gum trees 
that flanked the hotel/' said a resident. "Then the 
noise became deafening and I could hear 
buildings falling. The hotel rocked to and fro, 
and next moment down came the matchboard 
ceiling and bricks from the wall. I was pinned in 
my bed, and when I got my head out I could only 
see the sky. The upper storey was destroyed, but 
the barman slept through eveaytbing. " 



Fowls vanished on the wings of the tornado, but 
a touch of humour was provided in that sombre 
scene by a hen with all its feathers blown off. It 
wandered down the street lite a poodle. 

A four-hundred gallon water tank was carried 
from the roof of a house and came to rest in a 
huge blue-gum tree a quarter of a mile away. 
There it remained for years as evidence of the 
violence of the tornado. Lighter wreckage was 
located along the path of the tornado twenty 
miles away. That is what wind can do. 

Compared with a tornado, the strongest south- 
east gale is a zephyr. The famous Cape south- 
easter, of course, is caused by anti-clockwise 
movements of air thrown off by the atmospheric 
high pressure system of the South Atlantic. 

Some of these anti-clockwise "cells" strike the 
southern tip of the Cape as high winds. Others 
circulate over the ocean further north, collect 
moisture, and come inland in the shape of rain It 
is thus incorrect to say that the "south-easter 
brings rain upcountty." The south-easter is 



merely a local wind without much influence on 
the general weather scheme. 

Farmers have no reason to love the Cape south- 
easter, for the soil experts have decided that it 
causes much desiccation On the credit side, 
however, this wind does tend to check certain 
crop diseases. The dry atmosphere it creates is 
unfavourable to fungoid growths. Lazy farmers 
have been known to leave the thinning of their 
fruit to the south-easter, and to complain during 
calm, hot spells. 

Farmers regard an early snowfall as a sign of a 
good season in the Cape districts. In some years 
snow falls on Brandwag and other Worcester 
peaks very early in April, and then the farmers 
know that their crops will not fail. 

The coldest place in the Cape is Sutherland, 
4,800 feet up in the Rogge^eld, with a yearly 
mean of 54-7 degrees. Taps freeze in July as the 
thermometer goes down to fourteen degrees 
below freezing point The village lies in a plain 
bordered by icy mountain ranges, and every 



wind carries a bitter reminder of snow. Ice more 
than an inch thick forms on the dams. Sometimes 
the snow lies six fed: deep in the drifts and 
neither car nor wagon can reach the village. 
Until recently Sutherland was the coldest spot in 
the whole Union; but in 1948 the meteorologists 
removed that honour to Belfast in the Transvaal. 
Sutherland was found to be three decimal points 
of a degree vomer than Belfast 

During the winter of 1902, the coldest winter this 
century, the Sutherland district looked like 
Canada Snow flattened the country. Men rode 
over fences and valleys on hard snow. Transport 
riders and shepherds were frozen to death Some 
wagon travellers saved their lives by chopping 
up the floorboards for fuel; and fortunate indeed 
were those who had brandy. Hares crept up to 
the wagons for shelter and were caught and 
roasted. Some of those who were caught out in 
snowstorms went stone deaf. Trains had to be 
hauled out of snow drifts by three engines. 

Farmhouse roofs collapsed under the weight of 
snow. Fanners dug trenches and tunnels to reach 



their stables. The sheep kept together for 
warmth, each one gnawing its neighbour's wool 
for sustenance. Often they were found by the 
breathing-holes they made in the snow. Among 
the sheep that survived, scores went blind and 
had to be killed. Pheasants, doves, fowls and 
other birds lost their feet through frostbite. Birds 
invaded the farms in search of food; so fearless 
were they as a result of starvation that they 
roosted in thousands in lofts and out-buildings. 
Even the vultures overcame their fear of man 
that year and sought shelter on the farms. Among 
the animals the dassies seem to have fared best, 
for they found roots by digging and remained 
warm underground. Farmers did not welcome 
that snow. 

Further south, skiers rejoice when they hear of 
heavy snowfalls on Matroosberg, twenty-one 
miles from Ceres. This peak is the highest of the 
Hex River range - 7,378 feeL When the 5,000- 
feet mountains lose their white caps, 
Matroosberg still freezes. 



Only a quarter of a century ago the idea of winter 
sports in the Cape was ridiculed. Long before that, 
Worcester people had used sledges for 
tobogganing on the Metring Plateau; but skiing 
was ruled out In 1929, however, two Norwegians 
in Cape Town sent for their skis and did quarter- 
mile runs on Fortedntjiesbetg. Suitable snow was 
nearly always to be found at six thousand feet. 

The growing band of skiers had to find new runs 
when the Worcester municipality closed Fontein- 
tjiesberg on the ground that the town's weter 
supply night be polluted Matroosberg povided 
the right conditions, though the pioneers had to 
sleep in caves and a roofless hut once used by a 
shepheii 

Nowadays, three hours after leaving Cape Town, 
the skier reaches the huts at the foot of 
Matroosbercj. A walk of one and a half hours 
tarings him to the snowfields. The ski-run is from 
one to three miles, according to the weather. And 
the season usually lasts from the end of May to 
November. For the snow remains in the gullies 
until early summer, and the last skieis are racing 



down Marroosbeixj while crowds are bathing at 
Murzenberg. 

August, which many regard as a sping rrontb, 
often poduoes the coldest waathff in the Cape, 
One day in August 1869, Table Mountain was 
snov^clad from the summit downv^erds for 
thirteen hundred fed: It is not often that you hear 
of snow on Blaauwberg on the far side of Tatie 
Bay; but Blaauwberg was covered on July 9, 1853. 
And the rare spectacle of snow on Lion's Head 
was observed onjuly 1, 1878. 

Burgersdorp had a white Christmas in 1876, while 
in 1948, as a sequel to a heat-wave, snow fell on 
Mattoosberg on Decouba^ 21. That is the day on 
which summer starts officially; but many people in 
the country found that the^ needed log- fires. 



Certain parts of the Cape possess a definite 
attraction for meteorites. 6 1 have iwerbeei able to 



trace a fatality as a result of these falls, though 
"shrapnel from the sky" has caused alarm over 
wide areas. 

The earliest inp)rtant fall on record occurred in 
the Cold Bokke^eld on October 13, 1838, arxi the 
explosion of that meteorite was heard se^erty 
miles away. Judge Menzies, rduming from circuit 
gave the clearest description of it It was a calm, 
hot morning with reddish clouds about and he 
saw a silvery object racing across the sky. Then 
came a nimUing sound 

That evening Judge Menzies reached the farm of 
Pieter du Toit in the Cold Bokkeveld, and learnt 
that parts of the meteorite had fallen there. One 
fragment had just missed a person. Kieviet, a 
Hottentot, tried to pick up a seven-pound lump, 
but it was still too hot to hold. Fragments that 
fell on hard ground were smashed, but other 
pieces dropped into moist places and were 



e There is the description of the Grootfonten 
meteorite, the largest ever discovered, in "So 



Few Are Free" by Lawrence G. Green 
(Timmins). 



recovered unbroken. One farmer discovered that 
be could cut a fragment with a knife, but it soon 
hardened. At first it smoked and gave out a 
sulphurous odour. 

Mr. Truter, the Civil Commissioner of 
Worcester, reported that his windows were 
shaken when ftemeteo People heard the 

rumbling and thought it was an earthquake. 

Sir Thomas Maclear, Astronomer-Royal at the 
Cape, travelled round the Cold Bokkeveld farms 
gathering fragments and scientific details. The 
largest piece weighed only eight pounds, but the 
shower coveted a distance of twelve miles, and 
the path was more than a mile wide. It seems that 
the meteorite exploded within a few hundred feet 
of the earth Seldom has a fall been observed in 
such detail, and by so many people, anywhere in 
the world. Large meteorites have often been seen 
at night, but as a rule the fragments have passed 
out of human ken. 

Dr. Rogers of the geological survey discovered a 
1,225-pound meteorite in 1909 at Rateldraai in 



theKenhardt district It was of an unusual shape, 
for it appeared to have torn apart from a ring- 
shaped mass. This was the largest known South 
African specimen at that time, and Dr. Rogers 
presented it to the South African Museum. 

Early last century Sir John Barrow reported the 
presence of a huge meteorite in the Humansdorp 
district. A portion of the iron mass was hacked 
off and hammered into a sword, which was 
presented to the Emperor Alexander of Russia. 
In 1911, Mr. James Druty, the South African 
Museum taxidermist, was sent to Humansdorp to 
bring the meteorite to the museum. Though the 
meteorite was regarded by local farmers as 
immovable, the ingenious Druty managed to 
lever it on to a specially-built sledge drawn by 
oxen. He then built a track to remove it from the 
hilltop where it lay. At one difficult point he had 
to push the meteorite over a three hundred foot 
cliff, but he found it undamaged and finished the 
arduous journey to Cape Town. The meteorite 
weighs 2,585 lb., and is the largest in the 



collection. These metallic masses from the 
heavens are worth thousands of pounds. 



Most sinister of all weather dangers in South 
Africa, more sudden even than tornado or floods- 
is the Ughtrring. The lightning death rate in the 
Union is the highest in the world - about 55 per 
million, excluding many unrecorded native 
fatalities. 

In the Cape Province one flash killed sixty-one 
natives drinking beer in a hut As a rule, 
however, the Transvaal thurrierstDmis exact the 
heaviest toll. Cape Town itself, I believe, has not 
known a fatality for more than a century. But a 
young farmer was struck while driving his 
tractor at Sauer in the Rketberg district in 
March, 1948, and died soon afterwards. Towns 
are safer than the country because there are more 
lightning conductors. Some experts believe that 
steel and wire fences have increased the risk on 
farms by spreading the area over which lightning 
can be dangerous. This is a controversial point, 



but there is no doubt that the ysterklip 
(ironstone) country in Northern Cape attracts and 
distributes lightning. Some of those ysterklip 
koppies have been struck hundreds of times- and 
you will not find a dassie among those boulders. 

Many natives believe that lightning is a phantom 
bird that streaks down from the heavens in 
search of meat Such natives would rather starve 
than eat the flesh of sheep or cattle killed by 
lightning. 

Trees with smooth baik conduct lightning with 
grim efficiency. Do not shelter under eucalyptus, 
poplars or pines during a thuixterstorm. Oak 
trees are an eKception to this rule. Their bank is 
rough, but they are susceptible because their 
roots go deep to weter. The laurel is as safe a tree 
as you will find, though no tree is immune. 
Heights attracts lightning, and a man lying on the 
veld is less likely to be struck than a man 
standing. 

It is the open air that is dangerous. South African 
statistics prove that six times as many men as 



women are killed fcy lightnirig; and woman's 
place is in the home. The view is widely held 
that motor-cars are immune from Ughtrring 
effects. Dr. H. A. Spencer, a South African 
doctor who contributed to the literature of 
Ughtrring after many years of study, shared this 
view. He pointed out that motor-cars passed 
through thundecstorrns with lightning playing all 
round them; and with a long trail of hot gas 
forming an ideal conductor, yet he had never 
heard of a "direct hit" It was not the rubber tyres 
that protected theaL The immunity of the motor- 
car is still a mystery. And railway trains appear 
to be as safe as cars. 

I read not long ago of a nun who was killed 
instantly fcy lightning. In earlier tragedies in 
South Africa a minister has been struck down in 
his church, a teacher at his desk, a doctor in his 
surgery, an attorney in his office. Infants in arms 
have been killed while Mr mothers went 
unscathed - and vice versa But always the 
people of the veld have provided the greatest 
number of victims of this unpredictable peril. 



Earthquake risks are slight in the Cape, though 
the most alarming earthquake ever experienced 
in South Africa occurred in Cape Town That 
was on December 4, 1809, and the scenes 
included the famous "naked parade" of startled 
soldiers. Little appeared in print at the time; but 
by 1830 an eye-witness, W. L. von Buchenroder, 
had recovered sufficiently to write a description 
of the event for the "South African Quarterly 
Journal." 

Buchenroder said the weather just before the 
earthquake was fine, clear and warm The only 
ominous and unusual sign was a thick haze over 
the eastern shore of Table Bay. 

"In the evening, a little after ten o'clock, three 
shocks, each accompanied by a tremendous 
noise, was felt within the space of a minute or 
tv\o," wrote Buchenroder. "When the first took 
place I was sitting in a large company, all the 
members of which started simultaneously and 
hastened to the door, the majority exclaiming 



that the powder magazine must have blown up, 
while one gentleman called out that it must be an 
earthquake, adding that he was acquainted with 
such on his voyages to the West Indies. While 
we were standing in the street the second shock 
took place, which we felt much stronger. It was 
accompanied by a louder and very tremendous 
noise and resembled the sound that would be 
produced by a great many pieces of Ordnance 
fired off at a little distance. The second shock 
roused all the inhabitants, who came running into 
the streets in great consternation; many of them 
even undressed from having been in bed. Within 
the space of about a minute a third shock, but not 
nearly so violent as the second, took place." 

A heavy swell set into Table Bay, and rumbling 
noises continued until after midnight Buchen- 
roder and other uneasy people walked the streets. 
Another shock was felt soon after seven in the 
morning. Nearly all the buildings in Cape Town 
showed irregular cracks; but not one house had 
to be rebuilt Stucco urns and figures on parapets 



fell to the street and a few old chimneys 
collapsed 

There were no fissures in the streets, but at Jan 
Biesjes Kraal (now MQnerton) and in the veld 
near Blaauwberg Strand the earth opened to a 
depth of a few feet. Blaauwberg people swore 
they had seen jets of coloured water spurt from 
holes in the ground. 

Two years later Cape Town rocked mildly again, 
this time on a June day. Troops wece marching 
through the steeds with bands playing, and the 
noise was heard above the music. 

The late Sir John Kotze described a Cape Town 
earthquake in 1858, when one of his father's 
tenants knocked them up at midnight and 
advised camping out They all gathered under the 
oaks at Leeuwenhof and made coffee. For a 
week afterwards people slept near open doors, 
but there were no further quakes. 

Mid shocks are felt and heard in certain country 
towns at intervals of years. Beaufort West is 
shaken occasionally, plaster falls from the walls, 



and nervous people rush into the streets. Tulbagh 
awoke at three am. on the morning of August 
13, 1948, to a sound like a peal of thunder which 
came obviously from the earth It lasted for 
about six seconds. The typical earthquake 
rumble, of course, is caused by the fracture and 
sudden movement of underground rock masses. 
The note is so low that many people have been 
through earthquakes without hearing them at all. 

There is a classic geological fault in the 
Worcester district Buildings and furniture rock 
occasionally, but no serious damage has erer 
been reported Only when you reach Namaqua- 
land and Bushmanland do you enter a fissure 
region; though in those open spaces the gentle 
'quakes do no harm Malmesbury and the wheat 
districts are also liable to mild shocks which 
sound as though a heavy wagon was passing. 

The most severe disturbance recorded by 
seismograph in the Union occurred on December 
31, 1932. In some places the shocks lasted for 
more than an hour and great alarm was caused. 
One train was derailed and natives thought the 



end of the world had come. This was felt in the 
Cape Province, but damage was negligible. 
Scientists say that earthquakes may occur 
anywhere. Up to the present, however. South 
Africa has been one of the safest countries in the 
world. 



You hear more about heat than any other form of 
weather. It lasts longer, and it cannot be defeated 
as easily as a bitter night in winter. The heat in 
parts of the Cape can be a burden Indeed, there 
are days here at Durbanville when I can find 
relief only by plunging into the brimming danx 

Every year in January and February comes the 
news of heat in the country. That is when rivers 
cease to flow; when veld fires devastate the 
farms; when sheep and cattle die and fowls are 
scorched to death. Yet people go on with their 
golf and tennis when the themometer has passed 
the hundred mark. 

Year after year the famous "ovens" of the Cape 
appear in the headlines - places with no other 



claim to prominence but their intolerable 
climates. Early this century, on January 23, 
1903, the unknown outpost of Main in 
Tembuland set up the record - 125 degrees. It is 
known that a scorching wind blew at Main that 
day, shrivelling all in its path. That record has 
never been beaten; but on January 9, 1949, the 
remote irrigation settlement of Onseepkans in the 
Orange River valley experienced the same 
degree of heat. I know Onseepkans, with its fine 
orange groves, shut in by the mountains that 
radiate heat. For seven days the Onseepkans 
thermometer remained at 118 degrees; and then 
at last it rose to 125. Even at midnight the 
temperature was 110. If I had lived through that 
week at Onseepkans I would have dropped 
eveiything and headed south across Bushman- 
land for Muizenberg. As a rule, Goodhouse is the 
hottest spot on the Orange River - the hottest in 
South Africa. But on the day of the record at 
Onseepkans, the temperature at Goodhouse was 
124 degrees. This is weather for salamanders, 
not human beings. 



At Upngton in January, 1949, the doctors had 
difficulty in taking temperatures. No sooner was 
the thermometer out of a patient s mouth than 
the mercury moved up to 110 degrees. 

Some of the old weather records make puzzling 
reading. I have an account of a macabre sunset at 
Fort Beaufort in the summer of 1868, when 
"green trees and colours appeared as livid white, 
white became purple and evety other colour as 
ordinarily seen in nature was different." 

But the most ghastly heat-wave of all is 
fortunately rare. This is the wave of hot air, 
lasting only a few minutes, which strifes down 
all inits path; meu and dogs, and horses between 
the shafts of carts. Even the hottest day at 
Onseepkans must be less formidable than the 
long ribbon of burning white light that no one 
can resist. 



Chapter 9 
QnThe Road 

WILL The Wagon Vanish in INf time from 

the roads that I can watch from ny steep? For 
nearly three centuries the wagon has played 
dramatic roles in the story of the Cape. It woid 
be hard to say farewell to those brave wheels of 
romance. 

Van Riebeeck had a Netherlands wagon at work 
as early as 1653 - draaibord and all drawn by 

Hottentot oxen, and used for hauling timber from 
the forests above the Fort That was the very first 
of the wagon's tasks in South Africa The first ox- 
wagon journey was to Saldanha Bay. According 
to records in the Cape archives, the first wagon 
builder at the Cape was Jaspar de Berge. He 
arrived in 1659 as an arquebusier, but was soon 
put to his trada Old prints reveal that the Dutch 
medieval design survived in the Cape for 
ceituries. 

With fifteen of these medieval wagons Governor 
Simon van der SteL made his great exploring 



joumev into the deserts of Namaqualand seeking 
the golden city of Vigiti Magna The first tracks 
towards eveiy distant frontier were made tav the 
wheels of roving wagons. 

Wdlington has never lost its old name of 
Wagenmaker's ValleL. The first wagon-mater set 
up his forge and workshop there in the time of 
Governor Tiibagb, midway through the 
eighteenth century. And in Wellington I found 
one of the last of the wheelwrights still following 
the grand old trade. It was from Wellington that 
the heavy transport wagons climbed the first great 
mountain pass into the unknown hinterland, and 
for generations the wagon trade enriched the 
town At Kingwilliamstown, too, I watched men 
shaping ironwood wagons for the mealie fames; 
wagons for the Cape border districts wise the 
roads allow no motor-truck to go through during 
the heavy rains. 

While the mule wagon provides a dashing 
spectacle, the ox does the work. Fifteen miles a 
day with a full load is the normal pace of the ox; 
but record-tareaking joum^s, measured in weeks. 



have been achieved One driver coveted twenty 
miles a day over a distance of four hundred and 
twenty miles. In 1 875 the Port Elizabeth- 
Bloemfontein journey, which often took two 
months, was made in twenty- five days. 

Sixteen oxen make a good transport wagon team. 
As soon as it is bom, a trek-ox is given a name 
and taught to recognise it These names 
originated when the Dutch East India Company' s 
men first harnessed oxen to wagons at the Cape, 
and they survive in our own day. Bontman, 
Geelbek, Blaauwberg, Donker, Witkop, Veld- 
man, Hartbees, Rooiman - you find them in 
every team answering the silvery call of the 
driver and nobly straining to the expert flick of a 
giraffe hide. (A skilful native driver has been 
known to kill a fly on a leader with one well- 
aimed crack of the whip.) The colour of the 
animal usually determines the choice of the 
name. 

Dangers of the road took heavy toll of the wagon 
folk, but the losses of oxen were heavier still. 
The metal trek-chain attracted lightning during 



the violent thunderstornis of the high veld, so 
that a whole span would be killed by one shock 
Wild animals preyed on the teams; poisonous 
grasses, cattle fevers, the once-mysterious tsetse 
fly, and above all thirst explained the whitening 
skeletons beside the lonely tracks. These grim 
fragments litter Southern Africa from the 
Kunene to Delagoa Bay. Wrecked wagons and 
their travellers lie in the sand of river-beds, 
buried under desert dunes, decaying in tropical 
bush. 

"Furious and negligent driving" of wagons was 
dealt with by legislation early in the eighteenth 
century. A rule of the road was enforced during 
the first British occupation of the Cape in 1798, 
and all owners of carts and wagons had to paint 
their registered numbers, names and districts on 
their vehicles. For the first time drivers were 
obliged to keep to the left. When a wagon 
arrived within tv\o miles of Cape Town, the 
leading of the oxen by a voorloper became 
compulsory. And finally, drivers were forbidden 
to crack their whips in town 



As far back as 1816 the Governor of the Cape 
paid a French Hoek farmer, W. J. Naude, a 
gratuity of five hundred rix-dollars for the 
invention of a super- wagon capable of carrying 
four leaguers of wine with fewer oxen through 
heavy sand. At that time the roads were nothing 
more than tracks. A journey in bad weather from 
Cape Town to Caledon (now two hours by 
motorcar) lasted thirteen days. 

The volume of traffic became impressive after 
the diamond and gold discoveries. During the 
first Witwabersrand gold rush more than sixteen 
thousand wagons left the railhead at Ladysmith 
in a year - sixteen thousand wagons loaded with 
picks and explosives, flour and blankets and the 
inpatient gold-diggers themselves. 

Transport riding is an occupation in which the 
Afrikaner has always excelled. Railways today 
follow the routes where whips cracked and 
wagon wheels rumbled. Every city, town and 
village in the Union has its outspan, and most 
settlements have grown up round the market 
squares where travellers once lived in their 



wagons. At the time of the Kimberley rush, 
freight rates were so high that each journey paid 
the cost of the wagon During those stirring 
times the world' s strongest wagons were built in 
South Africa. If they slipped off a rough tack and 
capsized on a rocky mountainside they were 
hauled back, new oxen were found, the journey 
was completed. Even a jeep driver would wince 
at the sight of the rough, steep mountain passes 
that were conquered by wagons long ago. 

In those days a heavy transport wagon cost £120, 
but the price dropped to £75 when machinery 
cheapened production The last great toom in the 
wagon-building industry occurred during the 
First World War, when military orders kept the 
yards working feverishly. After the war these 
wagons were almost given away to the farmers. 
The motor- truck appeared Never again will the 
yards hear such eager demands for transport 
wagons. 

Mammoth wagons were built to explore the 
interior. Piebeaiiaritzburg claimed the largest. Dr. 
Stanger's "Great Briton," in 1846; but some 



years later Mr. Serrurier of Cape Town produced 
a real "Ship of the Veld" for Dr. Morkel - 
twenty-three feet long, six feet wide and six feet 
from floor to roof. A particularly fine wagon was 
built in 1860 on the occasion of the first royal 
visit to South Africa. It carried Prince Alfred, 
later Duke of Edinburgh, for thousands of miles 
from Cape Town to Natal and back again, the 
woodwork emblazoned with the Lion and the 
Unicorn At Kingwilliamstown a builder showed 
me a picture of a wagon he had designed for a 
Bechuanaland chief and used for State journeys 
across the Kalahari. It had large water-tanks 
fitted beneath the floor, and the decorations were 
gorgeous. 

Then there are the "sea wagons/' houses on 
wheels fitted up according to the ideas of their 
owners - fanners who follow the old urge once a 
year by taking their families to lonely coasts 
where there are no hotels. Traders in the native 
territories were once important customers of the 
wagon yards; now they use motor-cars. The 
Union Forest Department still orders wagons of 



the kort-krink type, built to turn round in the 
small lanes of the forest. Orders have been 
cabled to Ktngwilliamsto\vn from New York, 
when an American wanted shooting safari 
wagons in a hurry; and wagons have been sent as 
far afield as the Belgian Congo, Kenya and 
South- West Africa. Some of the most luxurious 
wagons have cost as much as a motor-car. 

Ordinary farm wagons of the well-known 
"Grahamstown" type, drawn by sixteen oxen and 
carrying loads up to five tons, are most 
frequently in demand There are at least 100,000 
wagons in South Africa, most of them built to 
the "Grahamstown" model. Voortiekker wagons 
were equipped with wooden axles and the 
remskoen instead of brakes; the wheels being 
locked with chains and the remskoen of grooved 

hard\\ood or iron being placed beneath the iron 
tyres to present waar. The ring to which the 
chain was shackled is fitted to e^ery wagon built 
today. Itwasnotuntil 1860 that brakes acting on 
the wheels came into use. 



Spokes are now made fcy machinety, for it is 
difficult to find a man capable of making them 
fay hand. The wheelwright is a craftsman with 
hereditary skill. A clever carpenter would soon 
discover his limitations when he came to 
assemble a wheel. The strain must be evenly 
distributed. The experienced eve achieves more 
than the rule, so that when the tyre is put on, the 
contraction gives just the right effect. A 
wheelwright, in fact, sees the wheel as a whole 
while he builds it; and that is not an art to be 
learnt in a day. 

Captain J. E. Alexander wrote a tribute to Cape 
wagon-wheels in 1835, for he found them 
superior to the wheels then used by the British 
artillery. 'The parts of the British wheels are 
open and rickety in hot weather, whereas the 
Dutch wheels are very strong/' he declared 
"Dutch wheels are made of three or four kinds of 
wxxl ... the nave, yellow- wood; for the spokes, 
assegai; for felloe, red els or white pear. There 
are many more spokes than in our wheels, in all 
fourteen for a large and ten for a small. The tyre 



is put on in one piece and hot so as to draw and 
bind the whole of the wheel firmly together. The 
wagon, too, is long and elastic and it is quite 
astonishing to a stranger what severe wDrk Cape 
wagons undergo without injury." 

The wagon looks simple, but it has more parts 
than you might imagine. A strong belly plank 
rests on the two great axles with their four strong 
wheels, the front wheels being smaller than the 
hind ones. Securely fastened to the disselboom is 

the drawing-gear, or tndkgoed. Great care is 
taken in assembling the front carriage; the 
tongue must be set correctly into the bed of the 
axle so that the draught is evenly distributed on 
each wheel. 

The projecting Mly-plank serves as a foot-rest 
for the driver. It is no exaggeration to say that 
thousands of lives have been lost in South Africa 
through men jumping for this projection and 
missing it Even at the crawling pace of the 
wagon there is then usually no escape. The 
victim falls among the oxen and the heavy 
wheels pass over him. A step has now been 



added to minLmise the danger. But the leisurely 
wagon appears as a new model only about once 
in a century. 

Boughs bent and lashed together made a 
framework for the painted canvas tent in the 
early wagons. There were always cupboards 
front and back, the voorkis and agterkis for 
goods, while small boxes on each side held reins, 
straps and gear for the yokes and oxen On trek, 
the women and children placed their mattresses 
on the hotel, a wooden frame with leather thongs, 
and slept inside the wagon. The men slept 
beneath the floor, while the servants camped 
under the stars, close at hand. 

In canvas bags, or "jager zakken," fastened 
inside the wagon, were stowed the powder- 
horns, bullet pouches and the formidable long 
Boer guns called roers. In laager formation, with 
thorn-bushes packed between the wagons, small 
bodies of Voortrekkers defeated the mass attacks 
of Zulu impis. As the men fired between the 
wheels the women loaded the long guns. Those 



were episodes of high courage which South 
Africa has not forgotten. 

watervaatjies swung from hooks beneath the 
wagon, with the cooking-pots, gridirons and 
tarpot for greasing the axles. Coffee and 
sausages, biscuits and ash cakes, meat for 
karbonaatjes (grilled chops) - such was the 
wagon's larder. With this equipment thousands 
journeyed into the unknown. 

Many farmers rightly insist on the traditional 

hand-painted blorranetjie decorations on wheels 
and sides, the same bunches of flowers that have 
adorned wagons for more than a hundred years. 
The general colour scheme still in favour is 
green for the upper parts of the wagon, with 
scarlet wheels. 

During the 'eighties of last century country 
newspapers advertised Amaican farm wagons at 
£30 apiece They never conquered the market as 
the American stage coaches had done a few years 
earlier. 



The most famous wagon, perhaps, is that which 
Resident Kruger used just before and during the 
South African War. It was taken to England as a 
trophy and returned fcy the City of London 
Corporation in 1929 as a token of friendship. The 
relic now occupies a place of honour in the 
Pretoria Museum - a sturdy, narrow wagon with 
many drawees and boxes, fit to travel anywhere in 
Africa This stnatsfookwi WQS made at Robertson 

ty Mr. C.J. H (OomCallie) Matthee aril otters, 
and it was a magnificent example of wagon- 
building skill. Stinkwood, yeUov^wDod, assegai 
and iron-wx)d wob all used in the construction. It 
took five first prizes at shows before it was railed 
to the Transvaal. 

Wagons from Cape villages have gone far beyond 
the present frontiets of South Africa One of the 
strangest treks of all, however, was that of the 
South African wagon which visited England A 
circus proprietor was responsible for the 
transition, and he carried out the enterprise in fine 
style by engaging a whole Boer family and their 
native servants. Father, mother, three sons and 



two natives, a typical tent wagon and a span of 
sixteen oxen embarted at Cape Town On arrival 
at Southampton the oxen wete placed in 
quarantine, and a span was ordered from 
Germany to allow the show to proceed The 
bearded farmer and his family dressed in 
Voortrekker clothes; the whip play, the wagon 
and its homely load all combined to fascinate 
London circus audiences. If the South African 
War had not broken out, the wagon would have 
toured Europe in triurrrph. 

Wagons do not wear out Not so long ago I heard 
of a Great Trek wagon which was still in use in 
Natal after well over a century of w^rk It was a 
full-length tent wagon owned fcy Mr. B. 
Scheepers of Bestes, and it formed part of Ret 
Reliefs company from the Eastern Province. The 
front fork, upper and under parts of the chassis, 
the wxden fork connecting the long wagon with 
the axle and the wheels (except a few spokes) 
wob original Knysna stinkvvood parts. Every year 
Mr. Scheepers gave this treasured wagon a coat of 
paint. It hai never been to ablacksmith's shop. 




the wagon life. 7 The roads were more fascinat- 
ing, the evening camp fire gave more satisfact- 
ion The brave story of the covered wagon is the 
story of South Africa Truly the wagon deserves 
its place on the Union' s coat-of-arms. 

If the man who designed the first Cape cart 
profited by his invention (like the ingenious 
farmer Naude) there is no record of it. For two 
centuries the Cape cart has formed part of the 
Cape landscape. It is one of those typical things 
which was bom in the country. 

A woman visitor seventy years ago denounced 
the Cape cart in these words: "The Cape cart is 
an invention admirably adapted for keeping the 
fed: cold and the head hot It certainly bears a 
distant family likeness to a French charabanc 
and also to the ubiquitous American buggy, but 



The men of past centuries loved their wagons and 



7 For a full description of the people who still 
live in wagons, the trekboers of Bushmanlanct 
see "Where Men Still Dream" by Lawrence G. 
Green (Timmins). 



is evidently looked upon as a poor relation 
possessing neither the comfort of the one nor 
the elegance of the other. However, the uncom- 
fortable Cape cart reigns supreme at the Cape." 

This was hardly a fair description of a useful 
vehicle, and Statham in his book "Blacks, Boers 
and British" (1890) pays a more graceful 
tribute "Do you know what a Cape cart is?" he 
asks. "It is a peculiar but pleasant institution, 
something like what was once in England called 
a 'white-chapel,' with a cosy leather or canvas 
hood, and drawn by a pair of horses. It can hold 
four people easily and can be made to hold six. " 

Statham might have added that the Cape cart 
will cover the ground at an average of eight 
miles an hour. This speed is maintained for two 
or three hours, and long treks are carried out 
with an outspan every two or three hours. The 
springing usually allows the passenger to doze, 
even on rough tracks. 

There is a pole instead of shafts, of course, and 
with a good pair of horses a Cape cart journey 



is an experience that lingers in the memory. 
You see more from the high seats. 

Nowadays the oopkar is probably built more 
often than thetrueCape Cart This has no hood, 
and is designed for carrying farm produce rather 
than passengers. 

Before and long after the arrival of the motor- 
car, the farmer spent money gladly on his Cape 
cart. And he saw to it that the harness of white 
gebmde leather fitted his horses. Often enough 
he made the leather himself, first burying a raw 
bullock's skin in the kraal to remove the hair) 
then hanging it from the bough of a tree and 
twisting it until it turned white. The skin was 
greased with sheep's fat to soften it stretched 
and scraped and finally cut into strips. White 
harness looks well on black horses. 



Cape carts or horse-wagons carried the mails 
before the stagecoaches arrived at the Cape. 
Some unknown poet last century wrote this verse 
in praise of the post-cart driven 



The daily heat, the nightly frost, 

The storm, the whdrring vain; 

The sudden torrent from the Woof, 

That rages in the plain, 

These all for him their perils spread, 

He knows their stern array, 

And wots full vie// where the treacherous 
floods 

Have swept some friend away. 

There were other dangers which the poet did not 
mention In the Richmond and otter districts, 
post-cart horses perished in the snow and 
sometimes the drivers were frozen to death. One 
post-cart was blown down the Devil' s Bellows in 
the Katberg and another was struck by lightning. 
After the discovery of diamonds at Kimberley 
the highwaymen turned out in full force. 

Most famous name in the old coaching service, 
of course, was that of Zeederberg. As far back as 
1865, Zeederberg's tented buck wagons and 
Cape cart were running from Cape Town to the 
north Coaches followed, the first arriving in the 
early 'seventies. They were purely American. If 



the Cape wagon-builders ever copied them I 
have still to hear of it. Many of the coaches that 
ran to Kimbedey had previously been crossing 
the American continent to the Califomian 
goldfields. 

A typical stage coach had twelve seats inside, 
with room on top for four passengers and the 
driver. The "saloon" was decorated with silken 
tapestry. The companies boasted of their careful 
drivers. Nevertheless, coaches often overturned 
and a fastjoumey was an ordeal. 

Zeederbecg tried zebras in one of his coaches, 
but the spectacular experiment was a failure and 
he returned to mules. Every twelve miles along 
the route a fresh mule team awaited the coach. 
Betweeu the halts waited the highwaymen. 

One gang consisted of Bushmen led by a 
runaway sailor. The Bushmen stopped the mules 
with their arrows and the sailor organised the 
looting of the coach This elusive band was 
responsible for many robberies. Fortunately for 
travellers, the Bushmen fell out with their leader 



one day. The sailor was found dead, with an 
arrow in his body, among the mail-bags from a 
coach he had robbed. 

Those were wild coaching days, and speed came 
before safety. There cannot be many who 
remember Cobb' s coaches, the Gibson' s, and the 
Red Star Line coaches racing across the Karoo. 
The tickets they issued had the conditions 
printed on the back, and they were not 
reassuring. One clause read: 'The contractors 
will not be responsible for loss or damage caused 
by the capsizing of the coach unless that be due 
to the drunkenness of the driver." 

Today the Blue Train runs within sight of 
disused but still visible stretches of the old coach 
road. Perhaps there are some who have travelled 
by Zeederberg's coaches and the Blue Train, 
marvelling greatly at the contrast - and longing 
for a last echo of the coachman' s horn. 



Among the most exciting scenes in the countty is 
a mule team at the gallop. With the driver 



shouting, the long whip lashing and cracking, the 
mule-wagon goes thundering down the road at 
its top speed of twenty miles an hour. 

That is all the speed you want if you happen to 
be a passenger on the wagon It has often been 
suggested that picked mule- teams should be sent 
overseas for exhibition. South Africans take a 
pride in these splendid animals and the 
magnificent skill of the drivers. 

It was early in the eighteenth century that the 
SwartLand grain farmers started breeding mules. 
They used the Company's stallions and donkeys 
that had been imported from the Cape Verde 
islands. 

Mules, they say, have no ancestry and no hope of 
posterity. Nevertheless, the mule, an "invention 
of man," can be a magnificent animal with 
wonderful staying power. In South Africa the 
tricks of mule driving are better uixterstood, 
perhaps, than anywhere else in the wDrld Mules, 
as I have said, drew the Cape coaches in the days 
of gold and diamond rushes. Qftm a mare was to 



be seen running beside a team; for the mule will 
follow a mare and do the work with less whip. It 
seems to requite a lead before making use of its 
great strength- One white mare with a bell round 
its neck will keep a hundred mules from straying. 
The mule, indeed, reveals a definite bias towards 
its equine ancestor, and regards the donkey with 
disfavour. 

One sometimes hears stories of mules bearing 
foals. I rei]ember such a pair being exhibited at 
the Rosebank Show some years ago; but I must 
leave the explanation to the veteinary experts. 
There was a sensation at Wellington in 
November, 1938, when 'Talk/' a twenty-six year 
old mule employed by the municipality, was 
milked outside the Town Hall in the presence of 
an astonished crow! The mayor drank a glass of 
mare' s milk in public - sv^et white milk, thinner 
than cow's milk. "Falk" yielded four pints a day. 
As a rule the mammary glands of the mule do not 
function - a fact which science is unable to 
explain 



During the South African War two Imperial 
offices purchased a number of mules for the 
army. When the deal had been concluded, they 
were offered two ponies to assist in driving the 
mules to headquarters. "Our orders wera to buy 
mules - not ponies," replied one of the officeis 
stiffly. They obeyed orders and lost half their 
mules during the journey. 

The secret of driving a long span of mules in a 
wagon lies in the selection of good leaders and 
"wheelers." Young mules may then be placed 
betweeiaixlgraduaUy]^^ Driving 

is heavy on the hands - that is why one man holds 
the reins and another the whip. Itisatiemaxlous 
physical strain. After a display the driver is 
exhausted; he must find someone else to 
unharness the mules. 

One expert driver I know encourages his mules fcy 
yelling the principal parts of Greek verbs, thus: 
'Treko dramoumai edramon dedrameeka." The 
word of command "Proot!", which appears to 
have come from France with the Huguenots, is 
more commonly heard. (The French still use 



mules in the Pyrenees, while mules are occasion- 
ally seen in carnages in Spain) Driving a team of 
mules is not so easily learnt as the control of a 
motor-car. ]rispanrring and outspanning are often 
difficult. Some drivets believe in running the 
team round early in the morning "to get the 
devilment out of them" before loading the wagon 
Many hesitate to outspan at midday; thev know 
there may be a long delay before the team is ready 
to move off again While some may disagree, I 
believe it is generally recognised that the coloured 
man often ortiacts better work from a mule team 
on the f arm than the f armer himself. 

South African farmers now realise that as a 
draught animal, capable of long spells of 
ploughing and hauling, the mule may be more 
economical than a tractor. Great interest is being 
taken in the mule exhibits at the country shows. 
Mules, of course, are often sold in carefully - 
matched pairs - size, weight, "substance" and 
colour being important points - and a price of 
£120 for a good pair is by no means uncommon 
The mule pulls by the weight of its body; the 



shape of the limbs is of secondary importance. 
The small feet do not suffer on hid roads. The 
mule becomes useful at four years of age and is 
still young at sixteen It is said that no one ever 
sees a dead mule Certainly the longevity of the 
mule and its hardiness in difficult country, are two 
strong points in its favour. 

Kitty, a mule that once belonged to Cecil Rhodes 
at Groote Schuur, reached the age of thirty-eight 
years. It spent most of its life at work, and was 
shot at The Strand in 1936 because of inftrmity 
and blindness. And that is not a South African 
record. Other mules have probably passed the 
forty mark. 

Some of the Cape districts are peculiarly suitable 
as mule treeing centres, for they have trie 
limestone formation which is assimilated in trie 
feed and produces bone. As a riding animal, 
however, the mule is a poor substitute for the 
horse. The mule's mouth is not so fine, and it has 
an uncomfortable gait 



The obstinacy of the mule, my veterinary friends 
tell me, has been ffiaggetafeed. With good 
treatment the mule shows affection for its master 
and worte quietly and patiently, like a donkey, 
with the vigour and strength of the hoise It has a 
voice of its own, a hoarse sound which is feeble 
compared with the famous kick (or bite) by which 
the mule displays resentment The horse usually 
gives some warning before it kicks, but the mule 
kicks out in all directions with alarming 
suddenness. It is remarkable that two such docile 
creatures as the horse and the donkey should have 
produced an animal which can be as difficult as 
the mule. 

Mules are less liable to lameness than horses. 
They do not suffer to the same extent from 
stomach romplaints, and they flourish on inferior 
feed Mules are more delicate when very young 
than the pure-bred offspring of either the horse 
or the donkey, but less prone to equine disorders 
when they grow up. Veterinary surgeons prefer 
mules to horses as patients. 



Some say the mule is more intelligent than the 
horse. When given the chance to roll in the sand, 
a pack of mules will enjoy themselves; whereas 
uncontrolled horses often kick and fight. 

The Cape has seen a revival in the mule-breeding 
industry in recent years. In the past there were 
few lands in the world more famous for sturdy 
mules than the Cape. Mules from the Malmes- 
bury district served in India during the Mutiny, 
and regular shipments were made for the Indian 
Amy long afterwards. Thousands of mules were 
shipped from the Union to East Africa during the 
First World War, but I do not think one mule 
returned That campaign brought South Africa's 
mule population to a low figure indeed; and the 
spread of motor transport started the decline of 
mule breeding. 

Experts say that the South African mule of today 
is equal to the finest in the world. It is a little 
lighter than the American mule, but as a draught 
animal it cannot be surpassed. When there was a 
mule shortage in the Union in 1936 hundreds of 
fine large mules, up to sixteen hands in height. 



were brought from the Argentine pampas. The 
mule-breeding industry recovered during the 
war, and thousands were sent from the Union to 
Jugoslavia and Greece in 1946 to aid recovery in 
those countries. Italian muleteers, former 
prisoners-of-war, travelled in charge of these 
consignments - the first ever exported to Europe. 



Two young ex-service students of Stellenboscli 
University came to my stoep last summer to 
borrow a map. I have a collection of maps and 
charts, and this fifty-year old map shows every 
farm and watering-place along the coast from 
Table Bay northwards to Namaqualand. 

I lent the map gladly, for I knew they would 
have a tale to tell on theirretum They set out on 
horseback from Blaauwberg Strand canying 
sleeping bags, food and fodder and water-bottles. 
They followed the beaches, covering between 
twenty and thirty miles a day; their ride lasted a 
fortnight and cost them £5 10s. apiece. 



On one lonely beach they picked up a bottle with 
a message from two girls in a South African liner 
homeward bound after a holiday in Britain The 
girls asked the finders of the message to write to 
them; and they got a reply with a snapshot of the 
horsemen 

I cannot say that the students rode to romance, 
but all the farmers welcomed them and they 
seldom slept on the veld If they had not chosen 
to visit hotels in a few places the ride would have 
cost them next to nothing. 

At Lambert's Bay, about 150 miles north of 
Cape Town, the students turned inland and rode 
through the little-known Sandveld. It was much 
hotter inland, for the beaches were always cool; 
but they were seeking a new route. As they were 
both students of agriculture, they found much to 
interest them during the ride. "Travel light" was 
the advice they gave to others planning a similar 
ride. 

I have mentioned this little episode as an 
example which others may wish to follow. 'The 



right place for a man is in the saddle," advised 
General Smuts in another of those open-air 
speeches which I enjoy. The saga of the saddle 
forms no mean part of the Cape cavalcade. 

George Thompson, the Cape Town merchant 
who explored the North- West Cape in the 
'twenties of last century, was a great horseman 
He filled his holsters with "hrandy bottles in lieu 
of pistols" and wore a shooting jacket of lis own 
design It had eight pockets, containing a 
compass, thermometer, burning glass, eau de 
cologne and four volumes of English poetry "for 
occasional recreation" Thompson also carried a 
sealskin cap for cold weather and a straw hat for 
the heat 

Thus equipped, he 'left behind civilised man and 
once more found myself with a mingled feeling 
of awe and exultation a traveller in the waste and 
solitary wilderness." Thompson wrote the first 
detailed descriptions of the Aughratdes Falls and 
the Cango Caves. Those were great days for the 
adventurous rider. 



Horsemen were not forgotten in the Almanacs 
published in Cape Town fairly regularly last 
century. The 1833 issue of the "South African 
Almanac and Directory" contains shrewd advice 
for the benefit of travellers on horseback in the 
countryside. 

"He should arm himself with a small vessel of 
right good cognac and a few biscuits to assist 
him upon his fatiguing journey," says the writer, 
"Let him also add some snuff to make friends 
with the elder ladies, the way to their hearts lying 
through their nostrils; and a stock of sweet 
smiles and small- talk for the younger ones, well 
garnished with tales of love and marriage, the 
great object of their lives; and, if possible, a 
smattering of Dutch to maintain a conversation 
with the good man about his wines and his 
wagons, his cattle and his kraals. 

"The sojourner will find gratuitous and uncom- 
mon hospitality. He will traverse a country 
arrayed in all the wildness of untamed nature and 
be witness to the simple manners and 
unsophisticated habits of a fine race of people." 



It is said the horses Van Riebeeck imported from 
Batavia a year after his arrival were the first to 
be seen at the Cape, but this is not entirely 
accurate. There is proof that a solitary horse was 
observed in Table Valley among the herds of 
zebra and quagga some years before the Dutch 
settlement was established. It was a savage 
horse, carrying the remnants of a rope halter, too 
wild to be caught. The origin of that horse, 
however, has never been traced. 

No doubt horses would have found their way 
downto South Afrira from tero^ 
horse-sickness from which the zebras were 
immune. As it was, Van Riebeeck had to appeal 
to the Batavian authorities in these words: 
"Horses are as necessary to us at the Cape as 
bread in our mouths." He got his horses. 

The thirty directors of the Dutch East India 
Company at one time suggested that the 
colonists at the Cape should capture and tame 
quaggas, and "by further breeding help 
themselves," rather than lean on exports from 
Holland. This interesting experiment was never 



attempted. There is no quagga blood in our 
horses. 

Late in the seventeenth century the breed 
deteriorated, however, and had to be revived by 
stallions of Persian blood Almost a century later 
South America sent stallions to the Cape. They, 
too, were of Oriental blood, and were described 
as being "highly esteemed for their beauty, 
gentleness and good service." 

It was in 1782 that the first stallions were 
imported from England, eight thoroughbreds of 
Oriental descent. Great progress was made when 
Lord Charles Somerset was Governor of the 
Cape; he was a fine judge of horse-flesh, and 
there was more than a suspicion, that he made a 
good thing out of it. 

Connoisseurs of horse-flesh in the 'thirties of last 
century spoke with reference of the "Hantam" 
breed These horses came from the stud of a 
farma~ named Pienaar, who had secured his foals 
from stallions brought to the Cape fcy Lord 
Charles Somaset and had maintained a good 



standard. But the demand in the country in those 
days was for a strong horse with staying power - 
one that could do sixty miles a day in an 
emergency. 

Cape families who did much to improve the Cape 
treed were the Van Reenens, the IQrstensaixlthe 
Melcks. Those names appear in the first stud book 
of 1808; and sires from those famous stables were 
purchased by horse-breeders all over the colony. 

Colonel Apperie^, a remount officer at the Cape, 
paid this tribute: "Cape horses are peculiar 
animals. I admit they are not handsome; but they 
surpass any horse I have seen out of Europe in 
their untiring and unflinching endurance during 
the longest and hottest days of the year." 

Few people know that an Afrikaner once gained 
the title of "chanpon rider of the world" It 
happened after the South African War, when 
Commandant Ben Coetzee settled in the United 
States rather than take the oath of allegiance. 

In the summer of 1904 a World's Fairwas held in 
New York, and Buffalo Bill challenged the 



horsemen of the world to appear thete and 
compete for the championships. Ben Coetzee rode 
the most vicious bronchos the Americans could 
produce and won the trophy - a gold medal in the 
form of a horse-shoe with se^en diamonds 
mounted on seven nails. 



Those who prefer walking to riding may find 
inspiration in the journ^ of Mr. A. H. Crundall, a 
retired bank clerk, who coveted six thousand 
miles in the Union with six pack-donkeys. I met 
Mr. Crundall when he reached Cape Town at the 
end of 1946. He had been on the road for two- 
and-a-half years. 

I shall be well pleased if I can walk as far and 
look as fit at the age of 57 as Mr. Crundall did He 
was a bronzed muscular, walking tribute to the 
open-air life. He always spent his holidays 
camping, and when he retired he had already 
planned this gigantic trek It cost him about £10 a 
month, and he saw more of the Union's by-ways 
than others see in a lifetime. 



The donkeys carried enough to make camping 
comfortable, and fed themselves most of the 
time. Mr. Crundall aimed at covering ten miles a 
day, and his longest day's march was eighteen 
miles. When he found himself in pleasant 
surroundings he sauntered along at the rate of 
two orthree miles a day, taking in the scenety as 
no motorist can do. 

He had in turn a Zulu, Xhosa, Griqua, Pondo and 
coloured boy to look after the donkeys and cook 
his meals. Donkey travel seems to be the recipe 
for a healthy, carefree life. 

Mr. Crundall completed his journey from 
Tzaneea in the Northern Transvaal almost 
without unpleasant adventures. Once or twice he 
had uncomfortable moments while crossing river 
mouths, when the water was not as shallow as it 
looked and he and the donkeys had to swim for 
it. Once a tramp tried to rob him of his clothes, 
but failed. Mr. Crundall passed through lion 
country without hearing a lion roar) and he 
encountered innumerable snakes without getting 
bitten. 



Here is a word of advice from Mr. Crundall to 
others who are thinking of travelling with 
donkeys. 

"Stick to routes where you are sure to find 
water/' he says. "Keep away from national roads 
and the Karoo. I hugged the coast all the way 
from Natal to Mossel Bay. Some of my best days 
were spent strolling along the beaches at low 
tide." 

One donkey carried two large pannier baskets 
with his pots and pans. The second had two 
boxes of food, the third two boxes of clothing, 
the fourth carried water tanks and the fifth a tent 
and blankets. He always kept one donkey in 
reserve. 

During the whole journey Mr. Crundall wore out 
one pair of military boots. He always carried one 
army pair for hard roads and two pairs of the 
veldstooen type for the veld. 

A stretcher takes up too much room, so he slept 
on the ground without any sort of mattress. A 
waterproof sheet, a strip of hessian, an old 



eiderdown and two blankets made up his 
sleeping equipment. He was nearly always 
comfortable in the bivouac tent Once or twice 
he was washed out in the rainy season; at all 
other times he greatly preferred the veld to farm- 
houses at night 

Not that the farmers were inhospitable. But he 
chose the ty-ways and the beaches most of the 
time. Aiming at tea miles a day, he set off about 
8 am in summer and 9 am in winter - always 
after a good breakfast He walked practically the 
whole distance, accepting a lift occasionally 
when he wanted to visit a village to buy supplies. 
As a rule he walked for four or five hours a day, 
theamadeacamp; hadacupof teaandatiscuit 
and ended each day with a good dinner. 

Camp sites were sometimes a problem in town or 
village areas, as the donkeys fed themselves 
most of the time and everyone does not like 
donkeys grazing. That is why he remained out in 
"the blue " as much as possible. 



Mr. Crundall found the Irrigation Departments 
large-scale maps useful in plotting his tracks 
across roadless country. Every night he wrote up 
his diary and noted scenery, routes, distances, 
water supplies and waather. During the whole 
j oumey he had one cold and two slight attacks of 
stomach trouble. 

The meal he enjoyed most was the green mealie 
bread made for trim by a trader's wife in 
Pondoland. She put the mealies through a mincer 
three times, added baking powder and salt, and 
boiled the mixture in a dish cloth. It looted lite a 
suet pudding, but served hot with butter it was 
delicious. 



Several roads converge within sight of my stoep, 
and I can see one by-way that leads into the heart 
of the SwartLand. Many a farm-truck, many a 
shining limousine races past; but I doubt whether 
I can hope ever again to see a car such as I used 
when I first motored away from the city. 



It was a Ford Model-T, the only car which has 
ever gained my affection. I have spent money 
without a pang on small boats and books, cases 
of wine and steamship fares; but the inevitable 
selection of a new motor-car from time to time, 
and at a high price, finds me in a sombre mood. 
The finest car salesman in the Cape cannot make 
me discover romance in the smell of the real 
leather upholstery or any ingenious detail. I think 
of a car nowadays more or less as I regard a tin 
of sardines - something essential, but transitory. 
One day the gleaming new car will lie rusting in 
ajunkyard, like the opened sardine tin. 

With the Model-T it was different I had not lost 
the thrill of driving, and I was seeing many 
comers of the Cape countryside for the first time. 
Every week-end was an adventure. The miles 
that rolled and bumped away under the hard, 
narrow tyres were covered with a degree of 
uncertainty; each arrival was an achievement; the 
return on Sunday night was a triumph One 
pitted one's skill against the eccentricities of the 



Model-T, and every victory over break±)wn 
earned a deep satisfaction. 

Owners of that strange breed were a band of 
brothers. The help the^ gave you went much 
further than the courtesy of the road. I remember 
a Saturday morning when my friends and I 
reached Paternoster after ploughing through the 
sand - Paternoster, a thatched village of fisher- 
men with a store and hotel, but without a garage. 
And we had broken the front spring. 

No owner of a Model-T e^er escaped breaking 
that front spring. By its very design it was 
destined to fracture and clang upon the road 
surface lite the tolling of a ML Then the high 
Ford structure sagged and those who rode upon 
its back felt their spirits sagging with the tortured 
metal. 

Into this dilemma entered a friendly farmer, one 
of those great souls who have made the remote 
countryside a friendly land of romance for me. 
He took charge of the situation. Waving towards 
the hotel he declared: "Leave this job to me - I 



have an old front spring in my loft and a boy 
who can fix it. You'll get a good lunch at the 
hotel - leave this to me." 

Lunch ended with seaweed jelly, a Paternoster 
delicacy I had ne^er tasted before. And when wa 
emerged, there was our Ford with the spring 
fitted, greased and ready for the road The farmer 
would accept nothing more than gratitude. Such 
was the freemasonry of the Ford, but it passed 
with the Model-T. 

A huge technical world of knowledge was 
wasted when the Model-T vanished from the 
road. That car was original from dripping 
radiator to sawn-off stem Countty mechanics 
were wizards at diagnosing and correcting 
Model-T faults. Nothing ever baffled them, for 
evety symptom was hideously familiar. I drove 
into Malmesbuiy one rainy night with the engine 
coughing and the feeble Ford lights nearing 
extinction It seemed impossible to continue the 
journey, yet within ten minutes the mechanics 
had renewed the youth of the whole electric 
system, 



One of my friends, who always accompanied me 
on these weekend adventures, was a master of 
improvisation when it came to wayside repairs. 
His finest hour arrived one Sunday afternoon 
shortly after leaving Langebaaa I was at the 
wheel, and I felt my right foot being scalded 
The cylinder gasket was worn out, hotwaterwas 
spurting through. My friend unpicked the lining 
of his tie, caulked the leaks, tightened up the 
cylinder head nuts and we completed the 
hundred-mile run to Cape Town. 

If you told a young motorist that the Model-T was 
driven by constantly jerking the left thumb, he 
might not believe it. There was nothing on the 
dash-board save the grinding austerity of the 
black paint which Old Man Ford forced all his 
millions of customers to accept. Most of all we 
missed an oil-gauge. Once, when a big-end burnt 
out through lack of oil, we filled up with windmill 
oil supplied by a farmer and got home. 

Many a desperate situation was saved just fcy 
allowing the Model-T to cool off. Lite the human 
body, it often cured its own ills. But in the 



country, on the roads of those days, it did not pay 
to huny . At thirty-five miles an hour you had the 
sensations of a fun-fair, and your passengets 
gripped the seven-feet high tent and protested. It 
is more than twenty years since the last ModeL-T 
jittered off the assembly line and now it is only a 
legendary monster. But those were great days, 
wonderful times. 

Chapter 10 
Travellers OnThe Road 

I'm a smous, I'm a smous in the wilderness 
wide 

The vdd is rry home and the wagoris rry 
pride; 

The crack of my voorslag shall sound o' er the 
lea, 

I'm a smous, I'm a smous, and the trader is 
free! 

SlNCE Those Lines Were WRITTEN By T. 

Fannin, the smous, the pedlar of the veld, has 
become a legendary figure. 



Last centuiy many a smous started with pack 
donkeys and made a fortune. Nowadays it is 
done with motor-cars and hire purchase contracts 
- and the goods are different But the old smous 

goes right back to the time of the Great Trek. 

Smous is a corruption of the name Moses, though 
not every smous was a Jew. Afrikaners, English- 
men aixl shrewd Scots also set out their wares on 
the farms; and I have discovered references to a 

type Of smous known as Fransmanne Or 
Fmnsies. They were really Syrians, and they 
worked the Cape Midlands and Border. 

Among the first Jewish traders in the platbeland 
were many men from England and Germany; it 
was only after the diamond and gold discoveries 
that Jews arrived from Eastern Europe in large 
numbers. Then a ship called the Peruvian 
brought to the Cape a group of Russian and 
Polish Jews who had failed to mate a living in 
South America under Baron Hirsch's coloniza- 
tion scheme. The ship has departed, but the name 
lingers. 



There died in England not long ago a Mr. Adolf 
Hesse, and his estate was valued at £226,000. 
Mr. Hesse was a smous in 1904, selling perfume 
and other goods from an ox- wagon Not many of 
his fellow traders amassed so much; but all over 
the platteland there are prosperous stores which 
owe their origin to tireless men who trudged with 
packs on their backs; then with strings of 
donkeys; and finally rode with Cape carts and 
wagons. 

In the days when fanners lived in extreme 
isolation the smous was a welcome visitor. Some 
of his stock-in-trade might be glittering rubbish; 
but he also carried useful articles. Knives sold by 
the wandering smous are still giving service on 
distant farms. Biblical and other oleographs 
adorn the walls of farm homesteads. His trinkets 
survive in jewellery boxes passed down from 
mother to daughter. 

Rolls of cloth and ready-made clothing were 
always to be found in the pedlar's pack. It is true 
that some of the garments were out-of-fashion 
and had been sold off at low prices by Cape 



Town merchants. On the farms, however, it was 
only a matter of price. Bonnets and dresses, 
calico, cord velveteen for male trousers, knitting 
wool and reels of cotton were bought eagerly by 
people who had to trek fifty, even a hundred 
miles to shop in the dorp. 

Craftiest of all these traders was the "gold 
smous." He specialised in jewellery. When he 
entered a new district he selected a man of 
standing, a leading fanner or ouderiing of the 
Church, and sold him a fist-class gold watch at 
far below cost price. That was all the 
advertisement necessary. After that the smous 
disposed of scores of inferior rolled gold watches 
at £5 apiece. 

Those were the days when men's watch-chains 
demanded ornament Most popular designs were 
miniature revolvers and penknives. There were 
rings and brooches and thimbles for the women. 
And as the smous was often prepared to accept 
payment in cattle, at the farmer' s own valuation, 
business was done easily. Even the farm 



labourers inspected the stock-in-trade, and for 
them the smous had guitars and mouth-organs. 

Another duty of the smous was to bring news of 
the outside world The really clever trader 
earned messages or letters from distant relations, 
and then displayed goods similar to those which 
he said the relations had bought from him After 
all, if a respected aunt had chosen dress material 
of a certain pattern, that settled all questions of 
taste and price. 

In the evening, if the smous remained for the 
night, he and his host would discuss the Old 
Testament - a guide they had in common. The 
people of the lonely farms would be sorry to see 
the smous move on with his desirable goods and 
the golden sovereigns he had acquired. 

The late Sir John Kotze, the distinguished judge, 
used to tell the story of a Karoo trek he made on 
circuit last century with the late Sir Thomas 
Upngton They had a fair amount of baggage on 
their Cape cart and one night they outspannedat 
a farm and were welcomed fcy the farmer. As 



they alighted, the farmer remarked: "You need 
not unstrap your boxes - we do not require any 
smous goods just yet" For once Sir Thomas 
Upington was left speechless. 

Some of you who live in the Frasechurg district 
may remember the retired smous who was so 
fond of his wagon that he built it into his 
farmhouse. The living room had a misvloer, but 
the floor of the wagon formed the roof of the 
roonx All four wheels were let into the walls. 
And when the old smous climbed the ladder to 
his bedroom he slept on the familiar katel under 

the wagon tent 



Unwelcome though he is, the tramp has had a 
long and dreary career in the Cape, and he has 
received much undeserved hospitality. He took 
to the road in the Dutch East India Company 
period, and he is still on the road, still dominated 
ty the same blind impulse to halt nowhere for 
long and to see nothing out 



In some ways the voetganger of a Centuiy ago 

fared better than the modem tramp who rides in 
limousines and covers a thousand miles within a 
week. There was probably less chance last 
century of being turned away hungry. But the 
wandering ne'er-do- well needed a sound 
physique in the oxwagon days. He suffered from 
exposure between the farms, and old newspapers 
often mentioned the nameless white men who 
had been found dead on the veld 

One tramp of the 'eighties, however, not only 
survived but wrote a queer, anonymous pamphlet 
(now a collector's item) entitled "Six Years of a 
Tramp's Life in South Africa." He was an 
educated Englishman, and he describes vividly 
enough his experiences as waiter, convict guard, 
farmhand, quarryman, wool washer, store 
assistant, painter and plumber. And he confesses 
frankly that he soon passed on, sometimes of his 
own accord, but usually because he was 
dismissed for drinking. 

Many people took an interest in him, for he was 
wdl-mannered and well-spokea More than once 



he was offered a home. More than one girl 
showed signs of compassion and affection He 
pays tribute to their beauty in his story; he took 
what they gave and moved on 

According to this writer, there were thousands of 
tramps on the road at that time. "Scores of those 
perambulating with me," he wrote, "were my 
superiors both by birth and education, but as a 
rule they were worse, infinitely more degraded, 
than their lower-bom associates and were 
loathed and despised by the latter." 

Many of the country "schoolmasters" last 
century were little better than tramps. Some were 
men of education; others were deserters from 
sailing ships or the amy, and almost as illiterate 
as the farm children they taught 

I heard of one old sailor who took to the road 
and was engaged by a farmer for three months - 
the full period considered necessary for a 
complete education. The sailor slung his 
hammock from the schoolroom rafters and lay 
there comfortably smoking and lecturing. But he 



left suddenly when the f aimer discovered that he 
was teaching the children that the world was 
round. 

Any strict disciplinarian with a loud voice 
impressed trie parents. The usual salary was £5 a 
month with all found A number of Hollanders 
were to be found among those itinerant teachers. 
Known as "meesters/' they were nevertheless 
expected to help in trie farm work after school 
hours. 

The only text-book on many a farm school was 
the famous and all-embracing "De Trap der 
Jeugd" (The Stair of Youth). This admirable 
volume taught spelling, grammar, writing; it 
contained singing exercises and sums; and 
though the geography was mainly confined to 
Holland, it included a map of the world. It went 
into every comer of South Africa in ox- wagons. 
The Voortrekkers taught their children with the 
aid of the Bible and "De Trap." It ran success- 
fully from the days of the Dutch East India 
Company almost to our own times. 



Lord Charles Somerset, in spite of many faults, 
established six schools in the country and 
imported trained Scottish teachers. It was not 
until 1839 that a superintendent of education was 
appointed He toured the country districts, and 
discovered that many teachers had not received 
their salaries and were living on charity. At one 
mission he visited, the teacher was unable to 
read or write. Church vestries or bams were 
being used as schoolrooms. 

Boarders at that time paid £2 12s. 6d. a quarter, 
and one prospectus stated: "Each boarder will be 
expected to be provided with bedding and a 
knife, fork and spoon." The most select school in 
the country was at Somerset West, where 
boarders paid £7 10s, a quarter - a fashionable 
establishment indeed. 

Fortunately the parents did not expect much. 
Evenacentury ago the youth who could read the 
Bible, write a letter and count correctly was 
regarded as a "matriculated" student 



One verse from a book by L. de Beer published 
in Cape Town fifty years ago will give an idea of 
the contempt in which the travelling school- 
master was held: 

An ignorarrus, as poor as a rat 

Wth a very old hat, 

With very old clothes, and a very red nose, 

Breath smelling of gin 

(thatfs a very great sin), 

With a very bad shirt, discoloured with dirt, 

With socks on his feet 

(I can' t say tis neat), 

With a stick in his hand, 

Thus he trarrps through the land. 

Mormons first took to the road in the Cape in the 
'thirties of last century, only about six years after 
the founder of the religion, Joseph Smith, had 
published his "Book of Mormon" And they are 
still here, though the modem Mormons are noted 
mainly for their prowess at baseball. 

The first Mormon missionaries were so 
successful that by 1852 the^ had persuaded a 



hundred people at the Cape to join the new Salt 
Late City Settlement. A schooner was chartered, 
and these South African converts departed for 
America - with what result I cannot trace. 

Cape Town resented Mormon activities in those 
days, for the belief in Mormon polygamy was 
deep-rooted and there were riots when the 
missionaries attempted to hold meetings. 

Stranger by far were the Jerusalemgangers, a 

group of religious fanatics who took part in the 
Great Trek - not to escape from British rule, but 
because they wished to reach Jerusalem 
overland 

It seems that the sect first came to life in 
Holland, and the members were inspired by 
Biblical phrases such as "the land of promise" 
and "the abundance of milk and honey." Dutch 

Jerusalemgangers earned the belief to the Cape 
with them and found Afrikaners ready to share 
the perils of the journey. 

For years the^ discussed the pilgrimage to 
Jerusalem, and the Great Trek gave them the 



stimulus the^ needed. Some of them lived near 
the Swartberg in the Prince Albert district; all 
had vague ideas of geography. It is clear, 
however, that they imagined the Holy Land to be 
only a short trek beyond the Transvaal. 

A surveyor named K. J. de Kok addressed a 

gathering Of Jerusalemgangers and tried to 
dissuade theiiL He pointed out the dangers of 
fever and the tsetse fly, warned them of flooded 
rivers, and hostile tribes, and pointed out that 
they had no Moses among them to help them 
across the Red Sea 

They remained unshaken. Tante Mieta, one of 
their quacks, declared that she had medicines for 
all tropical ailments. They were prepared to wait 
until the flooded rivers subsided If they were 
attacked, they had guns. As forthe Red Sea, they 
intended to build boats. 

There is no knowing what the fate of the 
Jerusalemgangers might have been, but their 
leader, Commandant Ensel, died in the Transvaal 
and the Trek was abandoned But they left Mr 



mark on the map. Several towns owe their 

Biblical names tD the Jerusalemgangers. When 
the^ crossed a river to the north of Pretoria they 
thought they had discovered a tributary of the 
Nile. So they called it Nylstroom, and the name 
has survived. 



Gipsies are newcomers in South Africa- A band 
of them under the leadership of Smith John 
landed in East Africa in 1928 and drifted down 
overland to the Cape. If there were gipsies in our 
country before that I can find no mention of 
them. 8 

According to Romany law, the first gipsy to 
enter a country becomes the king of all the 
gipsies who follow. Smith John was bom in 
Spain, but his father was a Rumanian gipsy; and 



s Since these lines were printed I have found a 
record of a band of gipsies from South America 
who landed in Cape Town in 1906. The "Cape 
Argus "devoted a, page of pictures to them. 



all the gipsies in the Union speak the Rumanian 
language. Even the South African native servants 
who travel with these gipsies speak Rumanian 
now. 

They are wealthy, the gipsies who have chosen 
to wander under the South African stars. No 
horse-caravans for them They have expensive 
motor-cars, and sleep under canvas simply 
because that way of life is almost a religion with 
them 

Since the arrival of Smith John more than twenty 
years ago, the gipsy people have split up into two 
separate "tribes." Most of them were roaming 
overseas when the war cut them off; Smith John 
is still in the United States with his wife; but 
Smith John is still the gipsy king of South 
Africa. The others say he will return one day. 
Certainly he will not settle down anywhere. 

I first saw these gipsies on Blaauwberg beach, of 
all places - the vivid women in their rainbow 
skirts going from cottage to cottage offering to 
tell fortunes. Never before had I seen gipsies 



within sight of Table Mountain They were as 
foreign, against that background, as a band of 
Eskimos would have been 

The men are fine musicians with piano- 
accordions, but no one can bind them to a long 
contract. No doubt the^ retain their skill with 
horses and as tinkers; but they are gipsies and 
the^ work only at intervals, when they are in the 
mood. 

So closely related are the gipsy "tribes" in South 
Africa that the young men and girls must go 
abroad to marry. Wherever they go they will find 
people speaking their own Romany language, 
observing the same customs, carrying out trie 
same ceremonies at birth, marriage and death. 
Everywhere there will be the same tzigane 
melodies round the samovars and charcoal fires. 

Mysterious people indeed. If the^ are of Hindu 
origin, as some believe, they are utterly different 
from all the Hindus I have seen I saw their gay 
tents beside the road to Muizenberg not long 
ago. They must have travelled far since the day I 



met them on Blaauwberg beach, and I expect it 
will be a long time before I find them at 
Blaauwberg again. 

Chapter 11 
Ffeurr Of The C ape 

Beyond The Mountains, on the last farm in the 
Banhoek valley, I talked not long ago to the last 
of the Cape fruit industry's pioneers. He is Mr. 
A. C. Buller of Dvo^vieidx)ek, and if I knew 
what Mr. Buller knows about fruit my young 
orchard would look more impressive. 

Mr. Buller started fruit farming in his valley in 
1898.He found a few hundred trees bearing fruit 
which was unsuitable for export; and he had to 
send to Europe and America for the types that 
would stand the voyage in cold storage. Mr. 
Butler's farm was infested with baboons and 
leopards fifty years ago. It is only forty miles 
from Cape Town; but he trapped twenty-six 
leopards. 

In those days most farmers grew fruit mainly for 
their own use, and there was hardly a 



commercial orchard in the Cape. Only grapes 
were grown in large quantities. Up in the Hex: 
River valley men lite Rckstone, Malleson and 
Dicey were persuading the farmers to plant fruit 
trees. Hex: River was a cattle area; the farmers 
had prospered during the long period when 
wagons passed through their valley on the way to 
Kimberley. 

The export pioneers had to travel round packing 
apricots at Wellington; peaches at Paari and 
Stellenbosch; grapes, peaches and pears at 
Constantia No one knew anything about packing 
for export Mr. Buller remembers packing grapes 
in cork dust in twenty-pound boxes; but the dust 
stuck to the grapes. Peaches fetched several 
dollars each in New York, and they went in 
cottonwool. 

Early shipments were stowed in the steward's 
compartments with the ship's food Once the 
stevedores at Table Bay Docks went on strife; so 
Mr. Buller and other early exporters from 
Drakenstein put the fruit on board the old RM.S. 
Norman themselves. There was so little that they 



could handle the lot. Mr. Buller lived to see two 
million boxes of grapes exported in one year. 

The founder of the Cape fruit iixtustry, of course, 
was Hendrik Boom, the gardens who arrived 
with Van Riebeeck If he had failed, many more 
of the Dutch settles would have died of scurvy. 
Boom had to succeed in spite of gales and 
droughts. The first showers after Van Riebeeck' s 
landing fell on May 23, and Boom planted fruit 
trees, raised peas, beans and spinach, and 
collected wild asparagus and sorrel on the veld 

Some of the first fruit ttees came from the older 
settlement on St. Helena, and Van Riebeeck sent 
for more. It is on record that the ship Nachtglas 
brought a consignment in 1654, and among the 
trees was a peach which was lost and 
rediscovered in recent years. This came about 
while the Stellenbosch University experts were 
searching the world for the peach most suitable 
for canning. They imported many varieties, but 
not one was entirely satisfactory. One day 
Professor O. Reinecke visited a peach orchard at 
Kakamas on the Orange River, and at last 



discovered the ideal canning peach. Though it is 
known as the Kakamas peach, it was found to be 
identical with the St, Helena peach imported by 
Van Riebeeck It is a yellow cling variety. 

Van Riebeeck had more than a thousand fruit 
trees established on his farm Bosheuvel in 1661 - 
orange, apple, pear, plum and walnut The 
following year the first ripe apples were picked; 
the^ were of the " Dutch Wine " variety. 

Many of the Huguenots had been fruit farmers, 
and thev were the first at the Cape to make dried 
fruit, Simon van der Stel encouraged this new 
industry, for dried fruit was welcome on board 
scurvy-stricken ships. The Huguenots also 
produced the first mebos, crystallised figs and 
sugared fruits. And their Cape raisins were in 
great demand in Holland and England centuries 
ago. 

They made jam mainly from apricots in the early 
days, boiling the fruit over slow fires in huge 
copper pots. Jam was kept in pots and covered 
with pape~ smeared with fat The modem jam 



industry began about a century ago. Even then the 
glass jar with parchment cover was the usual 
container. Tins came much later. 

Cherries we^ grown fcy old Hendrik Boom, but 
they must have died out It was not until the md 
of last ceitury that cherries were seen again in the 
Cape - and then they were regarded as such 
novelties that people in Cape Town paid a penny 
each for them as button-holes. The pioneer cherry 
farmer was the late Mr. Van der Merwe, who 
planted an orchard of Hack Califomian cherries at 
the top of Gydo Pass above Ceres. This is one of 
the rare spots where snow falls and encourages 
the growth of cherry trees. Cherries fetch more 
for their weight than any other fruit on the 
market. Miss Emmeria van der Merwe, who took 
over her father's farm, is the "Cherry Queen" of 
the Cape. 

Die una? la-rnoen, die una? la-rnoen. 

Her' s ' nlekker waat? la-rnoen. 

So root as bloed, so striker soet, 

Hier* s ' nlekker waat la-rnoen. 



Van Riebeeck had hardly landed when he wrote 
to Batavia for watermelon seeds. Today it ranks 
with the grape and the peach as one of the most 
popular fruits of the Cape. 

Those who hesitate to buy \\etermelons are 
mainly influenced fcy the difficulty of finding a 
ripe one. Some people regard it as too much of a 
gamble. The time-horoured method of holding it 
on the head and "crunching" is not always 
reliable. 

Certain shrewd housewives prefer the broom 
test You take a broom-straw about eight inches 
in length and balance it crosswise on the 
watermelon If it is green the straw will remain 
stationary; a ripe melon causes the straw to 
swing round slowly. 

But the Cape Malays have another method, 
which was described to me fcy Hadjie Bakaar 
Manuel of Simonstowa "You must test not only 
for ripeness, but for flavour/' he pointed out 
"Look for sugar spots - rough splotches on the 
skin and small marks lite healed scars. These 



marks are made by insects trying to reach the 
sugar in the melon. They never attempt to pierce 
a poor specimen. Never choose a watermelon 
with a smooth, shiny skin." 

Snap your finger on a watermelon. A heavy 
"plunking" sound denotes ripeness, while a thin 
noise means it is green. Press the melon with 
both hands outspread. A ripe melon will "give" 
slightly. These tests, with "sugar spots" (Hadjie 
Bakaar assuies me) aie infallible. 

I am told that the finest watermelons are grown 
in the North- West Cape. Experts say that the 
Boland melons imbibe too much water, and the 
flavour suffers. Namaqualand produces the geel- 
vleis or geelkroon watermelons, with delicious 
yellow flesh 

The largest watermelons, I fancy, come from the 
Hex River valley. During the 1946 season one 
watermelon grown by Mr. Conradie was 
weighed at Sandhills railway station - 120 
pounds. Soviet Russia claimed a world record in 
1947 with a 125 pound watermelon; but the Hex 



River farmers are positive that larger 
watermelons have been grown in their valley. 

As a study in fruity beauty the watermelon has 
appeared on many a canvas. The vivid green rind 
shading into a delicate tint the roseate pulp and 
black seeds - these colours are fit indeed for an 
artisf s brush The watermelon also inspired an 
early Afrikaans poet. Advocate W. H. Maskew 
of Cape Town As far back as 1888 he wrote: 

A.g, watermeloen - so sag as ' n soen, 

Jy smelt somrrer weg in nyn mond, 

So wit en so rooi; jij is amper te mooi, 

Mj tijd, d' pitte spring rond! 

But I have still to learn how to cut a watermelon. 
Any mention of this point usually starts a 
controversy. Do you follow the natural stripes - 
or cut across? 



Finest oranges in South Africa come from the 
Olifants River valley, the famous Clanwilliam 
oranges with their perfect colour and flavour. 



Age counts in the orange tree. The older the tree, 
the smaller is its fruit, the thinner the skin and 
the greater its sweetness. Spain and China have 
very old trees; some in China are believed to 
have borne fruit for six centuries. But the 
Olifanf s River valley comes next in seniority, 
well above California. 

There is an orange tree more than tv\o centuries 
old on Mr. Dirk Visser's farm Hemvier, near 
Citrusdal. Dr. Raimund Marloth, the government 
expert, fixed the age not long ago by examining 
the bark. The tree has four trunks, with the 
original, rotted trunk still to be seen in the 
middeL Mr. Visser has seventeen thousand 
orange trees, but the oldest rival does not appear 
to be more than a century and a half. It was in 
1804 that a Jesuit missionary planted the first 
orange grove in California; so that even Mr. 
Visser' s second-oldest tree was probably bearing 
oranges before the Califomian missionary 
gathered his fruit As for Palestine, the thick 
skins and large oranges proclaim the youth of the 
industry. 



I must add, however, that orange trees found in 
the Rhodesian bush are far older than any in the 
Olifanf s River valley. Portuguese explorers 
planted oranges in Rhodesia in the sixteenth 
century. 

Dr. Brehm, a Uitenhage botanist, was responsrUe 
for the first seedless oranges coming to the Cape 
He read in an overseas agriciitural journal of this 
wonderful novelty growing at Bahia in Brazil, and 
wrote at once asking for cuttings. The same idea 
occurred to an American agricultural official; and 
soon aftewerds a third request arrived in Brazil 
from Australia All three countries were supplied 
from the same tree. Only in California did the 
transplanted shoots prosper. Nowadays the 
Olifanf s River valley has its own seedless 
seedling orange, the "Clanor/' developed ty Dr. 
Nortier of bush tea fame. 

Oranges become scarce in the Cape in January. 
You have to wait until April for this form of 
Vitamin C to arrive from the Transvaal; but then 
the supply lasts for a long period Clanwrlliam 
oranges reach the market at the end of May and 



last for about two months. The Katberg crop 
comes in June and goes on until August. Small 
grower in various parts of the Cape tty to fill the 
gaps, but many of them produce (under advetse 
conditions) the sort of oranges which you see held 
up to ridicule in the newspapers, photographed 
with match-boxes providing a fair idea of size. 

Citrus ranks as the Union's third most valuable 
export connDdity - an industry in which at least 
£25,000,000 has been invested It has known 
many vitissitudes, but it is no longer necessary to 
peach the old Brazilian proverb to customers: "A 
physician is not needed in a house where orange 
peel lies strewn about" 

The fruit industry has its acknowledged "kings/' 
and Mr. M. C. Mtnaar of De HoeK, Paarl, is the 
olive king of the Cape. 

More than three-quarters of a ceitury ago his 
fathff received number of small olive trees as a 
gift from a Montagu farmer. He thought little of 
them, and almost decided to throw them away. 
But today there are eight thousand olive trees 



flourishing on De Hoek and yielding a forty-ton 
annual crop. 

The Huguenots grew olives. Fruit experts last 
century noted the vigorous wild olive plantations 
near the Cape coast and tried to encourage olive 
cultivation. Wild olive fruit has a low oil content- 
but the trees can be used as stocks for the 
cultivated varieties. 

Farmers were not enthusiastic, for there seemed 
to be no market for olive oil. Moreover, you 
have to wait six or swen years for a crop. Early 
this century, however, a group of Italians settled 
in Paarl, constructed a primitive press, and 
extracted oil from the De Hoek trees. Before that 
the olives had gone to feed the pigs and turkeys. 

As far back as 1907 De Hoek olives won a gold 
medal at a London show for the finest and purest 
olive oil produced within the British Empire. 
Only in recent years, however, have olives 
become really profitable. An Italian has set up a 
modem plant - near Paarl and has three thousand 




You have to \Aoit six or seven 
years for a crop of olives. 

trees. One day the Western Province may be 
covered with groves of olives. The hot areas to 
the north of Clanwilliam are also suitable, and 
you can see olive trees, gieen all the year round, 
growing in the streets of Van Rhynsdorp. 



Olives will grow on sandstone koppies or 
weathered granite. The vine may one day have a 
rival. 

Strawberry king of the Cape is Mr. June van 
Dyk of Bloubokkiesfontein in the Napier district 
His crop of seven tons a year is, in fact, the 
largest in the Union Every season Mr. van Dyk 
plants half a million strawberry plants, and his 
return is £1000 a morgeti 

Mr. van Dyk makes no secret of his methods. He 
concentrates on three varieties - Ox Heart, White 
Heart and Ever Bearing No. 2 and sends plants 
all over the Union Eight strawberries of the Ox 
Heart variety weigh one pound. Three bird 
watchers crack whips over the precious straw- 
berry beds. 

Oom "Ford" Kritzinger is the Cape's apple king. 
His father planted the first apple trees in the 
LangWoof, Uniondale district Now the Lang- 
Woof output is a million boxes a year. 

Oom "Ford" by the way, gained tris nickname 
because he was the first man in the district bold 



enough to invest in the old Ford Model-T. After 
some experience of that memorable motorcar he 
sent a box of apples to Henry Ford - and added 
details of improvements which he hoped to see 
embodied in future Ford cars. 

Henry Ford wrote back to say that he had 
enjoyed the apples; evidently Mr. Kritzinger 
knew all about growing apples. "You can leave 
making motor-cars to me/' added Mr. Ford "I 
know all about that" 

Graaff-Reinet claims the "king" of all vines in 
South Africa - some declare it is the largest 
grape vine in the world. Planted early last 
century by one of the famous Murrays, the Dutch 
Reformed Church ministers, the vine is to be 
seen in the grounds of Reinet House, the historic 
old parsonage. 

The gnarled trunk has sent up branches which 
cover a steep fifty feet in length. The girth of the 
stem is six feet. It still yields fine black grapes, 
though the vine was saved with difficulty from 
decay about twelve years ago. This aged vine is 



certainly larger than the celebrated Hampton 
Court vine. 



Tropical fruits, including bananas, grow in odd 
comers of the Cape. No one knows where the 
first South African bananas came from; but it is 
possible that they travelled overland centuries 
ago from Abyssinia The bananas of Natal were 
imported from China (lite the loquat) in fairly 
recent years. 

Mauritius supplied our first mangoes in 1875. 
Mangoes were taken to the island fay seventeenth 
century Hindu settlers. Guavas and avocado 
pears came to South Africa fay the same 
circuitous route (via India and Mauritius) 
towards the end of last century. 

Both mangoes and guavas have been improved 
upon in their new home. Government horti- 
culturists have evolved a mango which can be 
eaten as easily as an apple. The unwieldy pip has 
been reduced to the size of a penny, and the skin 



comes away neatly from the tuipentLne-flavovired 
flesh. 

Guavas aie rich in vitamin-C, which is retained 
when the fruit is stev\ei or canned But guavas 
have too many pips for complete enjoyment So 
the experts are creating new varieties with fewer 
pips, thin skins, luscious flesh and attractive 
colour. 

Other comparatively new fruits in South Africa 
are granadillas, sultana grapes, persimmons and 
pawpaws. Van Riebeeck sent for pineapples; but 
if he received them, they did not survive the 
Cape climate. The present pineapple industty in 
the Cape is not yet a century old. 

Sub-tropical fruit is booming. The value of the 
trade in all fruit trees in the Union is officially 
estimated at £2,000;000 a year. About half the 
Union's nurserymen are in the Western Cape. 
Throughout the country, about twenty million 
trees a year are sold 

Strangest orchards in the Cape, I am sure, are 
those to be found scattered along the railway 



lines between the fence and the sleepers. They 
were "planted" by thousands of fruit-eating 
passengers who threw stones and pips out of 
train windows. 

Mary a pip took root in wall-wetered 
embankments. Gangers nurtured the little trees; 
and when they grew up, lopped off branches 
which might have brushed against passing trains. 

So you find apples, peaches, plums, apricots, 
pears and other varieties on railway property. 
And in gangers' cottages, you may notice rows 
of bottled fruits and jams provided by these well 
protected, carefully- tended trees. 

Fruit pips provide floors in the Cape, though the 
mixture of ant-hill clay and cow-dung is far more 
common Nevertheless, the peach-pip floor is 
still to be found on some farms. It takes 
thousands of pips to cover even a rondavel floor, 
and the surface is liable to be slippery. Such 
floors are burnished with oxblood, and are relics 
of more leisurely days. The work involved is a 
strong deterrent 



"Vrugte beteken gesondheid/' as the railway 

menus used to remind us. "Fruit means health" - 
provided it does not cause "apricot sickness." 
This is an inevitable complaint during the fruit 
season, and doctors beg to differ about both 
cause and treatment One thing is certain 
"Appelkoossiekte" may attack people who have 
never touched an apricot. 

Dr. A.. L. dejager of Paarl believes that "apricot 
sickness" is due to a virus which escapes from 
the soil and is distributed by the wind The 
illness gained its name because apricots were the 
first spring fruits which the early Cape farmers 
produced They suffered from the familiar 
griping pains and diarrhoea, and rightly blamed 
the apricots. Later it was discovered that other 
fruits, vegetables and salads could cause the 
same symptoms. 

Some doctors advocate castor oil. Others say that 
repeated doses of salts will clear the poison out 
of the system, I have a personal interest in this 
medical controversy, for during every fruit 
season I fall an easy victim to "apricot sickness." 



Nowadays I find consolation in the fact that this 
Cape epidemic is mild compared with the 
sickness that spreads over the sweltering land of 
Egypt when the first dates of the season appear. 
It is the same complaint from the Cape to Cairo - 
but in Cairo my pains were far more severe, and 
lasted longer. 

By little vwngs and busy feet. 

In garner's amber, passing sweet, 

A summer day is prison' d. 



As I rose to the surface of my dam today after 
the first dive, I found angry bees round my head. 
Not a whole swarm, but enough to make me 
nervous. 

They had beeu sheltering in the cool, moist, 
outlet pipe. IlMicMveatiMnoutbyttesurgeof 
water that followed my dive; and now I had to 
watch them warily. As soon as I had dressed I 
tracked the bees to the blue-gum trees beyond 
my fence. And there, in a secluded comer of the 
plantation, were the lives. 



Beekeeping has a strong fascination for many 
city people, and I know several men who plant 
their hives in likely places in the country and 
visit them at week-ends. Frankly, I like the 
honey more than the hives, though I cannot resist 
the mysterious lore of the bee world. 

Every year I buy honey in the comb from a most 
unlikely source. The home-made lives stand on 
a dune in the village of Blaauwberg Strand - in 
the teeth of the south-easter only a few yaids 
from the sea Yet this is magnificent honey. The 
secret lies in the veld behind the village, where 
the bees feed on the spring Powers. These 
nectars form the perfect blend for my palate. 

The honey epicure can find a wide range of 
flavours. Oudtshoorn, the greatest honey- 
producing district in the Union, sends out lucerne 
honey to the tune of £60,000 a year. This is so 
light in appearance that it can hardly be 
distinguished from water. Blue gums yield the 
colour of red wine; prickly pear honey is still 
darter, and tastes like treacle; buckwheat honey 
is brown; while other crops are responsible for 



white honey like condensed milk and black, 
granulated honey. Indeed, there are scores of 
varieties. Mango honey is rare, and the memory 
of it lingers. Probably the most astounded bee- 
keeper in the Cape was the man who put one of 
his hives close to a sweet factory. His combs 
yielded honey with a peppermint flavour, and it 
took him a long time to trace the flavour to its 
source. 

Willows, orange and lemon blossoms, sun- 
flowers, peas, beans, mignonette and clover all 
feed the bees. The spekboom, a gieen bush with 
pink flowers; stimulates gieat honey flows after 
rain, and the honey is of high quality. Bees also 
love the evening primrose flower, which opens 
so late that the bees have to find their way tome 
in the dark. 

You can keep honey, if you store it carefully, for 
half a century, and then discover that it has 
matured like wine. Not many honeys are 
poisonous, but there is a red-hot honey from the 
euphorbia which may cause unpleasant 
symptoms. Certain aloes give the honey a bitter 



taste. But there is no doubt that the ordinary 
honeys are good for you. It really is possible to 
live for months on milk and honey, though an 
occasional tomato or orange should be thrown in 
to make the diet complete. 

Honey is good foryou because it is so digestible. 
It creates energy, for a pound of honey has a 
higher caloric value than any other food eKcept 
dates. Those who cannottake cane sugar because 
of the effect on the kidneys can eat honey with 
impunity. It presents colds, it is mildly laxative, 
and it aids weak hearts. Try a spoonful of honey 
in hot milk on a winter morning and face the 
bitter day without fear. 

Yet we do not eat enough hone^ and we 
certainly allow much hone^ to go to waste by 
failing to keep enough bees. A government 
expert recently estimated that South Africa is 
losing £8,000,000 a year in this way. Hone^ 
production has trebled in the past thirty years to 
1,500,000 pounds a year) but millions upon 
millions of bees are still going begging for hives. 



There would be many more bee-keepers, I 
suppose, if sungless bees were available. An 
insect which can kill a man with its sting must be 
treated with respect I once lost a friend that way 
- a man with a fine record, in war and peace, as 
an air pilot 

Doctors call it anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis 
is the opposite to immunity; a susceptible person, 
having been stung once, becomes far more 
vulnerable than the normal person. One more 
tiny injection of foreign protein, such as bee- 
sting, may cause death 

I taewabee-teeperatMlnertDnyearsago who 
treated his rheumatism with bee-stings. He told 
me, however, that he had the utmost difficulty in 
persuading the bees to sting him. Doctors use 
artificial stings, and they first anaesthetize the 
arthritic joint Such injections apparently 
stimulate the production by the body of 
defensive substances which combat the 
poisonous, undefined protein of arthritis. 



Bees only become vicious when they have 
something to protect. An expert told me that he 
dared not handle his own bees at the wrong 
season, when food was scarce, or when the 
young queens were being reared. Frustrated bees 
often sting; so that when rain washes away the 
nectar from the flowers and the bees return with 
empty stomachs, the shrewd bee-keeper stays 
away from his hives. 

"Bees have their good and bad days, just lite 
human beings/' remarked a Parow beekeeper. 
"One day I was attacked by my tamest colony, 
and I counted seventy-three stings in my face 
and arms. A hot towel is the best treatment Tate 
an old bachelor's advice- a bee is lite a woman. 
When handling bees, keep quiet, don't run, be 
kind to them - and as a rule they will offer you 
nothing but sweetness." 

Most bee-keepers seem to build up an immunity 
to bee-stings. The^ feel the pain, but the after- 
effects are not serious. When a bee stings, a 
peculiar odour is released. You may not notice it, 
but other bees certainly will; and that is often the 



cause of a mass attack by the whole excited hive. 
Queens, by the way, do not sting human beings. 
They reserve their barbed lancets for rival 
queens or princesses. 

I often wondered why so many bee-keepers 
worked with baie hands, and often without e^en 
theprotsctionof aveil. One of them explained to 
me, however, that it was delicate work; the veil 
was too hot and interfered with the vision, while 
gloves dulled the sense of touch. 

Swarming bees seldom sting. No one really 
knows why the^ swarm, but there are theories. It 
may be due to overcrowded hives; or a surplus of 
drones may start the mass migration. At such 
times they cluster round their queen in all sorts 
of unexpected places. All you can do is to 
telephone the nearest bee-keeper. He will 
welcome the call and hasten to remove the 
swarm. 

Paarl has a bee-keeper who has gone to far 
comers of the Western Province to collect 
unwanted swarms. He is Mr. Henrde Malan, and 



the^ call him the "King of Bee Stings." Mr. 
Malan has been stung so often that he has built 
up an immunity - like a snake park attendant 
One of his most difficult tasks was the removal 
of a swarm which had lived for many years in an 
ancient oak near the Dutch Reformed Church at 
Noorder Paari. The oak was felled at last, but the 
bees clung to their home. Mr. Malan had to saw 
off a five- foot section of the trunk and take it to a 
farm Then the trunk had to be sawn again before 
he reached the swarm 

Stingless bees aie found in South Africa, and 
attempts are being made overseas to breed a 
useful race of stingless bees. At present the 
stingless bee found in the wild state is a 
miserable creature about the size of a housefly, 
unable to produce more honey than it needs for 
its own purposes. Another variety of bee, the 
"apis urdcolor" of the Cape coast, has been 
flown to Russia for observation Under the right 
conditions this bee can produce egg-laying 
worker bees. At present the "apis unicolor" is an 



unwelcome bee, for no queen can rule this 
undisciplined variety. 

Huguenot bee-keepers brought Italian "queens" 
to the Cape. For centuries before that the 
Hottentots had been robbing the hives of the wild 
black bees; and now you will find a cross 
between the docile Italian bee and the original 
evil- tempered black bee at large on the veld. The 
most common breed in the Cape is the golden 
Italian bee, large and strong but seldom vicious. 

In the more remote districts of trie Cape, far from 
the Western Provinoe orchards, there are farmers 
who gather and sell honey without having a hive 
on their farms. When the haakdoring bush comes 
in full bloom round Prieska, for example, 
everyone knows that nests of honeycomb will 
soon fill rocky crevices and aardvark burrows. 
Such nests yield enormous cakes of honey 
weighing up to three hundred pounds. In June 
the bees start work; in October they are smoked 
out and trie cutting begins. 



Enormous nests are found in the mountains, 
nests where the bees are seldom disturbed for 
centuries at a stretch I once heard a true tale of 
one of these old mountain hives in the lonely 
range separating the Karoo from the RoggeveLd, 
about sixty miles from Calvinia- 

About a hurdled years ago a Bushman noticed 
one of these lives in a cleft far up the face of a 
sheer pmpce. The recovery of that honey 
became his great aim in life. Again and again be 
climbed, only to retire defeated In desperation 
he risked too much and fell ninety fed: to the 
ground 

He was five miles from tris camp, and he crawled 
there, in six days, along a dry river bed. Honey 
collected previously from another nest, and a 
little water, kept him alive. Crippled though he 
was, he lived to a great age. No one has ever 
reached the hive in that precipice. 

I heard of another of these inaccessible nests 
which was reached by an ingenious farmer who 
built a stone platform and then devised a series 



of connecting ladders fastened to the cliff by 
wires, ropes and iron pegs. It was a dare-devil 
escapade, but he scaled his rickety ladders and 
filled bucket after bucket with honey. Finally he 
took a spade with him and cut away tons of 
honey, the hard sugary lumps known as 

sandsuiker. 

That was long ago. The ladders fell, and no one 
felt equal to imitating the crazy feat. A later 
owner of the farm, however, discovered that he 
could secure a certain amount of honey' by firing 
his rifle into the wax and catching the thin 
golden stream in basins placed far below. 

Such lives are often shared by snakes, whichaie 
attracted fcy the warmth This is an additional 
risk for honey robbers to bearinmincL The safest 
time for such an adventure, I am told, is at the 
height of a hailstorm Bees are afraid of hail and 
do not venture out Nevertheless, it is possible to 
risk too much for the sate of honey, and I am 
content to leave the fabulous mountain lives to 
Bushmen and bold farmers. 



Much wild honey' is gathered because honey' 
means honey beer. Coloured people in the 
Rketberg Sandveld still make it evety year, and 
they' prefer honey cakes containing young bees. 
That, they say, starts the feamentation properly. 
They use kareermer, a powdered root, as yeasfc 

and when water is added there is a strong drink 
such as primitive people made in many lands 
when the world was young. 

Many a gatherer of wild honey is aided by the 
honey guide. This insistent and uncanny brown 
or grey bird calls on human beings to rob the 
hive it cannot break into itself. There is no 
mistaking the honey guide's meaning. Its call is 
loud and not to be denied. When the honey is 
reached the note changes, and the bird remains 
close at hand, teetering with anxiety and greed. 
Bushmen and Hottentots always leave a share of 
the honey for the honey guide. They say it is a 
vindictive bird which will lead the way to a 
snake or a leopard next time if it is cheated. 

Chief enemies of the bee-keeper are bees-bees 
from one live or wild nest seeking easy honey in 



another live and striving to take it by force. The 
orchards that provide nectar are also poisoned by 
spraying; and that is a serious risk. Certain birds 
will destroy whole colonies of bees when they 
come down from the mountains in search of their 
favourite food Ants, spiders and moths invade 
the lives; and the bee pirate, a dreaded insect 
enemy, lies in wait for tired workers homeward 
bound with honey. At night the ratel or honey 
badger emerges from its burrow and tears into 
lives or wild nests. Said to be the most courage- 
ous of all animals, it will cling to its stolen honey 
and defend it with its life. 

I have seen beekeeping defined as "the art of so 
caring for honey bees that they may be able to 
produce honey for human use in excess of their 
own requiiements." The modem hive, of 
scientific design, is less than a century old. 

It was only in 1895 that a Cape bee-keeper, Mr. 
George Paul Davidson, was invited to appear at 
the first agricultural show in Johannesburg and 
give the first public demonstrations. He travelled 



by train from the Keiskama Valley in the Eastern 
Province, with his bees in the guard's van 

Someone sat down heavily on a live and broke 
the wire gauze covering. The train was in 
Bloeraf ontein station Davidson heard a railway 
official shouting down the platform 'Where is 
the owner of the bees?" He dashed to the end of 
the train and found that the bees from the 
damaged live had swarmed into a comer of the 
van 

Davidson had no smoker, so he borrowed a soup 
ladle from the station restaurant and scooped the 
bees back into the hive. He said afterwards that 
he would have used his bare hands if it had been 
necessary. In spite of this difficult interlude the 
bees reached Johannesburg safely, and Davidson 
gave the display which has now become so 
familiar - driving, uniting swarms and transfer- 
ring bees from boxes to hives. 

Beekeeping fascinates all manner of men - 
priests and printers, schoolmasters and sailors. I 
am thinking of a clerk when I take you into the 



Hopefield district veld to visit the lives I saw 
there long ago. 

This retired clerk lived in a cottage on three 
acres beside the Zout River at Hopefield and 
gave all his time to extracting the riches of the 
bush between the village and the Berg River. He 
started with English hives, then changed to 
American, and tended 250 colonies of bees. 

His bees enjoyed a wide range, and the honey 
flow began in October and lasted to December. 
On the commonage he had his mud-and-wattle 
bee-house and the first lives. All over the bush- 
veld, protected by the bushes from the wind, 
were other lives; and he knew every track and 
goat-path in the wide area north to the river. 
Here and there were decoy lives waiting for bees 
in search of shelter. Many a colony he captured 
in that way, for in this country hollow trees and 
uixlerground housing are hard to find; and 
homeless swarms are obliged to take refuge in 
unfriendly bushes. 



Sometimes when he opened his hives in winter 
he found snakes there - warmth-loving snakes, 
tolerated by the bees. Sometimes his hives were 
robbed and burnt and thrown into the river. Yet 
he was making his bees pay handsomely in the 
days when honey was Is. 6d. a pound. 

I shall ne^er achieve that man's success, but I am 
glad to see the bees round my dam. Below the 
dam are the fruit trees; and the bees, eager for 
nectar and pollen, will carry the seeds of life 
from tree to tree. "Busy bees bring bending 
branches." 

Chapter 12 
Land Of Tradition 

Customs Die Hard, they say. Here in the Cape 
the good customs and the sound traditions ne^er 
die. Sometimes the flame of the rich past 
flickers; but this is a land of continuity and 
revivals. A land where today shakes hands with 
yesterday and the centuries are not forgotten. 

Oldest of all important country customs is 
Nagmaal, the quarterly celebration of Holy 



Communion. Those living in remote places were 
usually only able to attend these services. The 
festival is said to have something in common 
with Communion "occasions" in lonely parts of 
Scotland, described by Robert Bums in "Holy 
Fair." Long before the end of the seventeenth 
century, farmers in the Stellenboscli district must 
have been coming in to Nagmaal, for a church 
was completed there in 1687. 

Nagmaal gatherings were naturally greater in the 

days before motor-cars. 9 Ne^er again, I Suppose, 

will the wagons form such huge laers in the 
squares of country towns. In the ox- wagon days, 
Nagmaal often meant leaving the farm for weeks 
at a stretch. It called for careful planning. There 
were new clothes to be made, shoes to be 
mended, boervbeshuit and loaves to be baked for 



3 One of the last villages where Nagmaal is 
observed in the traditional way is Nieuwoudtville 
in the North West Cape. In October 1949 there 
was a large gathering of people in wagons, tents 
and mat-houses. 



the trek, game to be shot, sheep and fowls to be 
killed. The^ did not rely on hotels, and no hotel 
in a village where Nagmaal was celebrated could 
have dealt with the number of families that 
arrived four times a year. 

On Thursday night and Friday riming the 
wagons converged on the village. That was the 
time for greetings, followed by the sale of farm 
produce and the buying of stores. Friday evening 
found the people singing hymns in their tents. 
On the Saturday morning there would be 
meetings for the discussion of church affairs, 
with a preparatory service in the afternoon The 
Sunday services ended at 4.30 in the afternoon 
By that time the last baptism, confirmation, and 
marriage had been completed But the wagons 
remained on the church square until midnight. 
Old friendships were renewed round the fires. 
Mary a romance started at Nagmaal - the great 
meeting. Then, in the early hours of Monday 
morning, the wagons moved out in the moonlight 
across the empty plains towards the distant 
farms. 



The great Nagmaal gatherings survive in those 
areas where trekboers still use wagons and are 
unable to attend church services every Sunday. 

The original Dutch Church came to the Cape 
with Van Riebeeck, and was based on the 
principles laid down by the General Synod in 
1618 at Dordrecht Holland It was essentially a 
puritan and Calvinistic church. The first clergy 
were paid by the Dutch East India Company; 
they were provided with free houses and their 
congregations sent them gifts of game, sheep and 
fruit 

Early in the nineteenth century the Dutch 
Reformed Church introduced hymns and broke 
away from some of the old dogmas. This trend 
displeased some of the members and led finally 
to the establishment of a new church, the 
Gereformeerde Kerk. The people who joined this 
church became known as "Doppers." President 
Kruger was a member. 

"Doppers" could be distinguished by their 
clothes, which were old-fashioned - lite their 



preference for the puritanical religion of the 
Presbyterian Church of John Knox in Scotland. 
There was a "Dopper" style of hair-cut, and for a 
period the word "Dopper" was used derisively. 
Ninety years have passed since the Rev. Mr. 
Postma came from Holland as the first "Dopper 7 ' 
minister. There are now many congregations and 
the church has its own theological college. 



Christmas Day has always been a day of 
devotion at the Cape, and it is hard to find a 
Christmas custom that is peculiar to the country. 
I have heard of a special ginger beer which is 
brewed during Christmas week and served with 
soetkoekies. And on many farms the head of the 
family reads the Bible shortly before midnight 
on Christmas Eve. Then everyone has a glass of 
wine amid wishes of "Geseende Kersfees." 

New Year is the day of unrestrained rejoicing. 
That is the time whea whole villages shut up 
shop; when farms are abandoned save for a few 



trusted servants and thousands of country folk 
mate for the seaside. 

The urge to spend New Year on some favourite 

strand is typically South African. Places that are 
deserted during tie rest of the year, far beaches 
all the way from Port Nolloth southwards; 
eastwards from False Bay, become alive and 
decked with tents and wagons, horses and happy 
people. Here is release from the heat, a break in 
the toil, a great mingling equalled only by the 
Nagmaal scene. Places unknown to the rest of 
South Africa, little inlets lite Hondeklip and 
Bamboes Bay, the Olifanf s river mouth and 
nearby Strandfontein; for a few days the lonely 
coast rivals the famous resorts. You can see the 
South African spirit of New Year as close to 
Cape Town as Blaauwberg and Melkbosch Not 
a cottage remains empty at that period; there are 
families camping in garages rather than miss the 
fun of those memorable early January days. 

Van Riebeeck ruled that no work should be done 
on New Year's Day. Governor Isbrand Goske, a 
genial Commander, went a step further. "To 



encourage the Company's slaves/' he wrote, 
"each was presented with a small gift of money 
and clothing as well as a spoilt piece of tobacco, 
which generosity did make these poor menials 
vety cheerful and happy." Zacharias Wagenaar 
ordered the cannon to be fired. But there was a 
strong south-easter on the first day of 1663, and 
he recorded in his diary: "Did not dare to 
discharge the guns on the ramparts as we were 
afraid of fire, the houses in front of the Fort 
being thatched with straw." 

Nevertheless, many a New Year after that was 
celebrated with salutes of guns, while the people 
fired their muskets and the Castle bells pealed 
Early in the eighteenth centuiy it had become a 
custom to fire seventeen guns from the Castle at 
midnight on December 31. 

"New Year's Day was kept with some degree of 
religious veneration, no business was done, and 
the shops closed," remarked a diarist at the Cape 
in 1799. "Even the slaves claim this day as their 
own, which they spend in riot, noise and 
drunkenness." 



There was revelry in the countryside, much 
riding from farm to farm A country diarist noted 
in 1829 that "this New Year's Day went off 
quietly, with the eKception of the white 
constables, who were dismissed from govern- 
ment service, being mostly in a state of intoxica- 
tion at the canteen" 

New Year is the time for music and song, the 
time when the hoere-orkes is in gieat demand 

Neariy every village in the Cape has its boere- 
OTk£S, and years ago they really were farmers' 
orchestras. The basic instruments were the 
concertina, violin and guitar) though on the 
farms there was often a mouth organ in place 
of the concertina. 

But the concertina player is the star performer 

in a boere-orkes. The man who can flourish his 
instruments over his head without missing a 
note earns wild applause. Drums and banjo 
have been added in recent years, but wind 
instruments are uncommon 



A friend who once organised a boere-orkes 

told me that his father gave him a few sheep 
and he bought his first concertina with the 
money from the wool. He taught himself to 
play while looking after the flocks of sheep. 
That was the traditional method of becoming a 
musician 

In the village the orchestra appeared at 
meetings of the debating society and concerts 
after the church bazaar. At farm dances the 
players really let themselves go. There was no 
heavy drinking, but it was understood that the 
musicians required wine from time to time. 
Members of the orchestra wore a sort of 
uniform - white flannels and blazers with 
scarves or rosettes. 

At a farm dance the host and hostess always 
took the floor first as voovdansers. Often there 
were so many skilled musicians present that a 
guitar- player who wished to dance could 
usually find someone to take his place. 



A country dance is often referred to as a 
vastmp or velskoen. Most of the early writers 
at the Cape had something to say about the 
fondness of the people for dancing. Lichten- 
stein wrote that "the passion was encouraged 
fcy the fondness and aptitude of the slaves for 
playing on musical instruments ... I know 
many houses in which there is not one of the 
slaves that cannot play, and where an orchestra 
is immediately collected together if the young 
people of the house when visited by their 
acquaintances lite to dance for an hour or 
two." And sometimes there was strong 
disapproval. Landdrost Starrenberg complain- 
ed to the Governor of the "rank mutiny of the 
Stellenbosch burghers/' when he found them 
one evening "beating the drums lustily and 
unlawfully, with the devil-may-care villagers 
dancing around." 

Many of the tunes heard at a vastrap are 

nameless, for they are composed on the farms 
by the players themselves. The tempo mounts 
as the night wears on, dancers stamp with 



enthusiasm and call: "Laat deurloop dag toe" 

("Play until daybreak") And so, to the music of 
"Sarie Marais/' "PollieonsgaanPerelto&' and 

"Die dag breek aan," the dance indeed goes on 
until the dawn 

Beyond all doubt, "Sarie Mariatf' is South 
Africa's most popular song. There were many 
who said it should have been selected as the 
national antheaL 

O bring rny terug na die ou Transvaal, 

Daar wuar rry Sarie woon, 

Daar onder in die mielies by the groen doling 
boorn, 

Daar woon rry SarieMarais. 

"Sarie Marais" was criticised some years ago as 
a mere "picnic melody." Professors and music 
critics hastened to the defence. But Sarie did not 
need them; not evai an Act of Parliammt could 
put an end to her. 

The Afrikaans verses tell the simple stay of a 
young fighting man in one of the Boer 
commandos who is captured fcy the British and 



sent to a prisoner-of-war camp overseas. He longs 
to return to Sarie Marais, "in the mealies by the 
green thorn tree," somewhere in the far-away 
Transvaal and the vivid song expresses his 
longing with a touch of genius. 

"Sarie Marais" appeals strongly to South Africans 
in exile, and is sung today with fervour in 
London, New York and wherever South African 
students and sporting teams gather in other lands. 
Springbok soldiers brought it to every battlefield 

While it is often difficult to trace a song to its 
source, the origin of "Sarie Marais" is fairly clear. 
"Sarie" was bom in South Africa, although her 
ancestors came from overseas. This is her story: 

Mrs. Ela de Wet, wife of Mr. Justice de Wet, of 
the Transvaal Supreme Court, wrote the words in 
1915 with the assistance of Miss Ellaline Roos. 
She remembered a tune she had heard the 
rommandos singing round their camp fires during 
the South African War - and old American slave 
tune called "Ella Rhee" Mrs. de Wet, however, 
did not follow "Ella Rhee" closely, and 



Americans who have heard "Sane Marais" have 
not detected a similarily . 

Some music-loves declare that "Sane Marais" 
resembles a duet in the Italian opera, "Don 
Giovanni." A large number of modem melodies, 
of course, have been based on ope^tic excerpts, 
and it seems probable that similarities could be 
found between classical conpositions and any 
South African music in existence. The view that 
"Sarie Marais" is sufficiently different to be 
regarded as a product of South Africa must find 
considerable support 

"Sarie Marais" in its present form is thus not so 
old as most people imagine. The first printed 
copy appeared in 1920, largely as a result of 
encouragement by General Smuts, and since then 
South Africans have never tired of the beautiful 
melody. 

It has been suggested fcy Afrikaans-speaking 
enthusiasts that some alternative verses in 
English are all that are necessary to endear the 
song to both sections in the Union as a national 



folk song. I do not think that is necessary. "Sarie 
Marais" is the richest jewel in South Africa's 
treasury of song. Leave her exactly as she is. 

Kaatje KekkeLbek, that famous Cape coloured 
character, has many modem impersonators. 
Probably few of them realise that Kaatje is now 
well over a century of age. The original comic 
song was composed by Messrs. Bain and Rex in 
1834 and sung for the first time, amid great 
applause, at the Grahamstown Amateur Theatre. 
The first verse went like this: 

J\fy name is Kaatje Kekkelbek 

I cornefmmKatRivier 

Daar is van water geen gebrek 

But scarce ofmne and beer. 

MijnABC in Pht ' lips' s school 

1 learnt a Meinebeetje 

But left it just as great a fool 

As geeke TanteMetje 

Almost in the same class as Sarie - more 
amusing, perhaps, but less haunting - is Jan 



Ferreira, the celebrated "Jannie met die hoepel 
been/' 

Vatjou goed en trek, Ferreira 

Vatjou goed en trek, 

Jannie met die hoepel been, 

Fermra, Vatjou goed en trek 

Swaardna, al aan die een kant, 

Oja, al aan die een kant, 

Vatjou goed en trek. 

There are two versions of Feneira' s origin Some 
say there was a Jan Feneira (or Pe^ira) in Cape 
Town in the 'seventies of last century; and that 
the song arose from the shouts of the coloured 
urchins who followed and rrimicked the unhappy 
man with bandy legs. . 

The other explanation comes from the country, 
where there dwelt (in 1872) a village belle named 
Ada van Aardt Most persistent among her many 
suitors was the bandy-legged Jan Fenetra, a 
young farmer. 

Unable to shake Jannie off, Ada decided to write 
a vase repealing her feelings. Her music mistress, 



a Mrs. Maloney, was so impressed by the words 
that she sat down at the piano and composed the 
gay polka which so many dancers have enjoyed 
for nearly eighty years. But it must have been a 
cruel blowforpoor "Jannie met die hoepel beei" 



I read a news item not long ago about a school in 
the Uniondale district at which e^ery one of the 
forty-two pupils had the same surname - Fereira 

Ferretra is one of the few South African names of 
Portuguese origin. And the Fenetras themselves 
have several different stories describing the 
arrival of the first member of the family. Theal 
says the progenitor was Ignatius Ferreira, a 
Portuguese boy who was saved from the wreck of 
the Chandos in Table Bay in 1722. 

According to a more dramatic legend, the first of 
the line was Ignatius Leopold Feneira, Comman- 
der of a Portuguese man-o'-war which was 
wrecked in False Bay in 1691. Most of the ship's 
company took to the boats and were drowned 
Feneira and four others remained on board; and 



when the sea went down a fisherman pulled out 
and saved them. The survivors are said to have 
been granted land at Fransch Hoek. Ferreira 
married Countess Almyne du Pie. 

Another Portuguese name which is not so easily 
recognised is Delarey. The Bothas have beeu 
traced back to Redmont; they were Italian 
Protestants. Scandinavia sent far more settlers to 
South Africa than most people imagine; almost as 
many as France. And some of the oldest families 
(lite the Werdmullers) came from Switzerland 

The Archives, church records and the Deeds 
Office have been combed and combed again for 
the origins of South African families. This is the 
phase of history which seems to grip people 
more than any other) and so much has been 
uncovered and printed that there cannot be many 
old families with lost origins. Those family 
Bibles were not inscribed in vain 

Greatest of all these works is the "Geslacht- 
Register der Oude Kaapsche Farrilien" The first 
compiler of this classic was Christoffel de 



Villiers, a Cape Town journalist. Leaders of the 
Afrikaner rommurdty appealed for funds, but in 
1887 de Villiers died On his death-bed he asked 
Theal, the historian, to complete the task. 

Financed by the Cape Government, Theal 
continued to trace the pedigrees, and the first 
three volumes came out in 1893. The second 
volume brought the names up to Z; but as a 
result of a discovery of further notes in the 
Archives, a third volume was published as a 
supplement. The set is now extremely rare. It is 
difficult to account for the disappearance of so 
many copies, but today it would be hard to locate 
more than a few dozen complete sets in the 
Union 

Old families at the Cape are those who arrived 
between the time of Van Riebeeck's landing and 
1795, the date of the First British Occupation 
During that period about tv\o thousand founders 
of existing families arrived About nine hundred 
were German, about nine hundred came from 
Holland, and the rest were mainly French and 
Scandinavian 



English settlers at the Cape were first listed by 
Sir Bernard Burte in his "General and Heraldic 
Guide to the Colonial Gentry," published in 
1891. Advocate H. E. Hockly's recent work on 
the 1820 Settlers provides the most complete list 
compiled up to the present 

Life in the ptatteland would be difficult without 
nicknames. It was pointed out in an Assembly 
debate on voters' rolls not long ago that there 
were eight Mchiel Oliviers on one farm in the 
Humansdorp district And twenty-two male De 
Wits living in the Prince Albert district were 
ptotogiaphed in a group not long ago. Among 
trie De Wit nicknames are Mossie, Klein Mossie, 
Bakker (trie Prince Albert baker for twenty 
years), Snoek, Hardekop, Apie, Baard and Ret 
Bril. One of trie De Wits is always known as Ret 
Qnel (organ); this is an inherited nickname 
wriich has been in trie family for generations. 

Prince Albert can also produce a Ret Skaap, the 
stock inspector, and Ret Witdonkie who rode a 
white donkey. Other nicknames are not so 
obvious. One man became known as 'TNfegentien- 



agt' because his favourite topic was the good old 
days of 1908. Then there is Ret Salon, who was a 
prisoner-of-war in Ceylon during the South 
African War. 

In the Vredendal district there are about two 
hundred Van Zyls living within an area of five 
square miles. Sometimes a whole branch of a 
family receives a nickname - lite the Spreeu van 
Zyls and the Duifie van Zyls of Rketherg. The 
Van Zyl families of Vredendal are known as the 
Belletjies, Tooitjies, Rooi Gideons, Rooikatte, 
Knypies, OostewinieenYsterfontEire^. 

Family reunions have been organised in recent 
years, and with astonishing results. Michael 
Anthonie Muller arrived at the Cape from 
Germany in 1735 and settled in the Swellendam 
district twelve years later. He soon became a 
leader) and one of his sons helped to found the 
Swellendam Republic and fought against the 
British in 1795 at the Battle of Muizenbetg. 
Descendants still live on a continuous line of 
farms between Mossel Bay and Herbertsdale. In 
J anuary , 1 947, two centuries after Michael 



Anthonie Muller arrived in the district, there was 
an eoornious gathering of MuQers on the farm 
Kleinberg. Hundreds of Mullers from all parts of 
the Union attended the celebrations. The^ lived in 
tents, there were speeches and songs, the family 
history was read out and a family tree was 
completed Similar reunions have been held by 
the Hofmeyrs in Cape Town and the De Villiers 
family in Paari. 

De Villiers is a name which dorrinaLes the 
directory in Paari, and is seldom absent in the 
Cape villages. At Somerset West the MorMs 
once played a football match against the 
Thainissens, with other members of these two 
famous clans crowing along the toucliines. 
Stelleibosch is the ancestral home of the 
Hofmeyrs, Marais and Du Toits. The Cilliers and 
Russouws are more at home in Wellington; while 
the Dempers and Kriges are Caledon names, just 
as one speaks of the Hugos of Worcester. 

It would be hard nowadays to discover the most 
common surname in South Africa, but I think Nel 
would come near the top of the list - with the 



Fouries, Bothas, Van der Merwes and the 
Pretorius family not far behind. 

The authority on meanings of Afrikaans names is 
Professor J. D. A. Krige, author of "Die Franse 
Familiename in Suid-Afrika" and other books 
dealing with names of Dutch and Geman origin 
Malan, he finds, indicates "a he^ic." Mary names 
arose from the dv^ling-places of the owners; for 
example, Marais meant one who lived near a 
morass, Du Preez in a forest and Dumont on a 
mountain 

Afrikaans veisions of French names are often 
almost unrecognisable. Boshoff arrived at the Cape 
as Bouchard, Labuschagne was once La Bocage (a 
shrubboy), while Pienaar was Prnard, a slang 
name for wine. Gouws sounds like a good old 
Netheriands name; buit it is derived from the 
French "Gaucher" (left-handed). 



Courtship on horseback has not vanished from the 
pLatfceLand, and no doubt young men still find an 
excuse for visiting the girls of their choice by 



pretending thev are in search of missing horses. 
Anthony Trollope described the procedure as he 
saw it in his book "South Africa," published 
seventy years ago. He wrote: 

"They are very gieat at making love, or 'freying 7 
as they call it aixllwe their rerogris^ 
the operation The young Boer who thinks that he 
wents a wife begins by riding round the country. 
On this occasion he does not trouble himself with 
the hard wDrk of courtship, but merely sees what 
tee is within the circle. He will have diessed 
himself with more than ordinary car^ so that any 
inpessionhemay make may be favourable, and it 
is probable that the young ladies in the district 
know what he is about But when he has made his 
choice, thai he puts on lis very best, and cleans lis 
saddle, and sticks a feather in lis cap, and goes 
forth deteiriined to cany lis purpose." 

Trollope might have added that the young man was 
able to estimate his chances of success fcy asking 
the gin* for a glass of water. If she brought it out to 
trim it was an ominous sign. But if he was invited 
inside, only two more ordeals awaited him 



One was the opsit-kers, the celebrated candle put 
out by the gin's mother to indicate how long the 
man might stay after the parents had gone to bed. 
She stuck a pin into the wax, knowing vety well 
that an inch would bum for thirty minutes. Salt 
weakened the flame and was often used to delay 
the man' s departure. 

The second ordeal was the ousts vra ceremony, 
the formal request for permission to many the girl. 
Men who had faced conraed leopards were oftena 
little nervous when this moment arrived. 
However, the smart young man with the well- 
groomed horse had little to fear. And the 
appearance of the trippellaar played a large part 
in the whole affair. A man who could not look 
after a horse was obviously not to be trusted with 
the happiness of a daughter of the house. 

Among recent revivals of old Cape customs is 
the wedding pageantry of the plattelancL 
Horsemen escort the couple to church, they are 
greeted with volleys of rifle fire, and the service 
is followed fcy horsemanship contests. 



The old-fashioned bruiiof lasted longer. Long 
before the wedding the men painted up the 
bruids\AH, a well-sprung wagonette, with gay 
designs suited to the occasion. They laid in 
ample stocks of sweet wine and brandy while the 
women baked the cakes and tarts. According to 
custom, only one special invitation was issued to 
the village fiddler. All the others knew thev 
would be welcome. 

A week or two before the wedding came the 

gelukwens ceremony, held on the farm of the 
bridegroom's parents. But the real feast took 
place at the home of the bride's parents, when 
the married couple arrived from the church. The 
bruidswz or smart Cape cart headed a long 
procession; and on arrival at the homestead the 

driver Of the brvidswi reached the height of Iris 
skill bv making the fancy curve known as a 

Kaapse draai. It took a fine driver to cany out 
that "figure eight" turn flawlessly at full gallop. 

Paper flowers were often scattered at these 
weddings - a custom which came from France 
with the Huguenots. Not until the arrival of the 



1820 Settlers was rice or confetti used. Bride and 
bridegroom sometimes sat beneath a wreath of 
flowers while the floor was littered with gold and 
silver paper. 

Early last century, and long afterwards in some 
districts, a young man had to travel far to find a 
bride. They drove their wagons southwards, 
through flooded rivers and over rough and 
dangerous passes, to the old, settled areas of the 
Cape. When the romantic mission had been 
successfully completed the bride's parents often 
trekked into the hinterland to see what their 
daughter's new home looted lite. According to 
custom, however, they always allowed the 
couple a fortnights start before following in the 
tracks of the bridal wagon 

Chapter 13 
swartland and beyond 

OVER The Rolling Country in front Of my 

stoep I can see the Paardeberg Mis from which 
Malmesbury draws its water. The roads running 
past my farm go deep into the Swartiand, the old 



name for the Malmesbuiy district, a name still 
usedevety day. 

Malmesbuiy and its wheatlands do not lure the 
tourist, or even the Cape Town motorist, as do 
Paarl and Worcester and the towns among the 
trees and the mountains. Yet this Malmesbuiy 
district is my favourite and there are parts where 
I could 'draw a map of the farms from memory. 
Malmesbury has such contrasts within its 
boundaries. It has the farms of the lower Berg 
River in the north; farms that I saw from the 
deck of a sea-going yacht as I cruised up the 
river years ago. Up in that north- w^st comer you 
will find names lite Duiker Eland and 
Boebezaks Kraal, Patrysen Berg and Wilde 
Varkens Valler. Go eastwards and you come to 
the farm Alles Verioren, where Dr. D. F. Malan 
was bom; and three miles away the farm 
Boplaas, birthplace of General Smuts, both close 
to the villages of Riebeek West and Riebeek 
Kasteel. 

Saldanha Bay and other bays, secluded and not 
so well known, come within this district You 



find names lite Vledeamuis Drift and Moorde- 
naars Bosch, Drosfcers Klip and Watecskilpad 
Kraal. And down near the coast are the farms 
which I came to know in one of the most 
satisf actoiy ways of all - by walking over them, 
twenty miles a day, with a shotgun ready. I 
suppose that is why I prefer the Malmesbuiy 
district; because it has given me such intimate 
memories of the veld. 

Malmesbuiy veld ... the sharp smell of the winter 
soil after rain Mardtoka trees cuiled over by 
years and years of southeaster. The crash of a 
large duiker in the bush, the racing form as you 
raise your gun... and then the bush closes noisily 
again and you do not regret the swift escape. 

Clusters Of reeds, patches Of brand whete you 
will be lucky to find any buck ^posing itself, 
tortoises in the grass, turtle-doves and owls. Then 
a green slope going down to a vM; and a 

berggans coning up to look at the hunters and 
leading all the wild duck away. Silent glades, 
sandy farm tracks, and the pheasant flying out of 
little koppes. Guinea fowl diving noisily out of 



the tees at dusK, the most difficult shot of all. 
And finally a glass of biandy at the farmhouse 
when you are so ttted that you can only load the 
game into the back of the car and drive away 
towards the dartening shape of Table Mountain. I 
am no great hunter, and it was a memorable day 
when I brought down three steenbok. There were 
days when I missed everything - but I still had my 
twenty-mile walk. 

Van Riebeecks explorers first traversed this 
district on foot carrying with them tobacco and 
beads as peace-offerings. They found larger back 
than those of today, herds of zebras (shot out 
within living memory), rhinos tramping down the 
tail grass, and hippos in e^ery rive~. 

As far back as 1701 the people of the Cape were 
calling this district "Het ZwartLand." Hunting 
licences wete given to adventurous spirits "omme 
te mogen gaan schiebea aan 't Zwarte land." But it 
was not the soil that gave the district its name, as 
some have said. It was the dark, notorious and 
aggressive shrub, the renostertos. At one time it 
was believed that the renosterbos had come from 



the East Indies as packing for empty wine casks. 
In fact, it has never been found outside South 
Africa; though it spread widely in the Cape 
because the old transport riders used it as dunnage 
when carrying brandy casks on their wagons. 

Renosterbos is as typical of the Malmesbury 
district as wheat - and much older. It defies eradi- 
cation Veld burning only encourages it as the 
seedlings come up in hundreds. Yet it is not 
without its uses. Everyone from the early 
explorers down to the hunting parties I accom- 
panied found it made a magiificeit Haze. Dry 
renosterbos bums at white heat and is gone almost 
in a flash The farmers have a way of setting fire 
to a clump of moist renosterbos aril collecting the 
dry remnants as a slov^burrdng charcoal. Kraals 
were made of renosterbos in the old days. The 
shrub also secretes large quantities of wax, but it 
has no commercial value. Early farmers in the 
district regarded the rmosterbos as a punishmait 
for their sins. Just a small shrub of a dark greei 
colour that turns almost black in winter. Thecurse 
oftheSwertiand. 



Malmesbuiy' s first farmer was one Hendrik 
Muller (or Mulder) who secured a lease of sixty 
morgen in 1707 and trekked into the Swartland 
with his cattle. 

By the middle of the eighteenth centuiy a 
number of families had settled in the district, 
round the present town site and at Groene Kloof 
(now Mamre), at Riebeek Kasteel and 
Paardeberg. The first church had been built in 
1745. Seven years later Hendrik Koster, a 
shoemaker, applied for ground at Doom Kuil, on 
the outskirts of the village, "for the convenience 
of the Swartland people." It was granted on 
condition that he did not "sow or plough or keep 
breeding cattle, but only builds a house on it and 
keeps about three horses." 

Thunberg the botanist visited the Swartland in 
1773 and remarked: "Ever since the death of the 
vicar three years ago the church has been vacant, 
no one having come from Holland to succeed 
hiiiL A service is held once a month by 
clergymen from the town Some farmers have to 
travel two days to church." 



As early as 1805 an entErpusing medical man, 
Dr. Hassner, was granted rights over the warm, 
radio-active sulphur spring. These waters possess 
the properties that made Aachen in Germany 
famous as a spa They come up at ninety-one 
degrees Fahrenheit aril sufferers from rheuma- 
tism, gout and chronic catarrh have found relief 
there. Dr. Hassner soon vanished from the scene. 
Since then many schemes have been drawn up 
for developing Malmesbury Spa, and one day, no 
doubt, there will be a sanatorium near the 
healing weters. 

Sir Lowiy Cole, Governor of the Cape, visited 
the village in 1829 and showed his pleasure by 
proclaiming the spot Malmesbuiy in honour of 
his wife's father, the first Earl of Malmesbuiy. 
Bishop Gre^, nearly twenty years later, noted 
that the mineral baths did not seem much used. 
He found few English residents, "except at 
Saldanha and St. Helena Bay, where they do not 
enjoy a very respectable character." 

A later traveller, Archbishop William West 
Jones, formed a more favourable impression He 



left Durbanville early one morning in 1875 and 
reached Mr. Eaton' s farm Drooge Vlei that after- 
noon- "It is really a wonderful place," he wrote, 
"a complete village in itself, containing 140 
souls, and is entirely his own property. He has 
large carpenter's, blacksmith's, painter's, brick 
making and miller's works; keeps butcher's, 
baker's, grocer's, shoemaker's and haberdasher's 
shops; and employs the whole population His 
farm, too, is vety extensive. He is a thorough 
Churchman and Christian gentleman. He has 
built a School-Chapel, in which he himself 
conducts two services each Sunday, one in 
English and one in Dutch." 

Malmesbury had its own volunteer cavalry 
regiment in 1856. An agricultural society was 
formed tv\o years later and the first fair was held 
During the winter of 1862 continuous rain (and 
faulty building) caused the complete collapse of 
nine houses and the Dutch Reformed Church. 
Today about six thousand people live in the 
town, while there are forty-thousand people in 
the district. A friend of mine who once edited the 



newspaper there, the " Swartiaixler/' told me that 
Malmesbury prided itself on being the healthiest 
town in the Cape. He quoted, merely as one of 
many examples, the activities of Mr. Andries 
Bester, who celebrated his ninety-fifth birthday 
in 1916 by going out shooting for seven hours on 
horseback. Some years ago the official death-rate 
figures were so low that the Department of 
Public Health thought a mistake had been made. 
An official paid a special visit to Malmesbury 
and returned both satisfied and astounded 



If you had gone into the Swartland at harvest 
time in the wagon days you would have seen 
teams of skilful coloured men reaping with 
scythes and sickles. It must have been a 
delightful and rhythmical spectacle. The self- 
binder and the mowing machines put an endtoit 

They reaped the wheat cleanly, each man cutting 
a swathe of six feet, thirty strokes to the minute, 
moving forward a hundred yards at a time 
without a rest Farmers gave prizes of boer 



tobacco to the fastest cutters. When the last 
wagon-load of wheat was packed the horses 
were decorated with ribbons, a fiddler played the 
wheat to the stack, and that night there was 
dancing and wine for all. 

"Plaas Jape" of the Malmesbury wheat belt is a 
character you can tell at a glance, the product of 
generations of labourers who have worked on the 
same farms and grown wise in the ways of the 
district I lite to see him and lis friends stepping 
it out along the roads on holidays; feathers in 
their old felt hats; guitars twanging; dusty 
troubadours on their way to the dorp with a 
cheerful greeting for everybody. 

These old voikies think nothing of starting out at 
four on a winter morning to reach the lands and 
their ploughs at daybreak. They work until 
sundown and still have the energy to play their 
guitars and sing. They know the grain in the root 
stubble and stack. Only at harvesting time on 
most farms nowadays do they expect a wine 
ration to sustain them. It is sad to think that 
many have left the Swartland for city factories, 



and that natives are taking their places. They 
must rriss the waving grain and the salt ocean 
breezes that mingle with the scent of the heather 
... the sea of wheat rustling under the sun And 
the farmers must miss them, for a native 
understands only cattle and mealies, and he does 
not belong to the Swartland tradition lite old 
"Plaas Jcpe." 



Cannons on many hill-tops in the Swartland used 
to roar their signals in the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries. Some of them are still there 
beside the beacons of modem surveyors. 

If a fleet came into Table Bay a gun was fired at 
the fort, the signal was taken up fay men tending 
the cannon on Tygecberg, Paad Mountain, 
Simonsbecg, Riebeek Kasteel and at other spots 
where the little colonies of farmers grew wheat 
and vegetables and raised cattle to supply the 
ships voyaging to and fro from India- 
One of the furthest outposts in the late 
seventeenth century was Riebeek Kasteel, a little 



colony below the kasteei or castlelike mountain. 
When the farmers heard this signal, they yolked 
their ox wagons and trekked with supplies to 
Table Bay. The Hottentots of the district owned 
fine cattle, which were bartered for such coveted 
goods as arrack, beads and tobacco. 

The old cannon on the summit of Riebeek 
Kasteei was brought down and placed in the 
square beneath two pine trees near the post office 
in 1934. This cannon had in its day told not only 
the good news of the arrival of ships with simple 
luxuries from Europe for colonial farmers; it had 
also barked its warning when Hottentots rose and 
descended upon the farmers to pillage and to kill. 
Burghers and militia would saddle up and ride to 
help the threatened men 

Sometimes the response to the cannon's call 
came too late, as the name of a farm in this 
district recalls. The natives descended on Gerrit 
Cloete in 1701. Before help arrived his cattle 
were driven off, his store ransacked and his 
home burned After the natives had been 
punished Cloete came back to his desolate farm 



and rechristened it "Alles Vedoren" (Everything 
is Lost). That, as I have said, is the farm where 
Dr. D. F. Malan was bom 

Another farm bears the name De la Fontaine's 
Gift. It was given to a farmer who made peace 
with the Hottentots; and in the deed of gift it was 
laid down that no taxation should be levied on 
the famL And the farm remains free from land 
taxes to this day. 

Perhaps you do not know Riebeek Kasteei? It 
lies away from the main roads, more remote and 
less known than many other historic villages 
further from Cape Town Yet half an hour's easy 
motoring from Malmesbuiy, along good roads 
and over Botman's Kloof, brings you to the 
place. 

There are two pleasant spots for picnics - one at 
the foot of the kloof in a grove of poplars; and 
another at Groene Rivier, just beyond Riebeek 
West. Bathing and fishing are good in the deep 
pools of the Berg River five miles from Riebeek 
Kasteei. Here is Sonqua's Drift, crossed by the 



second exploring party bound for Namaqualand 
under Corporal Pieter Cruythoff. The bold 
corporal climbed Riebeek Kasteel in February, 
1661, and named it after his cornmander at the 
fort Sonqua's Drift still appears on the modem 
maps, too, and it seems strange to find the farm 
of that name on the telephone. 

So when you linger fay the Berg River at this 
spot you may pctuie the rough, feailess soldiers 
of the Ctompany resting in the shadows of the 
same mountain Van Meettoff, a true adventurer 
of lis time, and journalist of the expedition, 
wrote of the place "Here we remain resting fcy a 
pretty rivulet on the mountain side; the 
neightourhood abounds in all kinds of game - to 
wit lions, rhinoceroses, zebras, ostriches and 
hartebeests - by reason of the fact that there is 
always good grazing and sweet water. Round 
about the mountain is reasonably good farming 
land, in the opinion of Heter Cruythoff." 

Cruythoff was right. Today Riebeek Kasteel is 
one of the wine-growing districts which is not 
ashamed to print its name on the bottle labels. 



Grain, sheep and fruit flourish,, and at one farm I 
saw long rows of yellow tobacco leaves drying 
in the sun. 

But the big game of which Van Meerhoff wrote 
you will seek in vain A few buck remain, 
jealously guarded, and there are wild duck to be 
shot on the river and at Vogel Via. Only in the 
names of farms are the great creatures of the veld 
still to be seen - farms called after elephant; 
eland, zeekoe, rhino and rietbok in comtination 
withvleL, foiMn, kDpandkloof. 

Three miles from Riebeek Kasteel is Riebeek 
West; and years ago there was a little feud 
between the two villages which has probably not 
died out at the present time. It started, I was told, 
in the days when there was one church at 
Riebeek West for the people of both villages. 
Three miles, in those days, meant much more 
than a swift motor run. The farmers of Riebeek 
Kasteel suggested that a church should be placed 
midway between the two congregations. When 
the idea was rejected a Riebeek Kasteel farmer 
gave a portion of his land to the corrrmunity, and 



a noble church was built But the feud did not 
end there. Every time the question of a new 
school or police station or railway siding arose, 
the rivalry between the two villages broke out 
afresh. The people of the two villages, the^ tell 
you, are different, each with their own local 
patriotism- They do not visit each other as much 
as do the people in other neighbouring villages. 
Children grow up in one village without meeting 
the children only three miles away. 

It is some time since I visited these villages, but 
when I was there I met one old woman who had 
never seen a train at close quarters. "I have 
wetehed the smote of that thing far away, but I 
will never ride in it/' she declared firmly. 

Beyond the SwartLand juts up Piketberg 
mountain with the town on its slopes. Piketberg 
dominates the Sandveld, that little-known but 
charming sweep of country where gates shut out 
all but the most determined visiting motorists. 

There was once a signal cannon on Piketberg 
mountain bearing the date 1716. Long before 



that date, when Goske was at war with the 
Hottentots, there were Dutch military pickets on 
the mountain The card game called pcquet has 
nothing to do with it; but only in recent years has 
the proper spelling of Hketherg been restored 

Piketberg was very much in the wilds when it 
was founded in 1840, the year when the Rev. J. 
W. C. Scholtz settled there. Farms in the Sand- 
veld were distant outposts for long afterwards. A 
report on the district which I have, written in 
1875, is disparaging but not hopeless. 'There is a 
large portion still uncultivated," said a govern- 
ment official, "and in parts of the flats and 
Zandveld the occupiers are a poor and ignorant 
class, as backward as any who are to be found in 
the extreme border districts. From the want of 
roads they have been to a great degree isolated 
from their neighbours, and are not yet much 
affected by the spirit of enterprise and industry 
which elsewhere prevails; but here and there 
intelligent proprietors are settling amongst them, 
whose energetic example will no doubt soon 
have an educating influence." 



At about that time, when Rketberg was mention- 
ed in the Cape Legislative Assembly, a member 
claimed that a magistrate had been sent there, but 
had returned to Cape Town and stated that he 
had been unable to find the place. 

That was also the pericdv^eatteAnab^tists, a 
religious sect caused a stir in the district fcy 
warning the fanners that a Destroying Angel was 
on the way to this sinful world They were 
prosecuted and fined at Rketberg for planting 
watemelons and pruning vines on Sunday. 

In May, 1880, the old cannon was brought down 
from the mountain to fire a salute in honour of 
the Queen's Birthday. They fired it again when 
the telegraph line was opened to Cape Town, and 
on other important occasions. All went well until 
a holiday in 1905, when an amateur gunner 
decided to give a louder salute than usual. He put 
in a large charge of gunpowder, rammed a wet 
sack into the muzzle and primed the touch hole. 
The boom of the historic gun rocked the village. 
Every window in the schoolhouse was shattered. 
Meanwhile the sack had been expelled from the 



gun like a projectile and had gone roaring into a 
plantation of bluegum trees, which caught alight. 

On the faim Schrik-van-Rondom in the 
Hketberg district there is a Ml called Goudkop. 
They sank tv\o shafts there, one very deep, in 
1886; but little gold was found Arother attempt 
was made nine years later, this time by 
tunnelling at the base of the hill. The prospectors 
gave up, and nothing has been done since then 
Nevertheless, it is interesting to hear that when 
Refer van Jaarsveld was using his "X-ray eyes" 
in the district not long ago he reported "seeing 71 
tv\o gold reefs. If ever the Cape landscape is 
defaced by mine dumps, Rketberg may be 
regarded as a likely area Rketberg is welcome 
to that sort of prosperity. I prefer the old 
spectacle of the grain fields in the spring. 

Piketberg mountain is famous for Versf eld's 
Pass, built by the pioneer J. P. Versveld in the 
' seventies of last century. The fact that there was 
rich soil on the plateau had been known ever 
since a Huguenot named Mouton had settled 
there. Mouton followed a watercourse, found a 



vM, built a cottage there and planted an oak 
avenue, pears and oranges. I do not know what 
happened to Mouton; but after he died the 
plateau remained uninhabited until 1866, when 
Versfeld bought the land known as Mouton' s 
Vlei. 

Versfeld was one of those independent spirits 
who do not care to wait for the government to 
build roads for them Nevertheless; the mountain 
was so steep that it was difficult to plan even a 
wagon-track Versfeld was fiddling with his 
watch-chain on the table one day when it fell in 
loops. That was the source of his inspiration "Ek 
het my pad," he shouted 

He built three loops in the zigzag road during the 
ascent of 1,500 feet, so that the force of gravity 
would carry a wagon round each curve and the 
driver would find himself in position for a 
straight pull-out. That highly original plan saved 
two thirds of the cost and two- thirds of the time. 
In fact, the whole pass, more than three miles 
long, cost only £200 and was finished by 
Versfeld' s own labourers within three months. 



The old pass emerges on the summit almost 
directly above the starting point on the plain. 

I first saw the plateau farms from the air, on that 
memorable October day in 1940 when I was 
returning from the spectacle of the total eclipse. 
No longer isolated, the plateau is still vastly 
different from the farms of the valley and the 
SandvelcL The high farms cover ten thousand 
morgea They have a different climate up there, 
and different crops - bananas and buchu, 
magnificent oranges everything flourishing with 
the aid of a high rainfall, cold winters and cool 
summers. 

Zebrakop (4,776 feet) is the highest peak of the 
Piketberg range. This is a simple climb; but not 
far away is the Toring, or Hercules Tower, a 
rock pinnacle which was regarded for many 
years as unclimbable. However, four exper- 
ienced mountaineers led by A. B. Berrisford 
tackled it in 1933, and in spite of five hundred 
feet of strenuous rockwork they had reached the 
summit within an hour. Another virgin peak had 



been conquered. All the Swartland and the 
Sandveld stretched out below the Tower. 

If you are not afraid of gates I can recommend a 
run through the heart of the Sandveld in the 
spring. I drove south from Lambert Bay one 
September afternoon, through wheat growing 
almost down to the coast, along a road that was 
built during the war. 

The route to Cape Town took me through quiet 
places, Sandberg, FaleisheuveL, Het Kruis; there 
was hardly a signpost, but there were many 
shallow drifts. 

I remember the run because it took me back to 
the beginning of the century. The family groups 

on the Stoeps, the koppies and flowing dresses of 
the women; the whole scene spoke of a country- 
side undisturbed by objectionable forms of 
progress. When you are tired of national roads, I 
advise you to venture into the byways of the 
Sandveld. 



Chapter 14 
Painters Of The Land 

UNTIL The End Of Last Centtury the 

intelligent traveller either preserved a memorable 
scene in his sketch-book or lost it for ever. I have 
been exploring the little-known world of 
eighteenth and rdndEenth-century art at the Cape 
- those pictures, restful and exciting, which aid 
the historian and give such romantic impressions 
of the new country . 

Thomas BaLnes and T. W. Bowler were the 
famous last-centuiy artists. But there were 
others. Hundreds of pictures are treasured by 
private collectors; pictures which have seldom or 
never been exhibited or reproduced; pictures 
giving vivid glimpses of life at the Cape far 
beyond living memory. 

Artists tell me that the early colonists, in the 
struggle for survival, seldom leamt to paint 
They left it to visitors and the wives of visitors. 
Hunters, explorers, botanists, soldiers, one 
admiral, missionaries recorded the pioneer days. 



Gifted ladies of leisure such as Lady Anne 
Barnard helped to reflect vanished and 
fascinating scenes. 

Probably the finest collection of historic 
Africana paintings in the world is owned by Mr. 
William Fehr of Kenilwortb, Cape Town His 
antique furniture, china and copper is most 
impressive; and on the walls, between the 
gleaming cabinets and cupboards, hangs the pick 
of the original drawings and paintings. Mr. Fehr 
has hundreds more in oak chests and kists 
bearing the V.O.C. monogram 

One of the earliest paintings in this collection is 
a Table Bay scene in oils by George Lambert 
and Samuel Scott, dated 1720. These eighteenth 
century artists painted Table Mountain in 
fantastic shapes; someone started this grotesque 
fashion and all the others followed. I believe the 
explanation is that the artists have never seen the 
mountain, but relied on rough sketches given to 
them by seamen who had called at Table Bay. 
An alluring miniature oil on copper by Francis 
Swaine ( 1 748) gives an accurate idea of the ships 



in Table Bay, but reveals Lion's Head and 
Devil's Peak as steep pinnacles with a small 
Table Mountain between thenL Swaine was the 
first English marine painter of note. He never 
visited the Cape. 

Samuel Davis, a director of the British East India 
Company, painted the Cape Town waterfront 
about 1790 and showed all the buildings from 
the Castle to the upper end of Strand Steed: 
Davis, lite many other educated men and women 
of the period, had leamt to sketch for his own 
amusement There is nothing amateurish about 
his use of weter-colours. He illustrated a book on 
St Helena, but all his Cape paintings are in 
private collections. 

Among the early professional artists at the Cape 
were Samuel and William Daniell. William was 
a Royal Academician. In 1804 Samuel Daniell 
published books of colour plates entitled 
"African Scenery and Animals." One of the 
originals owned by Mr. Fehr, called "Boers 
Returning from Hunting" is a realistic document 



from the past. William Daniell was a marine 
painter, one of the most powerful of his day. 

Mr. Fehr has a mysterious little oil showing a 
woman in a mountain stream On the back is 
written: "Capel Sluyt, Table Mountain - My own 
bathing place." The handwriting is cleaily that of 
Lady Anne Barnaul Samuel Daniell stayed with 
theBamards, so that he may have been the artist; 
but no other oils have been traced to Samuel 
Daniell while he was at the Cape. 

Vice Admiral Sir Jahleen Brenton spent the 
years 1815 to 1821 as Admiralty Commissioner 
at SimonstowiL This observant naval officer 
journeyed to Knysna and left a valuable and 
little-known series of drawings and water- 
colours, an important record of the places he 
visited. One is a Genadendal church interior, 
sketched during a service. He also painted a 
False Bay panorama, fourteen feet in length, 
from Cape Point to Hangklip. These old 
panoramas often reveal a baffling perspective. 
When viewed in circular form, however, with the 
ends joined, the artisf s intentions become clear. 



Sir Charles D'Oyly, an Indian civil servant, 
depicted Cape sceues in 1833 with professional 
skill and a touch of humour. One of his Cape 
Town pictures of a street brawl shows that there 
were typical "skollies" in those days. Some of 
his work is to be seen in the Cape Archives. 

A soldier-surveyor who painted the Cape 
countryside faithfully was Lieut.-Colonel C. C. 
MicheLL He built the Green Point Ughthouse, Sir 
Lowry's Pass, MicheLL Pass near Ceres and the 
Montagu Pass between George and Oudtshoom. 
Another soldier-artist. Sir Harry Darell, left a 
spirited record of the Kaffir War of 1846. He 
hunted at the Cape and did some good drawings 
of horses and foxhounds. 

The paintings of Baines and Bowler dominate 
the middle of last century, but a lesser-known yet 
capable artist of that period was Wilhelm 
Langschmidt I came upon a stirring example of 
his work in a suburban home not long ago - a 
roistering canvas of a country dance, with red- 
coated soldiers leaning against the wine barrels. 



It is one of those paintings in which a horde of 
expressive faces demand closer study. 

Langschmidt came from Grahbouw in Germany; 
hence the Grabouw in the Cape, where 
Langschmidt settled as a farmer and portrait 
painter. His most widely-known picture is of 
bDng-street, with Malays, water-carriers, 
hawkers, and Langschmidt himself sitting on a 
stoep wearing a top-hat. Langschrridf s 
descendants in Caledon have other pictures 
which are unknown to the general public. 

The great Baines was an adventurous spirit. His 
paintings have been summed up as "pioneer 
work well done." Son of a sailor, he revelled in 
full- rigged ships and storm scenes; and not long 
after his arrival in Cape Town he advertised 
himself as a "Marine and Portrait Painter." Yet 
when he travelled inland to the Kaffir Wars, and 
still deeper into unknown South West Africa, he 
told the wild story in effective pictures. 

One of his friends described Baines as "a man to 
whom the wilderness brought gladness and the 



mountains peace." I have seen a series of twelve 
originals by Baines dealing with a Table 
Mountain climb, with such incidents as killing a 
snake, chasing a leopard and preparing a meal. 
Some painters have kept posterity guessing, but 
Baines had a neat habit of writing details and 
dates on the back of almost every canvas. 

Bowler, self- taught and with a keen news sense, 
made his first pencil-sketch at the Cape almost 
on the day in 1834 when he joined the 
astronomers' staff at the Royal Observatory. 
This shows the building and is one of Mr. Fehr's 
twenty-two Bowler originals. Bowler never 
painted two identical pictures. He was an eager 
pictorial reporter, and he never cared to miss a 
shipwreck, the opening of a new building or the 
arrival of a new steamer. I found the early work 
of Bowler's pupils interesting. One or two of 
them aped Bowler's style so cleverly that it is 
not always easy to distinguish between master 
and pupil. 

Lady Anne Barnard was far more entertaining as 
a writer than as a painter. Nevertheless, her 



pictures deserve the place they have found in the 
Castle. At the same period Lady Hamilton was 
living at Witteboom, Constantia; and her 
drawings of Groot Constantia, Groote Schuur 
and various landscapes are in private collections. 

Later came Lady Eyre, a fine water-colourist 
who painted an ambitious panorama of the whole 
Cape Town foreshore from the Castle jetty. One 
seldom hears of Georgina Eyre's work, but she 
painted many charming Cape scenes while her 
husband was away at the Kaffir Wars in the 
middle of last century. 

Last of the women artists of last century was 
Mcs. Alys Fane Trotter, author of "Old Colonial 
Houses of the C^)e" and "Old C^)e Colony." 
She arrived with her husband, a government 
engineer, in 1896; and soon she was cycling 
from farm to farm doing her delightful line 
drawings of homesteads and gables. 

Mrs. Trotter was the first writer and artist to 
mate people realise the spell and the beauty of 
the historic Cape architecture. Many have 



followed in her tracks fcy motor-car) but I have 
still to see more captivating sketches than those 
made by Mrs. Trotter on her long, hot bicycle 
journeys. It is pleasant to add that Mrs. Trotter is 
still alive and active in England at the age of 
eighty- six. Mr. Fehr has all the original sketches 
from her two books- a prize indeed and the pride 
of his great collection 

The camera was already replacing the sketch- 
book while Mrs. Trotter was at work. The great 
era of Africana pictures closed at the end of last 
century, to be followed by the dawn of South 
African art. 



You will find genius cheek by jowl with 
mediocrity in the South African National Art 
Gallety in Cape Town - as many art critics will 
gladly tell you. But when I stare into the beauty 
of those pictures I find myself thinking of the 
artists. No wonder so many novels have been 
based on the lives of painters. 




Poortemans, a visiting artist diew this interior of Mr. Laubscher' s faimhouse at Saldanha Bay in 1848. 



Starved for years, the gallety is able to exhibit 
only here and there the finest and most typical 
work of the famous. Yet there is enough to start 
the imagination working. I always come away 
with the desire to know more about the men 
behind the pictures; the human struggle is more 
exciting than any painted scene upon the walls. 

Art in South Africa, I gather, began with Refer 
Wenrdng. It is strange to reflect that the period 
when the Dutch East India Company was 
pouring all sorts of men into the Cape was also 
the period of Rembrandt and the Dutch masters; 
yet not one of them ventured south with his 
paints. 

Last centuiy, as I have said, men like Baines and 
Bowler and Langschmidt were turning out 
admirable Africana pieces. But when Cape Town 
organised its first art show in 1851 (visited by 
3,000 people), nearly all the pictures had to be 
imported. Up to the end of last centuiy a South 
African canvas was rarely seen in any home. 



Frans Oerder, who worked in Pretoria early this 
century, was among the pioneers. He was 
steeped in the Netherlands tradition, as you will 
see if you study lis picture of kitchen utensils 
and a copper pot in the gallery. Anton van 
Wouw, the sculptor, Hugo Naude (the first South 
African to study abroad), and J. E. A. Volschenk 
of Riversdale were also pioneers. Naude was an 
exquisite painter of the spring flowers in 
Namaqualand, but no typical example is to be 
found in the gallery. 

These men were more than competent artists, 
and in recent years up to a thousand guineas 
have been paid for their paintings. But the^ left 
no lasting influence. Wenning did. He was a 
melancholy, bearded Hollander who served in a 
Pretoria bookshop at £20 a month, doing 
etchings and a few paintings in his spare time. 

D. C. Boonzaaier, the Cape Town cartoonist 
discovered the genius of Wenrdng during a visit 
to Pretoria in 1914. He saw a small painting in 
the bookshop window and returned later having 
made up his mind to buy it 



"Oh, that!" said Weaning." A woman came in 
and admired it, and as she was poor I gave it to 
her." 

That was Wenning. Only a few connoisseurs 
appreciated his work during his lifetime, and he 
ne^er received a high price for any painting. 
Boonzaaier persuaded him to spend three months 
on leave in the Cape, however, and six people 
each subscribed £10 so that Wenning would not 
suffer from the loss of his bookshop salary. 

Mr. Bernard Lewis, until recently a national 
gaUety trustee, told me that during the visit 
Wenning sold him a small painting of a 
Claremont cottage for three guineas. It was sold 
for the fourth time not long ago for £300. 

Five pictures by Wenning, at low prices, were 
placed in an Adderiey Street window. They 
remained there for a fortnight, but not one was 
sold Wenning was never a "people's painter." 
He chose unusual angles, preferred the back of a 
house to the front; and achieved mellow effects 
with great emotional appeal to the discerning 



patron His colours were rich and his work 
vigorous. 

Wenning was delighted with the Cape, and as a 
result of Boonzaaier 7 s encouragement he became 
a full-time professional artist. One spring day 
Wenning and Gwelo Goodman were walking 
down Newlands Avenue together when both 
artists stopped abruptly to gaze at the sunlight on 
the white walls of the cottages. 

"A typical Goodman scene/' remarked Good- 
man" I'll paint that." 

Wenning bit his lip, for he had intended to paint 
the scene himself. As it was, he left it to 
Goodman. 

Entirely self-taught, Wenning studied European 
reproductions and Japanese prints. He died in 
1921, leaving only a modest output of oils for 
future collectors to prize. 

The Wenning boom, however, did not open until 
1945, and then it became the most sensational 
boom in South African art history. Auctioneers 
in Johannesburg were largely responsible for it. 



Since then Weaning has been imitated; probably 
the only South African artist whose style has 
been copied. An art dealer who sold two large 
"Wennings" in good faith refunded the mone^ 
when Bernard Lewis and Gregorre Boonzaaier 
identified them as fakes. 

Gregoire Boonzaaier studied under Wenning and 
many of his earlier pictures reveal the influence. 
Weening 7 s finest works are in private 
collections; the national gallery has a few of his 
lesser efforts. Among them is a painting of the 
Old Treaty House at Woodstock 

On man whose water-colours hangs in the 
gallery was only discovered as an artist after his 
death- He was H. W. Hermann, a plxtographer 
who had a studio in Stal PMn One of his 
daughters met Bernard Lewis in the street and 
asked him whether he would like to see a set of 
pictures her late father had painted. 

To his surprise, Lewis found that the 
photographer had done a charming series of 
scenes in Cape Town last century - old Rogge 



Bay with its wooden jetty, Clifton, Kalk Bay and 
Table Bay from Zonrebloem Hermann had 
painted with distinction, but in secret; and he had 
never sold a picture. His daughters presented 
these fine pictures to the gallery. 

Gwelo Goodman was one of the South African 
artists who were rewarded during their lifetime. 
His magnificent Tulbagh church faces you as 
you enter the gallery; typical of a painter who 
specialised in Cape Dutch architecture. An 
unlikely subject, the City Hall in Cape Town, 
became memorable when he painted it looking 
down on the parade stalls, with the mountain 
behind. "Hot and violet in colour," was one 
leading critic's view of this scene; but I think the 
subject demanded that treatment. 

A friend once found Goodman painting Table 
Mountain from memory in his drawing-room 
Only the rich could afford his romantic pictures. 
Before he gained international recognition as a 
painter, Goodman was a railway employee in 
Rhodesia - hence the Gwalo. 



Hendrik Piemeef, a genial and significant figure 
in the South African art world of many years, 
had to work as assistant to a tobacconist at one 
stage of his career. Then he spent eight years as 
librarian But all the time he was developing the 
technique which finally brought him to the front 
rank of landscape painters. He is also a superb 
wood-engraver.. 

One of South Africa's leading portrait painters, 
Robert Broadley, was a successful professional 
golfer before he decided to devote his whole 
time to art J. H. Amshewitz, the mural painter 
who died a few years ago, also made a dramatic 
change of occupation. He was a stage comedian 
(Perimutter in "Potash and Perimutter ") wheu he 
decided to settle in South Africa and paint And 
there was a landscape and seascape painter 
named Thomas Meacham who was once a 
brewer in Cape Town 

Malays, with faces so full of character, have 
inspired some of the finest portraits by Neville 
Lewis. In the gallery, however, the Lewis 
portrait of a native smoking a pipe is the one 



praised by critics. The most impressive Malay in 
the gallety thev say, is James Eddie's round- 
faced study. 

General Smuts once said there was something 
mystic and magical about South Africa, 
something almost eerie, that influenced artists. 
Certain critics from overseas have described the 
strong sunlight as a snare, leading to blatancy. 
No doubt the masterpieces of the gallery are 
those by Tonks, Van Goyen, Ribot and other 
world-famous names. I am no critic, and so I 
find myself drawn to the scenes that I know; and, 
given a choice, it would be Wenrdng. 

Behind many of the finest gifts in this gallety 
stands the frail figure of Mr. Alfred A. de Pass of 
Rondebosch. I visited him on his eighty-seventh 
birthday in July, 1948; and he told me of the 
trade that enabled trim to present works of art 
worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to 
galleries and museums. 

It was the guano trade. His father worked the 
islands off the coast of South- West Africa; and 



young Alfred de Pass met the schooners at 
Rotterdam and analysed the cargoes. "A stinking 
trade - but profitable," he summed up. 

I came away with a painting from the de Pass 
collection, almost unique. 

This "fairy godfather 7 ' of art became an artist 
himself a few years ago. Now and again he 
paints flowers and grapes in watercolours. By 
now you will have realised that I am no 
connoisseur) a queer guide indeed to the beauty 
of the South African National Art Gallery. But I 
have a picture by Alfred de Pass. 

Chapter 15 
They Preserve The Past 

Antique Dealers Have Told Me that only 
a fraction of the old furniture and other treasures 
in the homesteads of the Cape has reached the 
salerooms. In spite of fabulous prices, most 
families treat their heirlooms with respect 

The export of antiques has been stopped. Some 
years ago a London firm of art dealers sent a 
man all the way to Stellenbosch to attend a sale 



and buy up the valuable furniture, especially 
chairs. If he had not punctured a tyre on the way, 
many fine items would have left the country . 

Cape furniture \aos not always beautiful. Many 
seventeenth century specimens were ugly; they 
came from ships or were copied from cabin 
furniture. It was only after the amval of the 
Huguenots that baroque masteapeces were 
shaped from stinkwood and ydlowwood They 
found their timber on the Rivier Zondereinde 
mountains near Genadendal, and shipped it by 
sea from the Breede River mouth. Knysna came 
into the picture later. 

Stinkwood deserves the great reputation it has 
gained in fairly recent years. Until late last 
century it was still being sold as firewood; today 
even the roots are converted into egg-cups and 
polished bowls. This laurel-wood of the Cape 
appeals to craftsmen not only on account of the 
fine grain, but also because of the wonderful 
patina brought about by clever oiling and 
polishing. It is a difficult timber to work, but the 
results justify the most tender care. 



You have to stand in a sawmill to smell the 
powerful stinkwood odour. Fetid when freshly 
cut, the smell soon becomes merely aromatic and 
finally vanishes. (Tambuti, on the other hand, 
retains a fragrant odour. This tree of the 
Transvaal is stinkwood' s most dangerous rival. 
Many connoisseurs say that tambuti makes finer 
furniture than any other timber). White 
stinkwood, or Camdeboo stinkwood, also has an 
offensive odour) otherwise the white and black 
stinkwood have nothing in common. 

Woodcutters were once able to buy stinkwood at 
three shillings a tree. The record pice in 1948 
was £1,500; and as much as £6 2s. a cubic foot in 
the log has been paid since then Although the 
government forests are closed, fallen trees and 
private estates keep the furniture maters going. 
The demand is so teen that a century old wagon, 
no longer roadwortby, was sold for £100 not long 
ago - because it was made of stinkwDod Old 
bridges, too, have yielded valuable baulks of 
stinkwood; e^ai railway sleepers have been 
transformed into claw^and-ball tables. 



Antique stinkwood and other Cape fumituie often 
reveals a happy blending of the Dutch idea of 
simplicity and comfort with French elegance. 
Wardrobes were spacious; kists were heavy and 
austere and stood flat on the floor) the old 
craftsmen loved symmetry, and only the small 
tables, as a rule, wete imaginative. The 
impressive four-poster beds made at the Cape 
might almost all have been shaped to the same 
pattern, with their fluted legs and ornamental 
head-pieces. They were certainly not made to be 
moved. 

Armoires, some of the kists and comer aipboards 
reveal Flemish inspiration. Oriental touches are 
not lacking in certain tables and chairs. The size 
of much Cape funiture was due to the fact that 
enormous, high rooms had to be filled; and such 
pieces look incongruous in small modem homes. 

Probably the finest period in Cape furniture was 
the second half of the eighteenth century. Those 
were the years when the Cape first became really 
prospeamis after a century of struggle whenbetter 
houses were built, and much grand furniture came 



from France to fill the rooms; when local 
craftsmen felt the influence of all this French 
culture. For three years there was a French 
garrison at the Castle, and Cape Town was called 
"Little Paris." Thibault the architect was at work, 
and Anton Anretth the sculptor and wood-carver. 
These men, at least, left a rich legacy of 
refinement. Slave carpenters were copyists, but 
the^ had sound examples to copy. 

Many of the old Cape tables and chairs were local 
versions of the work of Chippendale, Sheraton 
and the English master. I believe that e^en the 

homely, Straight- backed rierrpie, so typical of the 
Cape farmhouse, may be traced back to the Stuart 
chair. 

Stories of bargains made in remote farmhouses 
are rarely heard today. In the fiist place you must 
possess an eye for timber to discover a treasure in 
some dusty and blackened relic. And then you 
have still to persuade the owner to partwithit 

Every year more than 17,000 people enter the 
early eighteenth century house in Strand Street, 



Cape Town - the stately house with the Thibault 
facade, the fanlight and the nine windows facing 
the sea 

To nearly all these visitors, Mrs. Koopmans-de 
Wet is a legendary figure. They see the fine old 
furniture, but not the woman Yet for nearly 70 
years this house was the home of a strong and 
gracious personality who was once called the 
"uncrowmd queen of South Africa" There are 
still some, of course, who remember Maria 
Margaretha de Wet And all who know old Cape 
Town must be aware of her presence as they 
move from room to room and admire her 
exquisite possessions. 

It is clear that the house was built in 1701, 
probably by a sea captain who brought some of 
the material with him on his last voyage from the 
East Those old Hollanders seem to have had 
their doubts about Cape Town' s summer climate. 
The small bricks and red tiles came all the way 
from Batavia, and were used to create a cool 
atmosphere. 



This property at 35 Strand Street (known as "the 
Strand" in those days because it was the 
waterfront street) must have been much larger in 
the early eighteenlh-centuiy. Stables and coach 
house have vanished, though the entrance is still 
to be seen in the courtyard. Old paintings suggest 
that there was once a garden beyond the slave 
quarters. 

Fortunately the complete house remains, a 
typical early, well-to-do Cape Town home - the 
only surviving example that is fully and richly 
furnished in the style of the period It is a home 
rather than a museum Though many valuable 
antiques have been added, every room holds its 
memories of Mrs. Koopmans-de Wet. 

The de Wet family arrived at the Cape only 39 
years after Van Riebeeck; but it was not until 
1809 that Mrs. de Wet, a widow, bought the 
house in Strand Street. It became the home of 
one of her sons. Dr. Johannes de Wet, first 
President of the Cape Legislative Council, 
barrister and art collector. His wife was a Miss 



Adriana Horak, and they had two daughters, 
Maria Margaretha and Margaretha Jacobs 

Soon after the Crimean War ended a young 
officer of the British-German Legion landed in 
Cape Town with a letter of intoduction to Dr. de 
Wet. He was Johan Koopmans of Amsterdam; 
and in 1864 he married Maria Margaretha 

For a few years they lived in Wale Street, in a 
house that has vanished. Koopmans lost his job, 
and the young couple returned to the de Wet 
family in Strand Street. Not long afterwards 
Koopmans was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms in 
the old Cape House; but he and his wife 
remained with the de Wets. Koopmans died after 
sixteen years of happy married life. It was then 
that Maria decided to call herself Mrs. 
Koopmans-de Wet. 

Strand Steed: was once known as the "street of 
the koopmans" (the merchants), who lived there 
because they were close to the shipping; but that 
was merely a coincidence. 



After the death of Dr. de Wet the two sisters kept 
house together. Margaretha Jacoba, who lived 
until 1911, was a kindly, retiring woman. Mrs. 
Koopmans-de Wet, in the last two decades of 
last century, became famous for her "salon" and 
her grand manner. 

Governors, generals, politicians, cftstinguished 
visitors all called on Mrs. Koopmans-de Wet A 
coloured page opened the carnage doors and 
brought the visiting cards to the hospitable, 
black-clothed old lady. Cecil Rhodes was there 
again and again, sounding her and listening to 
her views. "She is a dangerous woman, and I am 
more afraid of her than of the whole Afrikaner 
Bond," remarked Rhodes, probably more than 
half in earnest 

Undoubtedly the influence of Mrs. Koopmans-de 
Wet was deep and far-reaching, and she had 
many interests. Proposals to demolish parts of 
the Castle to make way for railways and 
tramways infuriated her. Rhodes sent his 
secretary to discuss the problem with her and 



emphasize that only a small projecting buttress 
would have to be removed. 

'Tell Mr. Rhodes that his nose is only a little 
point on his face/' retorted Mrs. Koopmans-de 
Wt "Let him cut it off and look in the glass." 

Mrs. Koopmans-de Wet saved the Castle; and 
her vigorous letters to the newspapers prevented 
the authorities from building a new Supreme 
Court in the garden of Government House. She 
was also a champion of the Dutch language. 

Before the South African War many thousands 
of women in the Cape Colony signed the peace 
petition drawn up fay Mrs. Koopmans-de Wet. 
During the war she protested against sending 
Boer prisoners to St Helena The historic home 
in Strand Street was searched It had become a 
store-house, filled with comforts for the people 
in the camps. 

She had a comfortable income which enabled her 
to add much blue porcelain to the "Blue Room" 
and many fine pieces of furniture. But old 
stinkwood and olyvenhout, rosewood and 



satinwood went at bargain prices in those days. 
Mrs. Koopmans-de Wet was not fabulously 
wealthy. During a city property boom last 
century she was offered £15,000 for the house. 
Though the price was high, she refused to 
consider leaving her home. 

Young people often gathered at 35 Strand Street 
for musical evenings. Mrs. Koopmans-de Wet 
had studied music and singing as a child She 
was also a skilful needlewoman and made all her 
own clothes. Painting in water-colours was her 
hobby, and she left many pleasant studies of 
C£peflo\\ers. 

No portrait of Mrs. Koopmans-de Wet was ever 
painted. She would not even consent to visit a 
photographers studio for a portrait; so that the 
few pictures of her in existence are mere 
snapshots. 

Wheu she died on August 2, 1906, General Louis 
Botha, General Smuts, "Qnzejan" Hofmeyrand 
Olive Schrener wrote tributes to her memory. 
General Hertzog called her "South Africa' s most 



honourable woman" One newspaper declared 
that if she had been a man, she would have 
become Prime Minister of the Cape Colony. 

Two years after her sister's death the old house 
was put up to auction and sold to the Union 
Government for £2,800. The sale of household 
treasures went on for days and fetched more than 
£8,000. Even in 1913 there were people who 
realized the value of the house and its furniture 
as a national memorial. Their subscriptions, with 
government and municipal grants, meant that 
most of the finest relics remained in the 
Koopmans-de Wet house. Today the contents are 
insured for £20,000 - a far too modest estimate 
when you remember that one gabled wardrobe 
alone is worth more than £500. 

It is not generally known that all this wealth of 
carved and polished wood, the silver, brass and 
china, might have been lost for ever. Mrs. 
Koopmans-de Wet once almost made up her 
mind to bequeath the collection to Groot 
Constantia If she had done so, the fire in 1925 
would have destroyed everything. 



The old house is more impressive today than it 
has been at any time since the death of Mrs. 
Koopmans-de Wet. EvetythLng has been 
restored, from the flat roof to the simple facade 
remodelled by Thibault at the end of the 
eighteenth century . 

Mrs. Joan Beck, the resident custodian (whose 
giandmother often lunched there with Mrs. 
Koopmans-de Wet) had nine layers of wall-paper 
removed so that the walls downstairs could be 
painted in the original parchment colour. Teak 
beams in the courtyard have been revived with 
linseed; floors and armoires, wall-cupboards and 
comer cabinets gleam as they did in the days of 
Mrs. Koopmans-de Wef s busy housemaids. 

By shrewd guesswork and common-sense, Mrs. 
Beck has arranged the furniture in a manner that 
would have won the approval of the keen-e^ed 
Mrs. Koopmans-de WeL It is warm and more 
intimate than any ordinary museuiiL A family 
could move in there and live nobly in the style of 
past centuries. 



Downstairs in the reception room, with its 
stinkv^oDdrnuurkasandp it is easy 

to imagine the leaders of the anticonvict 
agitation planning the famous boycott. There, 
too, Fairbaim, Porter and Stockenstioom met Dr. 
de Wet and drew up the first parliamentary 
constitution for the Cape. 

Across the hall is the dining-room, with the table 
once used by Lord Charles Somerset. The superb 
Sheffield plate, the candelabra and tureens were 
bought by the Van Bredas of Oranjezicht with 
money paid to them by the British Government 
when the slaves were freed. 

One of the most magnificent pieces in the house 
(one that Mrs. Beck would select if she were 
given a choice) is the huge brass randelabrum 
hanging in the lower hall. It came from the 
Dutch Lutheran Church in Strand Street and 
bears the name of Martinus Lawrens Smith. 

The kitchen has come through the years almost 
unaltered. Here is the deep Dutch bread oven; 
the high smoke chamber where Mrs. Koopmans- 



de Wet curved her hams; the coffee-roaster, 
burnished copper pans and kettles, the charcoal 
receptacles and cake moulds. You can almost 
smell the bredies and newly-baked loaves in that 
faultless old kitchen 

A large vat and teak brass-bound bucket are 
reminders that there were no water-pipes when 
the first of the de Wets occupied the house-and 
for long afterwards. They had to send their ser- 
vants to the communal well opposite the Martin 
Melck House. Even in her last years Mrs. 
Koopmans-de W& had no bathroom The water 
was heated in the kitchen and carried upstairs. 

The "Koopmans room" upstairs is the room in 
which Mrs. Koopmans-de Wet died. Her massive 
sttnkwood wardrobe, with its wide satiriwood 
panels and rich carving, stands in its old place. 
But the four-post rosewood bed with fluted posts 
was brought in after her death - a gift from the 
late Dr. F. W. Purcell, once honorary curator of 
the house. 



Margaretba Jacoba de Wet occupied the "De Wet 
room" upstairs, separated from her sister fcy a 
gallery. This room lacks a bed, and Mrs. Beck 
would welcome a four-poster of the late 
eighteenth or early nineteenth ceitury. Here, too, 
are the original wardrobes. One is ebony and 
satiiwxxi with claw feet, and is regarded ty 
experts as the finest known example of Cape 
craftsmanship. It is an dghteenth-cmtury piece, 
carved in Cape Town by Oriental <^i^-makers. 

Almost as old as the house, older than any piece 
of furniture within, is the gigantic vine in the 

courtyard. Planted at least two centuries ago, the 
roots must stretch far beyond Strand Street No 
one has been able to identify the species, but a 
Stellenbosch professor recently took cuttings and 
the mystey may be cleared up within the next 
few years. The vine was nearly devoured by 
caterpillars not long ago; but it has been pruned 
and sprayed and it still produces stunted bunches 
of very sv\oet grapes. 

One grim touch is given to the house fcy Van 
Noodfs chair. The merciless governor is 



supposed to have died in this straight back 
armchair at the veiy moment at which four 
deserters - sentenced by Van Noodt - went to the 
gallows. "Noodt is dood," they sang joyfully in 
Cape Town that day. 

Leibbrandt, the first Keeper of the Archives, made 
a careful search in an effort to confirm this 
legend. At the end he wrote: "I am sony to say 
there is nothing to show it was not the chair of 
somebody else, or that it really is a chair of any 
historical value whatever." 

Wtei you step on to the Monpe brick stoep and 
into the low, cool rooms of the Koopmans-de Wet 
House you are in a more leisurely world It is 
alive with the beauty of dghteenth-century 
clocks, lacquer cabands, camphor and oak chests; 
with honest furniture and delicate glasses; chairs 
with carved foliage, aquatints and Cape silver 
worked by Lotter and Schmidt. The rooms are 
rich and alive, but not crowded Evei the trass 
cannon used ty Janssens at Blaauwfcrag does not 
intrude on the calm atmosphere. The slave bell, 
old Bibles, steep staircases, the heraldry and 



Cheval glasses - this is indeed a long step back 
from the roaring street outside. 

As a child Maria Margaretha de Wet looted 
through the sniall-paned wiiidovvs of this house 
on to a vastly different town. She watched her 
grandmother. Mis. Horal^ being earned to church 
in a sedan-chair) and she lived to see the green- 
and-yellow electric tram-cars grinding up Strand 
Street. All this from a house built within the first 
half-century of Van Riebeeck 7 s settlement. 

In those last years, indeed, Mrs. Koopnans-de- 
W& must have known that her restful house had 
become the most historic and romantic home in 
South Africa 



Most enthusiastic of all collectors of Africana (in 
the wider sense of the wDrd) are the connoissairs 
of old Cape silver. It is worth collecting, for some 
of the silversmiths of eighteenth and early 
nineteenth ceitury Cape Town were equal to the 
skilled craftsmen of Europe. 



Not so long ago Cape silver passed unrecognised 
and fetched low prices. Masses of beautiful work 
went into the melting pot when the price of silver 
rose during the Napoleonic wars, and again 
during the First World War. Many fine early 
examples were taken out of the country fcy Dutch 
East India Company officials, so that you would 
have to comb Holland to re-discover the lost 
treasures. 

Connoissairs tell me that it is now too late to start 
a serious collection of Cape silva~ - unless you 
happen to be extranety wealthy. The days are 
gone when you could find a magiificeit sugar- 
bowl ty D. H Schmidt in a pawnbtDter^s 
window. Antique dealers may be able to offer you 
an odd fork or spoon; but a superb piece of 
hollows ware seldom comes on the market Much 
old Cape silver has the sentimental value of 
heirlooms and is kept in the family. 

Cape silver only began to acquire a special value 
after Union, when shrewd people from all parts of 
the country flocked to Cape Town for the 
Parliamentary session They saw and admired the 



old Cape furniture and silver) and heavy buying 
sent up the prices. Books, pictures and other 
forms of art shared in the boom. During both wars 
the prices rose still higher. But only within the 
past decade has it been possible to identify most 
pieces of Cape silver with certainty. There are 
still mysteries to be solved. 

In 1936, after long research in the archives, Mrs. 
Mollie N. Morrison brought out a valuable work 
containing the marks and symbols of Cape 
silversmiths. At that time, however, she estimat- 
ed that no more than 300 pieces of Cape silver 
remained in existence. Later research has proved 
that there are many more. Three collections in 
the Union each contain 300 pieces; so that the 
total may reach 2000 pieces. 

Probably the leading private collector in South 
Africa today is Mr. David Heller of Claremont, 
Mr. Heller, a former civil servant, became an 
antique dealer when he retired. Now he devotes 
himself entirely to the study of old Cape silver, 
and he has published a richly-illiistrated book on 



the subject 
1870." 



"A History of Cape Silver-1700- 



Mr. Hellers interest was aroused as long ago as 
1903, when his father left him a presentation 
silver snuff-box. Since then Mr. Heller has 
traced the careers and the marks of dozens of 
silversmiths. He can tell Cape silver at a glance. 

"It looks different," says Mr. Heller. "There is a 
typical Yellowish tinge about it. Cape Town 
silversmiths melted down corns - eveiything 
from rix-dollars to pieces-of-eight; and true to 
human nature, they used more alloys than they 
would have done if the trade had beeu 
controlled." 

Mr. Heller has never found a piece of 
seventeenth-centxity Cape silver, and he does not 
expect to find anything earlier than 1700. A 
silversmith named Jan Hendricksz arrived at the 
Cape in 1689; but not a scrap of his work has 
ever been identified 

It is clear, however, that several craftsmen were 
at work in 1715, for Governor de Chavonnes 



issued a Placaat regulating the gold and silver 
trade and appointing master assayers. He intro- 
duced the assay mark of "Hope standing." The 
guild of silversmiths, however, appears to have 
ignored the Placaat and each man invented his 
own mark - a bird, an anchor, a crown, often 
used in addition to the figure of Hope. Some of 
these early silversmiths were sword cutlers in the 
Castle armoury. Thev secured burgher papers 
from time to time and set up in business for 
themselves. 

Eighteenth centuiy Cape silver provides more 
artistic examples than nineteenth; and after 1850 
the old craftsmanship almost died out. The 
machine age killed it Silverware came from 
overseas factories, not little workshops in the old 
Langestraat or Noordkaper Steeg. 

Among the original Cape Town silversmiths one 
finds men from marry parts of Europe-Joseph 
Wolfsgruber of Vienna, Frans Wolhuter, a Swiss, 
Daniel Collinet, a Belgian, Jean Thomas of 
France; while Daniel Heinrich Schmidt and the 
famous Lotter family were Germans. Schmidt had 



an assistant in 1794 with the resounding name of 
Bonaventura Fleischer. They had their appren- 
tices, too, and some fine silver was made by a 
slave named Dollie (teamed by Schmidt) and 
Cadier Abdol, a Malay. After the British occupa- 
tion came English craftsmen like Adams and 
Anowsmith, and a Scot named John Maclacblan 

Cape silve~ took many shapes. Early work 
includes some beautiful church silver) a baptismal 
font for the Dutch Rdbrmed Church in the 
Heerengracht was made in 1752 by John Hasse; 
while Gerhardus Lotte~ made the fine chalice in 
the Lutheran Church, Strand Street Schmidt 
made a salver and Bible clasps. 

From references in the archives, however, it is 
plain that some church silver has vanished You 
can still see good examples in the Braak museum 
at SteQenbosch, the Huguenot museum at Paari, 
and the Dutch Reformed Church at SteQenbosch 

Snuff-boxes were made in the shape of books; or 
tiny tortoiseshells or sea-shells were used and 
decorate! with silver. There were pistols inlaid 



with silver, tea-pots and coffee-pots, hair-combs, 
silver-mounted pipes, thimbles, buckles, buttons, 
sugar-tongs, tam3y-wermers and magnificeit 
trays. Most typical of all Cape silver pieces is the 
"sucriere," the form of sugar-bowl developed in 
C^eTown. 

Then there were the silver furniture fittings, a 
special branch of the art Daniel Heinrich Schmidt 
evidently loved this most ornamental work; he 
brought roses into many of his designs; his 
handles, k^-plates and escutcheons, seen against 
the deep tones of stinkwood or mahogany, make 
an inspiring combination of two different arts. 

Schrridt, in the opinion of experts, was the finest 
craftsman of them all. He came from Strelitz as a 
sword-cutier in 1768; and lis initials with a bunch 
of giapes formed his mark Fortunately a great 
deal of his work, carried out during 43 years at the 
Cape, has survived 

Cecil John Rhodes collected Cape srlve^ and 
among the finest pieces at Groote Schuur there is 
a silver tea-pot by Schmidt, There, too, is a 



noteworthy silver tessie, lined with copper, and 
designed to hold the charcoal embets from which 
smokers lit their pipes. Most experts, however, 
would agree that Schmidt reached his zenith when 
he made the square salver now in the Africana 
Museum in Johannesburg. The date is 1780, and 
the salver "is engraved with the arms and 
supporters of the Van Rheede van Oudtshoom 
family. Here again are Schmidt's roses enriching 
the carved border. 

The name of Lotte~ oops 153 more often than any 
other, for generation after generation of Lotters 
worked in Cape Town as alversmiths. The first 
was Matthys Lotterof Augsberg, a famous centre 
for silve^ere when Matthys left: there in 1734. 
Between that year and 1830, the Lotters produced 
more Cape silver than any other craftsmen. 
Gerhardus Lotto; the eighth and last of the line, 
was also a wardmaster from 1802 to 1824 Mary 
of the silversmiths were influential people, 
serving as members of church councils and 
marriage offices. The silversmith families often 
intermarried, and no doubt their hereditary skill 



was intensified in this way. Incidentally the old 
suburb of Papendorp took its name from a 
silversmith, PietervanPapercbrp 

Among the British silvetsmiths was Lawrence 
Twentyman, an 1820 settler who opened a 
watchmaker's shop at 30, HeetengrachL His work 
is easily identified by the initials "L.T.," often 
accompanied by a bird, triple-toweted castle and 
sovereign's head. A fine Twentyman snuff-box is 
to be seen in the Africana Museum, 
Johannesburg. 

Experts have not yet detected forgeries in the 
world of old Cape silver, but they expect to 
enrounter them any day now. A snuff-box priced 
at £3 twenty years ago may well be wDrth ten 
times that amount at the present time. Few tea- 
pots have been discovered bearing Cape marks, 
and rich collectors would pay an almost fantastic 
price for a fine specimai Mr. Heller examined a 
cup made early last century which was insured for 
£1000. At a recent auction sale ten table-forks 
made ky Jan Lotter fetched 45 guineas. 



Cape silvetsmiths also worked in gold, but this is 
rare indeed. A gold hair ornament in the 
Koopmans-de Wet House is probably the only 
specimen on display in Cape Town; while the 
Africana Museum in Johannesburg has a pair of 
gold buckles made by Jan Brewis in 1817. Mr. 
Heller doubts whether a dozen gold pieces could 
be found in South Africa today. Gold has gone 
into the melting pot far more often than silver. If 
only the ownets had known ... 

Enough silver remains to recall in all its richness 
that long peiod of personal skill. Hgb is a three- 
ponged cake-fork fcy W. G. Lottec) there a 
crested soup-ladle Marrov^scoops, Ixtter-knives, 
fish-slices, mustard-spoons, napkii>riiTgs - the^ 
are fit for a royal banquet Egg-cups, corkscrews 
with iiDther-o'-peari handles, inkstands, bells, 
candlesticks and casseroles ... the silversmith 
could ne^er have found his work monotonous. 

Cape silver is Cape Town's lost art. If you can 
trace the grapes of Schmidt on a long-disused tea- 
pot, you will reveal a treasure indeed 



All over the Cape countryside are large and small 
collections of historic objects. Everything from 
furniture to guns, old fashioned clothes to 
Bushman arrows, is to be found in the fascinating 
local museums. 

At Caledon, for example, Mrs. Bei Kruger has a 
private collection of bottles started ty her aunt 
the late Mrs. Tieie Nedhling, more than sixty 
years ago. Ttae are wall over three thousand 
bottles on ho~ shelves ... a stone bottle hollowed 
out by Bushmen, a Voortekker wine bottle, 
almost e^ery sort of perfume, medicine, brandy 
and liqueur bottle used at the Cape Old wine 
barrels and horn glasses are also to be found in 
this unusual display. 

Colonel C. P. Net of Oudfcshoom built up a private 
museum which is now supported by the munici- 
pality. It is noteworthy for a unique collection of 
old motor-cars, starting with a charr>driv€ii 1898 
model. As a contrast, thete is a Voortrekker 
pevdewa (toree-drawn carnage) built in 1837 at 
Miiiraysbuig. 



Swerlendam has a fine cavalcade of farm 
implements, including an ingenious mealie and 
bean planter invented fcy a local fanner long 
before the first American machinery reached the 
Cape The planter was made entirely of wood 
except for a small tin hopper, and it worked. Old 
buck-wagons are to be found here, and marry 
other relics which might have decayed in the 
bams of the district. 

Mr. J. B. Wolfaart of Laingsbuig displays 
Bushman relics found in the nei^touitooci 
fossils, and a romplete set of \\agon-brakes of all 
patterns used during the past century. The small 
town of Fort Beaufort has set aside an officer's 
mess of the Kaffir War period to house the 
historical relics of the district; early types of barbed 
wire, the first telegraph inst^^ and 

a wide range of military exhibits. In Graaff Reinet 
they say that e^ey home is a museum; certainly 
there is a wealth of antiques. The Booysei family 
has a wooden and brass footbath which was in use 
for centuries - carried round by a slave afte~ 
eveiing devotions. Everywhae you go you are 



shown ancieit clocks and watches, lace caps and 
jewellery, waMng-sticks, violins, Huguenot 
heirlooms, quill pms and sand boxes for drying 
letters. 

Worcester is proud of its Afrikaner Museum, with 
the gr^dng lock of President Kruger's hair, the 
shoes worn fay Professor J. du Plessis during his 
walk across Africa, old wedding dresses and 
home-plaited straw hats and embroidered pillow- 
cases. Paari, of course, rightly specialises 'in 
Huguenot relics. One of the prizes of the collection 
is a 1 657 leather-bound Bible containing a 
summary of Paari events between the years 1800 
and 1806. Thereisav^o^denaxieifix 
France by the de Villieis family, and much 
priceless furniture. 

Tiibagh's museum, the "Oude Kerk Volte- 
musaim van 't Land van WavereV' is housed in 
the oldest church building in all South Africa A 
grim story, going back to 1799 (fifty-six years afte~ 
the church was built) is told of this white-\\alled 
place of worship. Sextant Lemdert Haasbroekhad 
to repimand a coloured boy for failing to dust the 



voetsbofies, pulpit and chandejlreis. The boy cut his 
master's throat; but as he lay dying, Haasbroek 
warned the bey that the truth would come out 
"even if the crows told the story." The boy escaped 
detection at the ttme^ but years later, while he was 
resting under a tree, he heard a flock of crows 
screeching in the branches and imagined they were 
proclaiming his guilt He confessed and went to the 
gallows on the outskirts of the village, ataspot still 
known as Galgenvetd Haasbroek s widow was 
appointed sorton and filled the post for five years - 
the only woman sorton ever known in the Cape. 
The museum retains the religious character of the 
church; pulpit, chairs, footstools are as they were in 
the ill-fated Haasbroek' s day. 

All the country museums are rich in firearms. This 
is a gun-loving land; and ail but the earliest 
muskets are represented I have yet to hear of the 
discovery of a matchlock such as Van Riebeeck's 
men used; but flintlocks of the seventeenth 
century have beei found 

Arquebuses or hackbutts stood in Van Riebeeck s 
armoury, and were used to kill lions and big- 



game. The bell-mouthed blunderiDuss (or 
donderbus in Dutch) arrived in 1675, and called 
for strength, patience and nerve. It took fifteei 
minutes to reload, so the marksman had to keep a 
pike or cutlass handy. Big charges were rammed 
into the old, long guns and the kick must have 
beei devastating. 

Flintlock muskests were deadly enough to kill off 
most of the game round Cape Town fcy the middle 
of the eighteenth century. These roers, with 

inpDvements, remained in use until 1859; and in 
the museums you will find many types romplete 
with ramrod, Mlet-moulds, powder-horns and 
Mlet-pouches. 

You will also see the methods by which the 
platteland marksman made his own bullets. Often 
the molten lead was poured into reeds and then 
rolled between stones. Buckshot of a large size 
wece called lopers. When the gunpowder sold ky 
the smous was exhausted, farmers made their own 
explosive mixture of sulphur, saltpetre and willow 
charcoal. Brandy was sometimes added; and afe~ 
hours of stamping the mixture was dried on a 



skiiL It was not as effective as real gunpowder - 
but they killed lions with it 

Sporting guns, double and single barrel, came to 
the Cape well before the end of the eighteenth 
cmtury. One of the early advertisements in the 
"Cape Gazette" of 1800 announoed that John 
Etaslie, the merchant sold "back, partridge and 
small bird shot" Rifled barrels appeared in 1816, 
when S. F. Botha, gun mater of No. 23 Boeren- 
plein, advertised "an assortment of excellent rifled 
and plain gun bands made by one of the best 
gun-maters in London" 

Tower muskets, horse-pistols, duelling pistols, 
fearsome elephant guns, pnonk vooiiaaier and 
panslciJier, carbines and Mausers - you will find 
them all in the country museums. Even the 
doorway of the old church museum at Tulbagh is 
guarded by guns and pistols. And it is a poor 
museum indeed which has no cannon. 

As Gereal Smuts once said; "These antiques of 
South Africa are a common heritage of which all 
South Africans are proud, and they are the 



precious links Unding us all together in noble 
traditions and great memories of our past" 

Chapter 16 
For Smokers Only 

Tobacco Has Been Grown On farms 
betweei rry steep and the mountains since the 
seventeenth century. Even now you can find the 
old-fashioned "Boer tobacco" kraals where the 
plants thrive in rich sheep manure. 

Van Riebeeck brought the first tobacco with hiriL 
"Indian weed," he called it, and very soon the 
Hottentots and Bushmen were begging for it 
Tobacco and alcohol were supreme among trade 
goods; strange natives appeared at the Castle, 
bringing cows and asking for tobacco and strong 
drink The length of the "twist" had to equal the 
length of the beast 

For nearly thirty years little tobacco was planted 
at the Cape. Indeed, it was forbidden. Officials 
thought the colonists wDiid demote too much of 
their time to tobacco cultivation when grain was 
needed Some disobeyed the placaat and bartered 



their secret tobacco crops for ivoiy and cattle - to 
the detriment of the Honourable Company's 
trading monopoly. The company sold tobacco, 
and in 1700 the price was four heavy skillings a 
pound retail. They did a roaring trade. 

First official plantation at the Cape was 
Rustenberg at Roixlebosch. An expert named 
Cors Hendricks came from Holland in 1719 to 
supervise the work; but the crop was a failure. 
Hendricks blamed the weather. 

Later crops wete more successful. Then one 
unknown pioneer discoveted that the finest place 
to grow tobacco was within the walls of a sheep 
or cattle kraal. Connoisseurs decided that sheep 
kraals produced a more palatable tobacco; the 
cattle manure gave the leaf a satisfying "bite." 
Gradually a method was evolved which survives 
to this day. 

They sowel in May, cut down the golden leaves 
in January, and dried them under the oaks for a 
month Then the leaves were stripped from the 
stalks and made up into bundles, twenty leaves to 



a bundle, tied With rmtjiesgoed. The bundles 
were hung over the rafters of a loft. 

Next came the twisting process. First the leaves 
were steeped in the ash of the succulent shrub 
called litjiesbos; or wtbhts might be used to 
impart a (istLnctive tang. When the tobacco had 
ferrrnited sufficiently it was twisted into long 
strings, each six or eight pounds in weight Much 
of the inferior tobacco, the cattle kraal variety, 
was used for sheep dip Boa~ tobacco with the 
conect rich brown appearance and inviting aroma 
was smoked, chewed or used as snuff. 

"Boer tobacco" was taken to America early last 
century by the New England whaling skippets 
who called at the Cape. It was relished fcy those 
tough old mariners; though it must be admitted 
that the quality was dubious. 

Before the days of scientific tobacco production, 
one area in the Cape gained a reputation for 
tobacco far above the average. 

This tobacco was grown in a shelteted valley on 
top of Pikestberg mountain. The VetsfeLds of 



Mouton' s Via had tobacco lands under irrigation 
before the end of last century; their pipe tobacco, 
with its typical perfume, often fetched a shilling a 
pound Further down the same vall^ the Lucas 
family grew the famous "Lucas tobacco," 
stronger than the Versfeld brand; and this found 
eager buyers in Cape Town at four s hillin gs a 
pound Boer tobacco at that time could be bought 
in the villages for a penny or two pence a pound, 
and only an exceptional leaf fetched sixpence. 
Turkish tobacco was first grown experimentally 
in 1905. It spread from the Franschhoek Valley to 
other districts, and the modem industry was 
established 

Srroking was dangerous in the days of thatch 
Early in the eighteenth century Kolbei recorded 
that "sailors and HottHTtots found smoking in the 
streets of Cape Town were given lashes." And as 
late as 1873 a man was awarded fourteen days 
hard labour for lighting his pipe in a Beaufort 
West street 

Three years later Mr. C. Ray, passenger in a train 
in the Cape, was charged with smoking in a non- 



smoking compartment His defence was that he 
had obtained the permission of his fellow 
travetlets. However, the evidence proved that he 
had knocked the ashes of his cigar through a 
lamp-hole into the next compartment, and the ash 
had gone into a lady's eve. When fined £3, the 
prisoner remarked: "This was the first time I had 
ever been in a train, and I shall take care it is the 
last." 

The^ smoked clay pipes in the early days, but the 
deep-bowled calabash was discovered fcy the 
Hottentots and adopted fcy many Europeans last 
centuiy. Calabash is probably the only South 
African "timber 7 ' (if you can call it that) which is 
suitable for pipe-making. This capacious pipe 
gives a sweet, cool smote. It had enjoyed periods 
of popularity at various times; usually when briars 
were unobtainabla Farmers in the Worcester and 
other districts have sown calabash seeds and 
produced the gourds, but the demand has iwe~ 
beei steady, and no fortunes have been made 
from the calabash crop. 



Fitst cigarette smoker in the Cape, I believe, was 
George Thompson, the Cape Town merchant who 
travelled into little known parts of the country and 
published a book in 1823. He rolled his own 
cigarettes. It was not until the 187(7 s that 
cigarette smoking became widespread, and 
women did not smoke openly until the South 
African War period. Even then, these bold women 
were mainly visitors from England 

Up to February, 1833, smokers at the Cape lit up 
with the aid of tinder boxes. Then the first 
"lucifers" arrived, and the "South African 
Commercial Advertiser 7 ' published instructions on 
the use of the new "instantaneous light" Citizens 
were told that "lucifer matches ignite by the 
friction produced by drawing the match through a 
piece of sandpaper." And there was this solemn 
wanting: "Avoid inhaling the gas that escapes 
from the combustion of the black composition." 

There w&e a hundred ludfets in each box. It was 
not long before the newspaper annoiinced that 
two white children had been poisoned after eating 
lucifers. Wax matches first reached the Cape in 



1858, "warranted to light in any climate, even if 
dipped in water." The first Cape match factory 
was started in 1883 by Mr. Ludolph at Wynberg. 
He employed fifty people and used local timber. It 
took Mr. Ludolph some time to master the 
process, however, for his early matches had an 
alarming trick of exploding in their cases. 

Early this century came the first of the cigarette 
coupons, the great tobacco-sponsored rompeti- 
tions for guessing the gold output; and the 
feverish collection of cigarette packet "fronts" 
which could be eKchanged for cash. Some firms 
gave leather-bound books for "fronts"; and many 
a library of classics survives from those days. 

Between the World Wars the cigarette coupon 
business reached its greatest heights. You could 
use them as mone^, furnish your house with them, 
or ©^change 75,000 coupons for a motor-car. The 
Trade Coupons Act of 1935 put an end to an 
exciting enterprise. Today, I think, the law has 
gone too far. It is now illegal to pack a harmless 
cigarette card. 



Snuff is in far greater demand in the country than 
you might imagine. Most of it is made in Cape 
Town, and about twenty-five tons go up in sneezes 
ereiy year. Riebeek Square was the centre of this 
romantic trade in the days when the square was a 
fashionable shopping area Marry an ox- wagon left 
old Johannes Stemmef s store loaded with snuff 
which would be bartered in the hLnteriand for skins 
and other produce 

Johannes Stenmetwas a descendant of a family of 
snuff-makers in Holland He founded his business 
in Cape Town in the 'thirties of last cmtury,andhe 
v^alsotheowre~of a private grain mill. He had 
many secret formulae for the golden dust he sold; 
but the most expensive snuff in his shop was green 
and contained bey leaf and orange leaf . That cost 
ElapouncL 

I have a memory of the Stemmed store, in the days 
when the original Johannes Stemmed s son Johan 
Hendrik was in charge of the business. The 
craftsmen worked in a golden haze of sunlight and 
snuff. In the tains I saw the cheap, dark snuff that 
the coloured people were buying in penny cones; 



and there were mixtures scented with oil of 
lavender and attar of roses for wealthier customers. 
The men who worked there sard that they never 
suffered from headaches or colds. Snuff, they 
declared, drove all germs out of the head. And it is 
true that during the deadly influenza plague of 
1918 marry snuff-takers remained immune. In the 
old days there was an idea that snuff was good for 
the soul. Certainly it clears the head. 

Otto Landsbeirg, the white-bearded snuff-maker of 
Greenmarket Square, lived to 102 - "thanks to 
snuff." When he died in 1905 the "Ope Argus" 
stated that he had ne^er suffeni from any sort of 
disease during his long life. He founded a local 
musical society, played first violin, and painted 
hundreds of pictures. No doubt a few of you 
romembe^lim. As ayoung man (he often recalled) 
he had attended a sale of slaves on the Grand 
Parade and bought himself a cook. In 1886 his firm 
pixluced the once-famous "Cape Favourite" 
cigarettes. When he reached the century mark a 
huge portrait of Otto Landsberg was displayed in 
a show-case on the Cape Town railway station 



He was probably the oldest white resident when 
he died. 

Snuff is made by grinding and sifting tobacco 
leaves to a powder. Then come the fermenting, 
blending and flavouring processes which 
combine to produce the perfect sneeze. Some of 
the old Cape Town snuff-maters memorised 
their formulae and they were passed on verbally 
from generation to generation 

The quality of snuff depends largely on the 
degree of fermentation, a delicate process which 
may be disturbed by the weather. Snuff is sold 
under romantic names - "Black Rappee" and 
'IVEacuba/' "Lavande," "Old Paris" and 
'TVEasulipatam/' Rappees are soil widely used; 
the^ are granulated, whereas "Spanish snuff" and 
other varieties are finely milled. 

The snuff-maters also dealt in snuff-boxes. You 
can still see valuable heirlooms in the shape of 
snuff-boxes in city antique shops and distant 
farmhouses. Not long ago I saw one with a bird 
which sang, opened its beak and fluttered its 



plumage of peacock feathers. That one was sold 
for more than fifty guineas. There was also the 
celebrated Juritz snuff-box, given to the late Dr. 
C. F. Juritz, Danish Consul in Cape Town, by 
King Frederick VII of Denmark. It was made of 
gold, platinum and diamonds, and fetched £350 
when it was sold in 1936. 

Members of Parliament enjoy the use of official 
snuff. Ever since the early days of the Old Cape 
House, the Secgeant-at-Arms has kept a silver 
snuff-box close at hand. In the present House of 
Assembly there is a special ledge for it next to 
his chair. And it is more than a Victorian 
tradition- Members empty that box evety week. 

Chapter 17 
Farms Of The Kapenaars 

KapENAARS, The People Of THE Cape 

Peninsula called themselves in the seventeenth 
centuiy and long afterwards. The fanners beyond 
the Cape Flats were "Afrikaanders." 

Some of the Kapenaars, of course, had farms. 
The old homesteads have not all disappeared. 



though nearly all the land has been coveted by 
the city and the suburbs. Only in the Constantia 
valley are the original farms of the Kapenaars to 
some extent preserved. Elsewhere you will 
search almost in vain for the fields that once 
produced so much fruit and green stuff for the 
ships that came to the 'Tavern of the Seas." 

Yet there are many people still living who 
remember the flourishing farms on the Table 
Mountain slopes. My friend the philatelist, Mr. 
Adrian Albert Jurgens, showed me an oil 
painting of his father, surrounded by cattle, in a 
meadow which has been obliterated by the 
houses of Tamboers Kloof. It was called 
Leeuwenvoet farm, granted to a Jurgens ancestor 
in the early days; for the first Jurgens arrived 
only ten years after Van Riebeeck. 

Bordering on Leeuwenvoet was the farm 
Tamboers Kloof, owned by the Spengler family. 
Mr. Jurgens does not accept the legend of a 
Malay named Tamboec he says there is a little 
kloof shaped like a drum - hence the name. One 
of the Spenglers married into the Jurgens family. 



and then the joint property stretched across the 
face of the mountain from Signal Hill and Kloof 
Nek to the stone wall built by the Van Bredas of 
Oranj e Zigt to prevent their cattle from straying. 

Oranje Zigt (not Qrangezicht as it is often spelt) 
was granted to Durand Louhser in 1709, but 
Heter van Breda acquired it twenty-two years 
later and it remained in the family for 170 years. 
Some say there was an orange grove on the farm 
early in the eighteenth century; others think the 
name was given in honour of the Prince of 
Orange; or because there was a view from the 
homestead of the Oranje bastion of the Castle. 
Certainly it has the finest view in Cape Town 

Unlike nearly all the other early homesteads, the 
house that Refer van Bieda built had two storeys. 
Massive teak and yellowwood timbers were used 
for the doors, interior arches and staircases. The 
first building was thatched, but during alterations 
a century ago a slate roof was provided and a 
verandah with cast-iron pillars added to the stoep. 




Qranje Zigt homestead, which was in possession of the Van Breda family for 170 years. 



Refer van Breda and his successor Michael kept 
three hundred slaves on the farm The slaves 
occupied a long btrilding running along the 
present Upper Orange Street; and close fcy was a 
large duck-pond and the entrance gate with an 
avenue of pines. The slave bell near the house 
pealed at sunrise, noon, one p.nL, at sunset, and 
also as a bush fire alamL It could be heard as far 
away as Papendorp. 

The farm rateied mainly forships. Cabbages were 
pulled out of the ground roots and all so that they 
would remain fresh longer at sea Each field was 
protected fcy oak trees, and the Van Bredas had 
their own irrigation system from the Table 
Mountain streams. They grewfter own coffee. 

In front of the homestead stood a flagpole. When 
the hospitable Van Bredas hoisted their flag, it 
was the signal for master mariners and their 
purses, burghets and their wives, to drive up to 
Oranje Zigt - to buy the farm produce and to be 
entertained They wandered through the fruit and 
vegetable gardens, filled their carts and baskets, 
and then made their way to the bandstand. You 



can still find the decaying brickwork of the 
bandstand, with its circle of trees. Once there 
were flower-beds, shady walks and running 
streams. Wine, cakes and sweets wae served 
while the slave musicians played their fiddles and 
flutes. And you may be sure that no one enjoyed 
the old-world courtesies of that lovely farm more 
than the men from the ships in Table Bay . 

Strangest of all legends of Oranje Zigt (and it has 
many, with ghosts among them) is that of a 
wealthy lepe~ who lived on the estate long ago 
with many slaves to attend to his needs. I doubt 
whether there is a word of truth in it but Ian 
Colvin perpetuated the story in his play "The 
Leper's Flute." The only support is to be found in 
the name Veriaten Bosch, a part of the estate 
where the Van Bredas are said to have provided 
sanctuary for some afflicted person 

One of the Oranje Zigt ghosts is an early Van 
Bieda who rides round the farm on a white horse. 
Or so the Malays say. The other is more recent 
Early this century a Mr. A. J. Fuller took a 
photograph of the dining-room fireplace - a long 



time exposure. When he developed his plate, 
there was a man in the leather chair beside the 
fireplace. I know that such pictures have often 
been faked, and I give the incident for what it is 
worth. The picture is in the collection of a well- 
known Cape Town historian. The back of the 
chair can be traced through the ghostly figure. 

There is an Oranje Zigt legend which is common 
to many old Cape homesteads, and which 
probably has some factual basis. In the 
eighteenth centuiy the slaves rose from time to 
time against their masters, and many a family 
was muiderecL When the slaves at Oranje Zigt 
ran amok, a slave nurse decided to save the Van 
Breda baby in her care. She chose an oven 
(fortunately cold) as the most secure hiding 
place, and the baby survived the massacre. 

As a farm, Oranje Zigt flourished in spite of 
shocks. The abolition of slavety did not put the 
Van Bredas out of business; nor did the loss of 
shipping customers which followed the opening 
of the Suez Canal. But in 1882 the authorities 
expropriated the whole water-supply. That was 



the end. The family wished to sell; but in 1834 
the Hon Michael van Breda had bequeathed the 
estate to his descendants with the stipulation that 
"the property shall for ever and for as long as the 
law of the colony permits, remain the hereditary 
possession of the Van Breda family." It took an 
Act of Parliament to release the estate from that 
entailment. In 1901 a company bought Oranje 
Zigt for £40,000. The estate had gone up in value 
since Durand Loubser bought it for 18,000 rix 
dollars (£1350), and it has risen again since then 
to a figure beyond the wildest imaginings of all 
the old owners. 

Lower down in Table Valley were other fine 
farms. The late Sir John Kotze was brought up at 
Leeuwenhof, now the official residence of the 
Administrator of the Cape, a seventeenth century 
estate. Landdrost Zom was selling the 
Leeuwenhof produce to the townsfolk in 1815, 
and famous botanists praised the garden 

Even in the middle of last century it was so wild 
up there in Hof Street that leopards came down 
from the mountain in search of poultry. Sir John 



Kotze used to relate a boyhood experience, when 
he walked across to Belvedere in response to a 
message from Mr. Michiel Smuts. A leopard had 
killed a calf near the homestead, and returned to 
the carcase two nights later. Mr. Smuts was 
waiting in an oak tree with a shotgun loaded with 
loopers. When young Kotze arrived the dead 
leopard was hanging from a bough. 

Old pints show these homesteads set in flourish- 
ing acres - Nooitgedacht the "unexpected," 
Waterhof of the Hofmeyrs with its terraced 
gardens, Rheezicht, Weltevieden, Welgemeend, 
Leeuwenkuil and Roodehek. They looked out 
over the bay from high steeps paved with slate 
and shaded ky vines. Those houses were solid 
Houses with ballrooms and cool halls, carved 
staircases and louvered shutter, fanlights and 
curved steps built of the small Batavian bricks. 
Even the coach-houses and out-buildings had 
their garlanded mouldings. Those old Kapenaars 
knew how to live. 

High above the present Woodstock stood Zonne- 
bLoem, the "sunflower/' with title-deeds going 



back to 1707. Round the comer in the seventeenth 
century was a group of four farms - Valkenburg, 
WeLgelegen, Zorgvliet and Koorenhoop. The 
original Kooienhoop homestead belonged to the 
Coetzee family; and a quaint dovecote, built ty a 
Chinese artisan, stood in the grounds. 
Koorenhoop was sub-divided many years ago, 
and part of it, renamed Westhoe, became the 
home of the Willmot family. Westhoe homestead 
was at least two centuries old; and the vineyards 
and wheat fields ran along the present Mowbray 
main road The late Mr. A. L. Willmot kept daity 
cows at Westhoe until 1929, when a new 
municipal regulation put trim out of business. He 
was one of the last of the Kaapenaars. 

Further along the road is Rustenbuig, wtrae grain 
was sown four years afte~ Van Riebeeck's 
landing. They called it Ronde Doom Bossien in 
those days; and the "Company's house/' built 
there in 1657, became a summer resort for the 
Governors, wise they could "inhale the fresh 
country air." Rustenburg supplied Stellenbosch 
and Drakenstein with young oaks. Rustenburg 



sent the fitst Cape wine to Europe. The estate was 
still producing wine until well into the nineteenth 
century. Mountain fites destroyed the original 
homestead, but garden seats and a summer house 
have survived as relics of the 'lust huys" of the 
old Dutch governors. 

Rondebosch was the earliest outpost of the Kape- 
naars. Van Riebeeck stationed two men there, in 
what he describes as a "house of sods, " to see that 
the HottentDts did not destroy the crops. The 
house with earth walls became Groote Schuur) 
and close by were Qnder Schuur and Kleine 
Schuur. I always admire the neat orchard of 
Kleine Schuur from the top of the trolley-bus. 
Qnder Schuur, of couise, has become West- 
brooke. 

Stellenbeixj at Claremont became an estate 
towards the end of the seventeenth century and 
survived until this century. Many architects regard 
the homestead as the most beautiful in the Cape, 
dignified, aloof, and mellowed fcy the years. 



Many elderiy people in Cape Town remember the 
last of the windmills. Those white towes with 
sails lingered on long after other mills were being 
driven fcy steariL Sixty years ago a few old 
windmills were still grinding the com of the 
Kapenaars in the Cape Peninsula. 

Finest example of a Dutel>pattem windmill in the 
Cape is Mostert's Mill, an historical monument 
on the Groote Schuur estate. For years it stood 
neglected Now it has been so fully restored that it 
is capable of grinding wheat again as soon as the 
great wings are s& whirling. 

Horse-mills wera used before windmills, and the 
first of them was set up within six years of Van 
Riebeeck's landing. The horse walked round all 
day pulling a huge wooden cog-wheel which 
rotated a driving shaft The timber soon rotted, 
and the horse-mill was replaced fcy a water-mill 
somewhete in the present St George's Stteet A 
later water-mill built behind the Company's 
garden gave the name to Mill Stteet In those days 
people brought their own "grist to the mill/' 



paying the miller two stuivets a bushel. A two- 
pound loaf of bread cost V/xL 

Windmills were built before the end of the 
seventeenth centuiy. These early contritions 
suffered so heavily in the south-easters, however, 
that in 1717 the Council of Seventeen sent out 
masons, carpenters and materials for a first-class 
windmill. It was owned by the Burgher Council, 
and for years this mill ground practically all the 
Peninsula's grain 

You will find the remains of this mill, the 
celebrated Oude Molen, forming part of a small 
Anglican church at Maitland The two grinding 
stones have been pieseived. When the farm on 
which the mill was built was advertised for sale in 
1843, the mill was stated to be "in full working 
order and surpassing in power any mill in this 
colony." 

It is hard to identify the mill described ky Otto 
Mentzel in lis "Cape of Good Hope" published in 
1785. "There is a windnill behind the Devil's 
Mountain which, though outside the town, comes 



under the control of the burgher councillors/' he 
wrote. "The mill is of brick in the characteristic 
Dutch style; its head, wings and mill shaft turn 
according to the direction of the wind The wings 
are formed of wxxjen frames covered with 
canvas sails, that may be furled or unfurled at 
pleasure. It is, therefore, possible to use the mill 
both when the wind is strong and when there is 
only a slight breeze." 

Mosberts Mill is behind the "Devil's Mountain," 
but if the date carved on the wooden cog-wheel is 
correct it was not built until 1796. It was a private 
mill on the farm Welgelegen, then owned fcy the 
Van Reenens. In the middle of the eighteenth 
centuiy the farm was bought by Sybiand Mostert 
and the Mostert family remained in possession 
until 1889. Wilks, the new owner, sold it to Cecil 
John Rhodes two years later. 

Mentzel also had a woid to say about bread in 
C^DeTown, and from his description one suspects 
that the tread of the late dghteenth centuiy was 
moie palatable than some of the twentidh centuiy 
bread 



"The products of the Cape bakeries are of a high 
order/' declared MeotzeL. "Only the best grade 
white wheat is used for grinding into flours. The 
grain is well ground at the windniills and then 
sifted into various grades. One baker specialises 
in confectionery, cakes, pastries and so forth, 
provided the harvest is good and com plentiful, 
for should there be a bad season the Council of 
Policy would prohibit the making of sweetmeats 
and then the pastry-cook would be obliged to 
bake bread only." 

The art of the iiillwriglt died out years ago in the 
Cape, and a craftsman was brought specially from 
Holland in 1935, when Mosterfs Mill was 
restored He left it exactly as it was in 1796. New 
sails were supplied by the Netherlands 
Government 

Outside the walls remained unchanged, but the 
inside was lined with concrete to cany the newly- 
thatched revolving roof . A new driving shaft was 
fashioned from local bLue-bum. The "upper and 
nether millstones" were found on the site. One 
was put back into service; the other, which had 



been broken, was used in the paving outside one 
of the doors. 

Climb the wooden ladder inside the mill, and you 
find a world of wooden machinery under the 
thatcli There is the brake; for the sails turn at a 
mere fifteei resolutions a minute, and the violent 
winds of the Cape are oflei too strong foraDuteh 
windmill. Sometimes the sails must be reefed lite 
the sails of a ship. 

Dark green wings, white wind boards, sky blue 
axle with a golden star - those are the traditional 
Dutch windniill colours. Mosterfs Mill, with its 
three-feet walls and flagstones laid fcy slaves, is a 
romantic survival indeed 

On the day in 1936 whoi the mill was set to work 
again, guests at the ceremony carried away bags 
of freshly-milled wheat as souvenirs. And among 
the guests was a Miss Mostert, aged 83, 
descendant of old Sybtand Mostett 

Cape Town has a home-baking tradition, and until 
late last century it was not the price of bread that 
worried the householder, but the price of flour. 



Nevertheless the bakers supplied many people. 
Right through the centuries you will find 
lefo^nces to white, brown and coarse loaves - 
and their prices. 

Towerds the middle of last century botes were 
peraitted to make "good and wholesome bread" 
of the following materials only: wheat, barley, 
rye, oats, india or caller com, potatoes and rice. 
All bread not made of wheat had to be stamped 
with tfe letter "M." 

Steam came to Cape Town for flour millin g in 
1831, the first engine having been imported bv 
Mr. George Prince. Readers of the "Commercial 
Advertiser 7 ' were assured: "Inhabitants need not 
fear annoyance from smoke, and the air will not 
be darkened by the new steam engine." By the 
middle of last century there were nine steam mills 
in Cape Town; but some of the old windmills and 
water-mills were still in business. 

Mosterf s Mill is more than a landmark. It is a 
gracious rronummt to the pioneers who brought 
an old craft to a new country . 



One of Cape Town's links with Van Riebeeck and 
the earliest fanners still lives. In his day it marked 
the boundary of the little colony - the first frontier 
ever proclaimed in South Africa It is the wild 
almond hedge at Kirstenbosch. 

Van Riebeeck planted this hedge with the idea of 
protecting the farms of the Kapenaars from 
Hottentot cattle raiders. You can eat the almonds 
if you soak them in water for a few days to 
remove a slightly poisonous element; the 
Hottentots roasted the kernels to mate their 
primitive coffee. No doubt Van Riebeeck chose 
the wild almond for his hedge because it was an 
easily available local shrub. 

He had been at war with one of the Hottentot 
clans, the Kaapmans, and was casting round for 
means of isolating the little settlement. The first 
plan that entered his mind was a canal from Salt 
River to Muizenberg. That was turned down 
when it was estimated that it would cost a 
million gilders to turn the Cape Peninsula into an 
island. 



Nevertheless it was necessary to provide the Free 
Burghers with a barrier. Their farms lay along 
both banks of the Liesbeeck. In his search for 
something cheap and quick, Van Riebeeck 
remembered the thorny fences grown by 
medieval barons in Germany. He also recorded 
that he had seen "dighte creketbosch" defences 
used in the West Indies, and answering the 
purpose well. 

So he surveyed the line of the hedge in February, 
1660, from the Salt River mouth to Leenderf s 
Boscli Leendert Comelissen was a free wood- 
cutter, working at the present Kirstenboscli Van 
Riebeeck found the distance to be 3673 roods 
(about 81 miles), and he thought the barrier 
would become effective within four or five 
years. 

Stakes had previously been driven into the beach 
near the Salt River mouth and for some distance 
inland. Along part of the Liesbeeck the banks 
were steepened. Three famous block-houses 
fitted the scheme - Kijckuijt on a sand hill at the 
Salt River mouth, Keert De Koe between the Salt 



River and the Liesbeeck, and Hound Den Bui 
nearer the forest. 

From Rondebosch, where it was easy to cross the 
shallow Liesbeeck, Van Riebeeck ploughed up a 
belt twelve feet wide and planted his hedge. He 
used thorn bushes as well as wild almonds; the 

fast-growing steekdoring among others. The 
hedge ran in a wide semi-circle; or as Van 
Riebeeck noted in his diary: "It will enclose the 
whole settlement, with its agriculture and forests, 
as in a half-moon." 

Among those who took part in the work were a 
number of French shipwrecked sailors. It paid 
for their keep and kept them out of mischief. 

No doubt Van Riebeeck was influenced in his 
decision to build the hedge by the fact that his 
own vineyard and com lands on the slopes of the 
Boscheuval lay within its boundaries. It was a fine 
and prosperous farm at the time the hedge was 
planted; for although only eight years had passed 
since the landing of Van RiebeecK, more than a 



thousand fruit trees wete growing up, and wine 
was being piessed from the MuscacM grapes. 

Boscheuval has become BishopscDurt and it is 
just possible that parts of Van Riebeeck 7 s original 
homestead were built into the residence of the 
Archbishop. Some of the oaks, perhaps, wee 
planted by Van Riebeeck, though most of them 
are due to the policy of the Vander Stels. I expect 
Van Riebeeck' s farm labourers lived on the site of 
the present Protea village. 

Van Riebeeck 7 s wife, the little-known Marie de 
Quetelli, certainly lived at Boscheuval and kept 
things going while the Commander was busy at 
the Fort Her piesence in that outpost must also 
have been in Van Riebeecks mind when he 
devised the thick hedge against the Hottentots. 

The hedge finished, as Van Riebeeck noted in his 
diary shortly before Christmas in 1660. Long 
before it had reached its full growth, however, he 
realised that the hedge would not ansv\er its 
original purpose. The settlemmt was expanding 
faster than he had anticipated Already the veld 



within the boundaries had become too meagre for 
the needs of the farmers, and Dutch cattle were 
grazing beyond the short frontier. Cape Town, 
e^en in the early sixteen-sixties, could not be 
penned up within a tall hedge. 

From the Hottentot point of view it was also 
ineffective. Cattle belonging to the Saldanecs 
were found within the boundary, and the 
Kaapmans damaged a plantation. 

Today you can see part of the hedge without 
leaving your car. The wild almonds form an 
almost continuous line from the rockery in 
Kirstenbosch gardens to the Hen and dickens 
rocks on top of Wynberg Hill. The plaque of the 
Historical Monuments Commission stands at the 
junction of the Wynbeg-Constantia Nek and 
Kirstenbosch-Constantia Nek roads. The hedge 
was poclaimed as an historical monument in 
1936. The inscription on the plaque reads: 

'This hedge of wild aLmonds was planted in 
the year 1660 A.D., by order of Commander 
Jan van Riebeeck to mark the southern frontier 



of the Cape Colony, from Kirstenbosch along 
the Wyniberg Hill to a point below the Hen and 
Chickens Rocks; thence the hedge was 
continued by a fence of poles across the Camp 
Ground to the mouth of the Salt River." 

Van Riebeeck included the hedge in his Cape 
Peninsula map of 1660, and the course of the 
boundary is marked in Walker's "Hstorical Atlas 
of South Africa" 

The hedge stretches for over a mile along the 
upper part of the Bishopscourt estate. At one time 
the handsome and tenacious almond trees 
survived in suburban gardens. 

I am told that not so many years ago the hedge 
could be traced near the KerilwDrth racecourse. 
Unawere that they were upooting history, many 
gardener tore up these relics of Van Riebeeck 
Builders ronpleted the destructioii Professor R 
H Conpton searched in vain for fragments in the 
QareiDnt Public Gardens. 

After nearly three centuries of growth the hedge is 
now a thickest of trees, some with trunks more 



massive than a man's body. Botanists have been 
unable to decide whether these are Van 
Riebeeck 7 s original trees, or successors. 

Often the hedge must have been reduced to 
ground level by bush fires. It is probable that the 
roots are older than the 40ft shoots. From their 
size, the roots could easily be 300 years old; but 
the wild almond provides no accurate clue to its 
aga The woxlbuirs watt, and has also been used 
for furniture. 

Even the fragments of the hedge are roteworthy 
relics to find so long after the days of Van 
Riebeeck - "remnants of history which have 
casually escaped the shipwreck of time." 



Chapter 18 
SfeA And River Farms 

many Gardeners Grow the petty Buck Bay 
Vygies, those sandloving succulents which mate 
a krilliant picture of white and pink, red and 
orange, in the sping. Not so many people know 
Buck Bay, an old and unspoilt sanctuary and 
ceMnly the most alluring seaside farm I have 
seen. 

As the seagull flies, it is only about twenty-five 
miles from the Table Bay breakwater to the white, 
gabled Buck Bay homestead From the mountain 
you can see Bok Point and the curve of the bay 
thirteen miles beyond Metkbosch. But if you go 
by road, through Mamre and then down to the 
coast beside the Mud River, along the farm tracks 
and through the walled farmyard of beautiful 
Ganze Kraal - if you go that way the distance is 
nearly sixty miles from Adderley Street 

Wtei you come to think of it few Cape farm- 
houses are built right on the beachjust above high 
wete~ mark. Buck Bay homestead is so close to 



the sea that a gale some years ago sent waves 
crashing against the steep, into the stable and 
round the back of the two hundred yearold bouse. 
The place is so solid that not a stone was torn 
a\\ay. 

No doubt the first of Van Riebeeck's explorers, 
following the coast to Saldanha by land or sea, 
discovered Buck Bay. I can imagine a short party 
resting thankfully beside the spring of freshwater. 
Probably they also observed the masses of mussel 
shells thrown up on the beach. About the middle 
of the eighteenth century the Dutch East India 
Company stationed a party of men at Buck Bay to 
collect the shells for lime. 

The square stone building where the labourers 
slept has a door nowadays. When it was built 
there was only a slit window and a hatch in the 
roof. The oversees did not trust these men, for 
they wob convicts. Close ty, the warders lived 
more comfortably in the fine, single-gabled 
residence under thatch. It is simple and massive, 
and it fits the landscape without onejarring note. 




'Buck Bay homestead is so close to the sea that a gale some years ago sent waves crashing 

against the stoep. 



Buck Bay became a private farm in 1846, when it 
was granted to Louwrens de Jongh. In those days 
it was called Bok Rivier, for a little stream enters 
the bay a mile from the homestead. In 1870 it 
was bought by Mr. William Duckitt, a grandson 
of the original William Duckitt of Surrey who 
settled at the Cape in 1800 as the first official 
expert appointed to advise the farmers. Mr. 
Wilfred Duckitt, grandson of the 1870 owner, is 
now in possession of Buck Bay, and it will be 
surprising if his descendants are not still there 
next century. To part with Buck Bay would 
mean selling an earthly paradise. 

Seclusion is not the whole secret of Buck Bay's 
charm Nevertheless, it is an advantage to have 
beach after beach of one's own; to have a 
sheltered bay where it is nearly always possible 
to launch a boat; and to be able to fill the boat 
with fish and crawfish right in front of your 
stoep. 

Tiring of the sea the owner of Buck Bay can 
walk inland with a shotgun over his shoulder and 
return within an hour with a steenbok and a 



brace of pheasant. Steenbok, duiker, grysbok and 
game birds are as plentiful as they were last 
century. Within the last twenty years Mr. Duckitt 
and his neighbours have been successful in 
exlemrinating the jackal and redcat. 

Since then the game has flourished as it did of 
old Tommy Fick of Darling, a marvellous 
tracker, the man who killed "Broken Toe" the 
jackal, cleared this veld of vermin But the Buck 
Bay farm has still to be protected against 
poachers. For that reason the farm gate is kept 
locked and the caretaker patrols the boundaries. 

Mr. Duckitt runs his young Frieslands at Buck 
Bay for most of the year. His main farm, of 
course, is Waylands on the road to Darling, and 
Buck Bay is his cattle post and holiday resort. I 
sat with him on a wooden bench overlooking the 
rocks at Bok Point; and as he told me the story of 
the farm the spell grew stronger and I could 
understand how the years would deepen one's 
affection for this sanctuary within sight of Table 
Mountain 



' ' . " T '? 




' " %-"s ■ 



Groote Post in the Dailing district, home of Hldegonda Duckitt 



Before the railway lines reached Malmesbuiy 
and Darling, the coast farmers all passed Buck 
Bay on their way from Saldanha to Cape Town- 
Mr. Duckitt showed me the old wagon track 
crossing a koppie on a headland. "We used to go 
to town from here on horseback in half a day," 
he recalled." You can ride on the beaches most 
of the way if you set out as the tide is falling. " 

Buck Bay was also one of the favourite New 
Year ramping spots of the Darling fanners 
during the Cape cart and wagon period Nowthat 
distance is no longer important, they mate for 
Yzerfontein or Melkbosch or Blaauwberg Strand 
by car. 

Until a few years before the Second World War 
there was no motor road to Buck Bay. Ferbaps 
that is why it was not discovered by the artists 
who paint homesteads. It took Mr. Duckitt more 
than three hours to reach Buck Bay by wagon 
from Waylands. Now he can do it in forty-five 
minutes, arid he goes more often. 



Hldagonda Duckitt (Mr. Wilferd Duckitt' s great- 
aunt) and he~ "Diary of a Cape Housekeeper/' 
described a Buck Bay holiday about eighty years 
ago: "One of our most delightful outings when 
living at Groote Post used to be the annual stay at 
Buck Bay - a cattle farm belonging to ny eldest 
brother, with a picturesque old Colonial bouse/' 
she wrote. "It had a voorhuis (hall or ante-room) 
opening into a large kitchen and store-room, and 
bedrooms on eifte~ side. To this place we went by 
ox-wagon generally, the roads being sandy, some 
of the elder ones driving in a cart and six horses; 
the wagons taking extra bedding pillows and 
stores. Thee bang no shops near, evetything had 
to be thought of and taken; and it required two 
wagons. We always took cook and housemaid, 
and thee was a boy who carried water and 
brought wood The routine was - early coffee and 
rusks, then bathing, then a breakfast of a broiled 
Hottentot fish, just caught (most delicious and 
juicy) and bread and butter. Walking, fishing, 
ftm early dinner. The usual afternoon rest; coffee 
or tea and cake, as you lite, and more fishing and 
walking and sitting on those grand rocks; supper 



and bed. The gentlemen would shoot pheasants, 
partridges and buck. Thanks to the rest and 
change, we would all return home invigorated and 
stiengthened, ready for the remaining summer 
days, which are long and trying." 

Miss Duckitt forgot to mention the row of 
bedrooms and stable added ty Louwrens de 
Jongh to the original homestead. I found the 
building almost unchanged since Miss Duckitf s 
day. Mr. Wilferd Duckitt' s father replaced the 
mud floors with timber) but the ceilings, with 
their ydlowvwod beams, are unaltered 

The pantty has a biandsolder of reeds and clay. In 
the kitchen there is an old hiead-oven with iron 
door, still in use. This is a high room under the 
pitch of thatch, with the rough stone and clay 
walls nearly three feet thick. The stone was 
quarried along the beach and the thatching reeds 
came from the farm. 

The homestead faces east It is well protected 
from the southeaster ty a rocky pomontory, and 
only the north wind trirgs the aromas of the veld 



At other times the powaiul sea air fills the house, 
and often the spray v^ts the lime-plastered 
facade. Fresh water is piped down to the house 
froma spring, 

Buck Bay receives many gifts from the sea Once 
a gaily-painted life-buoy from Lord Brasse^s 
yacht Sunbeam washed up on the beach Bathers 
useditforyears, until the sea took it again. 

On a wall there still hangs a life-buoy from the 
barque British Peer, wrecked some miles to the 
north on a moonlight night in 1896. Only the cook 
and carpenter were saved, and they told Mr. 
Duckitf s father that a light on the mainland had 
beei mistaken for Dassen Island. Much cargo 
came up, and the farmers helped themselves. 

One piece of Buck Bay flotsam was a wooden 
cradle. Sevetal Duckitt babies made good use of 
it. Habch-covets and gratings are often found, and 
recently a number of cans of beer drifted ashore. 
Tto^ did not look tempting. Duting the war a 
huge ship's raft, with all the food, and equipment, 
washed up in a little bay . 



Mr. Wilfecd Duekitfs queerest find was the 
skeleton of a strip. He bought the adjoining farm 
of Buff els Rivier for tris sheep some years ago; 
and he was riding there along the beach on a 
winter's day after a gale had scoured out the sand. 
There he saw the keel timbers and ribs of a large 
strip, exposed after many years. The sand covered 
the skeleton again, and no one can say how it 
came there or what strip it was. 

The dunes at Buck Bay also hold their relics of 
the past Mr. Duckitt has found the homs of large 
antelope there; and hippo bones have been 
unearthed near the Bok Rivier mouth Above the 

homestead are H)BBrulsond dunes - the sand that 
roars and rumbles as you walk down the slope. 

For many years a large fishing boat was kept at 
Buck Bay. Skipper and crew sailed up and down 
the Darling coast in the snoeking season, and 
supplied the farms in the district with crawfish 
ard ration fish for the labourer. Mr. Duekitfs 
fathe~ often sent large baskets of grapes across to 
d'Almeida of Dassei Island, and the baskets 
would come back filled with penguin eggs. The 



skipper died tm years ago, crews were hard to 
find, and now Mr. Duckitt has only a dinghy to 
supply his own household with "broiled Hotten- 
tot" still prepared according to Hildagonda 
Duekitfs recipe. 

Buck Bay is a crawfish sanctuary which stretches 
three miles along the coast and one mile out to 
sea A white beacon on the f arm marks one limit 
of the sanctuary, but the fishermen do not always 
obseive it. "Cutters anchor in the bay and poach 
right under our noses/' declared Mr. Duckitt. 

Deep water runs up to Bok Point and gieat seas 
roll in uirhecked from far across the South 
Atlantic to treak on the rocks. In fine weather 
many a galjoeu is landed on those rocks. At low 
tide periemoen, queeu of Cape shellfish, are taken 
from the gullies. 

In the spring Buck Bay has as brilliant a tapestry 
of wild flowers as any part of the Darling district. 
Mr. Ducldtt'sf alter flr^ 

famous Buck Bay vygies which I have 
mentioned; and they have been grown in Cape 



gardens for most of this centuiy. These vygies 
(Dorotheanthus crirriflorus) reveal the whole 
range of colours except blue. At Buck Bay, too, 
you find the edible elandsvye; they ripen at the 
beginning of November and are eaten green, 
unlike the sour fig which is picked when brown 
and dry. 

Aloes with red flowers grow in the natural 
rockery near the Buck Bay homestead The veld 
is covered with slaaibos, the succulent loved by 
cattle; melkbos, with its white juice; kersbos and 
wag-'n-bietjie and the Sonqua's reed named after 
the departed Sonqua Hottentots who made their 
huts of it long ago. 

Oldest resident at Buck Bay is Mrs. Smuts, aged 
eighty-eight, who arrived thete when her husband 
was apjx>inted caretaker forty-four years ago. 
After her husband' s death her son took on the job. 
They have a neat, thatched house near the 
homestead. Mrs. Smuts was bom at Saldanha and 
has lived on this coast nearly all her life. At one 
period her husband became the driver of a horse 



drawn hearse in Cape Town; but both of them 
were glad to return to the countty. 

Mrs. Smuts declares that only now is she 
beginning to feel the approach of old age - her 
memory isrotquitewb£4it\\as. Otherwise she is 
rompletely fit after a life of healthy work. And 
she is thankful that she does not have to do her 
shopping in Cape Town nowadays. Her son 
grows potatoes and other vegetables. As I have 
indicateci there are no meat or fish shortages. 
Mrs. Smuts assures me that tlrae is no hardship in 
spending half one' s life at Buck Bay. 

So the weathered and mellow homestead stands in 
restful dignity year after year. Outside the kitchen 
grows a Norfolk pine. There are graves near the 
beach and more graves out towards Bok Point; 
nameless graves, possibly the victims of 
shipwreck in Dutch East India days; or just those 
old convicts who cut firewood and collected 
mussel shells two centuries ago. 

TlHe is no telephone at Buck Bay, and the 
Duckitts are not anxious to have one. Mrs. 



Wilferd Duckitt gave me a true and vivid 
impression of Buck Bay when she remarked 
thoughtfully: "This place reminds me of the 
wagon days, the days before telephones - the days 
when trouble could not reach you." 



Everyone in Cape Town knows the Martin Melck 
House in Strand Street, finest example of old 
Dutch architecture in the city. Not so many people 
know the Martin Melck farm on the Betg River - 
Keasefontetn, held continuously fcy the family 
since 1760. 

It would be almost impossible, I think, to find any 
other South Afhcan farm which has been in 
possession of one family for nearly two cmturies. 
The Myburghs of Meedust and the Faures of 
Eeste River may have a word to say about this, 
but there can be not other claimants. Kersefonten 
was acquired at the period when the first Martin 
Melck occupied Hsenburg, in the days of 
Governor Tulbagh. 



Elsenburg was a wine farm and Melck held a 
contract to supply the Dutch East India 
Company's ships with wine. He had to have oxen 
for the wagons that hauled the wine casks to 
Table Bay; and at fiist Ketsefontein was his cattle 
f aniL It is a place of six thousand morgan, twenty 
miles from the Betg River mouth, a hundred 
miles by direct road from Cape Town When the 
river floods its banks you must travel round by 
way of Pikstberg, and then the journey is fifteen 
miles longer. 

The Melcks have always been fond of horses and 
horse-racing, but the second Melck carried his 
sport rather too far. He lost Elsenburg and in 1796 
he had to fall back on KersefontEan, a long 
journey by ox-wagon along the sandy coast track 
from Cape Town It could be done in three days 
by wagonette with eight horses, however, so tat 
be was not really a distant exile. Early last century 
the third Melck started breeding the horses for 
which Kersefontein is still famous. He, too, put up 
the gracious buildings which still form the 
homestead and outhouses. 




The Martin Melck farm on the Beg River, held continuously fcy the family since 1760. 



A point to bear in mind is that every member of 
the Melck dynasty, right down to the eldest son at 
the present time, has been named Martin 
Ketsefontean, fcy the way, has nothing to do with 
candles. The name comes from the wild cherries 
that grow on the farm. 

Grain was first sown there in 1880, in the days 
when the Stepbanbrotl^ 
to load grain and carried it down to where their 
coasters weited off the river mouth A bag of 
grain fetched sixteen shillings in Cape Town at 
that period; but the transport charge was six 
shillings a bag. Now the railway runs within sight 
of Ke^efonten, and the height of nine pence a 
bag leaves the produce^ in a far better position 

This sandy Beixj River country is infested with 
moles, which became a serious menace when the 
MeLcks began to cultivate the land on a large 
scale They are the same golden moles which 
burrow into dams and sometimes cause the walls 
to burst 



The psreseit Martin Melck declared war on moles 
about forty years ago. He bought dozens of traps, 
and aided by a Bushman-Hottentot hunte~ he 
caught four thousand moles in one year. Mr. 
Melck selected a hundred of the finest moleskins 
and presented them to the Governor of the Cape 
Colony, Sir Walter Hely Hufchinson, who had 
them dressed and made into a cloak for his wife 
Thousands of skins were sent to England, wise 
they fetched Is. 6cL apiece. Mr. Melck still traps 
about two hundred moles ayear. 

It was at Keasefontern, of course, that the last 
hippo in the Berg River was shot That was in 
February, 1869, and the large skull is preserved in 
the homestead. Early last century there were 
probably about twenty hippo in the river. Mr. 
Melck 7 s great-grandfather once saw fifteen in one 
group. But at the middle of the century, although 
the hippo were protected, there were only four 
survivors. 

These lippD were regarded as harmless, for they 
grazed with the cattle in the vleis. Once they 
capsized a boat, but no one was hurt In the 



summer of 1868, however, there was only one 
hippo left; in the rivet) and loneliness seemed to 
make this old bull hippo vicious. In that year the 
hippo killed a coloured man on Mr. Melckf s farm. 

At diffest times Mr. Layard; of the Cape Town 
Museum, and that rebuttable hunter, the Duke 
of Edinburgh, searched the river in the hope of 
shooting the last doomed hippo. Both were 
unsuccessful. The lone bull seemed to have gone 
into hiding- though Mr. John Kotze, out after 
pheasant near Ke^efbnten, suddenly encountered 
the hippo in the reeds. He had followed lis dog 
into the weter when the hippo raised its head and 
made a dash for the dog. Mr. Kotze gave the 
lippo a charge of Urdshot in the face and saved 
lis dog- but the last lippo went back into hiding. 

For weeks the crews of river cutbets declared that 
they had not seen a trace of the criminal. Then, in 
February, 1869, four of Mr. Melck's coloured 
men were bathing near the house when the old 
bull rippled the surface. 



The alarm was given, but one youth - Mr. 
Melck's faithful valet, 18-year-old Jan Tin- failed 
to reach the bank in time. The lippo seized him 
and dragged him under. Mr. Melck arrived with 
lis loaded gun in time to see the lippo rising as 
though it intended to mate another rush at the 
body of its victim. He fired at eighty yards range 
and lit just below the lippo' s right ear. 

Mr. Noble, Clerk of the House of Assembly, who 
was a guest at Kosefontein, described the scene 
'The hippo circled three times, dashing the water 
in violent waves upon the bank," he said. "Mr. 
Melck fired a second shot and a Mr. van Schoor 
also fired, but both these shots missed. Nod; 
morning, however, the hippo was found dead at 
Watermeloen Drift a mile away. It had been 
carried up the river by the rising tide and the body 
had drifted into the reeds." 

It took sixteen oxen to drag the carcass from the 
river, for it weghed nearly three thousand lbs. 
From snout to tail the lippo measured 11 ft 6 
inches. The age was estimated at twoiy-eight 
years. Mr. Melck had killed it with a round ball 



filed from a smooth boie Joe Manton gun 
presented to tris father by Earl Caledon vety eady 
in the century. 

Some of the meat was eaten, and the hippo was 
carefully skinned This historic spetimai is still to 
be seen in the South African Musajm. The 
pesent Mr. Martin Melck has somSimes thought 
of re-stocking the Berg Riva~ with a pair of young 
hippo, but he has, been restrained by thoughts of 
tfel869tegecfy. 

Small, distant relatives of the hippo family - 
small but fierce - still inhabit the dense reeds 
fringing Kersefontein's river boundary . They are 
pigs, domestic pigs that ran wild a century and a 
half ago; pigs that have become more ferocious 
than boars, bush pigs or warthogs. 

These pigs have developed peculiar character- 
istics since their return to the wild They have 
long muzzles and razor-edged tusks. Hundreds 
of them live in the thick bushes and reedy 
tunnels of the river bank. Some weigh tv\o 



hundred lbs. When hunted they attack men, 
horses and dogs with primitive savagery. 

Mr. Melck finds the pigs useful for feeding tris 
labourers, and pig hunts take place every week. 
He has produced a special breed of dog for the 
purpose, a cross between a bulldog and a nonde- 
script, dogs with pace and pluck These dogs 
have been trained to grip a pig by the ear and 
hold it until the hunters arrive. It is a, far more 
thrilling sport than you might imagine. Many a 
man on Kersefontein carries scars made by a 
pig's tusks. 

Hundreds of ostriches have also run wild on the 
farm since the end of the old feather boom. The 
nests are often found and Mrs. Melck uses the 
eggs for her cakes. 

Kersefontein has seen many floods. The 
homestead is twenty feet above sea level and 
fifteen feet above summer low river level. No 
flood water has ever entered the doors; but in the 
1822 flood, the highest of which Mr. Melck has 
any record, the water reached the stoep. Not until 



1921 was there again a flood which approached 
the house. 

When the Melcks first settled at Kersefonten 
they crossed the river by a drift eight miles 
upstream During last century a flat boat was 
used; it fitted between the wteels of a cart and 
the horses swam across. In 1893 a pont service 
was established The teak boats and platform are 
still on the farm Finally, in 1934, came the 
bridge. 

There are few spots in the Cape as pleasant 
during September as Kersefontein Then it is a 
land of vleas and spring flowers. No longer do 
the Melcks regret the loss of Elsenburg, which 
the first Martin Melck did so much to improve 
by clever designing. He was an architect from 
Prussia, founder of the Lutheran Church in 
Strand Street. There have been eight more 
Martin Melcks at Kersefontein and the Martin 
Melck House since his time - an unbroken line 
seen against the rich background of Cape history. 



Chapter 19 
George Rex Of Knysna 

Nearly Twenty Years Ago I was in the 
little South Afhcan town of Knysna on a delicate 
mission I wished to learn all I could of that 
nysterious character George Rex: - son of 
George III, King of England, and Hannah 
Lightfoot the "fair Quakeress." 

It would have been a hopeless task but for the 
help given by Miss Sanni MebeLerkamp, author 
of books and plays, who was a newspaper 
colleague and old friend of mine. Miss MebeLer- 
kamp was a great-granddaughter of Rex. She 
was the historian of the family, and she had 
investigated the Rex story not only at the Cape, 
but in London In her day. Miss Metelertaamp 
was the greatest living authority on the subject. 

She warned me that it would be useless to 
approach certain members of the family. One 
might not imagine that the possibility of a bar 
sinister far back would still seal many lips; but 
there it was. Other descendants, however, were 



proud of their origin and showed me their 
heirlooms and documents. Each day the drama 
mounted. I am still moved when I think of the 
strange career of that silent exile who founded 
Knysna and carried his secret to the grave. 

Miss Mebelerkamp died in 1945.She had devoted 
the last ten years of her life to filling in gaps in 
the ReK history. I saw her often during the last 
months, and she told me far more than I had 
gathered during the Knysna visit At that time I 
had written the first connecteci authoritative 
story of George ReK ever published It brought 
me a number of revealing letters fromfar comers 
of South Africa Now here are the facts and the 
legends in the light of later information 



The story opens in London about the year 1756, 
when there lived at the comer of Market-street, 
St James, a beautiful girl named Hannah 
Lightfoot She was known as the "fair 
Quakeress/' and she served in the shop of her 
uncle, a Quaker linen draper named Wheeler. 



Hannah Lightfoot often caught the eye of Prince 
George (afterwards George III, King of England) 
during his walks and rides between Leicester- 
square and St James's Palace. One historian 
remarks: "She soon returned the attentions of 
such a lover." 

No one disputes that there was a love affair, and 
that they had two sons and a daughter. There is 
reason to believe that they were married - 
secretly, but legally. Long afterwards (in 1866) a 
marriage certificate and a will alleged to have 
been made by Hannah were produced as 
evidence in a court case. Netherclift, the hand- 
writing expert of the period, declared the 
documents were genuine. The will read as 
follows: 

Hampsteacl July 7th, 1768. 

"Provided I depart this life, I commend my two 
sons and my daughter to the kind protection of 
their Royal Father, His Majesty, George III, 
bequeathing whatever property I die possessed of 
to such dear offspring of my ill-fated marriage. 
In case of the death of each of my children, I 



give and bequeath to Olive Wilmot, the daughter 
of my best friend. Dr. Wilmot, whatever property 
I am entitled to or am possessed of at the time of 
my death. Amen. 



Witnesses 

J. Dunning. 
William Pitt 



Hannah Regina 



Lord Chief Justice Wilde ordered all the 
documents to be inpounded and preserved in the 
strong room at Somerset House. Miss 
Metelerkamp, and other historians before and 
after her, made repeated efforts to gain access to 
this evidence. All of them failed So the marriage 
is not proven 

Hannah Lightfoot vanished into obscurity, but 
not before Sir Joshua Reynolds had painted her 
portrait. It is in the possession of Lord Sackville; 
the portrait of a mature woman in a white satin 
dress; a woman with a calm, sad face and 
haunting eyes. 

It is said that one son, John, was shipped off to 
India, and was drowned The daughter Sarah 



lived quietly in Bath and died in 1842 without 
arousing either gossip or publicity. The other son 
was known as George ReK. He had a legal 
training and is supposed to have been a equeny 
at the Court of George III. For some reason 
which can only be surmised it became desirable 
to dispose of him, too, and in October, 1797, he 
was sent to the new British colony at the Cape. 
He arrived to fill the well-paid post of "Marshal 
of the Admiralty," and 1b had ample private 
means. 

Though the English career of George Rex is 
somewhat misty, his life in South Africa is on 
record and the Cape Archives have many books 
and documents teeing his progress. 

From the first it was said openly that he was the 
King's son In 1801 a Mr. George Twdstle 
complained publicly that Mr. ReK had been 
presented with one of the best posts in the colony, 
simply because he was a son of George III. Mr. 
Twistle also wrote to his sister in England: 'This 
so-called ReK is feted and the recipient of much 
honour on account of his being the son of our 



King by a Quaker. He has been sent here with 
evety comfort Those who have called themselves 
the servants of the Colony are now the servants of 
Rex. You ask the reason? Rex is not only the son 
but the legitimate heir of our King, for his mother 
the Quaker, and King George, were joined in 
marriage before ever Queen Charlotte was 
thought of ..." 

George Rex:, erer gentle and dignified, kept lis 
own counsel and avoided controversy. He bought 
a fine house and garden, ScbooixIe^Zigt, from the 
Widow Freslich, lived in style in Table Valley, 
and carried out his duties with distinction when 
seafaring cases were heard at the Castle and 
pirates were tried by court-martial. He was 
granted ahuge farm, Melkbout Kraal, on the edge 
of the wild, dephant-infested Knysna forests; and 
sometimes he journeyed tlrae to see what 
progress his slaves were making. 

Then came the return to Dutch rule for a few 
years, and George Rex had to sell his town 
property under the proclamation of Governor 
Janssens. So before Fopham and Baird seized the 



Cape again in 1806, Rex found himself without 
residence or occupation He was an enetgetic man 
in the prime of life, and an idle life in the gay 
Cape society of those days did not appeal to trim 
A farmer at heart, he decided to settle at Knysna 

The trek of more than three hundred miles was a 
serious uixiertaking in those days, especially as 
ReK intended to establish himself as a squire and 
live in a civilised manner. A sea voyage to 
Knysna wDuld have been less arduous, but at that 
time no vessel had erfeed the Heads and 
anchored in the shelteed bay. The harbour was 
thoughtto be unsafe. 

Late in 1804 a cavalcade of coaches, wagons and 
cattle swung out of the shadow of Table Mountain 
underthe leadership of George Rex, bound for the 
distant coast The household servants, artisans and 
the hundred slaves filled sixteen wagons. Roc 
himself travelled in a coach bearing the Royal 
Coat of Anns (to which his former post entitled 
trim) and drawn ty six white horses. 




Cottages at Kiysna, built in the days of George Rgk. 



Knysna in those days must have seemed to the 
exiled George Ksk like a comer of England - an 
impiession which this green forest country still 
leaves in the minds of travellers. Theriverandthe 
woods were gorgeous with bird life, from egret to 
flamingo. Huge elephants and buffalo were seen 
in the forests. The veld was alive with buck. 

There is a petty legend that Rex: was authorised 
to claim all the land he could see from a high 
point near the river moufti This, unfortunately, is 
pure fancy. Rex had been granted an enormous 
farm, and he soon purchased from their owners 
those other famous properties which he called 
Melkhout Kraal, Eastford and WestforcL His 
whole domain covgbI 20,296 acres, and included 
much valuable forest land 

George Rex, undoubbedly, was a man who would 
now be described as "the right type of settler." 
Melkhout Kraal, where he built his mansion, 
became an outpost of civilisation in that wild 
territory. "It is more like a Fairy land than an 
ordinary South African cattle run," wrote one 
early traveller. 



Rex: had a wife and four children when he left 
Cape Town for Knysna Proof of the marriage is 
not to be found One of his sons, however, ldt 
this statement on record: "My father was the 
second son of George III and Hannah Ughtfoot 
He lived in South Africa on land provided by the 
government, with an annual grant from the 
government, onroixitionthathecfidnotrdumtD 
Erigland and that he did not marry. He did marry, 
but the grant was continuecL" 

The name of his first wife was Elizabeth Ungeror 
Ungria She may have been a widow, and she 
certainly had children A foreigner, she was also a 
woman of some means; for there is proof that she 
owned a number of slaves. Four years after arrival 
at Knysna she passes out of the picture. Miss 
Mefceletkamp thought she had died there, but no 
grave has been located. 

The second Mrs. Rex: was Carolina Margaretta 
Unger (or Ungria), and she was a relative of 
Elizabeth. Again there is no proof of a marriage; 
but she was received in the highest society at the 
Cape, and nowhere in the (Mailed records of the 



period does one find a suggestion of an irregular 
union- Mr. William Harrison, a traveller who 
visited Metkhout Kraal in 1830, wrote a 
description for the English magazine "Notes and 
Queries," in which he remarked: "Mrs. Rex had 
originally come of German parentage. She was 
kind and affable. Mr. George Rex was then about 
68 years of age, of strong, robust appearance and 
the exact resemblance in feature to George III." 
Another writer said that Mrs. Rex often wore a 
headdress of three ostrich feathers in the evenings. 



Rex was an affectionate father. His children were 
taught mathematics, French, Latin, drawing, 
music and dancing, several tutors having come to 
reside at Melkhout Kraal. Most of the amenities 
of cultured life were to be found tto^. Eveyone 
dressed for dinner at night The "Old Place," as 
Melkhout Kraal was afterwards called, was 
famous as a mansion where visitors received the 
most lavish hospitality. 



As the years passed, the Rex: family grew until 
tlraewere six sons aodse^eadarighters. EcK\ertl 
the eldest son, was slightly deaf. He ne^er 
married Lite lis father he loved the land and 
remained at Melkhout Kiaal all lis life. John Rgk, 
the second son, "a man of pinoely manner and 
conspicuous ability/' became lis father's right- 
hand man, and made a name for limself as an 
explorer of unknown parts of the Cape coast 
Jacob was musical. He was appointed superin- 
tendent of govemmmt forests. Fredeick qualified 
as a land surveyor. George, a famra; is 
remembered by many people still living, for he 
died in 1899 - last survivor of the first generation 
of male ReKes. He bore a strong resemblance to 
Queen Victoria's cousin, the Duke of Qareice. 
Thomas Henry, the youngest son, entered the civil 
service, butretiredto Knysna to take up faming. 

Some of the daughtes were sent to Cape Town to 
finish their education; and most of them married 
into noble English families. Though the "Old 
Place" was far from the aristocracy of the Castle 
in Cape Town, many gallant young officers and 



high officials journeyed to Knysna and were 
entertained by Geoige Rex. Thete was, for 
example. Lieutenant (afterwards Captain) Thomas 
Duthie, of the 72nd Highlandets, who married 
Caroline Rex; Captain John Fisher SeweQ, who 
married Maria Rex; and Mr. Atkinson, of 
Armagh, who became the husband of Sarah Rex. 

Elizabeth Caroline, the eldest girl, never married 
Lord Charles Somerset, Governor of the Cape, 
used to pit his wits against her at chess. Louisa 
ReK, a blue-eyed girl with auburn hair, was the 
only daughter who ever left the country for good 
She married the Rev. Charles Bull and went with 
him to England Bull tried to solve the ReK secret 
and would probably have done so, but he was 
suddenly appointed to the Falkland Islands and 
kept there for fifteen years. I think that is a 
significant link in the chain of evidence. 

One day an artist arrived at Metkhout Kraal with 
the intention of painting George Rex and his 
family. He was hospitably received; but Rex 
made it clear that he could paint nothing but 
scenety. There is no painting of George Rex or 



any member of the first generation except 
Frederick, the surveyor. The artist met Frederick 
away from home (and George Rex's influence) 
and persuaded htm to sit for a portrait. The royal 
likeness in this painting is startling. After the 
death of George Rex an early travelling photo- 
grapher secured portraits of a few of the sons and 
daughters. 

The unmistakable, heavy Hanoverian profile of 
George III has persisted in every generation of 
the ReK family down to the present day. To my 
mind, it is the strongest proof of the legend A 
single likeness would not cany conviction; but 
when you come upon a family full of Queen 
Victorias, King Edward the Sevenths, and so on, 
then no reasonable doubt remains. This I have 
seen myself, and I am convinced I am told that 
the Hannah Lightfoot likeness has also cropped 
up again and again 



The "Old Place," lite the daughters, grew in 
beauty year by year. Gardens with rare plants 



were laid ouL A watermill and a blacksmith's 
shop were built Orchards, vineyards, orange 
trees and avenues of oaks appeared. Mulberry 
trees were planted, and it is recorded that Rex 
sent 12 lb. of silk, spun by his daughters to 
London He made cider and brandy. 

Rex: kept ostriches on his faim - several well- 
known early travellers mention the fact It is 
probable that such an enterprising man exported 
feathers; and in that case he would be the real 
founder of the South African industry. 

His diary, like so many other treasures of the "Old 
Place," was destroyed in one of a secies of 
disastrous fires. A few scraps written in 1833-34 
remain, however, and give vivid glimpses into the 
daily life of this busy man. He speaks of sealing 
expeditions to Pletbenbeig Bay, elephant hunts, 
the visits of ships - and lettes from Cape Town 
ruined in the post-bag fcy a broken flask of 
brandy. There are frequent entries telling of foals 
killed fcy "wolves," which were, of course, 
spotted hyenas. Nowhere is thei^ a mention of his 
past It is said that George Rex destroyed his 



private papers one day when he returned home 
unexpectedly to find his wife looking through the 
drawers in his desk; but that is only a family 
legend. 

Among distirguished visitors was the Earl of 
Caledon in 1811, who presented Rex: with a silver 
cup. LiaitHiant Foster, RN., and lis wife and 
child, wob guests at the "Old Place" after the 
wreck of H.M.S. Emu - the first vessel to ente~ 
Knysna harbour. You can still see the bones of the 
Emu, almost buried in a sand-spit at low tide, 
though the ship was lost in 1817. 

Dr. James Bany, the woman who worked at the 
Cape as a physician disguised in male clothing for 
many years, was another visitor who stayed in 
that hospitable mansion She once accompanied 
Lord Charles Somerset;, who was the guest of 
George Rex on several occasions. Rex's slaves 
realised immediately that the doctor was a 
woman, and gave her the Afrikaans nick-name of 
"Kapok Nooientjie," the "cotton-wool lady," 
because she padded her male clothes to disguise 
the feminine curves. There was a dramatic 



contrast indeed - George Rex and Bany - two 
famous people with secrete. 

Great people in Cape history were guests at 
Melkhout Kraal. Burchell, Latrobe, Steedman, 
George Thompson and many other author- 
travellers wrote their impressions of Rex: and 
Knysna. The controversial Dr. Vanderteaip of the 
London Mission Society stayed there. Sir Andries 
Stockenstroom, Sir Lawry Cole, Colonel Mchell 
the surveyor - all knew Rex and his family. Rex 
gave a special welcome to two Quaker visitors, 
James Backhouse and George Washington 
Walter. No doubt their speech and ways 
reminded him of his mother. 

After the "Old Place" had been destroyed three 
times by fire, George Rex moved to the "New 
Place," later called Rexfoid. There he continued 
to lead his polished life, a man of great dignity, 
but with secret sorrows and perhaps, ambitions 
unfulfilled. He used to wander in the solitude of 
his fine garden, hands behind his back, hearing 
voices from far away and answering them aloud. 



"No, no, Your Grace, I cannot agree with you." 
Then a silence. 

"Yes, Your Royal Highness, I think I can do 
that" 

George Rex: had left many good friends in 
England. Once he received word that an East 
India Company's ship, with a number of these 
friends on board, was bound from Bombay for 
Knysna. He must have waited eagerly for them, 
happier than he had been for years; for his 
friends would sweep away some of the longings 
of an exile and bring back the dead past 

The ship arrived and anchored far out, off the 
open coast near Knysna. A crowded boat came 
surging in upon the heavy swell; and the heart of 
George Rex must have beat faster as he watched. 
Imagine his horror when the boat broached- to in 
the surf and every soul was drowned. He buried 
them with his own hands, and returned to the 
"New Place," a lonely man. He never spoke of 
the tragedy, but it is just possible that his own 
brother John was among those drowned that day. 



It was after this disaster that Rex started his 
campaign to persuade the Admiralty that Knysna 
was a safe harbour. He surveyed the lagoon, 
found that there was sufficient depth of water on 
the bar to allow ships to enter, and chartered a 
deep channel for miles up the river. With the aid 
of this information, shipmasters lost their fear of 
the narrow entrance between the rocky Heads. 
Old records show that from 1817 to the time of 
Rex's death in 1839, a total of 162 ships visited 
Knysna, and there were only four wrecks during 
that period. 

Delays in exporting timber owing to a shortage 
of coastal shipping led Rex to build a vessel of 
lis own He sent to Simon's Town for a ship- 
builder, caulkers and indentured servants skilled 
in the work; and in 1826 the keel of the brig 
Knysna \aqs laid She was built of stinkwxxi - 
the teak of South Africa - and 50 years later she 
was still afloat as a coal carrier along the coasts 
of England 

It was in this little ship of 140 tons that John Rex 
explored little-known stretches of the coastline 



between Cape Town and Durban. The Knysna 
was the first vessel to land cargo on the banks of 
the Buffalo River, where East London now 
stands. It seems a pity that the name Port Rex, 
given to the harbour by John Rex, should have 
been forgotten- Other voyages, as far east as the 
Isle of France (now Mauritius), and as far west as 
St. Helena, were made by the Knysna before she 
was sold. 



On his death-bed, George Rex asked his family to 
obliterate the Royal crest from the household 
silver and cutlety. He also asked them to bury him 
on the estate - not in England. Many questions 
must have come to their lips as their father lay 
dying; but he had told them nothing throughout 
his life, and now they dared not ask. 

The people of Knysna walked in heavy rain, some 
of ton for twenty miles, to attend the funeral of 
George Rex: in April, 1839. One newspaper 
otituary notice paid the greatest tribute of all to 




In Memory of George Rex: , Esquire, Proprietor 
and Founder of Knysna. 1839. 



the royal founder of the town. "He left no enemy 
behind." 

Today the grave is neglected It is to be found 
with difficulty less than a mile outside Krysna on 
the road to Plettenberg Bay. The marble tomb- 
stone bears the simple inscription: "In Memory of 
George Rex:, Esquire, Proprietor and Founder of 
Krysral839." 

His will gave no clue to the secret George Rex 
instructed that his estate should be divided into 
sixteen equal parts, thirteen shares to the thirteen 
children and three shares to his wife. 

Among the fragments of evidence in Miss 
Metelerkamp' s possession was a yellowed cutting 
from an unnamed newspape~ which printed this 
paragraph shortly after the death of George Rex: 

'There died recently at the HUYSNA, South 
Africa, no less a personage than George Rex, the 
morganatic son of George III. In the early part of 
this century a sailing vessel left England under 
sealed ordes. It made for the Cape, and the 
illustrious son of a morganatic union between 



George in and Hannah Lightfoot, the Quakeress, 
got a giant of land, as much as he wished for, in 
our then new South African possessions. He 
selected the HUYSNA, a beautiful, well- wooded 
and well-watered tract of land and was made 
Marshal of the Cape. A great many relics of 
George III are preserved as heirlooms in the 
family. George Rex was always vety reticent as 
regards his descent A few years ago a gentleman, 
who did not know of his descent, was touring 
through Germany and at the castle of Numberg he 
saw a large painting of George in. 'How vety like 
my old friend George Rex in South Africa]' he 
exclaimed to a friend who knew of the romantic 
life of George Rex." 

Royal interest in the Rex: family has not lessmed 
since the death of George ReK. When the Duke of 
Edinbuigh visited Knysna in 1864, to shoot 
elephants, he chose no one tut ReK men to f brm 
his personal todyguard during that memorable 
adveiture. Mr. George ReK, fifth son of the 
founder, was appointed "Captain of the Hunt," 



while another ReK carried the Duke's 18 lb. 
elephant gun 

There have been other royal visitors to Knysna 
smce then; and all of them have shown that they 
are familiar with the stoiy of George Rex. They 
have cammed the relics which escaped the fires - 
those old, romantic things which are not made 
today. I saw them, and handled with a thrill the 
ebony baton, mounted with a silver crown, which 
was the symbol of George Rex' s office as 
Marshal of the Admiralty. 

Use is a medallion with a bust of George III ky 
Wedgwxd - a delicate and valuable relic. A 
rosewood chair which ReK brought out from 
Ehgland with him Some wine-glasses, many 
coins, and a seal engraved, 'Though lost to sight 
to memory dear/' which was handed to ReK by 
George III as a parting gift when he ldt EhglancL 

During the South African War, when General 
Smuts and his commando were reported to be 
planning an attack on Knysna, many of the most 
valued Rex possessions were buried. On this 



occasion, as on many ottos, those who hid them 
could not locate the ocact spots afterwards. 

Parchment manuscripts, including George ReK's 
comriissLon as Marshal of the Admiralty, were 
found- allllankwtentatenfromtteear^ 

There is still old silver under the Knysna soil, and 
even in recent times the plough has turned up a 
few ornaments of long ago in the fields where 
once the "Old Place" stood. 

Other lost possessions are remembered by 
members of the Rex family still living. There was 
a harp which was played by one of George Rex's 
daughters while the others sang "She wDie a 
wreath of roses" and songs of those days. A spinet 
with tiny feet, made to stand on a table. A musical 
box which played "Pop goes the weasel." There 
survives a Wedgwood jug which the old slaves, 
Caesar or Cupido or Adoons, would fill with 
wate~ several times a day for their master. And a 
case of stuffed English birds marvellously 
preserved 



But I remember most clearly the heavy, velvet 
photograph albums of the Victorian era, and the 
portraits of men in tightly-buttoned coats, with 
beards or side- whiskers, and women in the skirts 
and hats which seem so quaint today. They were 
the descendants of George Rex; and if I had 
known nothing of this story I would have 
identified them without hesitation as bygone 
members of the British royal family. 

That is all I intend to tell of the story of George 
Rex, a gentleman who left behind a tradition of 
kindliness and courage worthy of a king, though 
he ruled, not a great country, but only a wild 
comer of South Africa 

Chapter 20 
Lloyd Of The Lagoon 

Daar kom die Alabama 

Ver, ver oor die see 

Daar kom die Alabama 

Ver, ver, ver oor die see. 

Coloured People At The Cape sing that 
folk-song today with the same fine sense of 



harmony as they did when the Southern 
commerce-raider appeared in South African 
waters in July, 1863. 

They sing it at e^ery carnival and picnic, and the 
Afrikaans words need no translation The song 
came spontaneously from unknown minstrels 
who welched the baiquentine-rigged steamer 
capture the Federal barque Sea Bride outside 
Table Bay. Deeply stirred by the exploits of 
Captain Semmes, the people of Cape Town and 
the coast made heroes of the whole ship's 
company and talked of the Alabama for months. 

And the Alabama never disappointed theoL She 
came and went mysteriously and returned with 
fresh tales of adventure. Some of her men were 
entertained so well on shore that they deserted - 
though Semmes blamed the Yankee Consul 
"with his usual unscrupulousness." Several of 
them never returned, and Semmes wrote bitterly: 
'This is another of those remarkable interpretar 
tions of neutrality in which John Bull seems to 
be so particularly fertile." 



About sevm months before the Alabama's 
arrival, two young seamen from New York 
named George Albert Lloyd and Cornelius 
Gallagher slipped on shore from a Yankee 
clipper berthed in Table Bay Docks. They had 
seen enough of the hard life of the sea, and they 
simply waited away, leaving their kit behind, 
into the gracious countryside of Dutch home- 
steads, vineyards and orchards. 

More than half a century laterl was on holiday at 
Saldanha Bay, a paradise for a schoolboy fond of 
sailing and fishing. In a village store I noticed a 
lean old man with a Yankee face and Abraham 
Lincoln beard. 

"Yes, stare hard sonny, for if s not e^ery day 
you'll see a man who came off the Alabama," 
said the storekeeper. "Stare hard - thaf s Lloyd of 
the lagoon" 

So I gaped at old Lloyd and watched him as he 
strode off to his boat, made sail, and steered 
away down the lagoon to a still more isolated 
village on the far side. I did not know then, of 




George Albert Lloyd, the American sailor who founded Church Haven on the lagoon at Langebaan, with 
his wife, sons, daughter and giand-cMdien The group was plxtogiaphed in 1908. 



course, that the storekeeper had mixed up 
Lloyd's history a bit. That solitary glimpse 
lingered in my memory, however, and I always 
wished that I had spoken to the old man 

Lloyd died in October, 1916, not long after my 
glimpse. But now at last I can visualize his life 
almost as though he had talked to me that day 
when I saw him beside his beloved lagoon From 
his sons, and a daughter, and faded letters from 
America, I pierced together a strange fragment of 
history. 

Lloyd was bom at Hudson in the State of New 
York in 1842. One of his sisters wrote to his 
descendants: "George left home for a sea voyage 
in October, 1858, when he was sixteen. (I was 
eight). We had the Civil War, and he never 
returned to us." 

So there were the two young Americans turning 
their backs on the sea and tramping into a land 
perfumed with flowers and fruit They reached 
the Paarl district feeling extremely hungry; but 
they had a little money and they called at a 



farmhouse to buy food "Loop!" shouted the 
farmer. As they passed an open window the 
odour of nev^y-baked bread greeted them, and 
the famished men stole a loaf. 

They turned westwards from Paad, meeting 
better hospitality, and at last the^ came to the 
lagoon that runs south from Langebaan for eight 
miles ... the shining salt lagoon and the, 
flamingos with pink feathers just flushing the 
whiteness of their plumage ... the lagoon where a 
great hush rests like a benediction over the 
unruffled surface. 

The sight of it gripped them as it has often 
fascinated me. Gallagher found work on a farm 
on the eastern side of the lagoon Lloyd gazed 
across three miles of weter. Impelled by some 
instinct which was more than curiosity, he 
declared "I must go on to the far side." 

It was Christmas Eve. Someone rowed Lloyd 
across and left trim thete with nothing but a bottle 
of water and a lump of biltong. He walked down 



the beaches, finding no human beings, and slept 
underabush. 

Before dawn he heard shots fired and trudged on 
in that direction In the southern comer of the 
lagoon, at Schryver's Hock, he found a thatched 
homestead with fishing boats on the beach. He 
was welcomed by three Frenchmen who were 
cdebrating Christmas Day with gunshots. Peter 
de Montfort owner of the fishoy, invited young 
Lloyd to join them round their barrel of wine As 
the sun came up they rolled the empty barrel out 
of the door. 

De Montfort was a married man with several 
daughters. Lloyd, an experienced seaman, made 
himself useful in the fishing boats and found a 
home at Schiyver's Hoek. He had seen the world, 
it was more comfortable than the forecastle of an 
American clipper ship, and he stayed on. 

Often after a good catch De Montfort and Lloyd 
loaded an ox-wagon with smoked and salt fish 
and made leisurely journeys from village to 
village, to Malmesbury, Paarl and Wdlington 



The spell worked on Lloyd as it has on many 
another man from across the sea And at the end 
of eachjoumey there was always the calm lagoon, 
so restful after the life of a clipper slip, so 
warming to a man who had frozen off C^peHorn 

No one can say whether young Lloyd was ever 
homesick, but he was soon to be reminded vividly 
of the land he had left. Without previous warning 
the Alabama steamed into Saldanha Bay on the 
morning of July 29, 1863. It was her first landfall 
on the South African coast. Semmes had put into 
that lonely harbour to reconnoitre; he wanted to 
be sure there were no enemy ships in Table Bay . 

Many of the Saldanha farmers had ne^er seen a 
steams before. News of the Alabama spread 
through the district and from all parts the ox- 
wagons came lumbering down to the bey. And 
among the boats that clustered round the Alabama 
was one with De Montfort and Lloyd on board 

George Lloyd must have gazed upon the shining 
guns of the Alabama with mixed feelings. These 
men swaggering about the decks, flushed with their 



sea victories, were Americans - and enemies of his 
own people. 

But the white farmers of Saldanha, slave-owres 
frenselves only aquarterof a century before, were 
wtole-heartedly with the South. Captain Serines 
wrote of them "From far and near the country 
people flocked in to see us, everyone with game or 
some curiosity to offer ... wild peacock, ostrich- 
eggs ftesh from the nest, plumes of ostrich- 
feathers, spingbok. We showed thou around the 
slip, the young boers lifting our 100-pound rifle- 
shot and looking over the sights of our guns, and 
the young womai looking at the moustaches of my 
young officers ... They all speak Dutch, and it is 
rare to find one among thou who speaks English... 
Some of the fenale visitors were plump, ruddy 
Dutch girls whose large rough hands and awfa\erd 
bows and curtseys showed them to be honest lasses 
from the neighbouring farms, accustomed to 
milking cows and churning butter." 

Semmes landed to secure a sight for tris 
chronometets. It was the fiist time he had set foot 
in Africa, and he noted the wild floweis and the 



fine sheep. For breakfast his host on shore gave 
trim venison steak. Semmes allowed a number of 
tris officets to go out shooting: the Alabama's 
company weie heartily tited of salt beef and salt 
pori^ and game was (and still is) abundant round 
Saldanha 

At the end of the clay's hunting occurred the 
tragedy which Lloyd often described to his 
children in late~ years. The offices rdumed to the 
beach at sundown with mough buck and pheasant 
for a feast One of the last to ente~ the boat was 
Third Engines Cunnings. He had forgotten to 
unload his shotgun. As he stepped into the boat the 
bamma~ of the gun touched the guimele and the 
buckshot shattered his chest Cumrrings fell dead 
on the sand 

As far as I can gather Lloyd had been a silent 
observer of the entertaining of the Alabama's crew. 
But all the farmers attended the funeral of 
Cummings, and Lloyd went too. The funeral took 
place next morning, the Southern colours were at 
half mast, and all the officeis and men who could 
be spared fell in on shore and marched to the 



family burial ground on the farm Kliprug close to 
the bay. I have seen the marble tombstone, crackBd 
fcy many summets, but with the inscription still 
clear. 

Sacred 

to the Memory 

Of 

SIMEON W. CUMMINGS 

Assistant Engineer 

of the Confederate States 

Steamer Alabama 

who died Aug. 3rd 1863 

from the accidental 
discharge of a gun 
in lis own hards. 

Aged 36 years. 

Soon afterwards the Alabama steamed out bound 
for Table Bay, as I have described, and Lloyd 
went back to his fishing. 

So the years slipped by peacefully for Lloyd, and 
De Montforfs daughters were growing up. 
Lloyd might have returned to New York; but his 



decision to remain beside the lagoon is fully 
explained by an entty I found in the local 
marriage register 

"March 26, 1867. George Albert Lloyd (full 
age), fisherman of Schryver's Hoek, and Ellen 
deMontfort(17)." 

Two years later Navigating Lieutenant W. E. 
Archdeacon of the Royal Navy arrived at 
Saldanha to survey the bay and lagoon He 
engaged Lloyd and other fishermen to assist him, 
and Lloyd served as leadsman While taking 
soundings in the Saldanha Bay entrance, Lloyd 
made a valuable discovety. All large-scale charts 
since that time have marked the sand-bank Lloyd 
found as Lloyd Bank - a fitting tribute to the 
conscientious American sailor who recognised a 
danger to navigation which previous chart- 
makers had missed. 

The little fishing village at Schryver's Hoek 
grew as children were bom and more fishermen 
arrived A travelling schoolmaster had been 
visiting Schryver's Hoek and other isolated 



places, spending a few days with each group of 
children. Lloyd decided that a permanent school 
was needed, and in 1873 he applied to the 
Church of England authorities for the post of 
teacher. He was appointed, and opened a school 
at Boer PMn beside the lagoon. 

Archbishop William West Jones visited Boer 
Plein in 1875 and wrote "Here Mr. Lloyd is 
schoolmaster and has laboured in a simple, 
uixomplaimng way, though it must be solitary 
and uphill work." 

The archbishop fell under the spell of the lagoon, 
however, and noted in his diary: "There is to my 
mind a great charm about the simplicity of these 
people, and I always feel taken out of the 
common world, with its cares, its excitements and 
its affections, when I find myself among them. 
Their religion, if not ostentatious, is, I am sure, all 
the more real and true. I cannot wish any one a 
happier haven of rest in which to spend a month 
or so than on the shores of one of these beautiful 
bays." 



Some years afterwards Lloyd and lis family had 
to move from Schryver's Hoek, as the farm on 
which their house stood had been sold Lloyd 
built himself a cottage two miles up the lagoon on 
an uninhabited spot known as Fotbakkery. (The 
weird geological formation of the cliffs there must 
have reminded someone of a pottery. Lloyd 
taught the lagoon cMdrei for a quarter of a 
century, and only retired when one of his sons 
succeeded him 

After the Alabama the only American callers at 
Saldanha Bay were the New Bedford and 
Nantucket whalers. Lloyd was always eager to go 
on board these grimy "spoutes" and hear 
American accents again Th^ called fairly often 
up to the end of last century. 

Lloyd's sons told me that their father wept over 
the American Civil War long after the end of the 
struggle. No other \\er disturted his calm until the 
South African War broke out in 1899. To\\erds 
the exl of that conflict; when the Boers wbb 
almost in despair, Geiraal Smuts created a 
diversion ty invading the Cape Colony with a 



picked commando. Smuts brought the war close 
to the lagoon. One day Lloyd received ordets to 
hide all the fishing boats, as Smuts and his men 
wete in the neighbourhood. 

It v\as true. Many of the people took reftige on 
board a British liner in Saldanha Bay, and a 
British cruiser steamed in as escort Lloyd 
regarded himself as a neutral and renamed on 
shore. He witnessed one of the strangest incidents 
of the South African War- an action between the 
commando and the cruiser. The Boes opmed fire 
with their rifles and the cruiser shelled the com- 
mando. Not a man was killed on land or sea, 
though the naval shells blew some cattle to pieces 
at the place now known as Ooriog' s Vlei. 

Not long after the end of the South African War a 
tieasure-hunting expedition visited Saldanha Bay 
and called in the aid of old Lloyd, the chart 
maker. Lloyd was able to pilot their boat to the 
spot where the bones of the Dutch East India 
ship Meresteyn lay submerged off Jutten Island. 



Although the wreck was then two centuries old, 
silver coins and much more rarely a gold piece 
were still washing up on the island after heavy 
winter gales. The money-chests are still there, in 
fourteen fathoms. Lloyd did his best for the 
treasure hunters, but the weather was against 
them and the diver ne^er had a chance of 
reaching the chests. 

Then Lloyd suggested that it might be worth 
exploring a legendary treasure ship in the calm 
lagoon Not far from Church Haven there are 
traces of the fort built by soldiers of the Dutch 
East India Company at Oude Post - the seven- 
teenth century outpost where a garrison was 
always maintained. Opposite the ruined fort, in 
the deep channel leading into the lagoon, is the 
treasure ship. Some say she is the Dutch ship 
Middelburg, which sank in flames in 1781 after a 
battle with the British 

Lloyd anchored the boat of the treasure hunters 
right over the wreck in the lagoon He had good 
reason to know the spot for the fishermen had 
often torn their rids on the old ship's timbers. 



This time it seemed an easy task for the diver. 
He sent up an old cannon and fragments of 
porcelain the first day; and the treasure hunters 
congratulated Lloyd and promised him a share in 
the venture. 

Next day the diver had no sooner reached the 
bottom when he signalled urgently that he 
wished to be hauled to the surface. "I don't mind 
sharks/' declared the diver when they hurriedly 
unscrewed his face-glass." I can deal with 
sharks, but there's an octopus the size of an ox 
down there, and I'm not going again - not for 
any money." 

That was the end of the treasure hunt Lloyd 
missed another possible fortune when he failed 
to recognize the value of the enormous bed of 
fossilised oyster shell on the floor of the lagoon 
(There is only one other deposit like it in the 
world, and that is at Chesapeake Bay on the 
Virginia and Maryland coasts.) No one has been 
able to discover why the oysters died; but 
thousands upon thousands of tons remain Lloyd 
lived to see a dredger at work, picking up the 



shell with grabs. It is pounded into grit for 
poultry farmers or burnt for the lime. 

Lloyd \Aas a great churchman. He built a new 
church on the high sand dune at Fotbakkery in 
1905 and named the village he had founded 
Church Haven. The dedication festival is still one 
of the annual events of the quid: village 

Ground at Church Haven belongs to families. 
Besides the many Lloyd descendants and the De 
Montforts, there are the Barsfcys of English 
seafaring stock, the Meyers who came from St. 
Helena, the Caswells (originally French), and the 
Wilseners, whose great-great-grandfather was a 
seaman from Holland. Some of the girls have 
married Norwegians, who have been whaling out 
of Saldanha for most of this century. 

The Chuich Haven people are still a race apart, 
devoted to their church and village and lagoon 
Seldom do the men settle elsewhere they are 
homesick when they stay away for long. It is still 
possible to build a cottage from local materials for 
£200. Reeds for thatching can be cut on the veld 



Chatkstone and lime are available. Only the 
timber has to be bought So the thatched cottage 
remains in favour, though I saw a modem villa 
which cost £500. 

Mary of the cottages have gardms with fig trees, 
guavas and vines. Between the village and the 
South Atlantic coast, on the long peninsula, the 
people have vegetable patches aril some keep 
sheep and cattle. 

"The^ save the monev th^ earn fcy working at 
the whaling station in the season, and are better 
off than th^ appear to be," someone who knew 
Church Haven for years told me. "Thev do not 
care about the outside world. Even the two World 
Wars did not move them deeply." 

At one time Church Havei people looked askance 
at visitors, and they are still suspicious of 
intruders. A former clergyman once suggested 
that they might build iDliday bungalows and take 
visitors boating on the lagoon They would not 
hear of it "We have an unwritten agreemmt to 
keep strangers out" they replied The clergyman 



remarkedtome: "1 cannot blame them They are a 
great brotherhood, and nothing disturbs their 
peace of mini" 

Favourite food of the lagoon people is bokkems - 

the salted and sun-dried harders and maasbankers 
they catch in their own nets. In e^ery cottage you 
find bokkeiTS being smoked in the chtmnev. Th^ 
prefer the tasty bokkems to fresh fish, munchitin 

their boats, eat it every day in their homes. 

Lloyd's eldest son, Mr. Samuel Henry Lloyd of 
Church Haven, is 78, and he has many stories to 
tell of events during his father's lifetime. He told 
me of the day over fifty years ago when a steamer 
loaded with paraffin was wrecked on the coast to 
the north of Church Haven. George Lloyd smelt it 
miles away, and found a lonely beach litteted for 
miles with thousands of cases of paraffin. That 
wreck kept the village lamps alight for years, and 
they sold many tins to a storekeeper at a shilling a 
tin. 

Rafters and window-frames in the old Church 
Haven cottages are made from the timtas of 



wrecked ships. The finest wreck of all was a ship 
with a cargo of whisky in barrels, cases of soap, 
shaving brushes, airtight tins of cigarettes and 
chocolates, and rolls of dress materials. Customs 
officers appeared after a time. Then the lagooners 
filled long stalks of sea bamboo with whisky to 
get it past the officers. For some time afterwards 
the women had new dresses every week and the 
men had free drinks. 

One of the memorable incidents of Lloyd's 
lifetime \aos a minor tidal wave that rolled up the 
lagoon on a winters morning in 1877, damaged 
many of the lov^lying cottages and sv\ept the 
gardens. It has never happened again, but since 
then most of the new cottages have been built on 
higher ground 

Lloyd, as I have said, died in 1916. His widow 
had reached her ninetieth year when she died in 
1940. They had eight sons and six daughter. 

During his last illness Lloyd destroyed all the 
liters from his Amaican sisters. One of his 
sisters had supplied him with American books 



and magazines throughout the half century and 
more that he had lived beside the lagoon This 
sister wrote to the widowjust after Lloyd' s death 
"It is strange that there should be so few of us ldt 
here in America, while so many Lloyds are living 
in South Africa In the old days George's Idlers 
were sent to all the others for reading." 

The seafaring tradition persists in the Lloyd 
family. Another son, Mr. J. C. Lloyd (74) of 
Goodwood, told me 'The sea is in my blood. I 
have four sons - two in trawlers and two in the 
Antarctic whalers." 

Last time I was in Church Haven I met the oldest 
man in the village, 92-year-old Mr. Constant 
Meyer. He told me that he had just revisited Cape 
Town, and had found many changes. He had not 
beeito townfor nearly fifty years. 

Old Meyer is the last man in the village who was 
there when the Alabama steamed into Saldanha 
Bay. He was a very small boy then, and now he 
is a Rip van Winkle. But he has lived a calm and 
pleasant life. I think that old George Albert 



Lloyd, too, had no regrets when he came to the 
end of his life by those shining waters, a true 
lover of the land of the afternoon. 



THE END 




Index 

The index below is as it was in the original paper book but in this e-book the page numbers have all 
changed and have therefore been removed. Otherwise the original index is left unchanged to display the 
authors choice and readers should use their program' s search facility to locale the itenL 

Afticana Bell, Charles 

Afrikaans (language) Biltong 

Afrikaner (definitions) Biaauwberg 

Aloe succotrina Blue-gums 

Aloes, bitter Blushing Bride 

Apricot sickness Bobotie 

Archives (Cape) Boer (definition) 

Auge, James Andries Boere-orkes 

Baboons Boerewors 

Bain, Andrew Geddes Boonzaaier, D. C. 

Bain's Kloof Boothman, Arnold 

Barbier, Etienne Borcherds, Re^. Meent 

BariOW, Sir John Botha, Colin Graham 

Beacons Braaivleisaand 

Beaufort West Breede River 

Bees Brink's Inn 



BrittaniaRock Cherries 

Buchu Chincherinchees 

Buck Bay Cloudbursts 

Buffets Dome Coffee 

Buiier, a. c. Cogmans Kloof (legend) 

Burchell, Williamjohn Cold BokkeveLd 

Burgersdorp Cole, SirLowry 

Bush tBa Courtship (platbeland) 

Bushman painting Crawfish 

Bushman's Rock Croft's cures 

Buyskes, Miss Hilda Qundall, A. H. 

Cameron, K. De Lima, Joseph Suasso 

Campbell, Miss Killie De Pass, A. A. 

Cannon (signal) De Waal, Sir f. 

Cape carts Dentists (country) 

Carse, Daniel Diemersdai 

Castle Rock Dij kman, Mrs. 

Cats, S. J . Dollars, Maria Theresa 

Cedarberg Dome of Dreams 

Ceres Donkeys 

Chapman's Peak Drosters' nests 



Droughts Fairbridge, C. A. 

Druiy, James Fairbridge, W. E. 

Du Toit, Rev. s. j . Fairfield 

Duckitt, Hildagoilda Family crests 

Duckitt, William Fehr, William 

Duiaixi Jean Ferreira (family) 

D'Urban, Sir Benj amin Ferreira, Jan 

Duibaiiville Feyl, Daniel 

Dust devils Fireamis 

EarthqUBtes (Cape) Flora Capensis 

Eels Fonteintjiesberg 

Eland Ford Model-T 

Elands Kloof Fransch Hoek Pass 

Elgin Fruit (Cape) 

Elim mission Fuchs, McoM 

Elliott Arthur Furniture (Cape) 

Elsenburg GantDUW 

Erf Gipsies 

Esterhuyze, d. c. Goedeveiwachting 

Everlastings (flowers) Goodman, Gwelo 

Fairbridge Dorothea Gordon Rock (legend) 



Grain race Hospitality (country) 

Great Winterhoek Hottentot fig 

Groot Drakenstein Hugo, Gabriel 

Gubbins, Dr. J . G. Hugo, J . F. 

Guernsey lilies HllZS-apteek 

Haardekraal^ie Jackson, G. F. Travers 

Hahn, Dr. c. h. JanduToit's Kloof 

Hailstones Jeffreys, Miss M. K. 

Halle medicines Jemsalemgangers 

Heat Jurgens, A. A. 

Heidelberg Juritz, Dr. C. F. 

Heller, David Kalabaskraal 

Herbal remedies Kamiesberg 

HerMistS Kapenaars 

Hertzog, w. f. Kekkelbek, Kaatje 

Heuirdus Kersefontein 

Hex River legend Kitab, E. P. 

Hex River pass Klein Kliphuis farm 

Hippo (Berg River) Kling, Rev. Heinricli 

Honey Knoflooks Kraal 

Horses Koeberg 



Koesisters Londt, George 

Koffiekraal Maastricht 

KoMer, c.w.h. Maclear, Sir Thomas 

KoiteTmnsldoof Malmesbuiy tornado 

Koopmans de Wet, Mrs. Maps 

Kuiperskraal Marloth, Dr. Rudolf 

Ladismitti Marsh Rose 

Land Of Wavecei Masson, Francis 

Landsbeig, Otto MatlOOSberg 

Lawrence, Rev. G. Meerendal 

Leibhrandt, Rev. H.C.V. Meiring, Izak 

Leipoldt, Dr. C.L. MeLck, Martin 

Lewis, Bernard Mendelssohn, Sidney 

Lewis, Neville MeteLerkamp, Miss Sanni 

Lightfoot, Hannah Meteorites 

Lightning Micheii, Col. c. 

Linnaeus Miner Peak 

Liqueurs (Cape) Milner Ridge Peaks 

Little Wintechoek Moles 

Lioyd, A.C.G. Money (Cape) 

Lloyd, George Albert: Montagu, John 



Moon and weather Paaideberg 

Morgemocht Paari mountain 

Mormons Paailberg 

Mountain passes Painters 

Mountains Pampoenskraal 

Mules Pappe, Dr. L. 

Museums (countty) Patriot (newspaper) 

Nagmaal Phillips, Jan 

Nefdt, Gustaf Photographers 

New Year customs Pieces of eight 

Nicknames (Afrikaans) Pienaar, A.A. (''Sangiro' 1 ) 

Member, Dr. P.J. Pigs (wild) 

Meuwoudtviiie Rketberg 

Nortier, Dr. P. le F Porceleinberg 

Old Dutch Medicines Postage stamps (Cape) 

OlifantS Kloof Potaoes (sweet) 

Olives Potter, Pieter 

Qnderldoof Purgatory 

Opsit-kers Rain 

Oranges Rainbow Crag 

Oranje Zigt Ravenscroft, T. D. 



Reitz, President F.W. 
RemhoogtB 
Renosterbos 
ReK, George 
Riebeeck Kasbeel 
RiebeekKasteel 
RiebeekWest 
Riordan, W.T. 

RitbecJ.C. 

Rix-dollar 

Robertson 

Robinson, A.M. Lewin 

Rondeboscbj esberg 

Roodezand 

Sam Sly's Journal 

Sandoleanhout 

Sangtro (Pienaar, A.A.) 

Sarie Marais 

Schearibixicker, Miss Gertrude 

Schx>lmasters 

Scorpion stings 



Sequah 

Sewejaartjie 

Silver (Cape) 

Simonsbecg 

Sir Lowry's Pass 

Smous 

Smuts, Dr. Johannes 

Snails 

Sneeuwkop 

Snow 

Snuff 

Somerset, Lord Charles 

Spanman, Andiew 

Spencer, Dr. H.A. 

Sprigg, Sir Gordon 

Stage-coaches 

Stinkblaar 

Stinkwood 

Stokoe, T.P. 

Strawberries 

Surgeons 



Sutherland 

Sutton, Dr. J.R 

Swartberg Pass 

Swartiand 

Taniboers Kloof 

TaixipynwDrtBl 

Teewatectonfyt 

Ttompson, George 

Thunberg, Dr. Cad Peter 

Tobacco 

Token money 

Tornado 

Toverkop 

Tramps 

Trotter, Mrs. Alys Fane 

TulbaghPass 

Turlington 

Tygerberg 

Vaaljapie 

VanderByl, Major Piet 

VanderHum 



Van Dessin, Joachim 
Van Duyn, Jeanette 
Van Riebeeck Society 
Van Riebeeck's hedge 
Venter, Dr. P.J. 

Versfeld, T. 

VeisteifcDmppels 

Village origins 

Vrymansfontein 

Waaihoek 

Wagons 

Warm Bokkeveld 

Watercress 

Watermelon 

Waterstun, Dr. Jane 

Weather 

Wellington 

Wenning, Pieter 

Werner, Hilbert 

West, W.C. 

Wild garlic 



Wild sorrel 

Windmills 
WrnfeervogeL 

WolfaaidtTantMeta 

Wolve Dans 

Worcester 
Zebrakop