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Their rock paintings represented spiritual life for the Abathwa (also referred to as Bushmen or Southern San) of the Drakensberg, but there is now nobody left to refresh the paintings. Probably the last Abathwa who saw these paintings being done, is now gone – page 18. Photo: Stephen Pryke

Number 34 : Autumn 2009


From all over

When I was little, before even starting school, my father was the fireman on the steam train that ran from Franschhoek to Paarl six days per week (and twice per day during the fruit harvest). In the afternoon the little locomotive had to be turned around on a turntable, so that it again faced towards Paarl in the morning. My elder brother and I would often wait for the puffing engine to arrive and “help” my father and the driver to push the turntable.

From Franschhoek we moved to Worcester, where father became a shedman, looking after the steam locomotives that served the line to Riversdale. Our house was near the main railway line, and I grew up with the sound of trains clattering by, day and night.

Being a “railways child”, I have been saddened in recent years to see rails lying rusted wherever we drove in the country. Luckily there are enthusiasts who want to preserve something of our steam rail heritage, and in this issue we publish our first piece on the topic.

Other articles come from all over the country, from Acornhoek in Mpumalanga, to the Drakensberg and Great Brak River on the Garden Route. Enjoy!



2: At the office

Letters and other important matters


4: Saving our soles

Thandi Mkhatshwa, graduate of a local journalism training programme, tells the story of the village cobbler of Acornhoek in Mapumalanga


6: The face of South Africa

Despite official neglect of the country’s historic steam trains, enthusiasts are working to keep this legacy alive. Photograph by Aidan McCarthy of a narow-gauge class NGG16 steam locomotive at Sandstone Estate in the Eastern Free State. View PDF


8: Tolkien’s early years in Bloemfontein

The famous author was born in the Free State, and his early years may have influenced works such as The Hobbit, writes Prof Elwyn Jenkins


12: Cotyledon – much prettier than pigs’ ears

In Gardening for Wildlife, Charles & Julia Botha introduce our best known succulent


18: The last of the ‘Children of the Mist’

The last Bushman of the Drakensberg who took part in a cattle raid is now gone, writes Stephen Pryke. Fortunately he could still represent his people in 2005 at the official ending of the 150-year-old 'war' started by the British


24: The story of Groot Vaders Bosch and the Moodies

What was first a source of scarce wood between Swellendam and Heidelberg at the foot of the Langeberg, later became the spiritual home of the Moodies of Melsetter, writes Annalize Mouton


30: Great Brak River 150

This village on the Garden Route, halfway between Mossel Bay and George, owes its growth to the arrival of the industrious Charles Searle in 1859


32: Jagersfontein: once a sparkling jewel

This town in the southern Free State is the oldest diamond mining town in the world, and the hole the diamond miners dug here is deeper and bigger than the one at Kimberley, writes Julienne du Toit. Photographs by Chris Marais


38: Creatures inside the hive

For honeybees life isn't simply a matter of buzzing around flowers and then going back to the hive to make honey – they have to put up with a number of predators and other invaders, writes Dr Geoff Tribe


44: They walk on water

Well, not quite, but from a distance this is the impression one would get of the Lillytrotter, or African Jacana. This bird has some strange habits, as witnessed by Nico Myburgh. Read full article


46: The delights of custard

Recipes from our Country Table. Annalize tries to find out how it happened that the "Jewish tart" (Jodetert) became a South African stalwart, while it is not made by Jews anymore


48: Tail piece

A new recruit for the security force: Kerneels joins to form the plainclothes branch, to back up Anna, the Great Dane who represents the uniformed branch. View as PDF

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Lucas Khosa, cobler at Acornhoek, Mpumalanga. Photo: Thandi Mkhatshwa

Lucas Khosa, who saves the soles of the people of Acornhoek. Photo: Thandi Mkhatshwa

The family of JRR Tolkien in Bloemfontein, South Africa, in 1892. Ronald (10 months) is held by the nurse

The Tolkien family with the nurse, the maid and the house servant in the garden of Bank House, November 1892, when Ronald was 10 months old


The modest-sounding Pig's Ear (Afrikaans: Plakkie) is hardy and can be an attractive addition to a garden. Photo: Annalize Mouton

Groot Vaders Bosch homestead (early 1700s), southwestern Cape. © Maré Mouton

The house on the farm that still bears the name Groot Vaders Bosch was built of clay in the early 1700s. Photo: Maré Mouton

Death's Head Moth. © Martin Johannsmeier

The Death's Head Moth, one of the predators that honeybees have to put up with. Photo: Martin Johannsmeier

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