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Suraya Cassiem started selling flowers on the street when she was 7 years old, the fourth generation in her family to do so. Today she owns property and exports flowers from the family’s farm – page 6. Photo: Annalize Mouton

Diarist Iris Vaughan

Iris Vaughan – pictured here as an adult – not only recorded her own childhood in her diary, but also social and historical events in the Eastern Cape a hundred years ago

Number 24 : June 2007


The heat is on

The weather seems to be a bit topsy-turvy at present, with birds and plants equally confused. The Malachite Sunbirds, who are supposed to be an inconspicuous grey this time of year, are bright green, and the Cape Weavers are starting to don their yellow breeding plumage. Shrubs are flowering and our young yellowwood trees are topped with light green growth. Next door even the neighbour’s Namaqualand daisies are a bright patch of colour.

Nature, including commercially grown crops, require a cycle of cold to rest and then warmth to grow. Is this unseasonable spring, after the recent heavy snowfalls in large parts of the country, just the “normal” quirkiness of the weather, or are these concrete signs of the effects of global warming?

There is clear evidence that the Earth is heating up, and even the strongest doubters have trouble denying humans’ contribution to the high level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Experts warn that we have only about 20 years left to reverse this trend. Industry and governments will have the most to do in this regard, but everybody should help by using less energy, whether by switching off that light or not starting the car.



2. At the office

The winners of our subscriber prizes, new appointments, and two cats are fired for bad behaviour


Win a stay at Aquila Safari

Subscribe and stand a chance to win


4. The travelling dassies

The strange journey of a furry family under the bonnet of a car


6. From flower-seller to businesswoman

By Annalize Mouton

Suraya Cassiem worked hard, and has achieved much. Read the full story (PDF 700 Kb).


12. Gardening for wildlife

This is the first of a series of articles to introduce readers of Village Life to the joys of environmentally-friendly gardening and demonstrate how easy it is to attract a variety of wildlife to a garden (even a small city one!) – by well-known authors Charles and Julia Botha


18. Alan Paton’s roots at Ixopo

By Darryl Earl David

Ixopo in southern KwaZulu-Natal became known the world over with the publication in 1948 of Alan Paton’s acclaimed novel Cry, the Beloved Country. A local community project now combines this literary heritage with a narrow-gauge steam train, the Paton Express, to attract visitors


22. The diary of Iris Vaughan

“Every one should have a diery. Becos life is too hard with the things one must say to be perlite and the things one must not say to lie. This is something I can never get right… So Pop said you have a diary and write all the truth in it and when you can speak the truth it is better to hold your tongue. That is why I am writing.”

Sigi Howes traces the life of the girl whose diary became a best-seller and continues to delight


28. Nine generations of Smit at Coenradenberg

Annalize Mouton concludes her history of this pioneer farm in the Swartland


34. A vision that died

Text & photographs by Jens Friis

Waterkloof in the southern Free State just never became the town its founders hoped it would. After a difficult birth in 1869, it slowly faded


36. The siege of Makapan’s Cave

By Dr Judy Maguire

The town of Mokopane in Limpopo Province is named after the Kekana Ndebele chief known to the early Trekkers as Makapan. The incursion of white hunters, traders and then settlers into the area was marked by continuing clashes, which culminated in the siege of Makapan’s Cave


42. Hoodia: From veld plant to wonder drug

By Dr Geoff Tribe

The plant variously known as Hoodia (scientific), ghaap (Nama) and kougoed (Afrikaans), has become a celebrity appetite suppressant. The active ingredient cannot be reproduced synthetically, and over-exploitation of the plant now threatens it in South Africa and Namibia


46. The face of South Africa

By Maré Mouton

Grahamstown has a wealth of historic buildings, all in a neat line. View as PDF


48. A crane named Tappie

Veteran birder Nico Myburgh shares his stories about birds. Read full text


52. It came from Germany

Some "traditional South African" recipes of German origin from our Country Table


54. Bright red from the deep

Jen Lemmer continues our series on edible seaweeds


56. Travel note

Moose van Rensburg, curator of the Fort Beaufort museum, takes his pets for a walk (including three cats in a bag). View as PDF


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Butterfly on flower. © Annalize Mouton

Each butterfly species will lay its eggs on only a specific plant species. Our new series explains how to attract insects to your garden. Photo: Annalize Mouton

Garrett steam locomotive between Ixopo & Carisbrooke, KwaZulu-Natal. © Darryl David

The only operating Garrett steam locomotive of its class now runs between Ixopo and Carisbrooke. Photo: Darryl David

Historic homestead, Coenradenberg, near Hopefield, South Africa

The historic farm Coenradenberg near Hopefield has been in the Smit family for nine generations. Photo: Maré Mouton

Chief Makapan & his kraal in the 1880s

A photo of Chief Makapan and his kraal, taken by H R Gros in the 1880s

Hoodia gordonia in flower, Karoo. © Geoff Tribe

Hoodia gordonii in full flower after rains in the Karoo. Photo: Geoff Tribe

German meat roll with diced potatoes.

Many traditional South African dishes in fact originated in Europe. More recipes from our Country Table

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