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President Vice-Presidents Trustees S.N. Roberts T.B. Frost Professor A.M. Kaniki M.J.C. Daly J.M. Deane S.N. Roberts KPMG Messrs Thornton-Dibb, Van der Leeuw and Partners J.C. Morrison Ms S. Khan
Treasurers Auditors Director Secretary
COUNCIL Elected Members S.N. Roberts (Chairman) P. Croeser M.J.C. Daly J.M. Deane Mrs M. Msomi Ms N. Naidoo A.L. Singh Ms P.A. Stabbins Mrs S.S. Wallis EDITORIAL COMMITTEE OF NATALIA Editor M.H. Comrie Dr W.H. Bizley J.M. Deane T.B. Frost Professor W.R. Guest Professor A. Koopman Mrs S.P.M. Spencer Dr S. Vietzen
Natalia 33 (2003) Copyright © Natal Society Foundation 2010
Journal of the Natal Society
No. 33 (December 2003)
Published by Natal Society Foundation Trust P.O. Box 415, Pietermaritzburg 3200, South Africa
SA ISSN 0085-3674
Reverend Stephen Kumalo (Canada Lee) returns to Ndotsheni in Cry, the Beloved Country. [Photograph: Alan Paton Centre]
Page design by M.J. Marwick Printed by Intrepid Printers (Pty) Ltd
Natalia 33 brings the familiar mix of previously unpublished material, reprinted material, and new articles, together with other material relating to the province and its people. Regimental historian for the Natal Carbineers Mark Coghlan has edited the previously unpublished Anglo-Boer War diaries and letters of John Bertram Nicholson, who enlisted with the regiment as a 17 year-old in 1897 and two years later left his Underberg farm to go to war. ‘Jack’ Nicholson was a significant member of an old Natal family whose name is widely recognised in farming and educational circles. Natalia 33 carries the first part of Nicholson’s account of his Anglo-Boer war experiences, taking him through the siege of Ladysmith and the ensuing manoeuvres up until October 1900. Mark Coghlan has promised to carry Nicholson’s exploits further in number 34. While the young Jack Nicholson was recording his experiences at and near the front, others were writing about the war in more consciously poetic language – or in deliberate doggerel. Dr Bill Bizley, a member of the editorial committee and a regular contributor of intriguing material to Natalia, has provided a digest of the poems which appeared in The Natal Witness during the period November 1899 to February 1900, reflecting on how these verses are indicative of the thinking of the times. Taken together, our previously unpublished piece and the reprinted poems provide an unusual insight into the way people in Natal and further afield responded to the war. The early years of the twenty-first century have brought a little flurry of major anniversaries in the affairs of significant KwaZulu-Natal institutions. The Natal Society celebrated its 150th year in 2001, and 2003 has brought the Anglican Diocese of Natal to the same mark. Together with other matters of interest, our Notes and Queries section has reports on some of the events organised to celebrate that achievement. 2003 has also brought the centenary of the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg. The director of the gallery, Brendan Bell, has provided us with an account of the establishment and development of the gallery, and the vicissitudes of its collections during some of the more troubled phases of its history. Although there have been some regrettable losses in the past, the Tatham today serves both as an important repository of works by major South African and foreign artists and as an active promoter of new creative endeavour. Another centenary that is approaching is that of the so-called ‘Bambatha rebellion’ of 1906. It has long been accepted that the imposition of a poll tax sparked the ‘rebellion’ and that the frightened colonials retaliated with excessive severity. In the van of the studies that are sure to be done in the months to come, revisiting that conflict and revising the standard interpretations of it, the University of Natal historian Paul Thompson has contributed an article which throws new light on an event which, in his own words, ‘marks a watershed in the history of the region’. Our third major article relates to yet another significant anniversary, the centenary of Alan Paton’s birth in 1903. While Jewel Koopman reports in our Notes and Queries on
v the events that marked the occasion, Stephen Coan has provided an article on the 1950 filming of Cry the Beloved Country on location in the Ixopo district and in Johannesburg where Paton’s celebrated novel is set. Readers will recall Stephen Coan’s article on the filming of King Solomon’s Mines at Otto’s Bluff (Natalia 30), and the current piece is an expanded and revised version of an article first published in the Witness, where Stephen Coan is a senior journalist, on 31 March 2003. Readers may also know that the decision has been taken to transfer the Natal Society Library from the control of the Natal Society Council to that of the Msunduzi Municipality, bringing Pietermaritzburg’s public library into line with those in other urban centres. In thanking the members of the editorial board for their contribution to Natalia, I must thank too the several members of the library staff who have contributed to the production and distribution of the journal over many years – and indeed one such person, June Farrer, still assists with the important and often unpopular task of proof-reading. While the surrender of the library may mean changes in the distribution of Natalia, the Natal Society Council and its trustees are committed to the continued production of the journal itself. MORAY COMRIE
From the very beginning to the very end
From the very beginning to the very end
John Bertram Nicholson’s Natal Carbineer Anglo-Boer War Diary and Letters: September 1899–July 1902
John Bertram Nicholson: The man and his family
The Nicholson clan arrayed at Illovo Mills, Richmond, c. 1903
John Bertram Nicholson’s diary of one man’s service through the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902 is noteworthy for several reasons. Firstly, there is the living connection with the history of the war, now over a century in the past, in the form of James Mervyn (Skonk) Nicholson, John Bertram’s son. Skonk, now over 80 years of age, is a living legend in KwaZulu-Natal educational circles because of his involvement in school rugby circles during his 39 years on the staff of Maritzburg College (1944 to 1982) and authorship of geography textbooks. He can recall his father clearly.
Natalia 33 (2003), Mark Coghlan pp. 2–26
Natalia 33 (2003) Copyright © Natal Society Foundation 2010
From the very beginning to the very end
Perhaps his most unusual tale relates how the diaries, written in compact script into six notebooks, came into his possession. It would appear that John Bertram (known widely as Jack), despite the obvious meticulous detail of his record, never wished to draw attention to its existence, nor perhaps, to his own role in the war. He was, perhaps, genuinely diffident about that, but he was possibly also mindful of the forthright candour of his observations, where the British forces, the Natal colonial government, and officers from British and Natal regiments all came in for sometimes caustic criticism. Whatever the case, he never even mentioned the existence of the diaries to his son, despite chatting about his war service on numerous occasions. As fate and fortune would have it, the nondescript notebooks were discovered almost by chance in 1973, many years after John Bertram’s death, at the bottom of a cardboard carton on the Nicholson’s Underberg family farm. For reasons possibly related to the social conventions of the time, the diaries remained hidden until long after his death, but for the historian this was surely a preferable option to the self-censorship that would probably have coloured his record had it been intended for contemporary public scrutiny. At the time of the Anglo-Boer War, John Bertram’s Yorkshire family roots were planted firmly in the Richmond district, in one of the pioneer English settler communities in Natal which originated from the Byrne immigration initiative of the 1850s. Although his own family migrated to the Underberg district, the wider Nicholson clan remained well represented in Richmond. One of the longest enduring names is that of Ravenor Nicholson, whose family farm, Beaulieu, part of the Byrne allotments, was sold in March 2003 after 153 years in that family. The Ravenor Nicholsons were the last Byrne family to part with this historic heritage. John was born on the farm Thedden Grange on 22 October 1879, the eldest son of Robert and Kate Nicholson, who had no fewer than 12 children, of whom three died in infancy. He was educated in Richmond, and at the age of 16 took up farming at Beaconsfield, now known as Poldhu. In March 1899 he moved to the farm Highlands in the Underberg district, but his periods of leave during his wartime service were spent in the Richmond district. After the war he returned to Highlands, but served a further stint with the Carbin-eers during the Natal (or Bhambatha) Uprising of 1906. He remained at Highlands until his death on 27 August 1957, farming in partnership with his brother, Robert. He became a leading figure in the religious, social and political life of the area. In September 1907 he married Clarice Hackland, daughter of James Nicholson and his future wife, Clarice Hackland, thereby joining by marriage Hackland, at Illovo Mills, 1903 two notable Natal Carbineer families.
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James Mervyn (Skonk) Nicholson was one of four sons and a daughter born to the couple, arriving on 6 February 1917. He was the only son not to take up farming, and instead had a distinguished career in teaching. Providentia dei (By the providence of God) The motto of the Nicholson family. On several occasions during his Anglo-Boer War service, Jack Nicholson had reason to be grateful for its protection. Nicholson, Trooper JB (John Bertram): A brief Natal Carbineer CV Regimental number: 438 Enrolment: 26 July 1897 (‘E’ Troop), aged 17 Vital statistics: 5′9", chest 31" Address and occupation: ‘Illovo Mills’, Richmond, farmer Promotion: Corporal (8 April 1904) Resignation: 25 February 1907 Saturday 30 September 1899 Left Goshen [Highlands Farm, Underberg, where Nicholson had been farming since March 1899] 7 a.m. [on horseback] for Richmond on our way to the Transvaal border. Wet and beastly. [The Natal Volunteer force had been mobilised on 29 September, and the Natal Carbineers, under the overall command of Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Mackenzie Greene, was instructed to muster on the Market Square, Pietermaritzburg at 6 a.m. on Sunday 1 October. Certain country members, such as Nicholson, had to travel considerable distances. Nicholson’s squadron, No.4 (Richmond, Richmond Road and Boston), was officered by Captain FE Foxon, and Lieutenants E Lucas and W Comrie.] Monday 2 October 1899 Left home at 3 a.m. for Pietermaritzburg. Rode up and got there at 8 a.m.. Had breakfast and dinner at the Plough [Hotel, in Longmarket Street facing the Market Square, on the site of the later Ken Collins House (now demolished and replaced by a shop)]. Entrained horse with Harding troop BMR [Border Mounted Rifles] at 3:30 p.m.. Left Pieter-maritzburg at 6 p.m. in an open [railway] truck. Travelled all night and got to Ladysmith at sunrise. [It was only at Pietermaritzburg that the Carbineers learned that their destination was Ladysmith, much to their relief as there had been talk of the volunteers languishing on guard duty along the Natal Government Railway line. Nicholson’s stated schedule seems to run a day behind the official one which has the regiment arriving in Ladysmith on the 1st.] The first page of the first notebook
of Nicholson’s epic story
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Wednesday 4 October 1899 Still in Ladysmith. Dust and wind, awful. On guard at night [and] slept on the hard ground. [Facilities for the Carbineers, billeted on the town’s showground, were spartan at the outset, with two-man patrol tents, for example, sufficing for shelter.] Sunday 8 October 1899 Horse-guard four hours today and horse-guard at night for four hours. Scare at 1.30 a.m. that Boers were coming. Turned out and slept right away from our usual place. Scouting and holding position all night, turned out [to be a] false alarm. Thursday 12 October 1899 Patrols out towards the Berg all day. Signs of the Dutch near Van Reenen [Van Reenen’s Pass in the Drakensberg range northwest of Ladysmith]. Two squadrons of BMR arrived about 4 p.m. and off-saddled near us. Tom and I on outpost at night – had a miserable night, wet through in the pouring rain. Friday 13 October 1899 Patrols out towards the Berg came in at dusk and reported guns etc. [The role of the Natal Volunteers in this initial phase of the war was to scour the foothills of the Drakensberg for signs of Boer incursions.] Night alarm after a heavy shower. Hayes’s picquet reported Boers who had surrounded the two on guard. It turned out to be Harrismith Uitlanders on their way down [probably from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg, where the Imperial Light Horse, which included many Uitlanders in its ranks, was in the process of recruitment]. Saturday 14 October 1899 Patrols out in every direction towards the Berg. Came in at dusk and reported hardly anything new. Outposts out all day. During all this time … our horses were saddled at nights, [and] we generally slept away from camp, leaving after dark as a precaution. Monday 16 October 1899 Patrols out in every direction again. More signs of the Boers on the Berg. Two squadrons of Hussars passed us towards the Berg early in the morning. Horse-guard for myself part of day. Letter, 16 October 1899 Dear Mother, I received your welcome letter by yesterday’s post. Yes, I have received the cake etc alright, and have already had some of it. We have also had some butter and it is very good. We retired yesterday afternoon about four miles this side of where we were before, and the place has no name and also it is not advisable to send the name of the place as there are too many spies. Your aff son, Jack Tuesday 17 October 1899 Lieutenant Lucas and others went on patrol towards the Berg. Came in and reported large bodies of the enemy coming down the Berg with wagons.
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Wednesday 18 October 1899 Rode back into our camp from the donga, got back about 4 o’clock. We then prepared breakfast which two patrols of four men each had as soon as possible and then went on patrol. We then had ours and were resting, at least those of us who were off duty, when the enemy was reported by one of our picquets. [Nicholson proceeds to recount his knowledge of the skirmish with the Boers in the vicinity of Bester’s Station, west of Ladysmith. In this, the first substantial skirmish of the war for the Natal volunteers, the Carbineers were compelled to abandon their equipment and retire on Ladysmith.] Our camp was at once struck. This [was] about 11 o’clock and everything possible was put on the half dozen pack-horses we had but we had to leave about 15 tents, pots, kettles, and our dinner (which happened to be a very good one), a lot of private hampers, kits etc behind. We at once left by a short cut past a kopje on the left of it (the camp) and then halted after we had gone a couple of miles and waited for the main body which had taken up a position on the kopje before mentioned to cover the retreat of the patrols and also the packs [pack-horses]. After a time the patrols came in (one of them had been fired on), and then we all retired to a kopje about 3 miles [4,8 km] nearer Ladysmith where we had a bit of dinner. After sentries and all were set we got [the] order to fall back on Ladysmith which we reached about 1 a.m., very tired. There had been a skirmish up at Bester’s with the Boers and two squadrons of Carbineers, in which the latter had to retire leaving Lieutenant Gallwey a prisoner. [The capture of Lieutenant WJ Gallwey, son of the chief justice of the Colony, Sir Michael Gallwey, attracted considerable interest in settler circles.] Friday 20 October 1899 Went on a patrol soon after breakfast towards Elandslaagte. Some of the Ladysmith Troop caught two Dutch prisoners and they were handed over to a guard of BMR whom they met on the road and they took them to Ladysmith. We halted about two miles [3,2 km] off Modder River Station [northeast of Ladysmith in the vicinity of Rietfontein/Tinta Inyoni] and waited till the Carbineers, Lancers, BMR etc came up about 1 o’clock, and then we had a bit of food while the officers discussed what was to be done as the enemy had been seen about five miles [8 km] away. While here we heard of the battle of Talana Hill, Dundee, by tapping the wires. [A British column at Dundee had repulsed a Boer assault, but at heavy cost, and the battle was followed by a withdrawal to Ladysmith.] All further movement for the day was stopped by a pouring rain in which we had to ride back to Ladysmith. Saturday 21 October 1899 Stood to arms very early, and were dismissed about 7 a.m.. 12 we suddenly got [the] order to saddle up and a great rush was made for the horses across the river where they were grazing. We then saddled up and remained so all that afternoon in case we were wanted out at Elandslaagte where very heavy firing was going on. Sunday 22 October 1899 My birthday. Had a bit of cake which came from home. After dinner Lancers came in from Elandslaagte and of course spun the most terrible yarns of what they had done. Each
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Lancer had killed bags of men. [Nicholson is referring to the charge of the 5th Lancers that constituted a gruesome, and controversial, finale to the battle.] The Gordons [the Gordon Highlanders] and other regiments also came in. They got most of the loot from the Boers and had also killed bags of ’em. Monday 23 October 1899 Our squadron and some of the ILH went out scouting towards W Pepworth’s [the farm of Walter Pepworth MLA, part of the site of the battle of Rietfontein/Tinta Inyoni the following day]. We came in touch of the enemy who were in force on Tintwa Inyoni, a hill behind Rietfontein a bit to the right. Having found the enemy and they being too strong for us to tackle, we retired to Ladysmith to report matters to the General [Lieutenant-General Sir George White]. Tuesday 24 October 1899 Tintwa Inyoni fight. We left Ladysmith at a very early hour and formed up on the road to Newcastle till the regulars and artillery had come out and then we started. Scouts were thrown out on every side and the enemy was found to be in a strong position on Rietfontein and Tintwa Inyoni. The Lancers quickly advanced under a long-range rifle fire till they got under cover of a small kopje. The volunteers under Colonel Royston [Colonel William Royston, the Commandant of Volunteers] were sent on to guard the right along the railway line just across the Modder Spruit. The Boers were firing at us from some kopjes on the right of Tintwa Inyoni but the distance was too great and no damage was done. The infantry advanced under a heavy fire and the big guns also came into action. After about an hour we were recalled and had a small gallop right back to Pepworth’s where we got under fire, and I must say the bullets did not sound very pleasant as they whistled and struck about us. Suddenly the Boers opened fire on us with a field-piece and just missed us as we were standing with the horses in a large mass. The second shot came much closer and we got the order to get under cover a bit to the left. [As was to become common practice in the war, the volunteers were deployed as a scouting screen on the left flank of the British attack, but did become heavily engaged, incurring several casualties in the process.] After about four hours the whole force withdrew having driven the Boers off one kopje and silenced his artillery, but not defeated them as they still held the ridge. We then covered the retreat from a small kopje and then retired into Ladysmith amidst pouring rain and thunder. I think this fight checked the Boers from molesting the Dundee column next day. [He was correct, it did.] Wednesday 25 October 1899 Saddled up early and rode out on the Helpmekaar Road to meet the Dundee Column … rode on about 3 miles [4,8 km] and then took up positions on both sides of [the] road and held them till [the] head of [the] column came in sight. Then we met them and led the way in pouring rain and very dark. Camped out for [the] night here. Colonel Greene sent those who had no coats in to Ladysmith. Got there about 2 a.m. and found our tents swimming in water. Slept in [the] shed in [the] showground. Sunday 29 October 1899 Sent to hold Lombard’s Kop, about 55 of us. Rest sent to Umbulwana. [Bulwana
From the very beginning to the very end
Mountain lay east of Ladysmith. This is important in the light of the criticism directed at the British for the almost immediate abandonment of the position and its subsequent occupation by the Boers who used it as a prime site for their siege artillery.] Heavy climb. Built laagers till 10 p.m. at night all round the hill. Guarding all night. Plenty of false alarms, shooting etc. Monday 30 October 1899 (Battle of Lombard’s Kop) Our horses being sent home, here we were on a high kopje with only our legs if it came to a retreat. Early in the morning we heard artillery moving and also musketry. The firing was out at Nicholson’s Nek and we heard afterwards of the surrender of fully 800 men and guns. The Boers started by shelling us in the morning but in a few minutes they turned their attention to the Royal Artillery etc. The battle began in earnest and shells began to be very thick. Meanwhile the volunteers had advanced to our right and took up [position on] a ridge. Firing at once became general. Some regular horse and foot drove the enemy back away on the left front, but heavy reinforcements coming just about 10 a.m. turned the battle in the favour of the Dutch, and owing to the surrender away on our left, we were obliged to retreat under a heavy shell-fire. [The volunteers had been held in readiness in the vicinity of Lombard’s Kop for an anticipated British cavalry charge on the Boer left flank that did not materialise.] Thursday 2 November 1899: Line cut and siege commenced. Shelling pretty heavy. Came home under shell-fire. We shifted our tents towards Tatham’s this afternoon from showground as the shellfire was getting warm. Letter, 2 November 1899 Dear Haco, Thank May for the cakes. I consider the Boers had far away the better of the battle last Monday [30 October]. It was simply an artillery duel, Germany vs England. The artillery never stopped for seven hours. Last Sunday we (60 men), our squadron, were sent to hold Lombard’s Kop, the highest peak near Ladysmith. We held it until we got orders to retire on the Monday after the battle, and had a magnificent view of the whole engagement, it was simply grand watching the different manoeuvres. I can tell you our soldiers are plucky, they do anything, shells fly about and they don’t even move.. They [the Boers] took about 800 of our infantry prisoners. When we got the order to retire, we were on this peak and had to walk six miles back to camp with about 30 pounds on our backs. It is hard to get information, the military keep things dark. Your affect brother, AJ Hackland Friday 3 November 1899 Bester’s fight. [This skirmish does not refer to the same location as the clash of 18 October, but rather to a reconnaissance in force west of Ladysmith, that ended in another embarrassing withdrawal, with casualties.] About eleven a.m. we suddenly got the order to saddle up and go out to Bester’s which we did. On our way out we were shelled by the Dutch and I was as near as possible killed, a shell falling between me
From the very beginning to the very end
and my half-section. Amid a shower of clods and earth we galloped on, shells falling very closely to us. When we got to [the] scene of [the] action the artillery was firing and we were ordered to go and support the ILH on Bester’s Hill. After a long gallop we dismounted and the Carbineers, BMR etc went up the hill. They soon got into action and the firing became very warm. Major Taunton was killed and many others killed and wounded. [Major Charles Taunton, a popular and respected colonial personality, was the most senior Natal Carbineer officer killed in action during the war. His death caused dismay in settler social circles.] After a heavy shell fire on our right the Hussars were driven back in spite of our guns and we got the order to retreat. We were nearly caught by the Boers and only just got out of range before they came up. We were shelled all the way home. Sunday 5 November 1899 Civilians and hospitals being moved out to Intombi [the neutral civilian camp and general hospital established beyond the Ladysmith perimeter in terms of an agreement reached between the British commander, Sir George White, and the Boer commandantgeneral, Piet Joubert, on the 4th]. Dug trenches along the river bank for shelter in the afternoon. Thursday 9 November 1899 Prince of Wales’s Birthday. Attack on Ladysmith by Zarps [the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republikeinshe Polisie] at Surprise Hill and also by Boers on Caesar’s Hill [Caesar’s Camp]. They were beaten off with heavy loss. Salute of shell fired in honour of the Prince, also cheers. [It was thought to be the first occasion on which live rounds had been used in such a salute. The occasion was a considerable boost for morale, which had taken a knock when the Boer siege ring had closed.] Letter, Ladysmith, 10 November 1899 Dear Mother, Just a line to let you know how I am getting on. Although the Boers have suffered a lot we must have come off second best as they captured 850 (about) of our men, also some guns. This lot fought for nine hours before surrendering. I do not know what the Dutch intend doing, they may try and cut the railway-line. My, this is a place for rumours. The box of fruit I had taken up to the kopje as we were supposed to be out there for four days. Your aff son, Jack Letter, Ladysmith (probably 16 November 1899) Dear Mother, We have had three awful days here now, dust always in clouds, and a high Berg wind. Some of the volunteers are sick, it is simply awful what a dust is on. Everything we eat is nothing but dust. We are in small patrol tents, two in each, and sometimes they come down. Last night I was on guard with 17 others, in the Carbineer lines, and when each six relieved, we just had to put down an overcoat and waterproof sheet in the ground - no tent and dust something awful. I wish they would move us out somewhere, so does everyone. Your aff son, Jack
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Monday 20 November 1899 Shells on and off. BMR played NC cricket. Latter won. [Nicholson’s passing reference to cricket belies the important part played by sport in the maintenance of morale during the siege. The British devotion to games defied the attentions of Boer artillery and was only dimmed, as the siege dragged on, by worsening conditions among the besieged.] More firing with big guns at 12 p.m. at night. Wednesday 22 November 1899 B Squadron played C Squadron NC cricket. Military built dummy fort. Dutch fired 15 shells at it. Ambulance sent out to collect ‘dead’. Dutch thought they had done wonders. [Apart from being misled by dummy British artillery emplacements, the Boers generally over-estimated the effectiveness of their artillery, which caused little damage and few casualties.] Saturday 2 December 1899 Roused at 2.30 a.m.. The Dutch fired about 30 shells today, most of them falling into the ILH camp but without hurting a man. They also went over our parade-ground where we held our sports and two burst right overhead and came down in showers of bullets, but burst too high up to do any damage. The volunteer sports came off very well today, there being quite 20 events on foot. The obstacle race and wrestling on horse-back were very amusing, also the wheelbarrow race etc. Generals White and Hunter [Major-General Sir Archibald Hunter, White’s chief-of-staff] were present. In the evening we had a general saddle-up at 8.30 to test our readiness for action, every arm being paraded. Got back to bed at 12 o’clock. Sunday 3 December 1899 Gun inspection at 9 a.m., after church-parade at which [Archdeacon] Barker preached. In the afternoon a Wesleyan minister preached an open air service to which I went. He gave a very good sermon. [Nicholson appears to have been a devout Christian, often attending church services several times on a Sunday. However, his sentiments in this regard are articulated more prominently in his letters than in the diary entries.] Tuesday 5 December 1899 After breakfast I was sent out with others to let the horses graze as food for horses is short and they only have ¼ ration. Came back with horses from grazing at 3 p.m.. About half a dozen shells were fired at the Gordons and ILH in the afternoon and killed a mule. Wednesday 6 December 1899 While exercising we met six men leading a captive [reconnaissance] balloon down from [the] Station to where the balloon rises. This balloon was emptied of gas a few days ago owing to the Dutch fire and was refilled today. As soon as sunrise broke the Dutch opened fire on it but failed to hit it and the balloon has been up to reconnoitre. [The British commenced operations with observation balloons on 28 October. Two were lost to Boer shellfire, one to a thunderstorm, and by mid-December a shortage of gas effectively grounded the apparatus. The balloons nevertheless served some intelligence function, not to mention a psychological one.] Dutch trying to stop searchlight and signalling going on between us and the column at Colenso. [Since the cutting of telegraph
From the very beginning to the very end
links on 2 November, the garrison and town was dependent upon the heliograph and searchlight beams bounced off clouds at night. The Boers sought to intercept both.] An open air concert was held in the evening which came off well. Sickness increasing among the garrison and also the volunteers. Thursday 7 December 1899 Out with the horses for grazing till 3 p.m.. Dutch fired at some horses grazing to our right and also into the town. After tea, just as we were off to bed, an order came round for every available man to parade on foot with rifle, revolver, water-bottle and bandolier and as light as possible in the boot line. When we were ready a hundred of us were told off, being men out of No. 3, 4 and 5 Squadrons. After this our wire-cutters were sent for. The rest of the Carbineers, BMR etc, also fell in and we all marched out towards Lombard’s Kop. [Nicholson proceeds to recount his impressions of the celebrated attack by colonial troops, including the Natal Carbineers, on the Boer artillery position at Gun Hill on Nicholson, mounted and in uniform, in a postAnglo-Boer War photograph, c. 1903 the night of 7-8 December.] About 2 a.m. we came to the foot of a kopje called Helpmekaar Kop, after many halts and having marched for more than four hours over very rough ground and expecting to meet the Dutch picquets and also to be fired on every minute. We then formed up in a long skirmishing line and advanced up the hill. When we got halfway there a sentry challenged us about five times and we halted to confuse him as he was below us on the flat. A forward move was then made and he then fired on us and the Dutch above us woke and started firing on us. Some of our side then lost their heads and started firing behind us and nearly hit us. After a lot of shouting they stopped and then we advanced again, the Dutch still firing on us. We then gave a cheer, and cheering like madmen, we went on. After a few yards the General gave the order to fix bayonets which we did not have with us. This was passed along the line and with another cheer completed the scare and the Dutch ran for their lives, and when we reached the top they were nowhere to be seen. We then advanced behind the big guns and the engineers etc came on and started their preparations to blow up the guns. The ILH fired volleys into the bush below to prevent any [Boer] advance. When all was ready we retired and when half way down the hill three guns were blown to pieces and also some ammunition. I think there were three guns blown up and one Maxim carried off by the ILH. We then marched home and got in about half-past six in the morning feeling very tired and foot sore. We were received by our own fellows with cheers galore.
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Friday 8 December 1899 We had a quiet day as we were very tired. At 12 o’clock all who went out the day before to the guns were paraded and General White came down and expressed his thanks to all of us in a few well-said words as he said we were tired and he would not keep us too long. We then gave three cheers for the General who lead [sic] us and also for our Queen. Sunday 10 December 1899 Out on picquet all day. The Dutch fired six shells in and around the town, quite an unusual thing for the Dutch to do as they do not generally fire on Sunday. [This is a reference to the informal Sabbath Day armistice that was generally observed on both sides, enabling besieged residents at least one day of relative normality a week.] Came in from picquet in the evening. As it was late when I got settled down I did not go to service. Tuesday 12 December 1899 Yesterday morning the KRR [King’s Royal Rifles] turned out and took a big gun, losing 11 killed, 43 wounded and 6 missing. Dutch very wild about losing the gun [Gun Hill on the 8th] and also about the bayonet as they themselves acknowledge losing 28 men as our men got among them with the bayonet [British regulars at Surprise Hill on the 11th]. Turned out at 9 p.m. and marched with rest of [the] flying column in a westerly direction across the bridge. [This was the flying column that White envisaged joining forces with Buller’s relief force, then on the Thukela.] This is to prepare us to go out at any moment to meet the flying column. Wednesday 13 December 1899 Dutch firing shells at the town and tents now and then. Heavy firing from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. with heavy guns in the Tugela River direction. Supposed to be the column advancing. Friday 15 December 1899 Firing at Colenso and also at the town. Came in from picquet feeling bad. Reported myself to Dr Buntine [RA Buntine, one of the Natal Carbineer medical staff] in [the] morning and again in the evening when I was sent to the convalescent home. Temperature 102°. [The day of the famous battle of Colenso held a different significance for Nicholson, the beginning of a long struggle against illness. He was one of many to suffer this misfortune. He was sent out to the volunteer hospital at Intombi, and was consequently ‘out of the loop’ for several weeks as far as Ladysmith events were concerned.] Monday 18 December 1899: Came out to Intombi Spruit Hospital. Four Carbineers killed and a lot of horses by a shell from Slim Piet. [This single shell inflicted the single most severe batch of casualties suffered by the Natal Carbineers during the siege, when it struck the ‘B’ Squadron horse-lines early that morning.] Monday 25 December 1899: Christmas Day. A very quiet day for the convalescents. Orderlies and nurses had a very jolly time in Ladysmith.
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Saturday 6 January 1900: Very heavy night attack on Caesar’s Hill [Caesar’s Camp]. Dutch and our heavy guns firing all day, also musketry. Dutch retired having lost very heavily. Also on Bester’s side [referring to Wagon Hill] they were beaten back with heavy loss. Our losses pretty heavy, BMR lost four men. [The Natal volunteers in Ladysmith were only involved on the periphery of this best-known of the siege’s military engagements. Nicholson, still languishing in Intombi, would have enjoyed a fairly close range armchair view of the Boers’ assault on the eastern extremity of Caesar’s Camp.] Tuesday 16 January 1900: Slim Piet and another big gun and our guns fired a few shots. Distant firing towards Potgieter’s [Drift] and Colenso with big guns. [Nicholson’s observations here represent early indications that Buller’s relief column was commencing a new ‘push’, this time along the upper Thukela towards Spioenkop.] Letter, Intombi Spruit, Ladysmith, 19 January 1900 Dear [Mother], I am writing a line to see if it will get through. I wrote one a few days ago and sent it to Johnnie Flett in Ladysmith, and asked him to send it to you if he got a chance, but perhaps this will get through sooner. I am still out at the Hospital, but hope to be going back to Ladysmith as soon as the doctor thinks I am strong enough. I weighed myself the other day and found that I had lost 30 pounds in weight, and that was after I had been on food for a week. Of course, we are not allowed meat yet as our stomachs are too weak yet. Jack Monday 22 January 1900 Some heavy guns firing down at Potgieter’s and Colenso on and off all day. A few shots fired into town. Wrote to mother again today and sent it to Colin Wilson to try and get through. [Wilson would have been in Ladysmith itself, where he would probably have secured the services of a black mail-runner to smuggle the letter through the Boer lines.] Letter, Intombi Spruit, Ladysmith, 22 January 1900 Dear Mother, Just a line on chance that it will get through, so that you must get one as this is the fourth one. I am going on well so far, and all the Richmond patients are doing well, and those in camp also. How are you all keeping up your spirits? I think it will soon be all open again [i.e., the siege over], please God, and then we will be able to write oftener than now. Our diet now is porridge or bread and milk (= water and sugar) for breakfast, soup, rice and gravy for dinner, no meat. B and milk or cornflour for tea, and of course we can toast our own bread. Your own loving son, Jack
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Friday 26 January 1900 Cold dull day. Firing at Colenso and also Potgieter’s and towards Colenso at intervals. Heard good news that the Dutch had cleared. Hope it is true. [Initial reports and observations from Ladysmith suggested that the Boers had been successfully driven off Spioenkop.] Quiet day here round Ladysmith. Sunday 28 January 1900 Heard that the Dutch recaptured Spioen Kop from our fellows in the night and our loss was 500 killed and wounded. [This was a truer reflection of the grim British disaster at Spioenkop.] Theirs was very heavy also. Wednesday 31 January 1900 A few big guns firing down Tugela way on and off during the day. Rumours still about our retaking the hill, Spion Kop, and also of six days’ fighting down at Colenso in which we lost 1 500 and the Boers 5 000 killed and wounded. [Both figures were wild exaggerations, especially the Boer losses.] Thursday 1 February 1900 Dull day with showers on and off. A few big guns fired occasionally today. Camp put on short rations in everything: ½ lbs biscuits or 1 lb bread, 1½ oz of sugar, ½ lb of tinned meat or 1 lb fresh meat, ½ oz salt, 1/36 oz pepper. Letter, Intombi Camp, Ladysmith, Sunday 4 February 1900 Dear Mother, Just a line to let you know how we are getting on. I have been shifted to a convalescent tent, so I will be sent in to Ladysmith in three or four days from now. I am keeping well so far, only a touch or two of diarrhoea on and off. I hope that by the time you get this, that we will be relieved or not far off. Your own aff son, Jack Wednesday 7 February 1900 Fine day, very hot. Came in from Intombi camp to Ladysmith camp by afternoon train. 55 days out in hospital. Friday 9 February 1900 Sent up in evening to Sanatorium on the hill. [This was the Convent established by the Augustinian nuns under Mother Superior Marie des Anges, who spent most of the siege at Intombi. After it was evacuated by senior British officers as being too tempting a Boer target, it served as a convalescent centre . It is now the La Verna Hospital.] No news of relief. Sunday 11 February 1900 No service held here. Quarter rations of bread etc. Have been on horse meat for some while now everywhere in camp. Saturday 17 February 1900 Official confirmation of relief of Kimberley. Fourth day I have had milk from Mr Reid
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(half a bottle). [Milk was one of the dietary essentials in the treatment of dysentery, and was consequently strictly rationed.] Thursday 22 February 1900 Heavy firing down Colenso way. Heard that Roberts had nearly entrapped Cronje and Dordrecht taken, also that Buller was doing very well and that 4 000 Dutch under Meyer had left via Elandslaagte for some place or home. Went out to graze my horse for the first time since my illness. Postcard, 25 February 1900, Pepworth to Nicholson Dear Jack, Cheer up! Will soon be out of this hole. The column is near with lots of grub and bacey [sic]. Yours, Pepworth Tuesday 27 February 1900 Amajuba Day. [The 19th anniversary of the Boer defeat of British forces at Amajuba Mountain, north of Newcastle in 1881.] Confirmation of the surrender of Cronje in the Free State. [The first significant British victory of the war, at Paardeberg]. Very heavy firing down Pieter’s way in the afternoon. Attack made on Dutch position by our men in which position was carried at the point of the bayonet after heavy artillery fire. Wednesday 28 February 1900 Fine day. Dutch had a false alarm here and fired heavily off Gun Hill in the night. Went out horse-grazing and saw any amount of Boers, wagons, etc clearing out. Came in in the evening and about 140 men were ordered on flying squadron. Just as they started out towards Intombi we caught sight of the advance guard of the relief column composed of Carbineers and ILH, etc under Major McKenzie, so thank God the siege is practically over. [There are numerous accounts of the relief, from soldiers and residents alike, and Nicholson’s ranks as one of the more subdued. The McKenzie referred to is Duncan McKenzie, arguably the most renowned Carbineer of John Bertram Nicholson his day. He commanded the regiment from 1903 to 1907 and rose to the rank of brigadier-general.] Thursday 1 March 1900 Two patrols of volunteers went out, one at 5 a.m. to Pieter’s and one at 10 a.m., with a strong support of regulars, artillery, etc, out towards the Newcastle road. Parties of scouts coming in. Our fellows had a skirmish out near Pepworth’s Hill but not much fighting was done. [The Ladysmith garrison was physically in no state to pursue the tempting target of the retiring Boer commandos, and the supply of fit horses had been decimated. The relief column was in better shape despite the hard fighting in the Tugela
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Heights in the final push for the town, but, Buller, for his part, chose to consolidate the position at Ladysmith, and no effective pursuit of the commandos was to be launched for several months.] Friday 2 March 1900 Quiet day. A few patrols out to guard loot and scouts out. General Buller’s official entry into Ladysmith. Wagons pouring in with grub, etc. Letter, Ladysmith, 2 March 1900 Dear Mother, At last we are relieved, after four months long siege, and a most trying time it was, but thank God it is all over. I am on duty now, but do not do much work in wet weather as yet. I had nearly a month in bed and I was very glad to get out of it. I wrote a scrawl to you yesterday afternoon and I hope you will get it alright. We do not know what arrangements are being made about a change for us all. Horse-flesh is not such bad tack if minced up flavoured. I had a treat this morn, fried goat and onions. My poor horse is as good as dead, being as thin as a rake, owing to neglect while I was ill. I am very sorry about him as he was a good pony. I do not know what we will do for horses, with so many dead and shot. God bless you all. Saturday 3 March 1900 Great march past of troops from the relief column to Tin Camp. About three brigades came in, also presentation of addresses to the generals. We were marched up and lined the roads on either side while they marched past. [The euphoria at the relief had worn off by this stage, and this parade, marking the formal entry of the relief column into Ladysmith, was greeted with muted enthusiasm.] Sunday 4 March 1900 Thanksgiving service for the relief of Ladysmith up behind the Sanatorium. Picking out horses from troop of grazing horses. List of names of men to be sent home on leave taken in the afternoon. Monday 5 March 1900 We left Ladysmith at 10 a.m. by wagon and had an awful journey down to Colenso and got there at 7.30 p.m., too late for the evening train. Slept out of town just across the bridge. Had a good sleep as we were very tired and dirty etc. Wednesday 7 March 1900 Reached home by morning train. Tired out. Have been sick on and off ever since. [JB Nicholson remained at home in Richmond on sick-leave from 7 March to 17 April due to the effect of enteric fever contracted during the siege.] Thursday 19 April 1900 Received my horse early this morning, having received telegram to say he was sent off yesterday from home so I waited, being very glad as I escaped going on wagons which
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would have knocked me up. Took train at 10 a.m. for Modderspruit. Called at Estcourt and entrained a lot of remounts. The Dutch laagers were numerous and our men must have fought very heavily to take them. Reached Elandslaagte at 8 p.m.. We offloaded wagons and horses and slept there for the night. [Nicholson, returning from his post-siege sick-leave, appears to have missed the Highlands sojourn altogether, despite his diary entry of the 17th, as the volunteers left that camp on 5 April for Elandslaagte.] Friday 20 April 1900 Had some fun although it nearly came to an accident. I was watering my horse in [the] morning at Elandslaagte. Like an ass I rode him with only a reim [a leather leadingrein] and headstall [halter] instead of it being in his mouth. In getting on I suppose my spurs touched him and he bolted with me, nearly running into the railway lines and fence. There he swerved and in gripping him with my legs he bucked as I touched him with my spurs. This nearly took him into some wire tangled up, and then he bolted a good mile [1,6 km] till a big herd of cattle stopped him, and I did not lose time in getting off, putting the reim in his mouth. After this we had some breakfast and started for Modderspruit leading three horses each, there being five of us. Sunday 22 April 1900 Church parade in morning at 9 am. After dinner I had to go and pump a tank full of water with three others, about two miles [3,2 km] away. We had a bad ride down as the jolting was awful so we walked home. Fatigues the order of the day, just the same as any day. Thursday 26 April 1900 During the afternoon some men of our picquets were said to be captured by Dutchmen. This was told to us by a man who had left his post without arms. The lieutenant at once took eight men and galloped for all he was worth and surrounded the kopje. When they got to the top they found the Boers to be four of our Native scouts, so the man who spread the alarm got a good talking to, also some men who fell asleep on their post. Sunday 29 April 1900 Church-parade held at 9 am. The bishop [this was probably Hamilton Baynes, Bishop of Natal from 1893 to 1901] preached and gave a very good sermon indeed. In the afternoon he gave another voluntary meeting to which I went. A few of us had a talk with him after the service. Sunday 6 May 1900 During the day I and two others took the seven horses down to water on Pieter’s Farm. We called at the farmhouse on our way, to have a look through, as the farm belongs to a rebel and is deserted. After going round I went into an outhouse and simply got covered in fleas which I only found out when I got to my post, and then I had to strip everything off and found myself a mass of blisters. I killed a good many but some troubled me a good deal afterwards. Monday 7 May 1900 Heard that the 3rd Brigade was moving at 1.30 p.m.. Relieved at 6 a.m. and returned to our camp. We were warned at 8 a.m. to pack everything. Of course we made a big rush and after all the order was cancelled. The whole brigade moved out towards Helpmekaar
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Road. No.4 Squadron NC and a troop of SALH [South African Light Horse] were left, so here we are left in camp without – as far as we know – any riders. Camp-guard, and horse- and baggage-guards placed at night. [This day, 7 May, marked the first of two campsite relocations for the Natal Carbineers, with a second following on the 9th, in preparation for Sir Redvers Buller’s long-delayed move on the Boer positions in the Biggarsberg range on the 10th.] Wednesday 9 May 1900 Rest of brigade still out patrolling. I was on camp-guard last night with five others on the posts. Some shots fired in [the] morning away on our left, which we have not found out who fired them. Great movement of troops eastwards towards Job’s Kop, also transport and ambulances. Everything points to a fight in a few days. Friday 11 May 1900 We left at 6 a.m. this morning, 40-strong, for a patrol to the west towards Tinta Inyoni. Corporal Peter Comrie, myself, and Pottow [Trooper Bertrand Pottow, a farmer from Thornville], were told off as advance scouts. We went on for four miles [6,4 km] scouting, and every rise I came to I used glasses and searched every kopje in our front. Sunday 13 May 1900 Our new regimental sergeant-major [this would be WOI William Burkimsher, who succeeded Bernard Bowen, who had died on 28 March from enteric contracted during the siege of Ladysmith] also went to rejoin [the] regiment which is said to be on Vermaak’s Kraal, about 10 miles [16 km] this side of Helpmekaar. Monday 14 May 1900 A quiet day. Usual fatigues and duties. I was on guard last night with Newlands and two others. We had a quiet night. [Nicholson appears to have missed the action of the 13th and 14th, when Buller evicted the Boers from the Biggarsberg and opened the way to the recapture of Dundee on the 15th.] Saturday 19 May 1900 We left camp at 6 a.m. with 150 men. Jackson [possibly Trooper RH Jackson of ‘G’ Troop hailing from Richmond Road, or Thornville] and I acted as gallopers to the major who was in command of the force. His name was Stewart and he was Buller’s aide-decamp [Queen’s Messenger] with the title of Bimbashi in Turkey or Egypt. [This officer of the South African Light Horse enjoyed a reputation for flamboyance.] We had a very heavy time of it riding backwards and forwards with orders. We then rode past Tintwa Inyoni on our right and we could then see all the old battlefields and where we had our first experience of shells. Thursday 24 May 1900 The Queen’s birthday, 81 years old. [The elderly monarch’s last birthday, as it turned out]. We gave a cheer as we marched by the divisional staff at the request of General Lyttleton for the Queen. We were roused at 3 a.m. and marched at 4.15 a.m. along a very dusty road with constant halts by the way, hardly out of the saddle before we were in again. No trotting but the same monotonous pace that so sickened us all.
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We marched about 10 miles [16 km] today, and owing to the major, we went about two miles [3,2 km] beyond our camp, and then had to return there, reaching there about 4.30 p.m. covered in blackjacks through which the major led us like a flock of sheep. Newlands and I again acted as gallopers to the major, so we never had a rest. At one place, while the others were off-saddled having breakfast, we were riding to and fro between him and his advance-guard. Saturday 26 May 1900 We visited a Dutch farmhouse where we found a Dutch vrouw and her married daughter. The elder husband named Degenaar was a prisoner in Newcastle, the younger went to fight us as a rebel and has not been seen since. The old lady got so excited in telling us about her husband that she burst into tears. Sunday 27 May 1900 Had orders to be ready to shift at anytime. Church-parade held to which I did not go as I was on duty. After breakfast [the] sergeant-major and myself and three others went out patrolling. We got about four or five turkeys and geese etc for him. [The] sergeantmajor rather surprised the same old Dutch woman we saw yesterday by speaking Dutch to her, as yesterday he spoke Kaffir as she could not understand English. Monday 28 May 1900 Our squadron was rearguard to all the transport of the division. The Division marched about 15 miles [24 km] right to the Buffalo [Mzinyathi] which I saw for the first time. Some of our chaps swam across [and] planted a Union Jack there. Very flat, treeless, and waterless country which we marched over today. Got to camp at dusk very tired and dirty-looking. Tuesday 29 May 1900 The mornings have been bitterly cold for the last few days. We formed part of the advanced guard. Our squadron were sent out in scouting order to our left. We occupied Stale’s Drift [Steil’s Drift on the Mzinyathi/Buffalo River] at 8.30, and crossed into Transvaal territory at the same time, thus having the honour of being the first regular Volunteers such as NC, BMR etc, to cross the border in a whole squadron. Wednesday 30 May 1900 Cavalry reconnaissance cancelled so what we thought would be a flank movement in Laing’s Nek turned out to be only a patrol. Instead of marching at 6 a.m. we marched at 8 a.m. in the direction of Utrecht. We ae now in dangerous country as the Dutch play tricks with the white flag. We passed one house with Dutch vrouws in it flying a white flag in Natal, the owner being a prisoner-of-war in Newcastle as a rebel. Thursday 31 May 1900 The Richmond Troop came in and we heard of an instance of the way the Dutch fight. A party of them [the Richmond men of the Carbineers] rode up to a house to scout and came across some Natives cobbing mealies. They asked them where the Boers were and the Native said they had cleared out. Two or three of them dismounted, but one smelt a rat and kept a lookout on his horse. He saw some horses saddled on a hillside
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and a little higher some armed Boers, and he then told our fellows to mount quickly, and no sooner were they in their saddles when the Boers opened fire on them and they had to gallop away under fire. Friday 1 June 1900 After breakfast I was sent to Newcastle to see if any provisions were to be bought, also to post letters and pick up any news. I also met General Buller, who asked me if I came from Wool’s Drift and how far he was from it. At Newcastle the Boers had done a great deal of damage to the houses and railway. Saturday 2 June 1900 We were roused at 5.15 a.m. and marched at 10.45 a.m. with some of the TMI as rearguard. I had a mishap in a muddy sluit [irrigation ditch] going along. I nearly came off as the horse struggled in a mud hole. Sergeant Montgomery came off the back of his horse as it sat down with him and he was knee-deep in water. [This would appear to be JWV Montgomery, a farmer from Mid-Illovo, who rose steadily through the ranks to temporary lieutenant-colonel during World War I. He served as honorary colonel of the Natal Carbineers from 1952 to his death in 1968, at the age of 101.] Lost my stirrup leather in the water, and had to undress and look for it and succeeded in finding it. Sunday 3 June 1900 Marched about six miles [9,7 km] up a stream [upstream?] to De Wet’s Farm just under the historic Ingogo Heights. An armistice on with the Dutch for four days now. [Time was granted from 2 to 5 June for the Boers, under Commandant-General Chris Botha, to consider, and ultimately reject, surrender terms from Buller]. Monday 4 June 1900 Roused at 6 a.m.. We reached Mount Prospect at 2.30 p.m., very glad to rejoin the regiment again after all our wanderings. The main body has halted owing to the armistice and no forward movement will take place until the armistice is up. Captain Foxon and a good many others have rejoined the squadron today. Our camp is at the bottom of Mount Prospect. Wednesday 6 June 1900 Dutch refuse terms of armistice. General gun duel on both sides. Long Tom fires about 20 shots and we dodge about all over the place trying to get out of his way. Our orders tonight are for our squadron to go on the 24-hour picquet at Colley’s grave and along the ridge commanding the railway-line and the banks of the Buffalo.
Historic envelopes from besieged Ladysmith
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Thursday 7 June 1900 Our squadron marched at 6 a.m., having been roused at 4.30 for the picquet. We were keeping a good lookout when we suddenly saw six Boers come out of the valley. We at once decided to fire on them as they could disappear easily down the Buffalo if we let them come any closer, and they could approach us quite easily as the banks of the river are very deep. The range [was] about 2 000 yards [1 800 metres]. We fired a volley then had independent shots. We made them shift away a bit, but as soon as they got onto a new burn [as in a fire-line veld burn] where we could hardly see them, they halted and had quite a lot of shots at us. We kept quiet so they moved on and again attempted to come closer, but we at once fired on them till they retired. Friday 8 June 1900 Roused at 6 a.m., relieved at 7 a.m., and marched in about eight o’clock, rather late owing to some of the picquets coming in late. A quiet day here in camp. While sitting at breakfast young Woods [Nicholson is probably referring to JPS Woods, a farmer from Estcourt who worked his way up from trooper in 1893 to lieutenant-colonel and command of the Left Wing/2nd battalion of the Carbineers in 1911] led a horse by. On looking up I recognised the horse as my old trooper which I had lost in Ladysmith after the siege. I told him about it and he said he had bought from a Native without a pass, but the way he said it I could see he picked it up somewhere. Great battle on at Botha’s Pass [in which Sir Redvers Buller memorably departed from his Colenso-style frontal tactics to successfully outflank the Boer positions on the Natal-Transvaal frontier, and effectively evict the commandos from the Colony]. Saturday 9 June 1900 A patrol of Carbineers, consisting of the Ladysmith Troop and a few others such as Rundle, went out to reconnoitre Laing’s Nek to see if the enemy were there. This they soon had proof of as the Boers began to show up all along the Nek, and our guns at once shelled them, doing some good practice. Long Tom then began and fired a good many shots, wounding three or four of the infantry on the spur above our camp. Sunday 10 June 1900 At 9 o’clock our squadron got orders to saddle up and go out to protect a convoy out at Botha’s Pass. We thought it was to take the convoy through, but instead of that we had to go right to Botha’s Pass and fetch one in. After a long ride during which we saw many evidences of the ruin caused by the Boers. At one farm they burnt a large planting of grape-vines and one house was smashed up anyhow. We arrived at the Pass and offsaddled for three or four hours. About 12 a.m. [noon] we climbed a small kopje, and getting through the fence, stood in the Orange River Colony. Wednesday 13 June 1900 Our squadron still at Ingogo Nek. General Dartnell says he is going to try and get us home soon. [It was, in fact, on this day that the Governor of Natal, Sir Walter HelyHutchinson, declared Natal to be ‘clear of the enemy’.] I had a walk through the [Laing’s Nek] tunnel. It was very dark inside. The Dutch blew both ends out and sank three shafts further in, only one being successful in being blown through. The tunnel itself is very strongly built with masonry right through.
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Sunday 17 June 1900 A rumour that the Boers had been seen at Dannhauser. We went about halfway there and then halted for a time to let our horses graze and also to have something ourselves. We reached Dannhauser about 4 o’clock p.m., tired and cold. We had off-saddled and let our horses loose when it came on to rain and we had to catch our horses and shift camp to a more sheltered spot. It rained on and off till ten o’clock and we were not allowed to have tents, although they were on each squadron wagon. Sunday 24 June 1900 The governor came up [presumably from Pietermaritzburg] and attended church-parade which was held at 2.30 p.m.. He did not say a word to us about going home, nor did he speak to us at all. Tuesday 26 June 1900 Quiet day. Usual fatigues. Football played constantly now. I was on fatigue yesterday afternoon at [the] station. [Nicholson’s entries for the week or so to date reveal the limbo in which the Natal volunteers found themselves while awaiting a decision on their demobilisation. They now found themselves in Dundee, where they languished for several months, because they could not, by law, follow Buller into the Transvaal. Outposts were established at various stations such as De Waal’s Farm and Gregory’s Nek.] Thursday 28 June 1900 At ten o’clock sharp four squadrons of Carbineers under Major McKenzie, and 100 BMR, also about 200 men of the NMR and UMR [Umvoti Mounted Rifles], went on patrol, along with the Hotchkiss-gun Detachment and two guns of the NF [Natal Field] Artillery. We all marched through Dundee and past historic Talana and along the road to De Jager’s Drift. Saturday 30 June 1900 I was told I could not go on patrol as I would be on horse-guard at night. However, I volunteered to do both patrol and horse-guard, and so I went. We were warned to be very careful as Boers were said to be at Jordaan’s Farm where we had to meet a patrol from No.2 Troop. We scouted all along the Buffalo and very nearly every house and kraal on the way to pick up information. Tuesday 3 July 1900 In Orders tonight we were told that, owing to the situation having changed once we left Laing’s Nek, we were needed here longer than was thought at first, so the general [Buller, presumably] requests us to make the best of a bad job and not grumble. [There was a lot of grumbling. Apart from individual volunteers agitating for release from active service, from this time forward the Natal government came under considerable public and financial pressure to reduce the Colony’s commitment to the war effort.] Saturday 28 July 1900 Patrols sent out at [the] usual hour, about 8.30 a.m.. By luck I was sent to Dannhauser as it turned out to be the means of keeping me out of a unpleasant affair in the afternoon. I had nearly requested to be put on the Buffalo patrol, but owing to having already
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changed Tom Hackland his duty on picquet, he doing my horse-guard, I thought I would not trouble any more and by doing so escaped Captain Foxon’s smash by the Boers that afternoon. I will fill this in later on when we know the truth. [An eight-man patrol under Foxon’s command was ambushed by 30 burghers in the vicinity of De Jager’s Drift. Foxon himself and a trooper were wounded, and three men were taken prisoner]. Tuesday 7 August 1900 The prisoners who were captured [in the Foxon incident] are going to be released , and they were to have been exchanged today, but the Boers did not turn up with them as agreed. Saturday 11 August 1900 An awful day. A storm of wind got up about 9.30 a.m., after our horses went out, and gradually got worse and worse, blowing tents down and tearing some to ribbons. It also started about five grass-fires, and it was all the whole camp could do to get them out, aided by the short grass. Some horses were singed and a general stampede ensued, horses galloping madly all over the place, also ours which had been sent for, as we were warned for picquet. Some of the ammunition for the field artillery was nearly burnt, but by great exertions the wagons were pulled away. The order for picquet was cancelled till tomorrow owing to the wind. The dust was something awful, like Ladysmith. Our bell-tent was blown to ribbons and I lost my hat. Monday 20 August 1900 Out on picquet in the evening a scare took place and all the support went and slept on a kopje at the back of De Waal’s. However, nothing came of it and they went back in the morning. During the night some explosions took place on the line [the Natal Government Railway line] which turned out to be the Boers cutting the line. Thursday 23 August 1900 A quiet day out at De Waal’s. The troops in camp stood to arms at 2 a.m. this morn and marched out to Talana, where they took up positions in case of attack. Fighting is taking place daily near Newcastle, and some heavy firing is heard here at times. The Boers, we hear, were driven off with loss from Newcastle, but succeeded in cutting the line in yesterday’s fight. Friday 24 August 1900 Our men in camp stood to arms this morn again and took up positions at Talana, which they held until dawn in case of attack. They then fell back on camp. Meanwhile the heliograph was at work, and informed the general of the fight going on up Newcastle way. [By the end of 1900 the Boer burghers remaining in the field had recovered from the shock of the loss of their capitals, and proceeded to stage a military revival that took the British, who considered the war to be all but over, by surprise. Several clashes mentioned by Nicholson in these pages were symptomatic of this new Boer resolve.] He determined on a counter movement, and every man in camp saddled up at 11 a.m. and moved out. A flying column of Carbineers under Colonel Greene left first and came along at a great pace, throwing out scouts in advance.
From the very beginning to the very end
I was on guard tonight from 10 to 12 p.m. and from 3.20 to 4.40 a.m.. It was the coldest night on record since we came to Dundee and towards morning, so to speak, I lost my feet, they being so cold that I could not feel them for numbness. Monday 27 August 1900 We all stood to arms this morn at 3.30 a.m. till daybreak as a precaution against a surprise by the Boers. A troop also patrols in the night, leaving camp at 8 p.m. and going out on [the] Talana road about five miles [8 km] and then halts and throws out Cossack posts for the night. Ten men and a non-com also hold a picquet on the west of the Impati Mountain along the road to De Waal’s Farm. Tuesday 28 August 1900 During the afternoon we marched up to the general’s [Buller’s] staff tent, where we formed a hollow square. The general came up and, calling on Trooper Sclanders to come forward, he pinned the silver medal of the Royal Humane Society on his right breast for his gallant conduct in rescuing Captain Tremayne of the 13th Hussars at Trichardt’s Drift on January 18 or 19 last during the operations along the Tugela. On his getting the officers out there still remained a private in the water [of the Hussars] and Sclanders jumped in again, and after a strong fight succeeded in getting him out...In the case of the trooper, however, it was too late to save his life, he being dead when saved. [Nicholson’s description is understandably vague as he was in Ladysmith at that time, and therefore not present. David Gray Sclanders was part of the squadron of the Natal Carbineers with Buller’s relief column. The incident occurred during the advance on Spionkop in early 1900, when British cavalrymen got into difficulties fording a swollen Thukela River on 17 January.] The general made a very good speech, and hoped the winner would get still more distinctions. We also gave him three cheers. Friday 31 August 1900 In the afternoon I was on fatigue at the station offloading seven trucks of forage and oats. We had a scare on at 7.30 p.m. and had to saddle up owing to a rumour that the picquet of the BMR were driven in at Gregory’s Nek. The Boers are getting daring, chasing several of our patrols in at De Waal’s and Maypole. All passed off quietly, however, and we went to bed. Wednesday 5 September 1900 It appears that a patrol of BMR who go out daily at dawn to patrol the Buffalo were ambushed on a small ridge about two miles [3,2 km] out. The men, four in number, were riding along in sections and had sent a scout on ahead, but as he went out of sight and did not come back to report anything unusual, they moved on. Just as they came over the ridge, they got the order ‘Hands up’, and at the same time the Dutch fired at their horses. Our men turned to fly but three of their horses dropped under the fire, and one of the men, Stuart by name, was wounded, and the fall off his horse, which was shot at the same time, stunned him, and the Boers left him for dead, but rifled his pockets.
From the very beginning to the very end
Tuesday 18 September 1900 We had to march with the main body, and of course had to keep pace with the wagons and infantry. After a long march we reached [the] Blood River. General Hildyard was away in front, and some big guns were clearing Scheeper’s Nek of the enemy. Sunday 23 September 1900 Church-parade at 9.30 a.m.. In the afternoon we suddenly fell in and our officers then came and told us that 300 men were required to stay on till the end of the war, so as to release those who were more required at home. [Nicholson is speaking of the genesis of the Volunteer Composite Regiment, comprising Natal volunteers drawn from regiments such as his own Natal Carbineers, and effective from 1 October.] About eight of us at once stepped forward and then we were told to fall back, and were then marched up in squadrons to the colonel of the regiment [probably referring to Colonel EM Greene]. He told us the same and said he considered that those who were staying on should get a few days leave. We then fell out and our names [the volunteers for further service] were taken, but next day only those who had come afterwards and put their names down conditionally got leave. Monday 24 September 1900 Our names retaken, and all of us were asked if we would like leave, which we all said we would. This was the end of it as very few of us got it. Some of those who put down conditionally got away today. Thursday 27 September 1900 DLI [Durban Light Infantry] and NRR [Natal Royal Rifles] all being re-equipped and horses being given to them. [This was a significant development as both these infantry regiments had to date been largely sidelined in a Natal Volunteer war effort that was built primarily on mounted infantry. The units thus affected had been striving for several months for conversion to mounted infantry. However, these units were only days short of demobilisation, and this development presumably referred to those volunteering for further service.] It was a bit of fun watching some of them riding for the first time. Monday 1 October 1900 Volunteers preparing to leave. Colonel Greene made a farewell speech. No.3 and 4 Squadrons horse inspection. About 11.30 am, while the parade of horses were still going on, we all got orders to saddle up at once and go to De Jager’s as the Dutch [approximately140-strong] had attacked our convoy six miles [9,7 km] on the Blood River side of De Jager’s. A great rush was made and only those who came in last night were told not to go out. As soon as we were saddled we left at once for De Jager’s. Some Special Service men [those who had enrolled in a regiment on the outbreak of hostilities, ostensibly for a year or the duration of the conflict] could not go out as they had handed in their equipment. We went out at a clinking pace and arrived there at about 2.30 p.m.. It appears that the convoy had outspanned and our scouts had not gone far ahead. The fight commenced on some ridges about 1 000 yards [914 metres] from the convoy,
From the very beginning to the very end
and owing to the wind, which was terrible, some of the scouts never knew anything about the fight till the Boers suddenly appeared and took some prisoners. They gradually drove our fellows back on to the wagons, capturing some on the way. Twenty-four wagons were burnt, eight taken away, and four left. The ones taken were mule-wagons and the pick of the stuff was loaded on them. All our prisoners, about 45 in number, were released, but guns were broken and bandoliers were taken. All orders for the return of the volunteers were cancelled, and some of them had to get out of the train which was to take them home. [The departure of the volunteers was only postponed, by a week until the 8th, but the attack did remind those remaining in the field that the supposedly defeated Boers were still capable of striking telling blows. It also reinforced the importance of efficient convoy escort, and Nicholson and his compatriots were to see plenty more of that.] MARK COGHLAN
A portrait of a mind-set
A portrait of a mind-set
Poetry in The Natal Witness, November 1899 – February 1900
Even before the first shot was fired, poetry appeared in The Natal Witness which made it clear that, unlike the First Anglo-Boer War, ‘empire’ in the new war would command the allegiance and the sentiment of all classes, and that the guiding muse of this alliance between ‘the masses and the classes’ (to paraphrase Gladstone) was the barrack-room balladry of Rudyard Kipling. Says one of the young intellectuals in a novel by H.G. Wells: ‘The prevailing force in my undergraduate days was not Socialism but Kiplingism…he provided phrases for just that desire for discipline and devotion and organized effort that the Socialism of our times failed to express…’ (quoted by Rayne Kruger in Goodbye Dolly Gray, p.30). And if Kipling had taught that the female is the more dangerous of the species, it seems that in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, the best exponent of Kipling’s style was indeed female, and, a few weeks before war broke out, sharpening her sword for overdue vengeance. Kate Bishop’s pieces were regularly published; here is an excerpt from one of the 3 November,1899. (The ‘43rd’ referred to is, of course, the regiment that had had the worst of it at Majuba in 1881.)
Whispers of War. Told by one of the 43rd. It was only just a murmur, but a murmur low and deep, Like a lion’s angry growling when you rouse it from its sleep; But it’s reached the golden Indies and the wild Canadian shore, Bound to speak again in cannon, as the lion’s bound to roar. And the burden of them whispers ran like this, ‘It’s bound to come Pull the lion’s tail and wake him and you’ll find he isn’t dumb; And if you want to work him up to action rougher still Rouse his memory too, and whisper in his ear “Majuba Hill!”… .’ …Now there ain’t a Rudyard Kipling in the fighting Forty-third; But it just expressed our feelings and our very souls is stirred… .
It is not to be denied, by the way, that patriotic verse could, in the intensity of public emotion, render its exponents open to danger. Within a few weeks of hostilities beginning, the Witness reports that ‘at a concert in the YMCA Hall the other night, Mr Henry Miller recited Clement Scott’s “Midnight Charge…” A lady of Dutch sympathies in the audience…met Mr Miller outside and threatened to bring several male friends to chastise him…’.
Natalia 33 (2003), W.H. Bizley pp. 27–31
Natalia 33 (2003) Copyright © Natal Society Foundation 2010
A portrait of a mind-set
The alliance of the ‘masses and classes’ was signalled by the unbounded success of a Kipling-Sullivan collaboration: ‘The Absent-minded Beggar’ – the song that reminded the better-heeled segment of Empire that Tommy Atkins was distinctly in need of their charity.
When you’ve shouted ‘Rule Britannia’, when you’ve sung ‘God save the Queen’, When you’ve finished killing Kruger with your mouth, Will you kindly drop a shilling in my little tambourine For a gentleman in khaki ordered South…?
The sentiment, and the tune, had a mesmerising hold on the imperial mind: when at Maritzburg’s Scott’s Theatre a concert raised £64 4s 7d for war relief, Mr Douglas’s rendering of ‘The Absent-minded Beggar’ added another £10 16s 6d to the takings. But its very success was bound to produce parody. The famous pastiche in the Christmas number of Punch might have been more influential, eventually, than the original song itself. It found its way into the Witness of 17 January 1900. Punch’s doggerel was a response to the War Office announcement that 50 000 plum puddings had been sent out to the troops at the front:
When you’ve eaten Christmas pudding – when you’re groaning in your grief – When you’ve woken with a taste about your mouth – Will you drop a tear of pity in your little handkerchief As you think of all those puddings ordered south….
To the ear glutted with the original, Punch’s riposte was a greater relief (one suspects) than the relief of Mafeking. The columnist ‘Q’ of The Natal Witness complained that ‘When you get the “Absent-minded Beggar” groaned out from the phonograph, sung at every concert, shrieked by every alleged elocutionist, when there is hardly a paragraph about our soldiers in which they are not referred to as ‘gentlemen in khaki’… I think the enjoyment begins to fizzle out…’. No wonder satiric versions began to proliferate; even ‘Q’ found a way of getting his message back past the censors:
The Absent-Minded Duffers When you’ve finished with your pipe-clay, Won’t your try a little change (It’s useless killing Kruger with your mouth), By sending out some cannon of a slightly longer range, For the gentlemen in khaki falling south?
Beating the censorship was the thrill of the hour for the editorial staff at the Witness. By making use of an even more illustrious piece, ‘Q’ was able to assure his readers that, so far as the censor went, ‘nightly at 12 o’clock promptly the staff of this paper warble through their telephone:
Send him censorious Red pencil glorious Long to out-score-ius Greatest of men…’.
If we admit that the major war poems did not emanate from Natal itself, we must nevertheless accept the proposition of one excited Witness correspondent that a masterpiece did arise from this city. Paul B. Statham, writing to the paper on December
A portrait of a mind-set
30th 1899, gives notice to his readers of what they have lost through a new type of imperialism, that of plagiarism: Will you allow me through your columns to ventilate a certain matter, if only to give the public a chance to profit by my own misfortune, and to give an idea as to what sort of characters we have to guard against in so-called ‘upper circles’ of the business community. I have recently written and composed a patriotic song entitled ‘The Call to Arms’, and from several little things which I have noticed I have very strong reason to suspect that certain gentlemen (?) in this town, taking advantage of the fact that I am unable, from financial causes, to copyright the production, have made a copy of it – with a view to publishing it under one or other of their own names… . The writer gallantly decides to give us the words if not the music ‘in order to forestall matters in a certain measure…’. Now if Paul B. Statham was a relative or descendant of Francis Reginald Statham, the public might well have had the measure of the tone of martyrdom. Francis Statham was the sometime editor of the Witness who had long since supported the Colensos and was an inveterate critic of imperial policy. In this case, however, Paul Statham rose gallantly to Britannia’s aid, as an extract or two will show:
…Then rise at your nation’s call Flinch not from the whistling ball; The God who can govern all battles Is watching over all…. …For vengeance every heart is calling; For justice stern, though sadly overdue; Your dead rise up in hosts appalling, And hark, they say, my gallant lads, to you! See yonder is the shade of slaughtered Gordon, Ah, who could mistake that manly brow? He smiles on you, a smile so true, From heaven he’s watching o’er you now. Stand firm as you meet the attack, And ne’er let the foe see your back; The eyes of all nations are on you Strike! Strike for Britain’s UNION JACK! Yours etc. Paul B Statham
If Rudyard Kipling was the poet laureate of the Anglo-Boer war (that is, from the imperial view), there is no doubt that his legion of followers might, at any moment, outKipling Kipling. As we have said, Kipling managed to make the imperial bourgeoisie believe that it sided with ‘the common man’, often by adding the odd ‘bloomin’ this or ‘bloomin’ that to his unquenchable and stylised balladry. Of the two poems that follow, the first shows all the mawkish patriotism very deft at imitating a cockney waif who has lost his papa to the call of ‘the front’. Contrast this with the poem that follows, and you have more than an indication of what made up the imperial mind-set at the turn of the
A portrait of a mind-set
century. As if to make the point, both were published in The Natal Witness for Saturday 10 February 1900. Here are extracts from ‘A Tragedy of the War’ by Joseph Lyons.
“ ’Eavy fightin’! ’Ere y’are Sir; Second Hextry Hevenin’ News!’ ” Cried a ragged little urchin, boasting neither hat nor shoes. I watched his perseverance as he shivered in the cold, And tried to count the coppers for the papers he had sold. He must have seen me standing, and came over with a run; “ ’Ere y’are, Sir, Second Hextry. Yuss, the British troops ’as won. Thank’ee, Sir! It’s worf a penny, an’ it won’t go to the pub! There’s the kid and muvver waitin’ till I bring ’em home the grub. That ’arf a dollar? S’elp me; are you the Prince of Wiles? Or maybe Barin Rofschild, what they writes about in tiles… . “…Now, Sir, I ain’t no scholard, but I gets a pal to see Before I tikes the paper ’ome for seven-nine, sixty-three. Would yer mind just a-lookin’ for me? ‘Ullo, wot mikes you cry! ’Ave you found out you’ve lost a pal? Well, some ’as got to die. Wot? You’ve got my farver’s number! No? For Gawd’s sike s’y you’re kiddin’!” He dropped his papers in the street, his little face was hidden, Then lifting up his head, he cried, “Oh, tell me it’s anuvver! I can’t go ’ome and break the noos, it’s sure to settle muvver.”
Rudyard Kipling was of course a bigger phenomenon than such vigorous sentimentality might make us believe. He had, after all, by the time of the 1899 war completed Kim, the book that so poetically undermines the official argument of empire, and (though Kipling himself might not have agreed with the proposition) already shown the empire to be in its twilight. I have argued elsewhere that the haunting final pages of Kim are closer to the spirit of Walter Pater and the Aesthetic Movement (for instance, some of the meditations in Marius the Epicurean) than to the ‘official’ Kipling line, with its cockney/Irish voice. One of the best pieces published in the Witness during the siege was this, quoted from The Spectator, and heavily imbued with the ‘autumn of empire’. Marius-like, the author evokes the unceasing cavalcade, the sheer global size of the unfolding day of the imperial realm. (The poet’s very name, Gascoine Mackie, suggests his parents conceived of him as a Marius before he spoke his first word!) A tourist view it is, but, well, some tourists are more perceptive than others, and although an ‘imperial hue’ colours these languid lines, the quality of observation cannot be denied. This appeared in The Natal Witness on Saturday10 February 1900.
The Garden Colony: A reminiscence of Natal There is no winter in this land of flowers. But only storm and sunshine; fiery heat Bursting in furious cataracts of rain. The fabled orchards of Alcinous Were not more prodigal of every fruit; Here, in a single garden, I have seen Trees loaded with the citron and the lime, Amatangulu with its milky plum And star-white blossom like the jessamine, The mango, the banana’s drooping cone
A portrait of a mind-set
Of purple blossom, the paw paw and the plum And loquat scented like our English may, Lemon and naartje and the granadilla, The shaddock with its green colossal sphere And glimmering orange groves, amid whose boughs Where fruit and bridal flower dropt side by side, The firefly flashed and vanished like a spark. And day by day in Durban streets I trod Where all the brilliant hues of Eastern life Clash with the West – the Zulu with his riksha The Arab trader clothed in flowing lawn The Kafir wives, trooping in companies, Carrying brown calabashes on their heads, Or infants slung in blankets on their backs, Stirred the red dust; – and when the evening train Crawled up the spiral track, one saw the Coolie – More like a meagre shadow than a man – Plodding the dreary flats of Durban Bay Beyond Congella; and running from their huts, With many a bracelet on their elfish limbs, The little coolie children clapped their hands To watch the train; twittering like weaver birds That hung their nests above the Umbilo River. Alas! that these clear hills and happy valleys Lying like liquid lakes of azure bloom Where nothing fiercer than the trekker’s whip Urging his long laborious span, awoke The stillness of the dewy dawn, should now Thunder and scatter a thousand startled echoes, While the sweet air is maddened with the shock Of fiery scorpion, and the smoke of war. We pray for peace, and peace will come again The herald of a happier day, to heal The wounds of fair Natal; yet not in vain The brave have bled that man may honour man; And, to what end does Britain rule the wave, But that her Justice, like the salt i’ the billow, Should cleanse and sweeten a corrupted world? Gascoine Mackie
How could one not prefer the writing of one who gulped in his views of Natal from the slow train coiling up the hills to Hillcrest and beyond!? A pity that the ‘imperialist’ conclusion prevents the poem having a permanent relevance. W.H. BIZLEY
One hundred years
One hundred years
The fortunes (and misfortunes) of the Tatham Art Gallery collection
Introduction The fortunes (and misfortunes) of the Tatham Art Gallery collection is a fascinating and complex story, set in the context of socio-political and economic changes in KwaZuluNatal from shortly after the Anglo-Boer War to the present. It is a story in which visionary belief in the power of the visual arts to enrich people’s lives has been the crusade of a few dedicated and tenacious individuals, often against enormous resistance born of ignorance, suspicion and short-sightedness. The centenary of the Tatham Art Gallery collection is indeed an event to be celebrated, and the story of its founding and development offers encouragement to those who continue in its service that their efforts are not in vain. It is also cause for celebration for those who have learned from and been inspired by visits to the collection. Although the story of the collection’s founding and development is closely linked to the history of the Gallery’s accommodation, that aspect is not the focus of this centenary. Efforts to have a dedicated building for the collection date back to the years shortly after
The present Tatham Art Gallery
Natalia 33 (2003), Brendan Bell pp. 32–44
Natalia 33 (2003) Copyright © Natal Society Foundation 2010
One hundred years
1918, when it was proposed that such a building on the Market Square should form Pietermaritzburg’s memorial to those of its sons who had died in the First World War. That proposal lingered on until 1939 when it very nearly became a reality with the laying of a foundation stone by General Smuts. Hopes of fulfilling that dream were dashed, however, by the outbreak of the Second World War, and inevitable public outcry that the £20 000 earmarked for the project would be better spent in alleviating the effects of the war on the welfare of people in the city. It was only in the 1970s that the idea of separate accommodation for the collection was raised again, this time the proposal being that the Old Supreme Court building over the road from the City Hall be acquired by Council and converted into an art museum. That proposal came to fruition in 1990 with the entire collection accommodated in custom-designed museum conditions. The accommodation and storage of the collection has played a significant role, and those aspects pertinent to its development will be discussed. This article concentrates, however, on the collection itself, its formation in 1903 and aspects of its growth to 1963. Whilst a straightforward chronology of acquisitions would be inadequate to reflect the complexities of this development, the sections which follow are loosely chronological. Mrs Ada Tatham’s initiative in founding the collection provides opportunity for discussing Victorian taste and sensibility in a time of colonial activity in Natal. The generous gifts of Colonel Robert Whitwell between 1923 and 1926 included works in a variety of media, from paintings to objets d’art, introducing a wide spectrum of creative production, and notably a distinct modernism in the choice of works by British and French artists. An attempt is made to contextualise the unfortunate dispersal of over one hundred works from the collection in 1963. Victorian taste and sensibility The Gallery collection owes its origins in 1903 to Mrs Ada Susan Tatham (née Molyneux), who came to Natal with other members of her family in 1881. In 1887 she married Frederick Spence Tatham, barrister, soldier and politician. Apart from assisting in her husband’s election campaigns, she was active on the Relief Committee in 1899 to find homes for refugees during the Second Anglo-Boer War, and was keenly interested in history and art. She was clearly civic-minded, belonging to and serving on various bodies such as the SPCA, the Girl Guides and the Pietermaritzburg Art Society1. Wealthy and well-connected, she held a position of some influence in society, which she used with great energy in the formation of a permanent art gallery for Pietermaritzburg. The history of the Victorian works and of the Tatham Art Gallery was written with characteristic forthrightness by Mrs Tatham in a 1949 article in which she hoped ‘…it may be of use to this and future Councils of Pietermaritzburg Municipality to know something of the origin of its Art Gallery…’2. She was interested in founding an art gallery and set about collecting donations from friends and the public for this purpose early in 1903. The City Council matched the £500 collected, enabling Mrs Tatham to purchase a number of paintings during her visit to Britain the same year. Her task was made easier by the fact that Sir William Blake Richmond RA was a cousin of her husband’s. An introduction to Sir Edward Poynter, President of the Royal Academy, made the acquisition of interesting works possible. Among these were works by Lucy Kemp-Welch (1869-1958), John Frederick Bacon (1868–1914), Evelyn De Morgan (1855–1919), John McWhirter (1839–1911), Edgar Hunt (1876–1953), Joseph Farqu-
One hundred years
harson (1846–1935) and Charles Van Havermaet (fl. 1903–04). Many of the works were acquired at substantially discounted prices as a result of the contacts opened to Mrs Tatham, and her own persuasiveness in convincing the artists of the merits of founding an art gallery in so far-flung a colony as Natal. The whole exercise apparently caused some considerable stir in the British art world through the publicity given to it in various art journals. Through the assistance of Sir Edward Poynter, Mrs Tatham was able also to organise a loan collection of one hundred paintings by contemporary British artists which, together with works already purchased, were sent out by Pietermaritzburg’s London agent, Mr Sydney Ford, who also donated a work by Charles Sims (1873–1928). Once in Pietermaritzburg all the works were exhibited in the rooms of the Natal Society for a year, and the show was complemented by weekly lectures on art and music by local experts, including the editor of The Natal Witness, Dr Allan Miller, from which we may assume that Mrs Tatham’s intentions were not merely to amass a body of work in order to improve the cultural ‘image’ of Pietermaritzburg, but also to educate about art. Local citizens were encouraged to purchase works for donation to the core collection and ‘we were able to buy pictures from this loan collection, pictures to the amount of £600 contributed by the Corporation and also £400 given to me by firms in England who were in touch with our Council here’.3 At the end of the exhibition, those works remaining in Pietermaritzburg were housed in three rooms in the City Hall – the Council Chamber, the Supper Room and one other identified only as Room II, which may have been the councillors’ ante-chamber. Included in the Supper Room was a collection of engravings by artists such as Raphael (1483–1520), Veronese (c.1528–88) and Tintoretto (1518–94), and a ‘priceless’ engraving of the Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci (1452–1519). From this inclusion and the fact that some of the weekly lectures during the loan exhibition were delivered by Mrs Vivanti Denby, ‘an Italian who had lived long in Italy among its Art and culture’4, it may be concluded that Mrs Tatham’s intentions with regard to the art education of Pietermaritzburg’s citizens went beyond a simple appraisal of current trends in British painting. Indeed, the educational function of the collection and of art in general were contributing factors to her desire to form the collection, as she later repeated a call for lectures to encourage people to visit the collections and ‘children [be] helped to learn from them’5. Further, she wrote an article for the Natal Diocesan Magazine of February 1904 in which she argued that, for young people, ‘the best way to train the eye to look over and appreciate the beauties of Creation is by the study of pictures’6. Also related, and remarkable at this time, was the institution of an annual art competition which ran for nine years from 1904, with categories for all ages. Proceeds from the competition were used to purchase works by South African artists for the collection, a most interesting and noteworthy move, which proves a tangible appreciation of art produced locally. An attempt to analyse Mrs Tatham’s taste in art and her interest in its educational function is useful in providing some idea as to why certain works were chosen by her for the core collection. A lecture delivered in 1940 provides the clearest evidence7. It is an attempt to scan the whole of two-dimensional art production, from cave painting in Europe to the ‘story picture’ of the Victorian era and follows a linear model not unfamiliar even today in more simplistic versions of art-historical development. There is the
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notion that art is a reflection of a nation’s progress and culture, and the Neo-Platonist view that art reflects ‘something of the beauty that is in the world’. English landscape and animal painting are seen largely to have been influenced by the Flemish and Dutch schools, and there is a pervasive notion that climate had a considerable influence on landscape painting of the nineteenth century generally. French art appears to end with Millet (1723–1875) and it is to Turner that Mrs Tatham attributes true artistic spirituality, Turner ‘who spiritualised all the scenes that he painted – his whole soul part of the beauty he saw’. Reynolds (1723–1792) is relegated to having founded the English school of portraiture, ‘not influenced by any other school’, whilst ‘Raeburn, Romney and Lawrence painted English men and women who were part of the Nation’s history’8. It is the ‘story picture’ of the Victorian era with which Mrs Tatham ends her survey. Works by the Pre Raphaelites, Millais (1829–96) and Holman Hunt (1827–1910) are mentioned, works which primarily embody a Christian theme, such as Christ in the Carpenter’s Shop and The Light of the World. G.F. Watts (1817–1904) is also mentioned as one who ‘painted pictures of the soul’s life – Hope – a fragile girl figure, crouching on top of the world, blind-folded, and listening for the faint sounds of music from the one remaining string of her lyre’. The allegory is related to the message of St Paul about hope, that it is not something seen and that if this be realised, we have the patience to wait for it. It is not surprising that Mrs Tatham then introduces some of the Victorian story pictures in the Gallery’s collection for comment. She mentions William Blake Richmond’s Ten Virgins, Briton Riviere’s Sympathy [Regrets], and Dolman’s Christ in the snowy fields of Flanders [A.D. 1919] all of which carry a symbolic message underpinning Christian values. The final word on the subject of Mrs Tatham’s lecture is given by Wescott, whom she quotes in a hand-written postscript dated 1946: ‘Art should interpret nature and life as revelation of God, leading from things that are seen to the contemplation of the spiritual … . Thus its inspiration must be the Spirit of God’9. Underlying Mrs Tatham’s taste, then, was an adherence to Christian values held dear by the Victorians generally, compounded by an equally Victorian adherence to the belief that the spiritual may be discerned in nature and representations of nature, as for example in John MacWhirter’s A Fallen Giant. It would appear to have been, therefore, the spiritual enlightenment of the citizens of Pietermaritzburg which underscored Mrs Tatham’s pursuit of establishing a collection of artworks for the city. It may be argued further that her taste and beliefs were commonly accepted by those citizens of Pietermaritzburg who contributed to the establishment of the collection. The core collection of the Tatham Art Gallery, therefore, represents the taste and values of a part of the society for which it was formed. Patriotism: Colony, Empire and beyond Mrs Tatham was equally Victorian in her patriotism, her belief in the notion of colonialism and Empire. We have already noted her belief that art is a reflection of a nation’s progress and culture, and the Van Havermaet copy of Queen Victoria may be used as an example. Van Havermaet was Mrs Tatham’s choice of artist to copy the state coronation portrait of Queen Victoria for the new gallery collection. Sir Edward Poynter was asked to request permission for a copy of the original in St James’s Palace to be made. As impressive as the painting is the frame, a magnificent gilded construction gesso-moulded with the royal coat-of-arms at top centre and coats-of-arms of Natal
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and the Borough of Pietermaritzburg at each top corner. It was significant to Mrs Tatham that the original Winterhalter (1805-1873) portrait dates from 1846, the year after Natal became the first colony added to the British Empire during the reign of Queen Victoria. Mention is also made in the Descriptive Catalogue of the Gallery dated 1905 that ‘Victoria came to the throne in the year 1837, the same year in which Piet Retief and his band of pioneer settlers, crossed the Drakensberg, and began the colonisation of Natal …’10. Also significant was the fact that the money for this commission was collected from the women and children of the Midlands and Northern Natal, a symbolic gesture of loyalty and reverence for the Queen-Empress as ‘Mother, Wife, and Queen’. Patriotism for Mrs Tatham extended further, to a wish that Pietermaritzburg itself should become a focus of civic pride, particularly in the extension of the collection, so that ‘by degrees the patriotism of Natalians will provide a collection worthy to be ranked with some of the more beautiful collections to be found in every city of importance in Europe’11. The painting and its frame had, therefore, immense symbolic significance for the people of Natal in general and Pietermaritzburg in particular, enshrining notions of feminine protection and nurture in the personage of Queen Victoria and of colonisation, not only the colonial expansion of the British Empire under Queen Victoria, but the idea of colonisation generally as a worthy pioneering activity, as suggested by reference to Piet Retief. In this respect also, then, Mrs Tatham must be considered a true Victorian at heart, and the painting of Queen Victoria a reflection of Victorian norms and attitudes prevalent in the colonial community at the time. The portrait of Queen Victoria currently hangs in the main stairwell of the Gallery and will be joined by an equally impressive portrait of King Cetshwayo kaMpande of the Zulu following a national portrait competition held during 2003. The latter is an important acquisition to the Gallery’s collection in that it attempts to redress past imbalances by a policy of inclusivity. Placing portraits of Queen Victoria and King Cetshwayo adjacent to one another reinforces the Gallery’s current policy that its collection and displays attempt to reflect the histories and cultural production of different, interdependent peoples. This is perceived as a more balanced approach and will be dealt with more extensively elsewhere. All histories have relevance, no matter how painful, and extreme caution should be exercised in suggesting the dispersal of works from the collection on the grounds of political ideology, or, for that matter, of taste. Political climates change, so does public taste; to relegate works to storage or worse, to deaccession them from the collection on these grounds is tantamount to arrogant censorship, something the Tatham Art Gallery has had to contend with on more than one occasion during the hundred years of its existence. The dispersal of over a hundred works in 1963 on grounds of their lack of artistic merit is a case in point which will be dealt with in more detail later. Of interest here, though, are the wide-ranging ramifications of such an undertaking which, in addition to a general lack of curatorial management and documentation of the collection in the first sixty years of its existence, makes it extremely difficult to answer with any certainty questions which would have a bearing on the artistic taste and visual arts practices of the white citizens of Pietermaritzburg during the period. There is no reason to assume that Mrs Tatham’s efforts regarding the formation of the Gallery collection ended with the publication of an annotated catalogue in 1905. She lost two sons in the First World War and may well have been involved in canvassing for
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a dedicated art gallery building as a memorial to those who had fallen, similar to that in Port Elizabeth. For some years she was a member of the Art Gallery Committee and honorary secretary of an art society for ‘competitive exhibitions held annually to encourage the study of art amongst young students and exhibitions of their work, as well as pictures by well-known South African artists’12. Works by local and other South African artists such as Allerly Glossop (1870–1955) and Elizabeth Mary Butler (1845–1937) were acquired for the collection. It is indeed ironic that the pruning of 1963 has necessitated the subsequent acquisition of works by many artists originally represented in the collection. One work of note by a South African artist which survived the pruning was Gwelo Goodman’s (1871–1939) Morning Glory: Valley of a Thousand Hills, acquired in 1919. Whilst there can be no doubt that Mrs Tatham’s own acquisitions and the majority of those made during the period she was involved with the Gallery were distinctly Anglophile, it is important to remember Gallery support of local art and artists, which may be lost in a cursory examination of the Gallery’s current holdings. Subsequent to 1905 and before the generous gifts of Colonel Robert H Whitwell in 1923 at least forty-six works were acquired for the collection, the majority of them probably purchased with City funds. Unfortunately no records have yet revealed who these works belonged to prior to their acquisition for the collection. It cannot be presumed, therefore, that they were sourced in Britain or that they were part of local private collections. If the latter, it would suggest that there were some fairly extraordinary artworks in the Colony, although the size of some, such as John F Tennant’s (1796–1872) On the Banks of the Thames and Richard Ansdell’s (1815–1885) The Stalker makes one doubt whether they would have hung in private homes. Mrs Tatham was still concerned about the Gallery as late as 1949 when she wrote her article on the history of the collection. Along with others she would have been delighted with the Whitwell gift in the 1920s, which expanded the size and scope of the collection to proportions she probably didn’t dream of. Without her energetic work in the early years of the twentieth century, though, Whitwell would not have had a collection to view in Pietermaritzburg in 1919, a collection he obviously felt deserved support through additional acquisitions. The Whitwell Collection In July 1923 the Mayor of Pietermaritzburg, Mr D. Sanders, received two letters from Sir Thomas Watt in Pretoria. One letter was official, the other private, and both outlined an offer of art works to Pietermaritzburg from a Colonel Whitwell, then resident in Jersey. Watt had met Whitwell in Cape Town some years previously, and Whitwell communicated through him in order to gain access to the Mayor of Pietermaritzburg. Sanders was reminded of Whitwell’s gift of art works to Durban in 1919, a collection which he had seen, and was asked to handle the matter in the strictest confidence, as Whitwell had been upset by the publicity in the Durban press. Sanders took the latter instruction seriously, not even raising the matter with the Town Council-in-committee, but informing councillors individually of the offer. All councillors consulted were unanimous in agreeing to accept the offer on Whitwell’s terms, and negotiations were instituted. This led to a lengthy relationship between Whitwell and Pietermaritzburg, resulting in the city receiving by instalments over four hundred art works and objets d’art.
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Few facts are known about Whitwell except that he had been a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Indian Army Medical Corps, possibly having retired in 1900. He had a pension and an annuity with which he was able to travel and indulge a life-long interest in pictures and art, for which he was ‘blessed with a strong natural flair’ by ‘visiting all the galleries of Europe, from St Petersburg to Madrid.13 ‘By the end of World War I he had been deprived of ‘all connections [he cared] for, so [he] decided to pass on [his] knowledge as a torch to others less fortunately placed … and choose some place which would be the better for a few pictures.’14 What is known about Whitwell’s likes and dislikes, tastes and attitudes has been gleaned from his correspondence with the Mayor and Town Clerk of Pietermaritzburg, correspondence which begins formally but becomes less so after his visit to the city in 1924. During the period 1923 to 1931 he appears to have lived at the Victoria Club on Pietermaritzburg and at St Helier in Jersey, with occasional visits to France and England. He frequently complained about his state of health, suffering from symptoms of a strained heart as a result of ‘septic pneumonia’. Whilst this preoccupation with health may suggest in Whitwell a tendency to hypochondria, the overriding impression is of an aged bachelor with few friends who thrived on being acknowledged and treated with sympathetic regard, something the Mayor and Town Clerk of Pietermaritzburg supplied in good measure, which no doubt spurred him on in his generosity. He was also a man of strong opinions about a number of issues besides art. And there is something rather touching about his concern for the keeper of the Pietermaritzburg Gallery, having purchased a clock by Thwaite’s in Cape Town, which he hoped would ‘help the Keeper of the galleries to start punctually for home every day’15. There is also no doubt that Whitwell enjoyed the sense of power that his collecting afforded him, for he was scornful of established art museums, those who worked in them, and art dealers. He was determined that the Tate was not going to have his Sisley, although he agreed for it to be on loan for a year in 1923/24, and a query from the National Gallery in London regarding the Cotman he purchased for Pietermaritzburg elicited the following: ‘Mr Kay is one of the aspirants of the National Gallery and like the rest of his kind is, I suppose, writing a book about what he knows very little of’16. In forwarding correspondence from Marchant of the Goupil Galleries, congratulating Pietermaritzburg on the works purchased by Whitwell for the Gallery, he was equally cutting, retorting: ‘Of course Mr. Marchant, than whom there is no keener man of business, sees a chance for advertising himself over the sale of some of the paintings alluded to. He hopes too, but in vain, that I will return to his shop for more. There is this to be said for him, that he has a fine flair, and holds the best stock of modern pictures in Britain. He also charges the biggest prices!’17 From the correspondence it is clear that there were several reasons for Whitwell’s generosity to Pietermaritzburg. A letter from Sir Thomas Watt to the Mayor dated 30 July 1923 provides an official view as to why Whitwell wished to present Pietermaritzburg with this gift: When in South Africa some years ago he had a great admiration for General Botha and his efforts to bring the two white races of South Africa into one common fold. Colonel Whitwell then conceived the idea of expressing his appreciation of the General’s work by presenting
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his collection of pictures, etc. to South African Municipalities.18
As mentioned previously, Watt had met Whitwell in Cape Town, and Whitwell appears to have had some interest in South African politics of the time, supporting the endeavours of the Unionist Government in which Watt was a Cabinet Minister, holding various portfolios, including that of Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, from 1912 to 1924. Watt had joined the South African National Party, subsequently the South African Party as MP for Dundee in 1911, and stuck with the party until ousted by the Hertzog ‘Pact’ ministry of 1924. The role played by Watt in securing the second instalment of Whitwell’s gift in 1924 is significant, and will be referred to again later in more detail. Although admiration for General Botha’s attempts at reconciling Afrikaner and British in South Africa may have been the official reason for his generosity, Mayor Sanders and his Council must have been intrigued to know why he chose Pietermaritzburg in particular. A more personal reason did eventually emerge in 1924. Whitwell was keen that his gift be opened on a St George’s Day, as it was on St George’s Day (23 April) in 1919 that he had, in fact, visited Pietermaritzburg. The reason of my request about St George’s day is this. In 1919, on my way back from China I visited Pietermaritzburg for a few hours on my way to Pretoria. It was St George’s day. A worthy townsman seeing me looking around, with great good will and courtesy, offered to help me to see what I wanted to see. After assuring me with much feeling, that he ‘would not be seen dead in Durban’ invited me to the concert which I was able to enjoy a part of. I was very moved, and resolved, that if I could do the town a good turn I would. There was another characteristic incident. A Dutch clergyman seeing me looking at the pictures in the town hall, came up to me and asked how long I had been in S. Africa: Ten days I said. I don’t believe you, he replied and walked away.19 Another characteristic of Whitwell which becomes clear in the correspondence is the fact that he thought through his gifts, from conceptualising a collection to the practicalities of its display, with an almost military precision, perhaps not surprising in an ex-army man. This did not, however, limit his methods of acquisition to carefully-considered purchases. Like many collectors he was quite capable of seizing chance opportunities and bargains, revelling in the cut and thrust of quick action. For example, he bought the Cotman ‘half an hour after it arrived at Walker’s galleries. The same afternoon I was offered double what I had paid…’.20. He fully understood that part of collecting art was that ‘you seize the chance of an artist’s death or an estate coming onto the market to get more than one work by a certain artist’.21 This was not always good for him, as he seems to have become so enthusiastic about a collecting project that ‘if I go in for anything and get keen on it, I keep awake at nights, my inside goes all wrong and I go to pieces’.22 Thankfully these symptoms did not stop him defying orders so that he could put together his fourth and final gift for Pietermaritzburg in 1926. Whitwell’s four gifts to Pietermaritzburg each had its own character, and there appears no reason to believe that he intended at first to make more than one donation. That intention grew out of a growing relationship with the Mayor and the Town Clerk, spurred on by the lack of speedy responses from other colonies such as British Colum-
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bia, of which more later. What becomes clear is that the later gifts, although distinct, are very much related to the first, and that Whitwell had a clear idea of the scope of the collection as a whole, even if it grew organically from its origins as a collection of mainly two-dimensional works to one which included sculpture and objets d’art, no doubt with the intention of presenting a broad range of creative production to whet the appetites and improve the artistic taste of those in the colonies. It should also be borne in mind that Whitwell, on his visit to Pietermaritzburg in 1919, had seen the collection of works made by Mrs Tatham and added to by subsequent acquisitions. Whether out of courtesy or genuine appreciation of what he saw, he never made any negative remarks about the original collection as he did about Durban’s: ‘They were trying to beautify their museum but they were badly had; what they bought were bad and they were being swindled’. He would have assessed the essential Victorian nature of the original Pietermaritzburg collection and, it may be speculated, considered it to be an adequate reflection of the period, thus in terms of two-dimensional work, allowing himself to indulge in collecting work he appears to have responded to positively, French and British work of a distinctly more modernist approach. There is evidence that he was acquainted with Walter Richard Sickert (1860–1942), whom he held in high regard as a painter. He appears to have had an appreciation of the work of artists such as Spencer Frederick Gore (1878–1914) and Mark Gertler (1892–1939), he was aware of and possibly knew artists such as John Rothenstein (1872–1945) and Henry Tonks (1862–1937), frequented the sale-rooms of dealers such as Goupil Gallery, Colnaghi and The Fine Art Society in London. It may be argued that Whitwell was guided in his choices by these dealers who were known to support the work of artists working in a more contemporary idiom, such as those mentioned above, in the early years of the twentieth century. It could also be speculated that purchasing work by younger artists or those considered to be outside the ‘establishment’ was both cheaper and more suited to the amounts he had available to spend. He was also very aware of the investment value of his acquisitions, commenting at one stage on his astuteness in purchasing work by Gertler, for example, before that artist’s work commanded much higher prices, and before being acquired by the Tate.23 Despite their monetary value, of course, is the fact that many of the artists Whitwell collected have subsequently become noted as having contributed in no small measure to the development of British modernism. It is unclear to what extent he was aware of this aspect of his collecting, because in the correspondence he was not very forthcoming as to why he chose the majority of the works he did. It is also ironic that he refers on a number of occasions to the value of the works, or at least their potential future value, something he berated Chubb and the Durban press for doing. Where he does express opinions about the quality of the works he chose it is usually in terms of the works being ‘of the highest class and will be better appreciated with time and knowledge’24. If anything, this kind of statement reveals a degree of patronising arrogance, of Whitwell placating the citizens of Pietermaritzburg in their presumed ignorance of contemporary trends in European painting. One should remember, however, that one of Whitwell’s aims was to educate, and that the sheer generosity of his gifts overrides any criticism of his perception that the citizens of Pietermaritzburg were ignorant of artistic trends. One of the unfortunate results of the rationalisation of the Tatham Art Gallery collection in 1963 is that no visual evidence remains as to what in fact comprised the full collection.
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It may well be that works of inferior quality were weeded out, but the lesson for the present and future is that such actions hamper a more objective assessment of issues such as the one under discussion. Paintings, prints and drawings were not the only targets of Whitwell’s collecting. By the time he had completed his gift in 1926 there were examples of many different creative forms, from carpets to glassware, ceramics, ivory carvings, Chinese buckles, even an old Dutch tobacco box. What started off as being ‘for your picture gallery’25 ended up being a veritable treasure trove of collectables. Subsequent research indicates that at least some of these acquisitions were not in fact what he made them out to be, and this applies also to the two-dimensional works and sculptures. It may be suggested that Whitwell’s ‘natural flair’ and self-tuition had limitations on his astuteness as a collector26. In general, though, his enthusiasm and the breadth of his collecting can only be admired, especially when one considers that he was putting together a number of different collections at the same time27, and that Pietermaritzburg is very much the richer for his generosity. Whitwell was astute enough to attach certain conditions to the presentation. The collection was to be grouped all together in one or two rooms with nothing else. The porcelain was to be displayed in glass cases with metal edges, the paintings and etchings to be displayed on the walls. The collection was not to be removed for the purpose of being exhibited elsewhere and the Corporation was to accept the whole collection and not reject any items. A citizen of the town was to be appointed as trustee of the collection. No press notices were to be inserted regarding the presentation of the collection, but, ‘if the Corporation so desires, a competent critic might be asked to give a criticism and compile a catalogue’28. There is a hint of arrogance in the works having to be displayed together ‘with nothing else’29 and also that the Corporation would be obliged not to reject anything, but much sense in keeping the works together and having a trustee appointed. These conditions resulted later in a Deed of Gift which protected Whitwell’s collection from the rationalisation of 1963. Aside from attaching conditions to the gift, Whitwell made many suggestions and requests over the years, most of them relating to matters of display. The reorganisation of the gallery in 1962 and the dispersal sale of 1963 Repeated mention has been made in this essay to the dispersal of over one hundred works from the collection in 1963. The events leading to the sale of works have their origins in a letter from the Mayor of Port Elizabeth requesting the loan of paintings for display in the King George VI Art Gallery, which had been established four years previously and which had few permanent works in its collection. The request met with Council approval and negotiations were put in the hands of the Town Clerk and Mrs Eleanor Lorimer, Director of the King George VI Art Gallery. Mrs Lorimer initially suggested that the choice of works to be loaned be left to Professor Jack Heath, Mrs Jane Heath and Mr John Hooper of the Department of Fine Art, University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg, but eventually decided that she would undertake the selection herself. The Town Clerk requested that, since Mrs Lorimer would be in Pietermaritzburg to select works, she undertake a valuation of the collection as a whole, something which had not been done for a considerable time. This was agreed to and Mrs Lorimer undertook the selection and evaluation in November 1960. She was very complimentary about
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the collection in general, and the exhibition of eighty-one works in Port Elizabeth and thereafter East London was by her account a great success. In attempting to present detailed valuations of all works in the collection Mrs Lorimer found much to be desired. She was unable to locate accurate records and of necessity had to compile ‘a true record of the collections, together with notes regarding condition, artistic value and so on, so far as I was able to judge them during the short time at my disposal’30. This was far beyond her original brief, and despite being undertaken with the best intentions, led her to initiate the idea of dispersal in her report of February 1962. Whilst Mrs Lorimer’s assessment of the works in the collection in this report was based largely on her assessment of their value for insurance purposes there is, nevertheless, a strong indication of an aesthetic judgement, based on the fact that, according to her, many of the works ‘are by artists whose fame, if any, died with them’31. Again, many of these paintings ‘by unknown artists are not really suitable for an art gallery demanding a good standard’32. Her assessment of the Royal portraits is that they have a historical interest, but that none of them ‘is valuable as a work of art. They are either copies of portraits by well-known artists, or are by artists whose reputations have not outlasted their period’33. She comments further on the British paintings as ‘varying in quality and style; a number of them are frankly bad and should be discarded – possibly sold for what they would fetch’34. There is no further detail as to what Mrs Lorimer objected to in these works and any further speculation is difficult owing to lack of visual evidence of the works. The report went further, commenting on the accommodation and administration of the Gallery, with suggestions for their improvement. Her comments and suggestions indicate the state of neglect into which the Gallery and collections had fallen. This galvanised the City Council into action. An Art Gallery Ad Hoc Advisory Committee comprising City councillors agreed with Mrs Lorimer’s suggestions, and she was invited to undertake the selection of works for dispersal and to oversee the redecoration and reorganisation of the Gallery and collections. The ‘weeding out’ was undertaken during October and November 1961 and in the meantime work proceeded with redecorating the Gallery in preparation for a new rehang. Mrs Lorimer again returned to Pietermaritzburg in late January 1962 for a month to supervise rehanging the collection. The first Curator, Mrs Lorraine Raab (née van der Riet) was appointed in August of that year and the ‘new’ Gallery was officially opened on 21 March 1963 by the Honourable Mr Justice A A Milne, Judge President of the Supreme Court, Natal Provincial Division. The Gallery’s name was changed from the Pietermaritzburg Municipal Art Gallery to the Tatham Art Gallery in honour of Mrs Ada Tatham and the Tatham family for their support and efforts with regard to the Gallery. In Mrs Lorimer’s report dated 9 November 1961 on the reorganisation of the Gallery, the entire collection of artworks was classified by group, with no indication as to what criteria were used except a simple classification as to what should be retained or sold, and how to deal with each class of work. Mrs Lorimer enlisted the assistance of Professor and Mrs Heath, Mr Hooper and Miss Currie, a local art teacher, in grouping the works, and it must be assumed that informed discussion took place and that decisions were not taken lightly. At this time, however, it can only be presumed that evaluation of artworks in the collection was based on contemporary aesthetic debate, particularly a modernist aesthetic advocated by the Heaths in their teaching, which
One hundred years
favoured an appreciation of the formal qualities of artworks above historical, social and political considerations. The evaluation also occurred at a time when appreciation of Victorian narrative and genre painting was at a low ebb. The knowledge that Mrs Lorimer’s plans for rehanging the remaining collection favoured a single row of works in the limited space available must also have had an impact, as space constraints in the rooms allocated in the City Hall were a major consideration, especially as little storage space for artworks was available. Amongst the works which were selected for dispersal were paintings which would now be of considerable aesthetic and monetary value, such as William Blake Richmond’s The Ten Virgins and Herbert Draper’s A Sea Maid’s Love Story. It is interesting to note that works by South African artists received equally rigorous treatment, with works by Cathcart William Methven (1848–1925) and Rosa Hope (1902–1972) amongst those disposed of. Tenders were called for in the local and national press for purchase of works in June 1963, and the balance of unsold works were disposed of by auctioneers in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. Of all the works sold only one has returned to the collection, Thomas Somerscale’s (1842–1927) Seascape, donated by Errol Tatham in 1990 when the Gallery opened in the Old Supreme Court building. This article has attempted to describe the events, personalities, policies, and the social, political and economic conditions which influenced what was accepted into the collection, and what was pruned from it. Contextualising the acquisition and de-accessioning of works to the collection cannot be entirely without bias, as the knowledge, experience and taste of those currently working with it and surveying with hindsight from a post-modern and post-apartheid perspective inevitably affects choices and opinions. The visual arts have always provided fertile ground for controversy. Strong positive and negative feelings about choices made in the past are integral to a debate about what should or should not have been included in the collection and it is hoped that careful analysis will provide a broader understanding as to why, in a broader context, those choices were made. The history of the Tatham Art Gallery collection cannot be isolated as a purely art-historical phenomenon. Even as such it has been subject to, and the subject of, changing perceptions and art historical debate. It has also reflected changing perceptions and practices in the broader context of museology and museum practices both in South Africa and elsewhere, as well as reflecting the changing preoccupations of the artists whose works it has acquired. The Gallery’s founding and survival over a century is intimately bound up with political, social and economic issues which have preoccupied the Pietermaritzburg City Council, its officials and art gallery employees, and the communities it has served. These concerns at local government level are symptomatic of provincial and central government concerns, so in the broadest sense, therefore, the Gallery and its collections reflect the complex interrelationship of ideologies and practices which have made, and continue to make the fabric of our society. Acquisitions made during the incumbency of previous and current Curators and Directors from 1963 onwards are grounded in that fabric and in the historical growth of the collection. Further research into acquisitions from 1963 to the present must be viewed against this historical background and the wide variety of issues which have informed acquisitions and museological practice during the past forty years.
NOTES 1. 2 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34.
One hundred years
South African Women’s Who’s Who, undated, p.374. Tatham, A.S. ‘Pietermaritzburg Art Gallery’, unpublished article, 1948, Tatham Art Gallery Archives. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Tatham, A.S. ‘The City Art Gallery’, in Natal Diocesan Magazine, February 1904, pp.281–283. Tatham, A.S. Unpublished lecture, ‘Pietermaritzburg Art Gallery’, April 23 1940, Tatham Art Gallery archives transcript. Ibid. Ibid. The Descriptive Catalogue of the Municipal Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg, 1905, Tatham Art Gallery archives. Ibid. South African Women’s Who’s Who, undated, p.374. R. H. Whitwell to Sir Thomas Watt, 24 August 1923. Ibid. R. H. Whitwell to Mr Paton, Town Clerk of Pietermaritzburg, 26 February 1925. R. H. Whitwell to Mr D Sanders, Mayor of Pietermaritzburg, 08 December 1923. R. H. Whitwell to Mr D. Sanders, 10 November 1924. Ibid. R. H. Whitwell to Mr D. Sanders, 18 January 1924 R. H. Whitwell to Mr D. Sanders, 05 December 1923. R. H. Whitwell to Sir Thomas Watt, 24 August 1923. R. H. Whitwell to Mr Paton, 12 February 1926. R. H. Whitwell to Mr D. Sanders, 12 June 1924. Ibid. R. H. Whitwell to Sir Thomas Watt, 24 November 1923. R. H. Whitwell to Sir Thomas Watt, 24 August 1923. R. H. Whitwell to Sir Thomas Watt, 24 August 1923; R. H. Whitwell to Mr D. Sanders, 29 November 1923. R. H. Whitwell to Mr D. Sanders, 21 July 1923. Ibid. Mrs E. K. Lorimer to Town Clerk, Pietermaritzburg, 23 January 1961. E. K. Lorimer, ‘Report on the Pietermaritzburg Art Gallery’, 21 February 1961. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.
On location in Ixopo
On location in Ixopo
The filming of Cry, the Beloved Country in 1950
‘There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.’ These lines, the famous opening sentences from Alan Paton’s novel, Cry, the Beloved Country, have been hand-painted on to a large boulder that can be found in the grounds of Carisbrooke School. This rural primary school with 218 pupils and eight teachers was founded in 1911 and is situated in the Carisbrooke valley about 10 kilometres outside Ixopo. Its red corrugated-iron roofs are shaded by a row of mature gum trees, themselves dominated by Mount Nyeza. The school has close associations with Paton’s novel as it was one of the locations for the film version of the book shot in 1950 and released in 1951 which starred Canada Lee, Charles Carson and Sidney Poitier. With the help of production stills featuring younger versions of the gum trees, headmaster Dan Shoba pointed out a building used in the film. Though not alive at the time, Shoba recalls the filming with gratitude. ‘After they made the film God has been on our side. First the film-makers donated a building.’ This structure was once a church, but now houses a classroom and a library. A plaque on the wall announces: ‘This building is the rememberance [sic] of the taking of the film ‘Cry the Beloved Country’. Below are added the names of Zoltan Korda and Alan Paton. ‘They organised the building and builders,’ says Shoba. That was in 1950. More recently a group of tourists from Norway donated three computers to the school. ‘Then tourists from Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States, donated books to the library. The school is really benefiting from tourism.’ ***** Zoltan Korda, director of the film, was one of the three famous Korda brothers, Hungarian émigrés who had settled in London in 1930. Vincent was an art director while the flamboyant Alexander, the most influential of the three, is generally acknowledged as the saviour of the British film industry with the creation of London Films and the building of Denham Studios. 1 Zoltan had directed Sanders of the River (1935), The Four Feathers (1939) and The Jungle Book (1942) for his brother but had been living and working in Hollywood since 1943. According to Alexander Korda’s biographer, Charles Drazin, the two brothers worked together only once again and that was ‘on a film of (Zoltan’s) own choosing, Cry, the Beloved Country, from Alan Paton’s anti-Apartheid novel, a subject that contrasted markedly with the Imperial epics which Alex had him direct in the course of the 1930s.’
Natalia 33 (2003), Stephen Coan pp. 45–58
Natalia 33 (2003) Copyright © Natal Society Foundation 2010
On location in Ixopo
Cry, the Beloved Country was published at the end of January 1948 by Charles Scribner and Sons of New York. On 2 March 1948 Alexander Korda offered Paton a mere £1000 for the film rights of the book that had stormed up the bestseller lists and made international headlines on its publication. The book, to which the film is faithful, tells the story of a humble black priest, the Reverend Stephen Kumalo, who leaves his impoverished rural parish near Ixopo to go to Johannesburg in search of his son Absalom and his sister Gertrude. He finds his sister has turned to prostitution and Absalom has murdered Arthur Jarvis, the son of Ixopo farmer James Jarvis. Absalom is convicted and sentenced to death while Kumalo returns home with Gertrude’s son and Absalom’s pregnant wife. The novel ends with the reconciliation of Kumalo and Jarvis. The success of the novel provided Paton with financial security and he resigned as principal of the Diepkloof Reformatory, near Johannesburg, to concentrate on writing. Paton and his family moved to Natal, renting a house at Anerley on the south coast. In August 1949 Paton flew to London to work on the script with Zoltan Korda. He had wanted to go with his wife Dorrie but ‘she felt she should be near our twelve-year-old son Jonathan.’2
Alan Paton and Zoltan Korda on the set of Cry, the Beloved Country [Photograph: Alan Paton Centre)
Paton was granted a brief audience with Alexander Korda who lived in the penthouse suite of Claridges Hotel. ‘The great man gave me extravagant praise for Cry, the Beloved Country, and at the same time time gave me the powerful impression that it would be dangerous to offend him. Zoltan and I adjourned to the big room where we were to work together for some weeks.’3 Zoltan first told Paton that he would be credited for the script but Paton had no desire to become a script-writer, ‘and I had no confidence that I would be any good at all at it. Zoltan brushed my objections aside. He would construct the script. I would just have
On location in Ixopo
to write it. So I yielded, and became a kind of superior amanuensis.’4 As recorded by Paton it was an odd liaison. One morning the preoccupied Korda requested ‘ “something about nature, Alan. I want something about nature.” ’ ‘Then he would say apologetically, “I know the first chapters are full of nature. But I want something – one line maybe – about small nature.” ‘ “Something about a flower?” ‘His face lights up, as though I have said something extremely creative. ‘ “That is it,” he says, “a flower.” ‘I was later to learn that in the studio he could be moody and arrogant, but in our script room he was very humble. ‘You are the writer,” he says. “That is why we pay you. I am not a writer.” ’5 Another writer, John Howard Lawson, also played a role in the screenplay though he was unacknowledged due to having been blacklisted as a communist in the United States as a member of the ‘Hollywood 10’.6 During his stay in London Paton enjoyed being wined and dined by Korda who regaled him with stories of his early life in Hungary. On some of these outings Korda ‘would invite Zuzhi, a beautiful young Hungarian who worked for London Films.’7 Not that Paton was lacking for female company. His correspondence with Mary Benson, secretary to film director David Lean, that had begun when she wrote Paton a fan letter in 1948, had become an intimate one. They met for the first time in London and quickly became lovers. Paton’s biographer, Peter Alexander, records ‘a strange, desultory affair that began as a physical relationship but soon became a warm friendship, continued over many years, whenever Paton and Mary Benson had the opportunity of a meeting.’8 Paton and Korda worked together on the script until October when Paton went to New York for the final rehearsals and premiere of Lost in the Stars, a stage musical version of Cry, the Beloved Country adapted by Maxwell Anderson with music by Kurt Weill.9 After an extended stay in the United States Paton returned to South Africa on 21 January 1950. Earlier that month Korda also came to South Africa. ‘I’ve come out for personal background,’ he was reported as saying in the Natal Witness. ‘I want to visit all the places Paton mentions in his book.’10 Korda was also looking for ‘six Native actors. They must, however, be able to speak “superb” English – broken English will not be good enough. As a last resort, he said, he would recruit American Negroes.’11 According to the Natal Mercury this statement ‘caused great resentment among Natal’s educated natives who feel that had London Films’ agents given the various centres time to collect likely players – a few people were only notified last Friday – the 8 000 000 Africans in the Union could quite easily provide the full cast.’12 The 70 people who turned up for auditions at the Bantu Social Centre in Durban were quickly whittled down to 30 and of these Korda selected four for film tests: ‘jaunty Muriel Paul, a 29-year-old lady’s maid marked for the naughty girl Gertrude; beefy Elijah Cele, a 30 year old school teacher, visioned as the agitator John Kumalo; short, excitedly spoken Reginald Ngcobo, a court interpreter who is trying for the taxi driver Dhlamini; and rich-voiced Alfred Assegai Kumalo, a 71 year old retired manager, who is aspiring to the leading character Umfundisi Stephen Kumalo.’13
On location in Ixopo
Korda was aided in the selection process by his assistant Roger Madden. ‘Mr Korda spent a straight five hours to three oclock – with a break at lunch for a cup of tea - testing people. He looked first for looks and stature, listened carefully for correct English voices and finally gave reading tests.’14 The Natal Mercury recorded that Korda then left for Pietermaritzburg to continue his search there. ‘Later he will visit Adams Mission, Fort Hare, various Native schools in Johannesburg and a number of institutions with likely players.’15 Before leaving Durban Korda announced that ‘a lot of the filming will be done at Ixopo, the “home” of the story, where the country has been described as ideal for picture-making. Many shots will be in Johannesburg and there will be others in England. The whole production will take about six months.’16 On 25 February 1950 Paton flew to London and spent nearly a month working on the script. Mary Benson assisted with the typing. During this time Korda seems to have travelled between London and South Africa at least one more time. Leaving Johannesburg on May 19 he told the press he had ‘taken film tests of more than 100 natives for parts in the film.’17 Of these, the earlier mentioned Reginald Ncgobo was successful in becoming the taxi driver.18 Other South Africans cast in minor roles include Albertina Temba as Mrs Kumalo, Ribbon Dhlamini as Gertrude and Berdine Grunewald as Mary Jarvis. The key role of Absalom, the Reverend Kumalo’s son, initially intended for Sidney Poitier, went to Lionel Ngakane, a young Johannesburg journalist. He also worked as an advisor to Korda during the filming, thereafter working as his assistant in England where he became an actor and director.19 The American Canada Lee, a former boxer, whose career had ended as a result of an eye injury, was cast as Reverend Kumalo and the British character actor Charles Carson as farmer James Jarvis. Like the writer John Howard Lawson, Lee had also been blacklisted and prevented from working in Hollywood.20 The 26-year-old Sidney Poitier was thought more suitable to play the Reverend Theophilus Msimangu who guides Reverend Kumalo through the Johannesburg town-
Sidney Poitier, Ben Moloi (Head teacher, Diepkloof Reformatory), Alan Paton, Canada Lee during the making of the film Cry, the Beloved Country in Johannesburg [Photograph: Alan Paton Centre]
On location in Ixopo
ships in the search for his son, Absalom. This was Poitier’s second film, following his debut in the racial conflict drama, No Way Out (1950). Other overseas black actors in the cast were American Charles Macrae as the old priest’s friend, and Vivien Clinton, an English resident of West Indian parentage, as Mary, the wife of Absalom. The presence of overseas black actors in the South Africa of 1950 proved problematic. ‘The accommodation of white actors from overseas presented no problems,’ recalled Paton. ‘But where were the black actors to stay?’21 Paton’s brother-in-law Garry Francis, whose farm Rayfield was close to the Carisbrooke location, came to the rescue and London Films built an extension to his farmhouse to accommodate Lee and McCrae. Paton later expressed his admiration for his brother-in-law and his wife Doreen for agreeing to this arrangement. ‘They had never had a black person to the house except as a servant. It is almost one hundred per cent certain that no white farmer in the whole Ixopo countryside had ever had a black guest, nor any white resident in the village of Ixopo.’22 Vivien Clinton was put up at the Plough Hotel in Ixopo, who agreed ‘to accommodate her in a caravan in the hotel grounds and feed her “from the table.” ’23 ‘Zoltan was extremely solicitous for her, and indeed for the two black male actors as well, and ensured that they would not be neglected during the weekends. They were taken to Pietermaritzburg and Durban, and were made a great fuss of in both cities.’24 Poitier was not involved in any of the scenes shot at Ixopo, only joining the unit when it moved to Johannesburg and rented ‘a kind of country mansion some miles from the city, where the actors … lived in solitary splendour.’25 Rayfield was also used as a location and, according to journalist Aida Parker, this decision resulted in a ‘big alteration in its appearance.’26 ‘The farmhouse was constructed of natural stone, but Korda explained this was too dark and would not photograph well. He persuaded Mr Francis to have it painted cream, with the roof a light, bright red. He undertook that his company would restore it to is former colours when shooting was complete.’ ‘The Francises were a little startled by the effect at first, but they have now decided they like it. So Rayfield will keep its red-and-cream coat.’27 On July 26 the Natal Witness reported that the ‘little Methodist Native Church and Mission School at the bottom of the Carisbrooke Valley’ was to be the location for Kumalo’s church and parsonage. Additional huts were built and the shell of a house erected to represent the parsonage. This was done under the eye of Wilfred Shingleton, the Oscar-winning art director of Great Expectations (1946), who acknowledged that it would not have been built without the help of Ixopo farmer A.G.S. Harley.28 Three huge marquees were erected nearby to act as a temporary church and school for the community, who were also financially compensated for the inconvenience. At the service on Sunday July 30 the congregation were informed of the arrangements. ‘As soon as the service was over, the Rev. S.P. Rundle, Methodist Minister at Ixopo, told the Natives: “I have come to see you this morning on special business. The company making this picture has drawn up an agreement and later it will be read to you. The people have come here to make it from England and have come 6,000 miles.” ’29 Agreement was obviously considered a given as during the service ‘while the congregation rendered unaccompanied their beautiful hymns in harmony’ a cable was
On location in Ixopo
being laid from a mobile generator to ‘carry 66,000 volts to the giant arc lamps which will be erected round the little settlement.’30 As per the agreement £25 would be given for the repair of the church, also the headmaster’s house would be repaired and fifteen new benches supplied for the school. ‘The congregation asked several questions, after which they gathered outside, talking excitedly about the arrival of the visitors. They were very satisfied with the arrangements.’31 Shooting began on August 1 with Australian cinematographer Robert Krasker behind the camera.32
Making ‘rain’ for the storm sequence in Cry, the Beloved Country [Photograph: Alan Paton Centre]
Krasker was fresh from his Oscar win for The Third Man (1949). His impressive credit list includes Henry V (1945), El Cid (1961) and The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964). According to production manager Jack Swinburne, everything went satisfactorily. ‘All the South African artists are exceptionally good and have splendid talent,’ he said, going on to explain how, after the day’s shooting, the exposed film was couriered to Durban and then flown to Johannesburg for processing. It was then returned to Ixopo and projected in the agricultural hall to check for any defects.33 The first week was spent shooting scenes in the interior of Kumalo’s house and on Friday of that week the unit shot one of the ‘biggest scenes’34 at Carisbrooke Siding. Many locals, among them Mr and Mrs Francis, were used as extras and local farmers were recruited for the scenes shot at the small railway station to portray European passengers ostensibly setting off for Johannesburg. ‘The tiny, doll-like narrow gauge train remained at Carisbrooke two days for the benefit of the film-makers. This did not upset train schedules for the area, for this train only runs over the Carisbrooke line every three days.’35 As well as appearing as extras local farmers also had a hand in solving some of the technical problems facing the film-makers. ‘Korda wanted big supplies of water for the storm sequences … the farmers recommended damming the tiny Incalu stream. Today
On location in Ixopo
a reservoir containing 15,000 gallons stands ready in the valley.’36 A spraying machine was hired from Umzimkulu farmer D.D. Collett to generate the rain from the dam. Local Africans were also recruited as extras. ‘Every day hundreds of curious men, women and picannins pour in from the surrounding kraals to watch the unit at work. Quite a few of them are used for crowd scenes. Those without speaking parts get 4s. a day – double the rates paid to part-time workers in that area … . In addition, all Native extras get their food and ten cigarettes each.’37 ‘Those playing definite roles are paid handsomely. Albertina Temba, a welfare worker with the Pretoria City Council, who is playing Kumalo’s wife, is getting £163. Twelveyear-old Iris Ntensha, a Native schoolgirl who plays the child, gets £25; the thief, a two-day part, gets £25; and the miner on the train £7 10s for a day’s work.’38 According to Paton ‘Zoltan presided over this fascinating and in some ways unreal world like some kind of impish god. He had his own chair and no else dared sit in it. I had my own chair too, and so did the leading actors.’39 ‘The inhabitants of Nokweja (the Ndotsheni of the novel), the small black “location” adjoining my brother-in-law’s farm watched the comings and goings of the film company with wonder. Most of them knew what a film was, and many had been to see one or more of them, but in 1950 they were among the few black people in South Africa who had ever seen a film being made.’40 Describing the station shoot the Natal Witness reported that Korda ‘wanted an old Native woman to stand on the station. Eugenie Dyido was fetched from Johannesburg and rushed to Ixopo.’41 ‘At midday … it was discovered that the Native passengers in the coach of the train did not have any cigarettes or sweets. As it was usual for Natives to smoke and munch during a journey, Mr. Korda sent to Ixopo for supplies.’42 Visiting the set a reporter from the Natal Witness found Korda to be ‘an indefatigable worker… who had not shaved for three days yesterday, often works from early morning until midnight.’43 ‘Canada Lee told of the care Mr Korda took with detail. He described how he had been “shot” walking up a road in a tattered parson’s uniform. He had on a pair of shoes that had been “treated” to make them look old.’44 ‘Mr Korda was not satisfied. He considered that the attempt to batter them about had not succeeded. A Native was quickly found, his old shoes taken, and a pair of new ones handed over in exchange.’45 The Natal Witness also described how Korda had scrapped three days of shooting and re-scheduled the scenes ‘because Mr Korda is not satisfied that the best results have been obtained.’ 46 Aida Parker recounted a day spent shooting an interior scene in Kumalo’s house nineteen times: ‘At the end of it, Korda announced to his weary actors and technicians that he did not like what had been done and there would have to be a retake next day.’ ‘At dinner that night, I commiserated with one of the staff. He shrugged, said philosophically: “That’s nothing. In Britain I have seen him order 38 re-takes – then scrap the scene.” ’ Parker described Korda as a ‘most likeable friendly man. He has a stubborn dislike of putting on airs, and is known as “Zollie” to almost everybody on location. In appearance, he resembles an untidily attired tramp. His trousers are usually baggy and
On location in Ixopo
his face unshaven. Yet he has an excellent excuse, for he very often works a 17-hour day, starting at 6 am and finishing his last conference at 11.’ Korda is a ‘great stickler for detail,’ wrote Parker, noting how in one sequence Charles McRae was supposed to be carrying a heavy suitcase. McRae insisted he could ‘make believe the case was heavy without weighting it.’ However Korda insisted that only weight would pull the shoulder down correctly. ‘He instructed the case be filled with rocks. By the end of the day McRae was ruefully examining a blistered hand.’ Korda’s eye for detail extended to costume. ‘Canada Lee’s clerical garb was bought from an African padre who had had many good years service from it. To give it a finishing touch, the wardrobe people ironed it several times without a cloth, giving it a high polish. They also ripped it in several places, then neatly darned the holes. Now it has the look of threadbare respectability Paton had in mind when he created the character of the umfundisi.’47 The worn-out clothes worn by Kumalo’s friend played by McRae had been bought from a pedestrian who Lee and McRae had passed on the road. They at first only wanted his hat but then realised his suit was just what they were looking for. ‘They rushed the astonished fellow off to an outfitters, bought him a new ensemble from head to toe, and gave him 10s. for his trouble.’48 Lee told Parker that ‘by this time the poor chap was certain he was dealing with two screwies, but who was he to argue with such benevolent madness?’ Despite their care Korda’s eagle-eye homed in on Lee’s shoes. ‘Suddenly, after two hours of shooting, Korda noticed Canada was wearing new shoes.’ Assistant directors were busy ‘ageing’ the shoes when Korda spotted an onlooker, Rupert Bhengu, ‘wearing some battered old boots’ and asked him if he would like to swap them for some new ones. ‘Rupert could not understand it, but took off his old shoes, grabbed the new ones – and was off over the veld before Mr Korda could repent his bad bargain.’49 Parker asked Lee what he thought of South Africa. ‘Surveying peaceful farmhouses on the surrounding hills, he said: “This is certainly not as I heard about it. There is not a lion, tiger or head-hunter in sight!” ’ Lee was equally misinformed about the weather, finding it colder than he expected. ‘They also told me Africa was one of the hottest countries on earth. I brought shorts and open-toed shoes. For these cold mornings it would have been better if I had brought my long woollen underwear.’50 On occasion the impish Zoltan could ‘exhibit the ferocity of his brother Alexander’ though it was not long before Paton learned Korda was less than omnipotent. ‘His technical crew were members of a trade union and led by a difficult and not impressive man who knew the rights of workers and who felt, even in this remote part of the South African countryside, the might of the unions behind him. Zoltan was torn in two between his perfectionist ideals as a film director and his democratic respect for the rights of labour. I have seen him more than once denied the privilege of the five-minutes’ overtime that would have enabled a particular sequence to be completed. In such cases the impishness disappeared and he would listen with inscrutable countenance to the fiat of the union leader of the crew.’51 Paton considered Korda ‘had one fault as a director. There were times when he, in the hearing of all, belittled the work of one or other of his actors. He began to develop a dislike for Canada Lee, and unfortunately the dislike was tinged at time with contempt. Canada was not the brightest of men, and it was said that the batterings he had suffered
On location in Ixopo
as a boxer were the cause of this. Zoltan would not have spoken to Poitier as he spoke to Canada, but life had knocked the fight out of the ex-boxer, and he received Zoltan’s criticisms with pained smiles.’52 However Paton noted that Korda ‘with that sense of propriety that was one of his most attractive characteristics, made it his business to invite the local chief, the minister of the church, and the headmaster of the school, to see how a film was made. When the filming at Ixopo was done, it was announced that London Films would build a new church to replace the one in which much of the action took place. Gifts of blankets and clothes and food and children’s sweets were given most generously, and Zoltan left Ixopo in a blaze of glory.’53 Korda left later than originally planned as two days of rain in early September had delayed the filming schedule. ‘We went out to Carisbrooke yesterday and became bogged twice,’ (reported production manager, Jack Swinburne). ‘All the transport was stuck in spite of having chains on the wheels. We all had to walk from the farm back to the village and must have looked a real, bedraggled army.’54 Swinburne added that the ‘actual filming was going splendidly. Mr. Korda was still requesting retakes.” ’55 ‘We have done thousands of feet of film but are only just scratching the surface of the book out here,’ he said. ‘We shall be in Johannesburg for eight weeks.’56 The unit left Ixopo for Johannesburg on 20 September and the bulk of the film was shot in and around Johannesburg with additional studio footage being shot in London. In his autobiography Paton recorded the viewing of the film’s first cut in London: ‘The film was shown in the small theatre at 146 Piccadilly, the headquarters of London Films. There were perhaps a dozen of us there, maybe more. But I can name only four of them with certainty, the three Korda brothers and myself. The theatre was darkened and the film began. The little girl is running to the church with a letter for the priest, the umfundisi. He is not used to letters and and hardly dares to open it, “for once such a thing is opened, it cannot be shut again”. The letter is from a priest in Sophiatown, Theophilus Msimangu, who writes to Kumalo to tell him he must come to Johannesburg because his sister Gertrude is “very sick”. Kumalo is terrified at the idea of going to Johannesburg. It is not only terror of the big city, but where is the money to come from?’ ‘The only money they have is what he and his wife saved to send their son Absalom to St Chad’s, but Absalom too has gone to Johannesburg, and has never come back. Kumalo compensates for his fear by speaking harshly to his wife, but she has now taken the matter into her own hands. He must go to Johannesburg tomorrow. So one of his faithful friends carries his bag to Carisbrooke, a small wayside halt where, by courtesy of the South African Railways, a small narrow-gauge train is waiting. It is all very beautiful, very humble, and a little bit sad.’ ‘Suddenly the lights of the theatre at 146 Piccadilly are turned on. Sir Alexander is on his feet. He turns to his brother and speaks to him in tones of barely controlled ferocity. “When does your film start,” he says. “When does your film start?” ’57 Thereafter ‘Zoltan spent endless hours cutting, splicing, pondering, viewing and reviewing … he speeded up the opening scenes, but not by much. For him the film of Cry, the Beloved Country was to be some kind of tragic and poetic idyll, whereas Sir Alexander wanted more action.’58
On location in Ixopo
Alan and Dorrie Paton with Zoltan Korda at the premiere of Cry, the Beloved Country [Photograph: Alan Paton Centre]
The world première of the film was held in Durban and the proceeds from it were donated to a charity of Paton’s choice - a tuberculosis settlement established in the Valley of a Thousand Hills by Toc H Southern Africa in December 1950. A ‘second world première – if there can be such a thing – was held in Johannesburg.’ Guests of honour were Prime Minister D.F. Malan and his wife. Paton sat next to Mrs. Malan ‘and we had to look at some fairly harrowing pictures of the black slums. At the interval she said to me, “Do you really think that Johannesburg looks like that?” I said to her, “Mevrou, I have lived thirteen years of my life among scenes like that.” ’59 Paton records that ‘the film of Cry, the Beloved Country was not a financial success. Beyond the thousand pounds that my agent Annie Laurie Williams got for the rights, I received very little money. Perhaps Sir Alexander was right after all. It was an idyll that didn’t come off.’60 ***** Over fifty years later the visit of the Norwegian tourists to the Carisbrooke location and the donation of the computers to the school provides a pleasing symmetry as it was in a hotel in Norway that a homesick Paton sat down to write the opening paragraphs of Cry, the Beloved Country. The visit by the Norwegians was organised by Paton’s son Jonathan, who runs Alan Paton Tours. ‘There were 26 Norwegian school teachers from a leading school in Norway,’ says Paton. ‘We tailormade a trip for them that included sites associated with my father – including Soweto, Diepkloof, Sophiatown, Ixopo, as well as Maritzburg and Eshowe.’ At Ixopo the tourists travelled on the small railway at Carisbrooke that has been restored by Julian Pereira of Paton’s Express Adventures. ‘We stopped at the point where you can look over the valley described in the opening of the book,’ recalls Paton, ‘and
On location in Ixopo
read out the passage looking over the hills that are “lovely beyond any singing of it.” ’ ‘They were intrigued by this sentence and got out the Norwegian translation to compare it. In Norwegian it reads “lovelier than any song.” It’s difficult to render the biblical poetry of the book into another language.’ Even, as Zoltan Korda discovered, the language of film. This is an expanded and revised version of an article first published in the Natal Witness on 31 March 2003.
NOTES 1. ’There have been many British film producers, but none have possessed that peculiar combination of power, personality and imagination that made Sir Alexander Korda – born in a remote village on the Great Plain of Hungary – Britain’s only movie mogul. He was the one British producer that the moguls in Hollywood took seriously, for in his extravagant sense of showmanship, his buccaneering spirit, his willingness to take risks on a massive scale, they recognised him as one of their own. They were even rather in awe of him. Over a quarter of a century, in movies like The Four Feathers, The Thief of Baghdad and The Third Man he showed himself to be their equal in producing polished box-office entertainment, yet at the same time he possessed a sophistication and style they knew they could never match. He represented the point at which two great cinema traditions met. He had made films in Hollywood many times, as one of the five stakeholder members of United Artists he had sat at the same table as the movie legends Chaplin, Pickford, Fairbanks and Goldwyn; but he had also directed films in Budapest, Vienna, Berlin and Paris, and had introduced to the English-speaking world such classics of European cinema as Les Enfants du Paradis and Rome, Open City.’ Charles Drazin, Korda, Britain’s only movie mogul (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 2002), p. xiii. 2. Paton, Alan, Journey continued (Cape Town: David Philip,1988), p.17 3. Ibid. p.18. 4. Ibid. pp.18–19. 5. Ibid. p.19 6 John Howard Lawson (1894–1977) was a founder member and first president of the Writers’ Guild Of America. In 1947 his writing came under the scrutiny of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Lawson and several others, referrred to as the ‘Hollywood 10’, were subpoenaed to appear before the Committee, and answer questions on their political affiliations. Lawson and the rest of the ‘Hollywood 10’ refused to answer any questions, citing the Fifth Amendment. Lawson was later sentenced to a 12month prison term, fined $1 000 and blacklisted by the studios. He moved to Mexico in order to continue working as a writer. He worked on two screenplays: Cry, the Beloved Country, for which he received no credit and The Careless Years (1957) written under the pseudonym ‘Edward Lewis’. He died in 1977. In 1997 the Writers’ Guild of America restored writing credits to twenty-three films whose writers had received no credit as they had been blacklisted. Among them was Lawson’s credit for Cry, The Beloved Country. More detailed information can be found at http//members.rogers.com/hollywood10/johnlawson. html. I have been unable to find any documentation as to the nature of Lawson’s contribution to the script of Cry, the Beloved Country. 7. Paton, p.19. 8. Alexander, Peter F., Alan Paton (Oxford: University Press,1994), p.246. Mary Benson was born on 8 December 1919 in Pretoria, South Africa, and was educated there and in Great Britain. Before the Second World War she was a secretary in the High Commission Territories’ Office of the British High Commission in South Africa. Between 1941 and 1945 she joined the South African women’s army, rising to the rank of Captain and serving as Personal Assistant to various British generals in Egypt and Italy. After the war she joined UNRRA and then became personal assistant to the film director David Lean. In 1950 she became secretary to Michael Scott and first became involved in the field of race relations. In 1951 she became secretary to Tshekedi Khama, and in 1952, together with Scott and David Astor, she helped to found the Africa Bureau in London. She was its secretary until 1957 and travelled widely on its behalf. In 1957 she became secretary to the Treason Trials Defence Fund in Johannesburg. She became a close friend of Nelson Mandela, and assisted with smuggling him out of South Africa in 1962. In February 1966 she was served with a banning order under the Suppression of Communism Act and
On location in Ixopo
she left South Africa for London later that year. In London she continued to work tirelessly against apartheid, writing to newspapers and corresponding with fellow activists in South Africa. In April 1999 Mandela visited her at her home during his state visit to Britain and later that year an 80th birthday party was staged for her at South Africa House. Mary Benson died on 20 June 2000. Among her writings are South Africa: the struggle for a birthright, Chief Albert Luthuli, The history of Robben Island, Nelson Mandela: the man and the movement, the autobiographical A far cry and radio plays on Mandela and the Rivonia trial. Source: Institute of Commonwealth Studies internet site: http://www.aim25.ac.uk/cgi-bin/search2?coll_ id=4588&inst_id=16 A film version of Lost in the stars was released in 1974. Directed by Daniel Mann and starring Brock Peters, Melba Moore, Raymond St. Jacques and Clifton Davis. Another film version of Cry, the Beloved Country was released in 1995. Directed by Darrell James Roodt, scripted by Ronald Harwood and starring Richard Harris, James Earl Jones, Charles S. Dutton and Vusi Kunene. This featured scenes shot at Hilton Station and in the central Drakensberg. Peter Davis in his book In darkest Hollywood: exploring the jungles of cinema’s South Africa (Randburg: Ravan Press, 1996), and, incidentally, dedicated to Mary Benson, also mentions another film version ‘the very odd Morocco/Senegal, Guinea co-production Amok (1982), directed by Ben Barka Souheil, with Miriam Makeba, which does not even credit Alan Paton. (In view of the grotesque distortion of the original, it is probably just as well).’ Davis’s book contains an insightful discussion of the 1951 version. See page 38 et seq. Natal Witness, 9 January 1950. Ibid. Natal Mercury, 18 January 1950. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Natal Witness 20 May 1950. Reginald Ngcobo went on to become a ‘successful lawyer, and later still a wealthy real-estate dealer.’ Paton, p.44. Lionel Ngakane lived in Britain from 1950 to 1994. He declined a role in the 1995 version of Cry, the Beloved Country. ‘In 1950 the film version of Alan Paton’s novel, Cry, the Beloved Country, made an exile of a promising Johannesburg journalist. Zoltan Korda, the producer and director, had refused to grant interviews to journalists while auditioning actors for the film. Lionel Ngakane, on an assignment for Zonk magazine, gained access to Korda by joining the queue of aspirant actors. When asked to audition, Ngakane confessed to the ruse. Korda, instead of rejecting the journalist, had him prepare for a screen test. Within months he had been engaged as Korda’s assistant, was given the responsibility of choosing locations and, ironically, casting local actors. When Sidney Poitier’s role was altered from that of Absalom to that of the priest, Korda cast Ngakane as Absalom,’ the University Orator, Professor Mervyn McMurtry, at the conferment of the degree of Doctor of Literature, Honoris Causa, upon Lionel Ngakane, Faculty of Humanities Graduation Ceremony, University of Natal, Durban, 22 April 1997. From 1950 until his return to South Africa in 1994 Ngakane worked mainly in Britain as an actor, writer, director and producer. He wrote and directed the short film Jemina and Johnny in 1962 dealing with racial tensions in London. This won first prize at the Venice and Rimini Festivals, and a bronze award at the Festival of Carthage. A founder member of the Pan-African Federation of Film Makers he was instrumental in organizing the first African Film Festival at the National Film Theatre in London. In 1985 he produced the documentary film Nelson Mandela. He was technical adviser on the film version of Andre Brink’s novel A dry white season (1989). Since his return in 1994 Ngakane has been a member of the government’s Reference Group to prepare the White Paper on Film Policy. He has also been active as a director of and advisor to the Newtown Film and Video School, serves on the board of the Film Resources Unit, has been Chairman of the M-Net Film Awards selection committee, been elected to the board of directors of the South African Cinema Foundation, and a member of the Advisory Committee on Cinema for Africa ’95 in Britain. Canada Lee was born Lionel Canegata in New York on 3rd March, 1907. He attended school in Harlem but at the age of fourteen he ran away to be a jockey at Saratoga. After growing too heavy he became a boxer and eventually won the national amateur lightweight title. In 1926 he turned professional and
10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.
On location in Ixopo
21. 22. 23.
adopted the name Canada Lee. He was a leading contender for the welterweight championship, but a detached retina forced him to retire from the ring in 1933. After a spell leading his own band, Lee became an actor with the Harlem YMCA, an organization subsidized by the Works Progress Administration. In 1936 he won critical acclaim as Banquo in the Federal Theater’s Negro production of Macbeth. On Broadway he played Othello, Kid Chocolate in Body and Soul, and Bigger Thomas in Native Son, a play based on the novel by Richard Wright. The New York Times described his performance as ‘the most vital piece of acting on the current stage.’ Lee moved to Hollywood and appeared in Keep Pinching (1939), Farmer Henry Browne (1942), Lifeboat (1944), Body and Soul (1947), Lost Boundaries (1949) and Cry, the Beloved Country (1951). After the war the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began an investigation into the Hollywood motion picture industry. The HUAC interviewed 41 people who were working in Hollywood. These people attended voluntarily and became known as “friendly witnesses”. During their interviews they named several people who they accused of holding left-wing views. One of those named, Bertolt Brecht, an emigrant playwright, gave evidence and then left for East Germany. Ten others: Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott, Samuel Ornitz, Dalton Trumbo, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson and Alvah Bessie refused to answer any questions. Known as the ‘Hollywood 10’, they claimed that the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution gave them the right to do this. The House Un-American Activities Committee and the courts during appeals disagreed and all were found guilty of contempt of Congress and each was sentenced to between six and twelve months in prison. Those named were also called before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Some refused to answer questions but others, such as Richard Collins, Budd Schulberg, Elia Kazan and Lee J. Cobb, named others who were fellow members of left-wing groups. If these people refused to testify and name names, they were added to a blacklist that had been drawn up by the Hollywood film studios. Lee, who had been a member of left-wing groups, was one of those actors named as a communist. Lee refused to testify and was blacklisted. Lee’s name also appeared in the pamphlet Red channels. This listed 150 people working in Hollywood who were known to have been involved in anti-HUAC activities. The American Tobacco Company threatened to remove its sponsorship of television shows unless Lee and other people mentioned in Red channels lost their contracts. Unable to find work he called a press conference denying that he had ever been a member of the Communist Party. However, unwilling to testify before the HUAC, he remained blacklisted. Canada Lee died of a heart attack on 9th May, 1952. Only forty-five years old, his family and friends claimed that the stress brought on by McCarthyism was a major factor in his early death. Source: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAleeC.htm Paton, p.41. Ibid., p.42. Ibid., p.42. Such treatment was not peculiar to apartheid South Africa. In 1936 Robert Adams, a West Indian actor and former teacher, came to Pietermaritzburg for the location filming at Otto’s Bluff of King Solomon’s Mines based on the novel by H. Rider Haggard. Cast as King Twala he ‘agreed to take the trip to South Africa, although he had been warned of conditions there,’ according to the film’s publicist Bertha Slosberg. ‘It was the most depressing aspect of the unit’s stay in Natal to find how the colour bar was put into operation. Adams had a room in the [Imperial] hotel – in itself an unheard of departure – but he could not join the others for meals in the dining room. He wisely stacked his room with books on Bantu law, and the history of the Union, and made the most of his enforced confinement.’ Bertha Slosberg, Pagan tapestry (London: Rich and Cowan, 1940), p.255. Ibid., p.42. Ibid., p.43. Though Sidney Poitier was not involved in any of the scenes shot at Ixopo he appears to have been present at some stage of the filming. Loveday du Tertre, who lived in Ixopo as a child, visited the set with an autograph book which was signed by various members of the cast and crew, including Poitier. I have been unable to find any other record of his presence there. Parker, Aida, ‘I watched the filming of Cry, the Beloved Country’, The Outspan, September 8, 1950. Parker (1918–2003) ‘began her career in journalism with the Argus group, publishers of The Star, and from there moved to The Citizen where she wrote a regular column which reflected her conservative political views. ‘Parker was a determined personality which often brought her into conflict with the equally strong and determined Citizen editor Johnny Johnson.
On location in Ixopo
‘In April 1985 she launched the Aida Parker newsletter which was distributed on a subscription list around South Africa and the World and she was actively involved in its production up to the time of her death.’ South African Press Association obituary, 24 February 2003. Ibid. Natal Witness, 5 August 1950. Natal Witness, 31 July 1950. Ibid. Ibid. Paton dates filming as taking place in May, an error of memory duplicated by Alexander in his biography of Paton. Natal Witness, 2 August 1950. Ibid. Parker. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Paton, p.42. Ibid., p.43. Natal Witness, 5 August 1950. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Parker. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Paton, p.43. Ibid. Ibid. Natal Witness, 6 September 1950. Ibid. Ibid. Paton, pp.48–49. Ibid., p.53. Ibid. Ibid., p.54. ‘American distributors infuriated Korda by changing the name of the film to the inappropiate title African Fury, which effectively cut off any mental association with the book, and implied a totally different character for the film, changing it to the jungle genre.’ Davis, In darkest Hollywood, p.44.
27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60.
Bambatha’s Personal Rebellion
Bambatha’s Personal Rebellion
In 1906 a portion of the Zondi people living in the Umvoti Division of Natal rebelled against the colonial government. Led by their recently deposed chief Bambatha kaMancinza, the rebels in rapid succession seized his successor (2 April), attacked the resident magistrate (3 April) and ambushed the Natal Police (4 April) before transferring their operations to Zululand (7 April). Thus began what is known as the ‘Bambatha Rebellion’ or the ‘Zulu Rebellion’, with several less well-known names as well, which disturbed the Colony of Natal during the autumn and winter of 1906. It is generally accepted that the rebellion was triggered off by the collection of a poll tax, although there were underlying factors which conditioned the disturbances. The rebellion marks a watershed in the history of the region, in that African people, hitherto submissive to colonial rule, for the first time expressed a general grievance by resorting to violence on a large scale. It is not always clear whether the rebels, in challenging the Supreme Chief of the colony, sought a revolution in government or a redress of grievances, and this lack of clarity applies to the eponymous hero of the rebellion. It is the purpose here to focus on what made him rebel, and, more particularly, how important the poll tax was as a motivation of his rebellion. It will be shown that for a while opposition to the poll tax was indeed his paramount consideration, but that was some time before he rebelled, and, when he actually did, to be reinstated as chief and to take revenge against his successor were his most important motives. Yet he also launched the rebellion in the name of Dinuzulu, the putative king of the Zulu nation. Dinuzulu’s involvement remains obscure. Bambatha was killed in the rebellion (or in any event vanished from the scene of it) before Dinuzulu’s involvement was discovered by the colonial authorities, and the evidence of the rebels in the subsequent trials, culminating in that of Dinuzulu himself, is of such a self-serving character that one cannot say whether it was really Dinuzulu’s rebellion or Bambatha’s. Dinuzulu’s contribution will be considered here in passing. The poll tax, legislated and proclaimed in 1905 and imposed and collected in 1906, was a measure intended to give financial relief to the Colony caught in economic depression. Although it applied to all free adult males, its impact would be felt most widely among the indigenous 81,5 % of the population.1 Hitherto their main liability to the government was the hut tax of 14s paid by heads of households. The poll tax of £1 applied to those men who did not pay the hut tax, and family heads now feared that bachelors would no longer contribute towards the household payment because they would have to pay for themselves. The hierarchical bonds of family would be loosened.2 In practically all the divisions of the Colony there were protests against the imposition of the poll tax. Rumours spread that under the aegis of Dinuzulu there would be a forceful
Natalia 33 (2003), Paul Thompson pp. 59–66
Natalia 33 (2003) Copyright © Natal Society Foundation 2010
Bambatha’s Personal Rebellion
resistance to its collection and a number of chiefs in Natal and Zululand sent to him for advice. He counselled payment and set an example by having his own people pay in advance of the scheduled date.3 So threatening were demonstrations against the tax in the Maphumulo Division that the government dispatched a special police field force there in early February, but bloodshed occurred first in the Richmond Division, when a police patrol clashed with armed protesters on 7 February. Next day the government proclaimed martial law and mobilized the militia, and a much larger field force, assisted by a local levy of men, scoured the area and arrested the protesters.4 They were court-martialled in mid-March and twelve of them were sentenced to death and executed by firing squad at Richmond on 2 April.5 Field forces of militia made demonstrations in force in the south and in Maphumulo during late February and March, restored order, and then demobilised.6 With such impressive examples of government firmness, why then did Bambatha rebel in early April? No major problems were expected with the collection of the poll tax in the Umvoti Division.7 The resident magistrate, J. W. Cross, began at Seven Oaks on 22 January and continued at Rietvlei and Muden, but had to go on sick leave.8 Bambatha’s Zondi people had been originally scheduled to pay on the 5th, but Cross rescheduled them to pay last, in Greytown, the seat of the division, on the 22nd.9 His replacement, Major Maxwell, dealt with a protest at Hermannsburg by gaoling the chiefs and threatening to fine them, which brought compliance.10 Cross resumed duty and collected at Matimatolo from 19 to 21 February.11 By the 22nd about £1 100 had been collected.12 A message was sent round Bambatha’s ‘location’, really the private farms of colonists in the Loza valley, that the men were to assemble at the homestead of Hanise, an important headman, about ten kilometres north of Greytown and just off the main road to Dundee. There Bambatha would sort out and send on those who had to pay.13 A large number of men turned out on the 22nd and proceeded up the road to Greytown,14 but a contingent from the Impanza valley under one Nhlonhlo arrived armed and without trousers, which were required to enter a town. The Impanza contingent refused to pay the tax. Bambatha remonstrated with them, and most of them went home. But not all. A portion under Mgombana made their way up the road. Some sang the traditional Zondi war chant, a few danced in warlike fashion, and Mgombana said things about fighting and attacking the townspeople. Bambatha and a few other leaders hastened to divert the Impanza men into a timber plantation about three kilometres outside town and persuaded them also to go home.15 Bambatha did not go into town himself, as he had intended, but told Saka, the nominal headman of the Impanza section, to explain to the magistrate that he could not come because he had a headache.16 Cross noticed that most of the Zondi men who arrived were sullen and a lot of fathers were paying for their sons. Saka gave Bambatha’s excuse, and when asked where the young men were, he answered they were off courting.17 Only about 90 men paid the tax.18 That evening a report of the armed assemblage in the trees reached town and the townspeople were hastily laagered in the town hall for protection that night.19 The government now moved to depose Bambatha. They did not know what had really happened on the road to Greytown, and at first it appeared that Bambatha had got cold feet only for fear of a leak upsetting the planned attack.20 But the government was not deposing Bambatha just because of this. They were fed
Bambatha’s Personal Rebellion
up with his bad behaviour before this time, regarded him as a bad chief and, given the last incident and the prevailing circumstances, he could no longer be tolerated.21 Indeed, the record does not look good. He had become chief in 1890,22 and almost immediately he contrived to get his uncle and former regent Magwababa’s Anglo-Zulu war service allowance cancelled.23 In 1895 he was suspended as chief for four months in a cattle-stealing case, but got off when some of the witnesses perjured themselves.24 The same year he started a boundary dispute with the neighbouring amaBomvu in the Krantzkop Division. His claims were rejected by the authorities, but he was unwilling to let go and the dispute poisoned relations between the two groups for years to come.25 Between 1893 and 1906 he was defendant in seven criminal cases and 37 civil cases, all for debt, and the judgments were all against him.26 During the Second Anglo-Boer War he alleged that local Dutch farmers were victimising some of his people because of their loyalty to the Crown.27 In August of 1905 he led a gang to disrupt a wedding and in the ensuing fight between factions he helped beat a man almost to death.28 By this time two or three factions were identifiable among the amaZondi in the valley, and Bambatha was associated with the Impanza section.29 His particularly savage behaviour in the faction fight was fully revealed at the trial at Greytown in mid-January. On the 24th he was sentenced to a fine of £20 or three months’ imprisonment with hard labour, and 42 of his followers were fined £5 with the option of a month’s hard labour. All but five paid the fines. The faction fight determined the government on his removal.30 The subsequent tax collection imbroglio simply confirmed them in their determination. The Supreme Chief and the Minister for Native Affairs concurred in Cross’s proposal that Magwababa be appointed chief, and Magwababa and Bambatha were summoned to the capital to be told personally of the decision, and Bambatha was to be warned that any further misconduct would result in his being physically removed from the division.31 Between 23 February and 3 March three messages were sent summoning Bambatha. The first time he said he would come but did not. The second time he was reported as having said: ‘I am afraid I shall be arrested if I go and rather than proceed to Pietermaritzburg I prefer to die here.’ The third time the messengers could not find him.32 The amaZondi were in turmoil. The Impanza section, or at least a very visible portion of them, were up in arms. The matter of the summons was discussed at two large meetings at different homesteads. One faction, associated with Magwababa, wanted him to go. The other faction, associated with the Impanza section, professed to fear for his life, sought to protect him, and urged him not to go. ‘It will be better for Bambatha to die in our hands, but he is not going to be driven and shot like a beast,’ exclaimed Nhlonhlo. The Impanza section prevailed and Bambatha remained in their custody.33 The government ordered his arrest and sent a strong police force down to get him. En route they took Hanise into custody, but on arrival at the Impanza the country seemed practically empty of people. Neither Bambatha nor Saka nor Nhlonhlo were found.34 Bambatha did not wait for the government’s next move: he fled to Zululand. The government put out a warrant, and on 23 March formally deposed him. Magwababa was appointed chief for a year, acting as regent for Bambatha’s younger brother Funizwe. The deputation to Pietermaritzburg assured the Minister that the loyal element preponderated in the tribe and they would restore order.35 In a strange volte-face Nhlonhlo tried to attach himself to the deputation, but was arrested and imprisoned. So was Saka.36 Bambatha, a fugitive, was not yet a rebel, but he was about to be galvanised into
Bambatha’s Personal Rebellion
action. Whose idea it originally was that he should go to Dinuzulu we may never know. And why should he take with him, besides two men attendants, a pregnant wife (his favourite one) and three of his children (but not by her)? It was an arduous trip to Usuthu which took the men seven and the dependants nine days.37 The wife later insisted that Bambatha was summoned, and Dinuzulu denied it.38 They do agree on Bambatha’s going to Usuthu to ask Dinuzulu to give him a place to live, an escape from his many problems in Natal.39 But the stories diverge thereafter. On the one hand, Bambatha’s family state that Dinuzulu gave Bambatha a rifle and told him to go back to Natal and start a rebellion.40 On the other, Dinuzulu and his adherents state that he sent Bambatha packing, but almost fortuitously Bambatha mentioned that there was a doctor among his people who could cure the sick and suffering Dinuzulu, and so two men were sent with him to bring back the doctor.41 Meanwhile the family remained under wraps at Usuthu.42 Bambatha, his two attendants, and Dinuzulu’s two men returned to Natal, and according to the latter Bambatha produced not one gun but three on the way and began to talk recklessly of the coming war.43 Bambatha left Natal on 12 March and returned on the 31st.44 He went first to those faithful men of the Impanza section and announced that he was going to lead the rebellion against the whites and Dinuzulu would come to support him. He displayed the rifle and pointed to the two emissaries, who confirmed what he said.45 One of them left a day or two later with a doctor, but not the one promised, and Dinuzulu rejected him outright.46 Bambatha’s object now was to rebel, and he sent to the neighbouring chiefs to tell them to join the rebellion or suffer retribution from Dinuzulu, whose army was on the way.47 As he gathered a force, he said hardly anything about the poll tax. If anything, Bambatha was obsessed with revenge. He was enraged when he learnt that Magwababa had replaced him and over and over he vowed to kill him. (He would have done so, had not Dinuzulu’s man intervened.)48 Yet the other chiefs did not rally and Dinuzulu never came. Allegedly the emissary who brought the doctor to Dinuzulu, and then Dinuzulu himself, on being told of his rebellious acts, called Bambatha a madman.49 With probably just over 700 men in his tribe,50 Bambatha mustered no more than about 300.51 Many of these were commandeered,52 and when he left for Zululand at least half of them deserted.53 Only the Impanza section remained faithful.54 In conclusion let us return to the matter of motivation. What drove Bambatha to rebel? It was the prospect of deposition, not the poll tax. He apparently counselled the bellicose Impanza section against resisting the tax, but fell in with them when he found that he was going to be deposed. His great concern was to maintain his position and destroy his enemies. A man of his profligate and violent lifestyle would not fare long as a commoner. He fled to Usuthu in fear and returned in anger, emboldened to rebel. Perhaps someone there with another agenda was using him. Or perhaps he was a desperate man with a vivid imagination who lied himself into an impossible situation. Even with Dinuzulu’s help, he would not have recovered his position, and as a rebel leader he was doomed from the outset. In Zululand he lost effective control over the rebellion. PAUL THOMPSON
Bambatha’s Personal Rebellion
1. Colony of Natal. Statistical Year Book for the Year 1906 (Pietermaritzburg, 1907), 11. An estimated 938 472 of a total 1 154 907 on 31 Dec. 1906. 2. Colony of Natal. Report of the Native Affairs Commission 1906–7 (Pietermaritzburg, 1907), 43; and Native Affairs Commission 1906–7. Evidence (Pietermaritzburg, 1907), 534. Z. A. Konczacki, Public Finance and Economic Development of Natal, 1893–1910 (Durham, N. C., 1967), 46–50, 77–8. Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository (all documents cited hereafter are in this archives depôt and so it will not be referred to again), records of the Secretary for Native Affairs (cited hereafter as SNA) 1/1/231: Minute 2492, Magistrate, Umvoti Division, to Under Secretary for Native Affairs, 25 Sept. 1905. 3. Report of Native Affairs Commission, 43. Native Affairs Commission Evidence, p. 134. Colony of Natal, Department of Native Affairs. Annual Reports for the Year 1905 (Pietermaritzburg, 1906), 108–9; and Annual Reports for the Year 1906 (Pietermaritzburg, 1907), 14–5. Records of the Attorney- General (hereafter AGO) 1/7/74: statement of Jwebu; and 1/7/78: PM C99/1907: ‘Notes taken at an interview between His Excellency the Governor and the Chief Dinuzulu at Government House, Pietermaritzburg, on 20 and 21 May 1907,’ 4 and 5. Records of the Supreme Court: Special Court: Zulu Rebellion (hereafter RSC), III/3/5, 3983–3991, evidence of Dinuzulu. SNA 1/1/330: 3176/1905, Magistrate. Umvoti to Minister of Native Affairs, 28 Nov. 1905; 1/1/344: 2051/1906, statement of Muziwake, 28 June 1906; 1/1/367: 1116/1907, Annual Report by the Magistrate, Umvoti Division for the Year 1906 on the Native Population, 11; and 1/4/15: C48/1906, C. W. Lewis to Commissioner of Police, 24 Jan. 1906; and 1/6/27: MJ C194/1906, Court martial of Mkamangana and 16 others, 149–50, evidence of Mbemi, and 1/6/229: ‘Memorandum of C. R. Saunders, Commissioner for Native Affairs, Zululand, Eshowe, April 6, 1908,’ 5–6, 9. ‘The Poll Tax,’ Greytown Gazette, 13 Jan. 1906. ‘Dealing with Sullen Chiefs’ and ‘Poll-Tax in Zululand’, Natal Mercury, 20 Feb. 1906. 4. Records of the Colonial Secretary (hereafter CSO) 2599: C147/1906, ‘Interim Report. By Commandant of Militia, Natal. On the Native Rebellion, 1906,’ 2–5, and ‘Police Diary’. 5. The Natal Native Rebellion As Told In Official Dispatches Jan. 1–June 23, 1906 (Pietermaritzburg, 1906), 49: Governor to Secretary of State, 5 Apr. 1906. SNA 1/6/26: General court martial of Makanda et al. 6. CSO 2599: C147/1906, 5–9A. 7. ‘The Poll Tax,’ Greytown Gazette, 13 Jan. 1906. 8. ‘Poll Tax’ and ‘Native Unrest’, ibid., 31 Dec. 1905 and 3 Feb. 1906, respectively. ‘Greytown’, in Natal Mercury, 27 Jan. and 7 Feb. 1906 (two articles). SNA 1/1/367: 1116/1907, 8. 9. SNA 1/1/367: 1116/1907, 8; 1/6/27: MJ C163/1906, Court martial of Bayoli and 21 others, 12, and MJ C164/1906, Court martial of Hanise, Nhlonhlo and Saka, 4, evidence of J. W. Cross in both cases. Cf. J. Stuart, A History of the Zulu Rebellion 1906 and of Dinuzulu’s Arrest, Trial and Expatriation (London, 1913), 160–1. 10. ‘Week by Week’ (two articles) and ‘District News,’ in Greytown Gazette, 10, 17 and 24 Feb. 1906, respectively. ‘Poll Tax in Greytown,’ Natal Mercury, 13 Feb. 1906, and ‘Dealing with Sullen Chiefs’ and ‘Poll-Tax in Zululand,’ ibid., 20 Feb. 1906. 11. CSO 3040: Magistrate. Umvoti to USNA, 19 Feb. 1906. ‘County Notes... Greytown,’ Natal Mercury, 21 Feb. 1906. 12. SNA 1/1/336: 579/1906, ‘Summary of returns showing total amount [of] Poll Tax collected in Natal up to February 24, 1906.’ ‘Poll-Tax Payments. Results in Greytown,’ Natal Mercury, 23 Feb. 1906. 13. SNA 1/6/27: MJ C194/1906, 153–4, evidence of Mbemi; and 1/6/28: MJ C164/1906, 30, evidence of Malamba. 14. SNA 1/6/27: MJ C194/1906, 67, evidence of Mangenge; and 1/6/28: MJ C164/1906, 12–13 and 33, evidence of Magwababa and Mangenge respectively. 15. SNA 1/1/336: 574/1906, Magistrate. Umvoti to MNA, 24 Feb. 1906; 1/1/ 414: 3263/1906, statement by Umkawana, 22 June 1906; and 1/6/27: MJ C163/1906, 13, evidence of J. W. Cross, and MJ C194/1906, 65, 67 and 182, evidence of Duluka, Mangenge, and Novunywa respectively; and 1/6/28: MJ C164/1906, 9–12, 28–9, 31–4, 35, 37–8, and 51, evidence of P. R. Botha, Malamba, Mangenge, Duluka, Mangwana,, Maviyo and Magwababa respectively. Archives of the Magistrate and Commissioner, Greytown (hereafter 1/GTN) 1/3/2/1: Cases Tried under Martial Law... , no. 47, evidence of Mangenge. Accession 464: ‘Bambata’s Story (copied from Capt. J. Stuart’s note book) in the field by W. F. Gebers, Intelligence.’ ‘The Native Trouble,’ Times of Natal, 12 Mar. 1906. 16. SNA 1/1/367: 1116/1907, 9; 1/6/28: MJ C164/1906, 5, 22, 33, evidence of J. W. Cross, Gadupi, and Mangenge respectively. 1/GTN 1/3/2/1, no. 47, evidence of Mangenge. 17. SNA 1/1/336: 574/1906, Magistrate. Umvoti to MNA, 24 Feb. 1906; and 1/6/28: MJ C164/1906, 5,
Bambatha’s Personal Rebellion
evidence of J. W. Cross. ‘Poll Tax Payments,’ Natal Mercury, 23 Feb. 1906. 18. SNA 1/1/336: 579/1906, ‘Summary of Returns... up to and including February 24, 1906.’ ‘Native Unrest,’ Greytown Gazette, 3 Feb. 1906. 19. SNA 1/1/367: 1116/1907, 9. CSO 3040, Magistrate. Umvoti to Prime Minister, 22 and 23 Feb. 1906, and related correspondence. ‘Scare at Greytown,’ ‘The Scare at Greytown,’ ‘Greytown and the Scare,’ annd ‘Greytown Experience,’ Natal Mercury, 23 and 24 Feb. and 1 and 3 Mar. 1906 respectively. ‘Native Unrest,’ Greytown Gazette, 3 Mar. 1906. 20. SNA 1/1/367: 1116/1907, 10. 21. See succeeding magistrates’ remarks in SNA 1/1/196: 1647/1894 (J. E. Fannin), 1/1/298: 4068/1902 (J. Y. Gibson), and 1/1/333: 78/1906 (J. W. Cross), also the appraisal in Stuart, Zulu Rebellion, 158–61. 22. SNA 1/1/127: 778/1890, SNA to Magistrate. Umvoti, 8 June 1890, and related correspondence. 23. SNA 1/1/134: 1422/1890, Magistrate. Umvoti to SNA, 27 Nov. 1890, and related correspondence. 24. SNA 1/1/196: 1647/1894, especially the ‘Confidential Report re Chief Bambata’ by Magistrate. J. E. Fannin. 25. SNA 1/1/296: 2278/1902, USNA memorandum on the interview with Bambatha et al., 25 Aug. 1902, and referring to the earlier 353/1895; 1/1/297: 2490/1902, Magistrate. Umvoti to Magistrate. Krantzkop, 24 Mar. 1902, and related correspondence; and 1/1/298: 4068/1902, Magistrate. Krantzkop to USNA, 4 Dec. 1902, and related correspondence. CSO 1714: 7762/1902, HE to SNA, 15 Oct. 1902, and related correspondence. 1/GTN 3/2/8: GT 421/1900, Magistrate. Krantzkop to USNA, 4 July 1900, and related correspondence. 26. RSC III/3/9: K144 and K145, ‘Copies of Civil and Criminal Record Books (Cases involving Bambata).’ 27. SNA 1/4/8: C80/1900, USNA memorandum, 16 May 1900, and related correspondence. 28. SNA 1/1/333: 78/1906, Magistrate. Umvoti to USNA, 29 Jan. 1906, and related correspondence. ‘Faction Fighting,’ Greytown Gazette, 27 Jan. 1906. ‘Bambata’s Story.’ 29. ‘Scarecrows,’ Greytown Gazette, 24 Feb. 1906. 30. SNA 1/1/324: 1912/1905, USNA memorandum, 3 Nov. 1905; and 1/1/333: 78/1906, Magistrate. Umvoti to USNA, 29 Jan. 1906, and P. R. Botha to SNA, 5 Feb. 1906, and related correspondence. ‘The Native Faction Fighters Fined,’ Natal Mercury, 25 Jan. 1906. 31. SNA 1/1/333: 78/1906, MNA to HE and reply, 23 Feb. 1906, deposing Bambatha and appointing Magwababa, the latter letter subsequently being cancelled (MNA to HE,16 Mar. 1906); and 1/1/336: 574/1906, MNA to Magistrate. Umvoti, 23 Feb. 1906. ‘Bambata’s Story.’ 32. SNA 1/1/336: 574/1906, Magistrate. Umvoti to MNA, 26 and 28 Feb. and 1 Mar. 1906, and MNA to Magistrate., 3 Mar. 1906; and 1/6/28: MJ C164, 6, evidence of J. W. Cross, who gives the quotation. AGO 1/7/54, statements of the messengers Mabaleka and Malobola [n.d.]. 33. SNA 1/1/336: 574/1906, Magistrate. Umvoti to MNA, 24 Feb. and 4 Mar. 1906; and 1/6/28: MJ C164/1906, 13–4, 15–9, 20, 24–6, 38–42, 42–3, 43–5, and 52, evidence of Magwababa, Funizwe, Ngonyolo, Gadupi, Sikati, Bugufa, Umtwalu, and Nhlonhlo respectively. (The quotation is from Funizwe.) 1/GTN 1/3/2/1, no. 31, evidence of Magwababa; no.36, evidence of Umhlabeni and Bukulu; and no. 42, evidence of Nomgaza and Usijibampeni. ‘Bambata’s Story.’ Stuart, Zulu Rebellion, 64–5. 34. SNA 1/4/16: C117/1906, Magistrate. Krantzkop to SNA, 15 Mar. 1906; and 1/6/28: MJ C164/1906, 2, evidence of Sgt. George. ‘Greytown,’ and ‘Chasing a Chief,’ Natal Mercury, 9 and 19 Mar. 1906 respectively. ‘The Native Trouble,’ Times of Natal, 12 Mar. 1906. 35. SNA 1/1/333: 78/1906, USNA to Magistrate. Umvoti, 17 Mar. 1906, and related correspondence; 1/1/338: 841/1906, ‘Notes on Interview’ with Magwababa and Funizwe et al.; and 1/1/339: 1071/1906, MNA to Magistrates in northern Natal [2 Apr. 1906]. CSO 3040, Magistrate. Umvoti to MNA, 13 Mar. 1906. RSC III/3/2, 341–2 and 6142–2A, evidence of Kolekile and Ndongana respectively. AGO 1/7/52, statement of Siyekiwe, 17 Dec.1907. 36. SNA 1/6/28: MJ C164/1906, evidence of Sgt. George. 37. AGO 1/7/54, statement of Nsukuzonke, 18 Sept. 1908; and 1/7/76, statement by Jolwana, 23 June 1908. RSC III/3/2, 243–4, evidence of Siyekiwe. SNA 1/6/29, statement of Siyekiwe, 5 July 1907. 38. AGO 1/7/52 and 1/7/61, statements of Siyekiwe, 17 Dec. 1906 and 12 July 1907 respectively; 1/7/68, statements of Cakijana, 20 May and 15 Nov. 1908; and 1/7/78: PM C99/1907, Notes at interview, 4. RSC III/3/5, 4005–7, 4631, evidence of Dinuzulu. SNA 1/1/344: 2051/1906, statement by Muziwake, 28 June 1906; 1/4/19: C289/1907, USNA to PM, 13 Dec. 1907; 1/6/29: CR69/1907, statement of Siyekiwe, 5 July 1907.
Bambatha’s Personal Rebellion
39. AGO 1/7/54, statement of Nsukuzonke, 18 Sept. 1908; 1/7/67, statement of Ndabayake, 23 Dec. 1907. RSC III/3/5, 4009–10, and III/3/6, 4296, 4374–5, 4629, evidence of Dinuzulu; III/3/6, 4678–81, evidence of Mankulumana; and III/3/7, 5494, evidence of Ndabankulu, and 6141, 6147, evidence of Ndongana. 40. AGO 1/7/58 and 1/7/66, evidence of Siyekiwe; 1/7/61 and 1/7/67, statements of Siyekiwe, 12 July and 23 Dec. 1907, respectively; 1/7/61 and 1/7/67, statements of Kolekile, 13 and 18 July and 24 Dec. 1907 respectively; 1/7/61 and 1/7/67, statements of Ndabayake, 19 July and 25 Dec. 1907; and 1/7/76, statement of Sicoto, 26 May 1908. RSC III/3/1, 386, and III/3/2, 304–7, evidence of Siyekiwe; III/3/3, 349–54, 394–420, evidence of Kolekile; 431–43, 607–12, 634–6, 672–3, 679–81, evidence of Ndabayake. SNA 1/4/19: C289/1907, statement of Kolekile, 13 Dec. 1907; and 1/6/29: CR69/1907, statement of Siyekiwe, 5 July 1907. 41. RSC III/3/1, 119–20, evidence of Gininiza; III/3/5, 4010–3, 4016, and III/3/6, 4632–4, 4681–2, evidence of Dinuzulu; III/3/6, 4682–5, evidence of Mankulumana; and III/3/7, 5947–47A, evidence of Sisini. See also and cf. AGO 1/7/58 and 1/7/66, evidence of Siyekiwe; 1/7/61 and 1/7/67, statements of Siyekiwe 12 July and 23 Dec. 1907; RSC III/3/1, 386, and III/3/2, 250, evidence of Siyekiwe; and SNA 1/6/29: CR 69/1907, statement of Siyekiwe, 5 July 1907. 42. AGO 1/7/61, statements of Siyekiwe, 19 July 1907, and Kolekile, 13 and 18 July 1907. RSC III/3/5, 4011–2, and III/3/6, 4630, evidence of Dinuzulu; III/3/6, 4682, 4686, 4811, evidence of Mankulumana; and III/3/7, 5494–5, evidence of Ndabankulu. SNA 1/4/19: C289/1907, statement of Kolekile, 13 Dec. 1907. 43. AGO 1/7/58 and 1/7/66, evidence of Cakijana, Ngqengqengqe, and Siyekiwe; 1/7/61, statements of Siyekiwe, 12 July, Kolekile, 13 July, and Ndabayake, 19 July 1907; 1/7/67, statements of Kolekile, 24 Dec., and Ndabayake, 23 Dec. 1907; 68, statement of Cakijane, 20 May 1908; 1/7/70, statements of Ngqengqengqe, 30 Dec. 1907 and 27 Apr. 1908; and 1/7/80, statement of Gininiza, 26 Mar. 1908. RSC III/3/1, 385, and 2, 251–2, evidence of Siyekiwe; III/3/1, 74–9, 88–96 evidence of Gininiza, and 305–7, 310–5, 364–5, 375–8, evidence of Cakijana; III/3/3, 1817–24, evidence of Cakijana; III/3/6, 4311–2, 4368, 4687–8, evidence of Dinuzulu; and III/3/7, 5947, evidence of Sisini. SNA 1/4/19: C289/1907, statement of Kolekile, 13 Dec. 1907, and 1/6/29, statement of Siyekiwe, 5 July 1907. 44. AGO 1/7/80, Precognition of Inspector Rose. CSO 3040: Magistrate. Umvoti to MNA, 13 Mar. 1906; G. Leuchars to T. Watt, 26 Mar. 1906. SNA 1/1/338: 841/1906, Notes at interview; 1/1/339: 1066/1906, statement of J. Mulligan, 6 Apr. 1906; and 1/1/367: 1116/1907, 10; 1/4/16: C117/1906, Magistrate. Krantzkop to SNA, 15 Mar. 1906; 1/6/27: MJ C194/1906, 7, evidence of Sgt. George and Tpr McGill; and 1/6/29, statement of Siyekiwe, 5 July 1907. Bambatha left his ‘location’ on one day and crossed into Zululand the next. 45. AGO 1/7/66, evidence of Cakijana and Ngqengqengqe; 1/7/68, statement of Cakijana, 20 May 1908; 1/7/70, statement of Ngqengqengqe, 27 Apr. 1908; and 1/7/80, statement of Baletshe, 24 Mar. 1908. RSC III/3/1, 101–2 and 316–7, evidence of Ngqengqengqe and Cakijana respectively; and III/3/10, statement of Gininiza, 26 Mar. 1908. 46. AGO 1/7/66, evidence of Cakijana; 1/7/68, statement of Cakijana, 20 May 1908; and 1/7/70, statements of Ngqengqengqe, 30 Dec. 1907 and 27 Apr. 1908. RSC III/3/1, 103 and 316–7, 320–1, evidence of Ngqengqengqe and Cakijana respectively; III/3/5, 4022, 4043, and III/3/6, 4312–3, evidence of Dinuzulu; and III/3/10, statement of Gininiza, 26 Mar.1908. 47. AGO 1/7/66, evidence of Cakijana; 1/7/68, statement of Cakijana, 20 May 1908; and 1/7/80, statement of Magwababa, 23 Mar. 1908. RSC III/3/1, 53, evidence of Magwababa; III/3/3, 1901–3, evidence of Cakijana; III/3/6, 4366–8, evidence of Dinuzulu; and III/3/7, 6140, evidence of Ndongana. SNA 1/1/339: 1107 and 1150/1906, statements of Hlangabeza Dlamini, 7 Apr., and Sonile Langa, 10 Apr. 1906; and 1/1/367: 1116/1907, 10; 1/4/16: C146/1906, Magistrate. Weenen to Defence, 7 Apr. 1906; 1/6/26, statement of Magwababa, 1 June 1906; and 1/6/27: MJ C163, 55 and 56–7, evidence of Sikepe and Bongolo respectively. Archives of the Prime Minister’s Office (hereafter PM) 58: 365a/1906, statement by Vava Pungula. ‘Greytown,’ Greytown Gazette, 21 Apr. 1906. 48. AGO 1/7/59, statement of Ngqengqengqe, 8 May 1908; 1/7/62, statement of Magwababa, 21 Apr. 1906; 1/7/66, evidence of Cakijana; 1/7/68, statement of Cakijana, 20 May 1908; and 1/7/80, statement of Magwababa, 23 Mar. 1908. RSC III/3/1, 29–30, 39–40, and 97–8, evidence of Magwababa and Gininiza respectively. SNA 1/6/26, statement of Magwababa, 1 June 1906; 1/6/27: MJ C163/1906, 23–5, evidence of Magwababa. ‘Bambata’s Whereabouts,’ Times of Natal, 4 Apr. 1906.
Bambatha’s Personal Rebellion
49. RSC III/3/2, 882, evidence of Jwebu; III/3/3, 1762, evidence of Cakijana; III/3/5, 3512 and 4005–6, evidence of Ndabankulu and Dinuzulu respectively; III/3/6, 4326, 4384, 4600, evidence of Dinuzulu; III/3/10, statement of Gininiza, 26 Mar. 1908. AGO 1/7/75, statement of Jwebu, 7 Mar. 1908. SNA 1/1/343: 1856/1906, ‘Notes of Interview between His Excellency the Governor and the Envoys from Dinuzulu, at Government House on 20th June, 1906,’ 4. 50. Colony of Natal. Census of the Colony of Natal April 1904 (Pietermaritzburg, 1905: Part I Table VII. Native Male Population, No. 19 Umvoti Division, gives Bambatha 733 males 15 and older. It is assumed that there were about the same number in 1906. 51. SNA 1/1/414: 3263/1908, Magistrate. Umvoti to MNA, 3 Apr. 1907, indicating 362 men were involved in the rebellion. Also see SNA 1/1/339: 1107/1906, statement of Vava Pungula, 7 Apr. 1906, and ‘Native Unrest,’ Natal Mercury, 6 Apr. 1906. 52. AGO 1/7/58, evidence of Sofuguza; and 1/7/80, statement of Baletshe, 24 Mar. 1908. PM 59: 425/1906, statement of Malongweni, 23 Apr. 1906. RSC III/3/1, 31–3, 59, 69, and 121–2, evidence of Magwababa and Bova respectively. SNA 1/6/27: MJ C163, 38 and 116, evidence of Baletshe and Sitoti respectively; and MJ C194/1906, 97 and 99, 109, and 144, evidence of Juwili, Qandela, and Gili respectively. Archives of the Magistrate and Commissioner, Weenen, 1/WEN 1/4/2/1: Cases under Martial Law, no. 20, evidence of Nqamatshe. 53. AGO 1/7/58, evidence of Magwababa; 1/7/62, statement of Magwababa, 21 Apr. 1906; and 1/7/68, statement of Cakijana, 20 May 1908. RSC III/3/1, 66, evidence of Magwababa. SNA 1/1/339: 1071/1906, SNA to Magistrates. Umsinga and Weenen, 5 May 1906. ‘Native Trouble,’ Natal Mercury, 9 Apr. 1906. 54. AGO 1/7/58, evidence of Magawababa; and 1/7/68, statement of Cakijana, 20 May 1908. RSC III/3/1, 59, evidence of Magwababa. SNA 1/6/27: MJ C163, 34 and 74, evidence of Bayoli and Ungemuka, respectively.
Notes and Queries
Notes and Queries
DIETER REUSCH: A COLLEAGUE AND FRIEND On Wednesday 25 June 2003 Dieter Reusch was shot while travelling on duty from Tugela Ferry to Pomeroy. He died within a short time at the Church of Scotland Hospital in Tugela Ferry. Gilbert Torlage of the KZN Museum and Heritage Services had provided this tribute. Dieter Reusch was a much-loved friend and colleague at KZN Museum and Heritage Services where he had worked since January 1988 as an anthropologist and since January 2002 was in the position of Liaison Officer. His passion in life was his anthropology, in which field he had worked in several parts of the Province. It was in the Msinga area, Tugela Ferry, that he had really steeped himself in the lives of the people. They, in turn, had warmly responded to him to the extent of affectionately calling him by his first name. His major focus there was on the manufacture of clay pots and their uses, ritual surrounding them and significances within that community. His sensitivity to those people’s sensibilities was greatly appreciated. The Mabaso people, whom he had come to know well, had grown immensely fond of Dieter. He was invited to several ceremonies and was allowed to document sensitive and private aspects in considerable detail. As a result of this research he was able to document and photograph a ceremony such as the ‘umemulo’ (a coming of age ritual) in great detail and as a result mounted a comprehensive exhibition on it, which was presented at the Tatham Art Gallery, Durban Art Gallery, Vryheid Museum, a Bloemfontein Museum and was also to be on show at the Stellenbosch University Museum. It was in the realm of his work on clay pots that he really became expert and well known, to the extent that he was consulted on the subject from far and wide, including the Smithsonian Museum. Not only did he collect clay pots, but also beadwork, carved wooden items, and a variety of other material culture objects relating to the Mabaso people. Each one of the items was carefully and meticulously researched. Many a time did he return to question people once more about a particular item, until he was satisfied that he had its full story and also understood it correctly. As the photographer who often accompanied him and made an extensive photographic and videotape record of much of Dieter’s work said, ‘Dieter always went the extra 100 kilometres.’ Through this work he has left a rich treasure of items and information, which will be used in years to come. It is a treasure that also reflects societies in transition, where cultures and material culture will be different in time to come. So that which Dieter has gathered will in time be even of great
Natalia 33 (2003) Copyright © Natal Society Foundation 2010
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value. One of the treasures is a video that he assisted in making that follows through the entire process of the making of a clay pot. Latterly, while working as Liaison Officer, he was the link between Museum and Heritage Services and the affiliated museums. His commitment to those museums was greatly appreciated and his broad knowledge on museum issues regularly called upon. He was trusted and respected. He brought a friendliness and happiness to his task, he was often the ‘ray of the sunshine’ in difficult circumstances for many a curator. It is ironic that the very area where he so loved to be was the area where he met his end. He was a dear friend to us, who has left us many happy memories. He was a treasured colleague to us at the Museum Service and to many members of more than 30 affiliated museums around the province. We consider it a privilege and honour to have known him. Rest peacefully, dear friend THE ALAN PATON CENTENARY: 1903–2003 Jewel Koopman writes: During the centenary year of Alan Paton’s birth, the Alan Paton Centre (APC) arranged Centenary Celebrations in Pietermaritzburg, and liaised with others in the country who were also planning centenary activities. Alan Paton, the world renowned author of Cry, the beloved country, was born in Pietermaritzburg on 11 January 1903. He rose from the relative obscurity of his posts as mathematics and science teacher at Ixopo High School and then at Maritzburg College to Principal of Diepkloof Reformatory, where he became known as an advocate of reform in the juvenile justice system. In 1948 he rose to almost overnight fame as the author of an internationally acclaimed novel. In 1953 he joined, as a founder member, the Liberal Party of South Africa (LPSA), of which he was to become National Chairman from 1956 to 1958, and National President until it disbanded in 1968 in the face of repressive apartheid legislation, the ‘Prevention of Political Interference Act’ which made it an offence for a person to belong to any non-racial political organisation. The members of the LPSA decided rather to close down than to become a whites-only political party, which was the only other option. For the next twenty years, until his death on 12 April 1988, he remained politically active as a fierce opponent of the apartheid government, and was in great demand as a powerful speaker, who made a lasting impression on all those who heard him. He also continued to write – two more novels, biographies, autobiographies, poetry and articles. But it is for his first novel, and his powerful stance against injustice, that the world will remember him. The Alan Paton Centre’s Centenary Programme was launched at the Alan Paton Centre on 25 February 2003, with a function at which Mrs Anne Paton was the guest of honour, and an exhibition of photographs of Alan Paton’s life was on display. This exhibition was on view at the APC for the duration of the year, and a copy was taken on tour by Roy Sargeant with his production of Cry, the beloved country. A film evening took place on 3 April 2003, at which the original film version of Cry, the beloved country (1951) and the recently made A drink in the passage (2002) were shown at one of the regular film club evenings, at the Centre for Visual Arts.
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The Alan Paton Lecture was held on 15 May 2003 in the Colin Webb Hall at the University of Natal. The audience of about a hundred enjoyed Peter Brown’s reminiscences of the times he shared with Alan Paton in the Liberal Party; Professor Colin Gardner’s erudite talk on the writing of Cry, the beloved country, and Jonathan Paton’s humorous and lively account of Paton family life. This was followed by a video which ‘brought Paton to life’, and sociable chats with old friends over drinks and snacks. Professor Gardner gave a longer version of his lecture at the Grahamstown Festival in June. The following morning, a group of eighteen set off in three vehicles on a tour of Paton’s Pietermaritzburg. The tour started at the old Liberal Party offices, now the Lambert Wilson Library, where they were addressed by Colin Gardner. The next stop was Paton’s childhood home, 19 Pine Street, where Joicelyn Leslie-Smith, previous Manuscript Librarian at the APC, spoke to the group. They then moved on to Russell High School, formerly the Berg Street Girls’ School, where Paton completed his first three years of schooling in one year, in 1909. The tour then embarked for Maritzburg College, where Paton was a pupil from 1914 to 1918, and a teacher from 1928 to 1935. The group then moved on to the old building – the dining hall, and ‘Fluff’ Abbit’s room, for an amusing anecdote from Paton’s schooldays. The group was then driven to the Old Main Hall at the University of Natal, where Paton was a student from 1919 to 1924. The last stop was the Alan Paton Centre, where Jonathan spoke to the group in the Paton Study, followed by tea in the Reading Room. Celebratory functions held by others were the performance of Cry, the beloved country, produced by Roy Sargeant. This was the first time the play had been performed in South Africa, as the production rights had been held in the United States for the past fifty years, until recently, when Frances Bond, literary agent for the Alan Paton Will Trust, applied for the rights to be returned. The play’s run started at the Grahamstown Festival, and then went on to Artscape in Cape Town in July, Bloemfontein in September, followed by Roodepoort and the Hilton College Theatre from 8 to 10 October 2003. The run ended at the Playhouse in Durban from 15–25 October 2003. On 10 and 11 October, Petro Janse van Vuuren of University of Natal Drama Studies produced ‘Patonising: a collage from the prose and poetry of Alan Paton’ at the Dive, Hexagon Theatre. The final boost of the year was provided by Oprah Winfrey’s choice of Cry, the beloved country as her Internet Oprah’s Book Club Book of the Year. Oprah’s Book Club has over a million members, and the Oprah Winfrey Show is watched on television world-wide. Her choice boosted the book to No. 1 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list, and will lead to a large reprint by the United States publishers. This choice, more than anything else, proves the enduring and classic quality of Cry, the beloved country. It was an enjoyable and thought-provoking year of celebrations, during which we could appreciate the relevance which Alan Paton’s works still have in the twenty-first century.
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150 YEARS OF THE DIOCESE OF NATAL Dr Sylvia Vietzen writes (taken from News/Izindaba, newsletter of the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity, Pietermaritzburg, December 2003.) The Cathedral celebrates On Saturday afternoon, 22 November 2004, Maritzburg moved gently into the ‘Diocese 150’ celebrations at the very place where it had all begun. Some 60 people gathered on the lawn facing the Colenso home at Bishopstowe. There, from the verandah of the house presently being restored, Bishop Rubin Phillip conducted a short service to honour the first Bishop of Natal, John William Colenso. Dr Geoffrey Soni spoke of the bishop as he is remembered by the Zulu people and Professor Brian Kearney took us through the architectural history of the site and how the restoration process has evolved. His insights into the life of the family were most touching. Appropriately, we sang ‘The Church’s one foundation’ and then Bishop Rubin unveiled a plaque on the front wall of the house to mark the founding of our Diocese by Bishop Colenso 150 years ago. Looking over the hills to Colenso’s beloved Table Mountain, wandering through the ruined chapelschoolroom about to be restored, picturing the original buildings and gardens, one was able to feel the vibrant atmosphere of a place which welcomed visitors from England, Zululand and Maritzburg alike and where the issues of church and state, peace and justice, were hotly debated and contested. It was from here, in June 1883, that Bishop Colenso’s body was carried on a gun carriage into Maritzburg to be buried beneath the altar of St Peter’s, his cathedral. On Sunday morning the preacher at the 7.00 and 8.30 Eucharists at the Cathedral was Dean David Leaning of Southwell Minster in England with which our diocese has a link relationship. He presented us with the gift of a statuette of the Virgin and Child sculpted by a member of the Southwell congregation. It will find a treasured spot in our cathedral. The special events were well and truly launched on Tuesday with the first lunchtime concert given by the choirs and steel band of St Nicholas Diocesan School. This was followed by recitals from St Anne’s College on Tuesday, St Mary’s DSG on Wednesday and St John’s DSG on Friday. In so rich a feast of music it would be inappropriate to single out individuals or items. Those who attended will know what they enjoyed most. There were soloists, organists, conductors, new works and arrangements, and the loved and familiar. All were a credit to the young people and their teachers. What could be regarded as the official opening service was a sung Evening Prayer on Tuesday evening at which Bishop George Cassidy of Southwell was the preacher. The full Southwell contingent of 19 was present! Also present was a large augmented choir conducted by Marianne de Jager and accompanied at the organ by David Orr. Added to that was Dr Joshua Radebe’s Pietermaritzburg Choral Society. Oh, what a service! It was a privilege to be there and to worship in a spirit of such cohesion, vigour, and beauty. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings our powers of intellect were challenged by the Colenso lectures given by Professor Jonathan Draper and Judge Farlam, who analysed and debated the trial of Bishop Colenso, Sam Tsheshla who discussed the translation of the scriptures within the missionary context, and Professor Ron Nicolson who put the Colenso controversy into a contemporary context under the provocative title of ‘A storm in a Victorian teacup?’. The cut and thrust of debate within the panels and with the audience made some of us long for more. For all, however, it was yet another reminder
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that our understanding of God is often feeble and intensely human. It was a reminder, too, that our founding bishop, though also intensely human, was an extremely erudite and exceptional man. Many of us were delighted to buy the new book of collected papers, including those by Jonathan, Sam and Ron, entitled The Eye of the Storm: Bishop John William Colenso and the Crisis of Biblical Criticism edited by Jonathan Draper and published by Cluster Publications here in Pietermaritzburg. Part of the joy of being in the Cathedral for all these events was being surrounded by the colour, artistry and scents of floral arrangements. ‘Flowers through the Cathedral’ was the project of the Anglican Women’s Fellowship in parishes throughout the Diocese. It was interesting to note the names of the various archdeaconries. But better still was to absorb the utter beauty and inventiveness of the concepts. Here were God’s gifts of nature and creativity indeed! Added to this cheering of the sometimes stark interior was the KwaZulu-Natal Museum & Heritage Services Exhibition in the vigil area. Coordinated by Gilbert Torlage with assistance from many people, especially Cynthia on his own staff, and the Diocesan Archives staff, this exhibition gives an overview of the work of our Diocese during the 150 years. It will eventually be housed at the Macrorie House Museum where we can appreciate it more fully at our leisure. A good place to conclude these reflections on our gala week is in the ‘old cathedral’, St Peter’s church. Have you noticed how beautifully it has been restored? It has been painted, the woodwork varnished and the interior opened up by the relocation of the rood screen (a temporary adaptation of the old St Saviour’s Cathedral reredos) so that one can stand outside and look straight up to the altar and the stained glass windows. It has also been preserved from outside vandalism by a security fence. And in it, connecting the old and the new, the past and the present, were displays by various agencies and organisations which are active in our society today and in which the Diocese participates. This was the brainchild of Brian Spencer who co-ordinated it with the support of all those who had stalls. Setting up the ‘hardware’ was no small task! It would surely have pleased the Colenso family’s hearts to be in the midst of ongoing social concern. It was a moving experience to stand before Colenso’s tomb and look up at his photograph as he gazed out into his cathedral. Small wonder that ‘Diocese 150 week’ at the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity gradually became ‘Colenso week’.
THE DIOCESE OF NATAL IN PHOTOGRAPHS Gilbert Torlage writes: As part of the 150 year celebrations of the Diocese of Natal a display of approximately 150 photographs with captions in Zulu and English was prepared. At an initial planning stage for the exhibition it was decided not to take the traditional route and cover the diocesan history from A to Z, but rather begin with the present and look back from that vantage point and try to explain how we have arrived at the present. In early 2003 every parish in the Diocese was requested to submit some photographs to depict an activity or event there. The response to this request was marvellous. The richness and variety of diocesan life and its people was splendidly represented in the array of photographs. In fact the response was so great that not all the photographs can be used. The main theme of the exhibition thus covered activities in the Diocese at the present time and was titled, ‘God’s Spirit, in God’s People, in the Diocese of Natal’. How did
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the Diocese develop over time? Some of the remaining themes gave a brief insight into this. They were: ‘Glimpses into the Diocese, 1853–2003’, ‘Bishop Colenso’, Meagre Beginnings: Then and Now’, ‘Bishops’, ‘Social Issues’, ‘Synods’, ‘Mothers’ Union’, ‘Religious Communities’, ‘Liturgies’ ‘Publications’, ‘Music’, ‘Deans’, ‘Schools, Hospitals and Homes’, ‘Missions and Farms’, ‘Heroes and Heroines’. Several people contributed greatly to the research process, and thus brought their own diversity and different perspectives. The resulting display was designed and made by staff of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum and Heritage Services. The displays were on exhibition at St Thomas’s Church, Durban from 21 to 24 November 2003, the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity from 25 to 29 November 2003 and the Royal Showgrounds, Pietermaritzburg on 30 November 2003 and after that it moved to Ladysmith for a short time. It has become a permanent exhibition at the Macrorie House Museum, at 11 Loop St, Pietermaritzburg.
DURBAN ART DECO SOCIETY Post Congress Meeting of the 7th World Art Deco Congress Durban: 30 March – 2 April 2003 Helen Labuschagne writes: Following the 7th World Art Deco Congress held in Cape Town from 23 to 28 March, Durban hosted a Post Congress Meeting from 30 March to 2 April 2003. Although attendance was restricted by events in the Middle East the quality of delegates was very high and Durban in early autumn afforded our tours beautiful clear weather. Delegates from the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Johannesburg and Durban were welcomed. Rex Ball, president of the Art Deco Society of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Mitzi Mogul, president of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles, were among the delegates. Events started on Sunday evening with a Mayoral Reception at the Durban City Art Gallery where an exhibition of Deco artwork, sculptures, paintings, Lalique glass and jewellery had been set up. The reception included music and a presentation of art Deco fashion by Margaret Ruxton and Janet Komaromi. The D.I.T. (Durban Institute of Technology) textile design and technology students then modelled twenty-one items of Afro Art Deco fashion they had designed themselves using colourful fabric, tinfoil, braids and beads. This was followed by a formal banquet at the Royal Hotel Grill Room with jazz music by Darius Brubeck, J. Robinson and Lex Futshane. A series of lectures by Dennis Claude, Wally Peters and 4th year UND Architectural students focused on Durban’s Art Deco scene in the city centre, Broad and West Streets, Point Road and the Grey Street precinct. The lectures were all held at the delightful NBS Botanic Gardens Education Centre in Sydenham Road. Dr Peters and Dennis Claude had mentored a three-month major survey by their 4th year students whose research covered various aspects of Art Deco details as well as the rich history of the Art Deco buildings in the Grey Street precinct and the unique design aspects of buildings which have come to be known as Afro-Asian Art Deco. Students presented and explained their own work. The final illustrated lecture was by Estelle Liebenberg from Pietermaritzburg,
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previously curator of the Stainbank Collection which is now housed at the Voortrekker Museum, on the work of Durban’s famous sculptor, Mary Stainbank. Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World generously sponsored the attendance at all lectures and bus tours of 25 learners from a number of local schools. These young people benefited greatly from this exposure and were enthusiastic about what they had seen. Three bus tours took delegates and students around the city to the different Art Deco points of interest. This also involved walking tours with a visit inside Quadrant House as well as going into the penthouses of both Berea Court and Surrey Mansions – a rare treat indeed. Visits and talks were also arranged for delegates and students to the Phansi Museum, the B.A.T. Centre, the Suncoast Casino (to see the Art Deco features of the various rooms), the African Art Centre and Howard College’s Art Deco Rotunda where 1st year students of the UND Opera Department entertained with a short recital of songs. An Art Deco Photo Essay by The Durban Centre for Photography was exhibited at the NSA Gallery in Bulwer Road followed by supper at the NSA Arts Café and a theatre performance of Squawk!! with the energetic gusto of the superb talents of Ellis Pearson and Bheki Mkhwane. Delegates and students also visited the eThekwini Heritage Department (The Local History Museum) exhibition of clothing from the Art Deco period in the Daphne Strutt Costume Room, Old Court House Museum. This stunning collection of dresses, bags and shoes from the period lasted until the end of July 2003. The KwaZulu-Natal Institute for Architecture devoted their entire Issue 1/2003 to Durban’s Art Deco architecture and an inventory of over 100 Art Deco buildings in Durban is listed. The Congress was generously sponsored by the Bartel Arts Trust (BAT), as well as Plascon, Dales Bros, AGFA and Microfilmit cc t/a Regma. Numerous delegates were warm in their praise of the Durban Art Deco experience and many of them were surprised to find the range and quality of work on the south east coast of Africa.
NATAL’S COMPOSERS Bill Bizley writes: Pietermaritzburg benefited in July from a brief visit by one of the foremost Canadian composers, Malcolm Forsyth, who was born in this city in 1936, and emigrated to Canada in 1968. Forsyth’s compositions for brass quintet, and his concertos for instruments so various as the accordian or the saxophone, have given him front-line status in his adopted country. Forsyth was out here for a 50th anniversary at his old school, Maritzburg College. Whilst here he received an invitation to perform select pieces next year with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, under the auspices of the Canadian Broadcasting Company. He will thus be returning to the Pietermaritzburg city hall, where, through the impact of a local symphony concert, he first decided to become a composer. Women composers are not so prolific but that they must be especially treasured, and it came as a complete surprise to most Natal music lovers to have the string quartet performed (at the recent Hilton Festival) of the late Priaulx Ranier, who was born in 1903 in Howick. The music was superbly constructed and enchanting to listen to. Ranier was born of English/Huguenot parents, and she grew up mostly in Zululand. Her violin
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concerto of 1977 was played by Yehudi Menuhin at the Edinburgh Festival, and Michael Tippet paid her the tribute of saying she was one of the best teachers of composition that the London School of Music ever employed.
A DURBAN SUMMER – ISABEL WATSON’S LETTER, 1850 Shelagh Spencer writes: Isabel Watson (born Robson) was 20 years old when she wrote this letter to her father and brother. She, her husband Joseph Bradley Watson (1823–1886), a tailor, Joseph’s sister Mary Ann (born c.1826) and her husband Matthew Middlebrook (born c.1824), an engineer, emigrated together as intermediate class passengers on the J.C Byrne & Co. ship Devonian, arriving in Durban on 31 October 1850. They were from the North Shields area of Northumberland, and were Quakers. Joseph and Isabel had been married in North Shields on 13 June 1850 and sailed for Natal six weeks later. Both couples settled in Pietermaritzburg. Middlebrook made a living as a boardinghouse keeper, then clock-maker, and finally as a carrier. The Middlebrooks left Natal in March 1853. Watson stuck to his trade, and from as early as May 1854 had his own property on part of Erf 9 Longmarket Street, where he seems to have remained for the rest of his days. The Watsons’ son Joseph was born on 18 March 1851, and Isabel died in the following June. Watson never remarried. Joseph jun. was a teacher when he married in November 1878. His bride was Harriet Williams Stevens (c.1860-1918) who was from St Ives, Cornwall. This letter comes per kind favour of Mr Geoffrey Dorrell of Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, a Watson descendant.
Durban, 12th month, 5th, 1850 … When we first came in sight of the harbour we saw 3 or 4 wrecks. One was the Minerva, a vessel of 15 hundred tons. We had a splendid passage and we were altogether very fortunate. The only bit [of] bad weather we had was between the Cape and the Port. We had a long seek to find the place sometimes, and got a few miles to the North and sometimes to the South of it. Someday the Captain could not take the latitude and we could not tell where we were and as we kept tacking in shore, they had many a run up the mast to see if they could see anything of a point of land or a harbour or a river or a human habitation, and for two or three days we sailed up and down the coast and could see nothing but hills covered with brush wood, sometimes it was nearly calm and we would go within half a mile of the shore. One of the passengers said we had better cast ship and go home and claim our money for there was not such a place, it was all a dickey do.… … I hardly know how to begin about this place, it always puts me in mind of what Trim said to Uncle Toby about some place or other ‘It lies as your honour knows in the midst of a devilish, wet, swampy country’ 1. The town in built in a swamp it is all rushes or else heavy sand. It is very near a day’s journey from the one end of the town to the other, the market-place is exactly like Cullercoats2 sands – Joe only wishes it was them. You go ankle deep at every step, it is very extensive and therefore very dangerous to traverse without a compass. One evening Joe lost himself completely and
1. A reference to Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy. 2. Cullercoats, Northumberland, is on the coast, slightly north of the mouth of the Tyne river.
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wandered about for nearly an hour before he met in with a man to direct him to the east end of the town where we were encamped. We lived about 3 weeks in a tent. It was that that made us all very ill, for with the heavy dews every night, we had our clothes quite wet to put on every morning, and then through the day the thermometer was at, from 94 to 99 inside the tent, but we have got nearly naturalized to the heat now. This place is very unhealthy, two of our passengers’ children have died since we came here and one of the families, the mother and the eldest daughter and a little boy are all lying ill … … We are all going to Maritzburg next week. I suppose it is a terrible journey it takes the waggons 3 days. A waggon load of our luggage has gone two or three days since. They say it is a far prettier and healthier place than this… .
MORE ABOUT ARCHIBALD KEIR MURRAY Sen. From Shelagh Spencer Murray’s letters to his parents in Scotland dated 1851 appeared in Natalia 30. His two years in Natal were difficult, and in the last of the three letters (20 Dec. 1851) he states his intention to leave Natal in the new year. Algoa Bay (the port nearest to where the 8th Frontier War was in progress), Mauritius and Australia were mentioned as possible destinations. The evidence suggests that he was the Mr Murray who sailed for Cape Town in Mar. 1852 in the steerage of the coasting vessel Rosebud. Mr John Dickson of Ilminster, Somerset, an expert on the Colony of Natal’s postal history, who purchased these letters, has now acquired another one – dated 28 Sep. 1854 from the ‘Kraayfontein Convict station’. Murray had written home six months earlier, and this letter was prompted by the disturbing news that his mother was in ‘a precarious state of health’. After commenting at length on that subject, he reported that he was in ‘excellent bodily health’, but with little time hanging ‘idle on my hands’. From 6 to 6 he was on the road superintending upwards of 40 men at work. This, with his duties before and after that time ‘cause one to be pretty well fagged out at night’. However, it agreed with him and he was contented, knowing that should he leave it, he could not easily better himself ‘here’. He promised, ‘and that sacredly’, that he would forward a few lines monthly. As for writing what he ‘denominated’ letters – he could not, he really did not have the time, nor in his isolated position, ‘materials, or rather subject matter where with all to fill a sheet of paper – take, therefore, … the will for the deed’. He assured his parents that they ‘are ever present in recollection’. He requested news of how they were as often as they ‘conveniently can’ – even if it was nothing else than a newspaper with two words written on it, he should be contented.
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NOTES ON FRANK COLENSO’S 1900 LETTERS These letters were published in Natalia 31 pages 10-18, and a number of the explanatory notes were inadvertently omitted. They are reproduced below: Page 11 10 April 1900 Sylvia – Frank and Sophie’s daughter (born 1883). Loram – Albert Edward Loram, sharebroker, Pietermaritzburg. 12 April 1900 grillidae – crickets. Page 12 13 April 1900 diaphoresis – perspiration. Sir Donald Currie (1825–1909), founder of the Castle Packet Co. in 1862 which, ten years later, became the rival of the Union Steamship Co. on the UK-South Africa route. In 1900 the two lines amalgamated as the Union Castle Mail Steamship Co. Currie was the donor of the rugby and cricket trophies, the Currie Cups. Sir Michael Gallwey (1828–1912), Natal’s Chief Justice from 1890. Prior to this he had been the Attorney-General for thirty-three years. Mrs Emma Thrash (c.1835–1917), widow of George Thrash (c.1829–1891). The Imperial Hotel’s address was nos. 214–216 Loop Street. Page 13 Kenneth Howard Hathorn (1849–1933), advocate, with offices on Erf 22 Church Street (premises now numbered 225 Church Street). As it was a Saturday morning when Frank and Harriette made these visits, they could have gone to the Hathorn residence at no.175 Loop Street, a short distance from the hotel. The late Mrs Hathorn was Agnes Elizabeth Blaikie, and her sister was Amy Jane Blaikie. Henry Cooke Campbell (1843–1925), was the son of Revd William Campbell (1802– 1873), Natal’s first Presbyterian minister. It appears that, at this time, Campbell was resident in Chapel Street, between Loop and Burger Streets. Revd James Green (1821–1906), Anglican Dean in Pietermaritzburg from 1849. He and Canon J.L. Crompton of Pinetown were Bishop Colenso’s greatest and most influential Natal opponents during the English Church’s conflicts. The Deanery was next door to the Hathorns – at no.163 Loop Street. Arthur Hamilton Baynes (1854–1942), appointed in 1893 as Bishop of Maritzburg and Natal, a title signifying his intended role in unifying the English Church in Natal. This proved impossible although by the time he resigned in 1901 he had been able to get a number of the Colenso congregations to recognise his episcopate. Katharine Maria Giles (c.1841–1910), a friend of long standing, who had lived at Bishopstowe with the Colensos. Her address in 1900 was no. 391 Longmarket Street. When the Colenso sisters were ejected from Bishopstowe in 1910, they lived for some years in her cottage in Boshoff Street (no. 144, on the corner of Church and Boshoff Streets – opposite today’s Selgro Centre).
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The stream they crossed on the outskirts of the town when riding to Bishopstowe was the Dorp Spruit. The 1900 map of Pietermaritzburg in the 1901 Natal Almanac shows the Bishopstowe road branching off Echo Road at the south-east end of the city. At this point, what was then the Bishopstowe road is now known as Ohrtmann Road. Hendrik Jacobus Martens (1849–1935) of Doorn Hoek, which farm had been granted to his father Jan Thomas Martens (1800–1873) in 1847. It adjoined the Bishopstowe (Ekukanyeni) mission station. Willow Bridge – presumably the bridge over the Baynes’ Spruit. This could cause confusion as, at that time, the bridge over the Dorp Spruit at the bottom of Church Street, where the route to Greytown began, was also known as Willow Bridge. Page 14 dolce far – dolce far niente (Italian) i.e. ‘delightful idleness’. Page 15 illustrated postcards – Frank had been misinformed. At least by 1898 postcards showing Pietermaritzburg scenes were in existence. 18 April 1900 Visit to Germany – Sophie’s mother was German. Farm buildings to the south of Bishopstowe house – this complex was known as Seven Oaks, and was occupied by Mrs Colenso, her daughters and Kate Giles within a couple of days of the razing of the Bishopstowe house in September 1884, and until Harriette and Agnes rebuilt same. Langa’s tribe – Langalibalele ka Mthimkhulu (1818-1889), a Hlubi chief, whose ‘rebellion’ in 1873 was harshly put down by the Natal authorities. He was tried in Pietermaritzburg for treason, rebellion and murder, and imprisoned in the Cape Colony until 1887. Bishop Colenso endeavoured, without success, to obtain justice for him and his people. Page 16 ‘other farm’ – the mission lands consisted of two farms, Bishopstowe (2 454 acres), on which stood the house and mission buildings, and Ekukhanyeni (5 849 acres). Rob – Frank’s brother Dr Robert John Colenso. Magema – Magema M. Fuze (born c.1840), converted to Christianity in his youth by Bishop Colenso, became printer at the Ekukhanyeni mission press. In later years he taught compositing at St Alban’s College in Pietermaritzburg, and was also tutor to Prince Dinuzulu and his uncles when they were in exile on St Helena. In 1922 his Abantu abamnyama lapa bavela ngakona (The black people and whence they came) was published. Vanderplank’s Island – a loop in the Msunduzi river between the mission station and New England (a J.C. Byrne & Co. settler location near Pietermaritzburg). John Vanderplank (1805–1882), an extensive land proprietor in the Camperdown, and present Eston and Baynesfield districts, owned an 170-acre lot within this loop. Page 17 Surveyor-General – J.L. Masson, appointed as such in 1894.
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Mme Daumas – Elise Daumas (born Colani-Neé), widow of the Revd Francois Daumas (1812–1871), Paris Evangelical Mission Society missionary in Basutoland, 1835–1865. Revd Daumas and David Dale Buchanan, founder of the Natal Witness, accompanied Chief Moshweshwe’s son, Tsekelo, to London and Paris, 1869–1870, in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the ratification of the peace Treaty of Aliwal North. By this, a large part of Basutoland, which included Daumas’ mission station, was ceded to the OFS. The death during his absence of his daughter Mathilde (after 14 months of marriage to H.C. Campbell above), and the failure of the European mission, appear to have contributed to his premature death. In 1900 Mme Daumas and her son were resident at La Clarière, Old Town Hill Road (today’s Roberts Road). In later years the property was known as Villa Daumas. Page 18 Miss Rhodes – presumably Miss Amy Rhodes (1864-1938), a Pietermaritzburg nurse.
THE RED BOOK From Shelagh Spencer Among the reviews in this issue is one of Locke & Quantrill’s The 1879 Zulu War through the eyes of the Illustrated London News. About two or three years ago this partnership produced a book, not well known in KwaZulu-Natal, viz. The red book, a 352-page compilation of unedited Natal newspaper reports appearing in 1879, during the AngloZulu War. Only 500 numbered copies were printed, 250 of which went to England for sale through the Anglo-Zulu War Historical Society. The uncertainty as to when exactly it appeared arises because no publication information is given in the work. INDIAN IMMIGRANTS’ SHIPPING LISTS From Shelagh Spencer For 20 years and, with only sporadic research assistance, Professor J.B. Brain, now retired from the History Department of the University of Durban/Westville, has been putting the above on to computer. As far as possible the lists were corrected and missing entries completed. The task was completed in November 2003, and the Durban Archives Repository hosted a function at which the list was handed over to KZN’s Minister of Education and Culture, Narend Singh. Copies on CD Rom are available from the Durban Archives Repository, 14 de Mazenod Road, Greyville, or Private Bag X22, Greyville. The price is R120,00. RICHMOND’S ANGLICAN PARISH’S SESQUICENTENNIAL From Shelagh Spencer On 30 March 2003 the Parish of Richmond-cum-Byrne, with Baynesfield and Ndaleni, celebrated the founding of the parish in 1853. Revd Thomas Gleadow Fearne (c. 18101883) was brought to South Africa by Bishop Gray of Cape Town (the Natal diocese not then being in existence) specifically to serve the people of Richmond. His stipend
Notes and Queries
was paid by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Richmond had an advantage over other areas in that the Duke of Buccleuch, who had financed the emigration to Natal of some of his Hampshire tenants (who were located in the Richmond area by J.C. Byrne & Co., under whose scheme they came to Natal), had donated £100 towards the building of a church for them. Fearne lost no time in having a church built, and St Mary the Virgin was consecrated by Bishop J.W. Colenso in April 1856 – the first Anglican church in Natal to be consecrated. Revd Fearne, later Archdeacon Fearne, was the incumbent of the parish until 1879. The church was packed for the commemoration service, while the overflow was catered for with a marquee and television set. The Bishop of Natal, Rubin Phillip, presided, assisted by Suffragan Bishop Funginkosi Mbhele. Among the celebrating priests were two former rectors, the Revds John Green and Luke Pretorius; Canon David Jenkins, well-known in the parish for his frequent assistance during interregna, etc., and Richmond’s Catholic priest, Father Dominique. The present incumbent, Revd Geoff Harrison, was the master of ceremonies. Among the congregation was Mrs Zoë Troom, a descendant of Archdeacon Fearne. During the service Mrs Charm Coulson gave a short overview of the parish’s history, highlighting the later years, the time of the troubles in the 1990s when all the Richmond denominations joined hands to help the refugees who had fled into the town. A new era of co-operation and fellowship among the various churches has been the result. At the end of proceedings a plaque commemorating the occasion was unveiled by Bishop Rubin.
Patricia Vinnicombe (1932–2003)
‘There is no-one else remotely able to take her place,’ is how Janette Deacon, the renowned South African archaeologist, reacted to the news of the sudden death of Patricia Vinnicombe on Sunday 30 March 2003. Pat’s colleague at the Western Australian Museum, South African Warren Fish, who was with her on the field trip during which she died in Australia, wrote: ‘She was a fantastic woman and her loss is greatly felt.’ Retired University of Natal publisher Margery Moberly acknowledged that working with Pat on her book People of the eland changed her life. Many mourn Pat’s passing. Patricia Vinnicombe was born on the family farm West Ilsley at Underberg on 17 March 1932. Even as a child she was interested in rock paintings in the area. She made her first rock art copy at 13. She went to school in Underberg and Pietermaritzburg and intended becoming an occupational therapist. However, her contact with the renowned palaeoanatomists Raymond Dart and Philip Tobias at the Patricia Vinnicombe University of Witwatersrand changed her mind and she concentrated all her efforts on her childhood interest in Bushman rock paintings in the foothills of the southern Natal Drakensberg. Back on the farm, with no electricity, Pat had difficulty working up her tracings. Dr Pringle of the Natal Museum offered her space in the museum as well as a large light box to complete her redrawings for the then National Council for Social Research, Bureau for Archaeology who were supporting Pat financially. She worked at the museum, often at night, between 1959 and 1961. It was at this time that she met and married Patrick Carter, an archaeologist from Cambridge University who was employed at Natal Museum. These copies and much additional research, while living in Ghana and Cambridge, England, resulted in the University of Natal Press’ 1976 publication of Pat Vinnicombe’s People of the eland: rock paint-
Natalia 33 (2003) Copyright © Natal Society Foundation 2010
ings of the Drakensberg Bushmen as a reflection of their life and thought, now a piece of Africana. Besides her description of the paintings Pat dug around in archives and correspondence files in various institutions, including the then-named Natal Archives, Pietermaritzburg, The Natal Society Library, the Killie Campbell Africana Museum and the Natal Museum, to provide the history and background to the Bushmen. It has been said that Pat knew more about the archive and archaeological collection in the Natal Museum than did the archaeologists who succeeded her. Her archival research forms the first three chapters of her book and is a fount of information for subsequent researchers. The number of references after each of the eight chapters averages around 50. The bibiliography alone has over 400 entries. People of the eland is still well regarded as a reference work and is used widely around the world. In addition to People of the eland Pat published many papers and articles. She was awarded a doctorate by Cambridge University, UK for her exhaustive work. Her innovative research on the interpretation of the paintings opened the door for several other rock art researchers, notably David Lewis-Williams. Most (298) of the completed redrawings of her tracings are in the Rock Art Collections at the Natal Museum. This highly valued collection is kept in climatically controlled conditions and is accessible to bona fide researchers. Over the past few years Pat has obtained funding from the Oxford University’s Swan Fund to assist her in working up the remaining tracings made 40 to 50 years ago. This is being done, mainly by a research assistant Justine Olufson, at the University of Witwatersrand’s Rock Art Research Unit to which Pat returned each year for three months. During this time she used to visit her Natal family and friends. I first met Pat in early 1975. I can still picture her striding up the hill towards Crazy Paving Shelter near Himeville. In tow was a rather straggly line of members of the Natal Branch of the SA Archaeological Society. That evening, in the Himeville Arms, she gave us an exciting talk on the Bushman paintings and her work. This was my first serious introduction to southern African rock paintings. Since then I have had many meeting with Pat and listened to some of the numerous lectures she has given in Natal. Although the University of Natal Press held copyright of People of the eland, they passed on any requests to Pat. Since the Natal Museum held the painted rock art copies, she asked me, then on the staff of Natal Museum, to monitor requests for the use of photographs from People of the eland in other publications. I last saw Pat when she visited me at my home in April 2002. It was then that she told me an extraordinary tale. She was in the field at The Kimberleys, in northwest Australia, far from home and had had a hard day. She took herself off to one of the hot springs, which string out like a row of pearls. She selected her pool in this isolated area and while relaxing noticed a woman approaching. To Pat’s disappointment the newcomer chose Pat’s pool when she had so many others from which to chose. The woman began to chat and Pat recognised a South African accent but said nothing. Eventually the woman asked Pat what she was doing in the area. Pat mentioned rock art. The woman responded excitedly. ‘We have a lot of rock art in our area in South Africa. Have you heard of Patricia Vinnicombe, she wrote an important book?’ Pat did not let on who she was – she was too tired and did not want to encourage conversation. The woman was from Durban, had never visited a painted site, yet knew Pat’s name and work. In 1977 Pat Vinnicombe took up a post in Sydney on contract to the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service to carry out the large North Hawkesbury
Archaeological Project. This aimed to investigate Aboriginal sites to the north of Sydney ahead of the building of a dam in the valley. Sites previously recorded included rock engravings on sandstone pavements, drawings, paintings and stencils in rock overhangs. During the project many more art sites were identified, plus other types of sites such as shell middens. A great deal of information was produced and is still being added to. It was the first regional project in NSW, if not in Australia. Pat’s report on the project, ‘Predeliction and Prediction’, although not published, is constantly referred to in other researchers’ work. The many people who worked with her on the project learnt a great deal about field techniques and she was liked by all. Still in Australia, Pat moved in 1981 to Perth where she was employed in the Western Australian Museum. She worked on Aboriginal art and explained to us that it was far easier to interpret since she could ask the Aborigines what the intentions of the painters were. Pat retired from the WA Museum about three years ago but has not taken retirement seriously. Since the late 1990s, Pat has been very involved in fighting development issues on the Burrup Peninsula, Western Australia. Rich in Aboriginal engravings the area is threatened by the expansion of the gas industry already located there. A multi-million dollar contract to supply China with liquid gas has already been signed without knowing what impact the chemical emissions will have on the thousands’ year-old Aboriginal heritage. Pat was invited to India about four years ago by local rock art experts whom she had met at international conferences. She and George Kendrick were given a guided tour during which Pat made several tracings and took a number of photographs. Towards the end of March 2003, Pat and her colleague, Warren Fish, completed some fieldwork on the Burrup Peninsula, north of Dampier and Karratha in northern Western Australia. A meeting in the area with the developers regarding the possible damage to the art by industrial emissions followed the fieldwork. Pat did not feel very well and at the end of the meeting left the room. Shortly afterwards she was found dead in the bathroom. Pat could not have arranged a better end: in a place that she loved and doing what she enjoyed – fighting heritage issues. Pat is survived by her ex-husband Patrick Carter, a retired archaeologist, in England; her partner George Kendrick, a retired but still active marine palaeogeologist, in Perth, WA; her son Gavin Carter, a commercial fisherman in Point Sampson near Dampier WA, his wife Kayleen and their infant daugher Karrah Lea Vinnicombe Carter; her brother and sister-in-law John and Brenda Vinnicombe in Underberg and a multitude of friends and colleagues around the world. Patricia Vinnicombe was a truly well respected and loved academic, colleague, family person and friend. Her life was celebrated at her burial service in Perth, Australia on Tuesday 8 April followed by a wake at her home; at a memorial service in Underberg, South Africa on Wednesday 9 April; at a memorial get-together in a rock art site north of Sydney, Australia in April and at a rock art film première in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on 29 April, 2003. Truly, there is no-one remotely able to take Pat’s place. VAL WARD
Phila Muziwenhlanhla Trevor Makhoba (1956–2003)
Trevor Makhoba, one of South Africa’s foremost artists, passed away on 24 February 2003. He left his wife Gugu and three children, Sindi, Muzi and Nompe, living in the house in Umlazi left to him by his father. He was born at Mkhumbane (Cato Manor) in 1956. His family were victims of the forced removals of that period and moved to Umlazi. He attended Nyanisweni and Manzolwandle schools and Menzi High School, leaving school at the age of seventeen. His father worked for the Dunlop tyre and rubber company and obtained employment for his son there. After a few years Makhoba was retrenched and found it difficult to get work in the depressed economic climate of the time. He began to paint and to try to sell Trevor Makhoba pictures on the Durban beachfront. A friend introduced Makhoba to the African Art Centre, then in Guildford Arcade in Durban and run by Jo Thorpe who had initiated the enterprise. Makhoba exhibited on the Vulamehlo Exhibition arranged by the Durban Art Gallery in 1990. The striking quality and originality of his work was immediately noticed by museums and collectors. In 1991 the African Art Centre organized an exhibition of Makhoba’s work. The quality was remarkable and a number of South African museums, art galleries and private collectors promptly bought works. In 1996 Makhoba was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artists’ Award for Visual Art. After a period of unrelentingly hard work he produced an exhibition of startlingly high quality, extremely challenging in its social comment. The Durban art critic, Jeff Chandler, wrote of this exhibition, ‘Makhoba … has few peers who have his grasp of the language of painting … . He is the Goya of our streets and countryside. Makhoba has looked into the heart of our collective darkness with unwavering fascination … . The source of Makhoba’s imagination, his restless curiosity, resides in the disjunctive fabric of life.’ Makhoba’s mother, who was a teacher, had a great influence on his life and was the first to recognize and encourage his exceptional gift. As a child, guided by his mother, he used to make little drawings and moulded clay cattle after the manner of Zulu children. His early experience of the vibrant community at Mkhumbane remained an inspiration throughout his career as an artist. He was passionately interested in the life of people – especially the African people of KwaZulu-Natal. His works show the vitality, the hardship, and the drama of everyday life in that time of great social upheaval in South Africa. He worked with amazing energy, sometimes into the early hours of the morning. He instructed pupils, to whom he was very generous, and they were devoted to him. He was also gifted in music and had a small band that met regularly at his home.
Makhoba’s friend, the artist Paul Sibisi, wrote of him in the catalogue for the Standard Bank Young Artists’ exhibition: ‘Makhoba is one of the country’s most relevant commentators on social and political change … in his community, his nation and the continent as a whole.’ Makhoba is an artist to be remembered in the annals of this country’s greats. He is internationally recognized and collected, and his exceptional compassion and insight into the human lot make him an artist of international importance. Deeply concerned for the plight of Africa, he depicts in magnificent forms, patterns, colours and decorations its dilemmas and potential dignities as it meets and mixes with western influences. He was a man of peace who longed for unity, justice and righteousness in the land. He respected women and often represented the difficulties of their lot with great understanding. Makhoba hated the moral regression of present society and many of his paintings are harsh indictments of that. An exceptionally gifted and intelligent man, coming from a mingled contemporary background of rural and peri-urban Zulu culture, he brings unique insight into his pictorial comments on the social disintegration of the postmodern world. Greatly interested in the dignity of traditional Zulu custom he is yet in the forefront of artists internationally who seriously express concern for the current global degeneration of human values. VALERIE LEIGH
Emanuel Apostolos ‘Nolly’ Zaloumis (1932–2003)
One of South Africa’s best-known and best-loved conservationists, Dr ‘Nolly’ Zaloumis, has lost his fight against cancer, dying peacefully at his Durban home on 23 March 2003 at the age of 70. Respected, honoured and admired by everyone in the conservation world, Nolly was always passionate about environmental issues and from 1964, when he came to Durban from Zambia where he had been born and where he had first practised as a dental surgeon, he was deeply involved with the Wildlife Society. Whether he was leading an outing through the bush or sitting on a committee, giving a lecture on ducks or fighting for a cause, he quickly became the public face of the Society in the province. He was mentor and guide to many people, passing on his own set of conservation values and ethics and his deep sense of commitment. Perhaps his greatest skill was his ability to create a team of people who worked with, rather than for him on his many projects – a team to which he always generously deflected any praise for results achieved. Chairman of the Natal Branch of the Society for a number of years and then, after eight years as its vice-president, the Society’s National President from 1981 to 1989, he continued to serve on the Board of WESSA until last year. As a member of its national Conservation Committee for many years, he was instrumental in shaping many of the Society’s policies, as well as leading many of its crusades. One of the most successful of these was the successful campaign to raise funds for the purchase of the Umgeni Valley Reserve at Howick, so that it could be used as a permanent home for a conservation education programme within the Society. The necessary R250,000 (a considerable sum 25 years ago) was raised, the area was purchased, and
the Society was able to make environmental education a reality – with Umgeni Valley eventually becoming the national headquarters of the Society’s education programme. As chairman of the Environmental Education Committee in Natal and the African Conservation Education (ACE) project in the mid-seventies, he was largely instrumental in shaping the initial stages of the Society’s education programme and was able to watch it grow into an internationally-acclaimed aspect of the Society’s work. Another memorable crusade was the Campaign for St Lucia in which, as its first chairman, Nolly fought fearlessly and tirelessly to stop the proposed mining of the eastern shores of Lake St Lucia, campaigning instead for an eco-tourism alternative for the area. With a group of equally dedicated conservationists around him, Nolly spearheaded the carefully-planned and successful strategy from the time of the first rumours of an attempt to mine the St Lucia dunes, through the concerted media campaign, the national and international petitions to the Leon Commission of Inquiry which led to the government finally announcing that there would be no mining. Yet another important Society initiative in which Nolly played a major role was the ’People and Parks/Parks and People’ conference which highlighted community capacity-building and empowerment, working with people who lived in and around the protected areas of the province. The conference had an important and far-reaching impact on policy in the province and further afield. Nolly’s expertise was shared with many other organisations. He was a member of the board of the former Natal Parks Board for many years, initially serving from 1974 until 1992 and then, in 1998, being re-appointed as a member of the newly-amalgamated conservation body, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. His single-minded dedication to the integrity of the conserved areas of KwaZulu-Natal sometimes made him unpopular, though he always retained the respect of all who worked with him and it was appropriate that he was presented with the Natal Parks Board Conservation Award in 1997. He was also, at various times, the executive chairman of the South African Association for Marine Biological Research; a trustee of the National Parks Board of South Africa; a member of the Bophutatswana National Parks Board; president of the S.A. Wildlife Management Association; a trustee of the Durban Science Museum’s Advisory Committee and the Joint Museums Board; vice-chairman, and later vice-president, of the S.A. Crane Foundation, and he represented South Africa at a variety of international conferences. He was honoured by many organisations during his lifetime, receiving the State President’s Gold Medal Award for meritorious Service in 1992; the Wildlife Society’s Gold Medal (its highest award); Rotary International’s Paul Harris Award for services to conservation and, in 2003, a Sapphire Pin to that award; an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Natal; the St Michael Award (an award for outstanding service from Michaelhouse, which he had attended as a schoolboy); the Natal Conservationist of the Year Award; the Natal Hunters’ Association Conservation Award, and others. His one regret at the end of his life was that he had never had the time to write the definitive book on the ducks and geese of South Africa which he had planned for many years and for which he had amassed an amazing collection of his outstanding photographs. He had, however, been co-author of a best-selling field guide to the antelope of southern Africa and had written many articles and papers on a variety of conservation
issues, especially waterfowl and wetlands. Nolly’s enthusiasm for the environment was infectious and very few people who came into contact with him were left untouched by it. At one time there was a joke that almost every volunteer working for conservation in the province was a patient of Nolly’s – for when a dentist, drill in hand asks you a favour, very few have the courage to refuse him! Nolly always paid tribute to the support he had received over the years from the members of his family who had allowed him time to devote to his conservation interests – especially his wife, Molly-Ann. To her and to their children Penny, Paul and Andrew and their families, the KZN Region of Wessa, its members and all those whose lives he touched, extend their deepest sympathy. ROBERT CROSS Reproduced with kind permission from Wessa KZN News, Volume 44 Number 2, April/May/June 2003.
Book Reviews and Notices
Book Reviews and Notices
THE VIEW ACROSS THE RIVER: Harriette Colenso and the Zulu Struggle against Imperialism by JEFF GUY. Cape Town, James Currey, 2001, xii plus 486 pp, illustrated, maps. Introducing his book The Heretic from the pulpit of St Paul’s church, Durban, Jeff Guy jocularly remarked on the incongruity of such a venue for someone of his views. It is a measure of the achievement of the sequel to that work that, despite major ideological differences between the author and his subject, Harriette Colenso, he has created such a credible and lively portrait of that determined crusader, set in the context of her life and times. Guy is able to draw on his unsurpassed knowledge of Zulu history in surveying the events in the late nineteenth century that engulfed the Zulu nation and the Colenso family. He revisits the cordial relationship between Bishop Colenso and Theophilus Shepstone that came to an abrupt end over the Langalibalele affair. The Anglo-Zulu war of 1879 further alienated the Colensos from British policy and brought personal tragedy to Frances Colenso, ‘the beauty of the family’, when her lover, Anthony Durnford, was killed. The sad story of Frances is pursued until her own untimely death from tuberculosis. The British ‘settlement’ of Zululand after the war was so inadequate that it ushered in one of the worst periods of Zulu history, analysed in Jeff Guy’s first book The Destruction of the Zulu Kingdom. The author rehearses his thesis that it was not the war but the ensuing civil war between the Usuthu and the Mandlakazi that destroyed the kingdom. It is said, for instance, that more people were killed in the battle of Msebe (1883) than in any other battle in Zulu history. In July 1883 the Mandlakazi attacked Ulundi, killing the senior chiefs and many men, women and children. This second battle of Ulundi, Guy avers, ‘marks the end of the independent Zulu kingdom’. In 1884 Cetshwayo died but his old supporter, Bishop Colenso, had predeceased him the previous year leaving his redoubtable daughter Harriette to carry on the struggle. Harriette Colenso’s Zulu name was Udlwedlwe (staff), conveying the image of a support and guide to her famous father. During his lifetime she ably assisted him in his campaign to help the Zulu, sharing his identification with them and, in particular, the Usuthu royal family. Guy explores her commitment and the driving forces that sustained her stance. At this stage there was a strong belief in the beneficence of British imperialism, despite occasional aberrations such as the Anglo-Zulu war, and – an abiding inspiration – evangelical Christianity. In the years following her father’s death Harriette was faced with a new political situation. Cetshwayo’s young son Dinuzulu, now leader of the Usuthu, turned to the Boers whose New Republic removed a large area from Zulu control. The Usuthu defeated the Mandlakazi at Ceza (1888) but Dinuzulu was arraigned for high treason and levying rebellion in what had become the British
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Book Reviews and Notices
colony of Zululand. Dinuzulu was defended by the ambitious Harry Escombe, which brought the Natal politician into close co-operation with Harriette, leading to a major error of judgement on her part. Natal was keen to annex Zululand for economic gain, something the Colonial Office did not welcome but accepted as inevitable. The Natal politicians, especially after self-government in 1893, tried to force the hand of the Colonial Office. Knowing the desire of the latter to return Dinuzulu and his compatriots from exile on St Helena, they insisted on the return being preceded by annexation. Harriette became persuaded that this was the better course: it would hasten the restoration of the exiles since the Natal politicians would be mollified. This line turned out to be a miscalculation, as Guy shows. He claims that Harriette was misled by the Natal cabinet which had no intention of conceding real authority to Dinuzulu, but Harriette was naïve to think that this was ever possible. Meanwhile her change of direction undermined both the Aborigines’ Protection Society in London and Sir Marshall Clarke, the resident commissioner, who had been working like her for a settlement that would protect Zulu interests. Harriette’s subsequent disillusion with Escombe completed her disenchantment with imperialism in general. While Britain was moving to a more aggressive phase of empire, with Chamberlain and Rhodes in the van, and even the Aborigines’ Protection Society was caught up in the enthusiasm, she was appalled by Rhodes’s statement: ‘I prefer land to niggers’. (Sir Lewis Mitchell recalls Rhodes saying the same to him.) In the Colenso family tradition, Harriette ensured that the African voice was heard, on her lecture tours of England for example, and it is her passionate devotion to the Zulu cause that finds a ready echo in Jeff Guy’s ‘passionate narrative’, as Shula Marks describes the book. This shared enthusiasm helps the author surmount philosophical divergence, but there is another element. Guy’s historiography is a far cry from the mindless Marxism of yesteryear that reduced history to crude economic determinism. He is in the mould of British Marxists like Christopher Hill and E.P. Thompson who, while reserving an ultimate role for economics, accept the need to approach non-economic factors, like religion, on their own terms. This enables them to relate to historians of other schools. It is, however, unfortunate that Guy declines to engage the research findings of the late Brenda Nicholls who made a study of the Colenso family her life’s work. Guy’s three books were not designed as a trilogy but they interrelate and provide us with a wealth of detail, insights into the political, economic and social turmoil of Zulu society in the period, and the involvement of the Colenso family. Jeff Guy is sensitive to feminist issues, though his empathy with Harriette does not preclude some criticism of his heroine. But as Frances, only weeks before her own death, wrote of her sister’s ‘splendid’ protest at the Boer-British partition of Zululand: ‘Is she not her father’s own daughter’. PHILIP WARHURST
Book Reviews and Notices
A WARRIOR’S GATEWAY: Durban and the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 by JOHAN WASSERMANN and BRIAN KEARNEY (eds) Protea Book House. Pretoria. 2002
I admit at the outset that I have not read this book from cover to cover. I doubt if anyone else has either, except perhaps the editors, Johan Wasserman and Brian Kearney, and a proofreader. It’s just not that sort of book where one starts at the beginning and ploughs on to the end. Rather, it is one to be dipped into, looked at and admired. It is a most beautiful book, evocatively and richly illustrated with countless historic photographs illumining its theme of the role of Durban during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899–1902. It is also a work of considerable scholarship as its six-page bibliography attests and undoubtedly a valuable resource for future research. Besides the two editors – who are also significant contributors – there are eight others. Their offerings, much the fruit of original research and otherwise unavailable except in master’s and doctoral theses, paint a richly textured urban history. They examine, for instance, Durban as a gateway to the theatres of war and the defences which were put in place to protect it, and the soldiers and others from overseas who passed through it and those from the interior (close on 18 000 Boer men, women and children) who arrived, either as refugees, prisoners or as inmates of concentration camps. They look at the town as a logistical gateway and the implications of that for the local transport system. The enormous movement of people – in wartime conditions – had vast medical implications and these, too, are considered. The story of Mohandas Gandhi and his Indian Ambulance Corps is thoroughly examined in this context. When war broke out in 1899, the general manager of the Natal Government Railways, Sir David Hunter, had already been in his post for 20 years. He refused to hand over his beloved charge to the military and persuaded General Buller that he and his civilian administration could make a better job of handling military traffic than the army could ever hope to do – and so it proved. An example of just how good the NGR was is illustrated by the events of October 5, 1899. On that day four transports docked in Durban between 11.30 am and 4.55 pm. They brought 70 officers, 1 793 NCOs and men, 80 followers, 188 horses, 108 mules, 6 guns, 16 gun carriages, 1 Maxim, 118 tons of baggage, 700 boxes of ammunition and 1 520 tons of stores. This lot was despatched inland in 10 trains between 5.15 pm and midnight. Three trains went 72 miles to Maritzburg, the other seven 191 miles to Ladysmith. The troops for Maritzburg all arrived within less than 12 hours of docking, those for Ladysmith within 24 hours. The fact that this was achieved on a single-line railway and that ordinary traffic continued to be handled makes the achievement all the more astonishing. In addition to feats of this sort, it was in the sophisticated railway workshops in Durban that hospital trains were fitted out, trucks converted at the shortest of notice to carry armaments and searchlights, and rolling stock damaged in action in Northern Natal repaired. Small wonder, then, that Winston Churchill dedicated London to Ladysmith, the account of his adventures as a journalist in Natal, to ‘the staff of the Natal Government Railway whose careful and courageous discharge of their everyday duties amid the perils of war has made them honourably conspicuous even among their fellow colonists’. There was a downside, however. Durban’s role as a gateway might have been expected to have brought economic benefits. Not so. The treatment by the military of the civilian authorities was authoritarian and the latter did not stand up for its Durban
Book Reviews and Notices
subjects. Indeed, the fact that the Natal Government Railways were almost exclusively available for military transport meant that Durban became relegated to the status of a fowarding point for army commissariat and the three Cape ports and Lourenço Marques made economic advances at its expense. One of the most bizarre arrivals in Durban was a 2 200-year-old Egyptian mummy, that of Peten-Amun. Major William Myers of the King’s Royal Rifles was a keen collector of antiquities. He appears to have been the person who brought Peten-Amun, an Egyptian priest who lived about 300 BC, to Durban. Peten-Amun was left in the care of the Durban Museum while Myers went to the front. He was killed outside Ladysmith within weeks of the commencement of hostilities and his charge has remained at the Durban Museum ever since. Durban, as a seaport overflowing with refugees, was also the setting for much cloakand-dagger activity. As Wasserman notes, the gathering of information by one’s own side and the prevention of the enemy from doing so has always been central in warfare. Thus extensive censorhip was applied, while suspicious characters were detained and refugees debriefed – the latter undoubtedly yielding the more valuable intelligence. The story of the concentration camps – at Merebank, Jacobs and Wentworth and, in the last months of the war, at Pinetown – and the daily routines, food, entertainments and sufferings of their inhabitants gives a valuable human interest dimension to the picture. A nice touch is the dedication of this book to the late George Chadwick. Chadwick’s knowledge of the history of Natal and Zululand was encyclopaedic and over the years he was the driving force in the organising of many historical commemorations. Even in his old age, he was involved in planning of those of the Anglo-Boer War and lived long enough to see some of them. (He died in August 2000). The war has produced many centennial writings. This volume is a worthy addition to that corpus and a fitting memorial to one who did so much to publicise the rich history of this province. JACK FROST
ZULU NAMES by ADRIAN KOOPMAN Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 2002. 324pp. illus. paperback, R150. ISBN 1 86914 003 6 In the preface to this book, Adrian Koopman confesses that one of his earliest research projects focused on the names of pubs and inns in England – this at the age of 16. The book under review is the product of a rather more sober research interest, one that began in the early 1970s and that has helped bring the author to his present position as a professor of Zulu at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg and as a leading figure in onomastics (the study of names and naming) in South Africa. In its 320 or so pages, Zulu Names deals in a series of detailed chapters with two main topics: the names and naming of persons and of places. Other chapters focus on
Book Reviews and Notices
the names of historical Zulu regiments, domestic animals, birds, and months and days. It presents a vast amount of information in a way that will appeal to a wide spectrum of readers. For academics, in the experience of this reviewer, it serves as a comprehensive and learned reference work on meanings, derivations and orthographies. For specialists and non-specialists alike, it provides informative and often entertaining discussion of a wide range of topics related to Zulu cultural practices, past and present. For example, in speaking to one’s parents, the author tells us, ‘The use of personal names as a form of address … is absolutely unheard of, and when I have told Zulu students that this is sometimes (if seldom) done in Euro-Western families, they have reacted with disbelief and horror’ (p. 29). And those who want to know how to spell the name of the river Njasuti will find that there are 31 other possible ways of doing it without being ‘wrong’ or ‘ignorant’ (p. 117). And the naming of domestic animals is sometimes done as a way of sending messages to the neighbours, as in the case of the dog called uBangihlebani, meaning ‘What are they whispering about me?’ (p. 222). And how many readers would suspect that most Zulu names for oxen are derived from Dutch/Afrikaans, including the common name for a red ox, uJamludi, which comes from ‘Jan Bloed’ (pp. 215–16, and see also the colour photographs on pp. 229–30)? When it comes to Zulu place-names, as readers of Natalia will know, spelling has recently become something of a controversial issue. Zulu-speaking commentators press in the media for colonial-era spellings imposed by unknowing and uncaring white writers to be modernized. Thus, to take some well known examples, they call for Umbogintwini to be written as eZimbokodweni, Umgeni as uMngeni, and Tugela as uThukela. Some white commentators respond in agreement; others testily demand to know why established spellings should be changed. The author’s contribution in Zulu Names is to explain in detail how much more complex the issue is than is often made out. Colonial spellings may need to be changed in the interests of cultural decolonisation, but, as he argues, it is by no means always clear what form should replace them. Particularly problematic are the questions of whether to use locative forms (eMngeni, eManzimtoti) or non-locatives (uMngeni, aManzimtoti) and of which letter to capitalise – aManzimtoti, or Amanzimtoti, or amaNzimtoti, and uMngeni, or Umgeni, or umNgeni. Each of these versions has its protagonists. In the end the issue is not so much about who is right and who is wrong as about who has the power to make and enforce the rules. The author devotes a whole chapter to discussion of those hoary old questions: the meanings of eThekwini (Durban) and uMgungundlovu (Pietermaritzburg) – or is it eMgungundlovu? Most commentators, he indicates, seem to agree that eThekwini derives from itheku, but the question is whether this means simply ‘bay’ or, more picturesquely, ‘one-testicled thing’. The author leaves the controversy open. As far as uMgungundlovu is concerned, after an exhaustive discussion he plumps for the meaning ‘the place that surrounds the king’, from ukugunga, to surround, and undlovu (from indlovu, elephant), the king (p. 168). Elsewhere he joins another long-standing argument about the derivation and meaning of iSandlwana (isAndlwana?) by developing his opinion that the name means ‘something like a little hut’, or perhaps, as many others have insisted, ‘the second stomach of a cow’, but not ‘the place of the little hand’ (pp. 152–3). This is the sort of book that students of Zulu language and culture can let fall open at any page and become engrossed in. Inevitably in a typographically complex work of this kind some errors of orthography have crept in – I noticed ‘Tugela’ on pp. 170 and
Book Reviews and Notices
306, and it is not clear from the context whether or not the author was quoting the very common (in the media) misspelling Amabokoboko on pp. 4 and 7, instead of giving us the much-to-be-wished-for (because the pronunciations are quite different) correct version, Amabhokobhoko, as he does on p. 307. But these are small points: overall Adrian Koopman has given us a richly detailed study that provides a good read and at the same time makes an important contribution to the literature on the Zulu language. JOHN WRIGHT
ANTBEARS AND TARGETS FOR ZULU ASSEGAIS: THE LEVYING OF FORCED AFRICAN LABOUR AND MILITARY SERVICE BY THE COLONIAL STATE IN NATAL by I.M. MACHIN Howick, Brevitas, 2002, 326 pages. and THE NATAL NATIVE CONTINGENT IN THE ANGLO-ZULU WAR, 1879 by P.S. THOMPSON published privately, 1997, 394 pages. Africans in the active service of colonial and British Imperial interests in Natal, as well as during the invasion of the Zulu kingdom in 1879, are examined in two recent works of history. While often dealt with in passing as part of larger themes on the sometimes contradictory relationship between rulers and their subjects in the region, from land and taxation to armed resistance and war, the detailed attention brought to bear on the topic by Ingrid Machin and Paul Thompson respectively proves highly relevant to present consideration. Machin scrutinizes the two forms of service exacted from Natal Africans after British annexation, namely the system of forced labour termed isibhalo by those subjected to it, and the conscription of African levy forces to assist colonial and Imperial military endeavour. Both institutions lasted from the establishment of British rule until shortly before Union in 1910. A rather stark picture of early Natal is created. Without a viable settler population to tax or any other means of generating an income internally, the colonial authorities routinely pressed random sections of the African population into labour to create the necessary infrastructure in the colony. In charge of the practice loomed Theophilus Shepstone, the all-powerful Secretary for Native Affairs who presided over the rather neat convergence of prejudice regarding class and race ultimately used to justify the policy. The extraordinary, almost accidental, series of events that resulted in the exposure of isibhalo are charted, from the incriminating letter J.F. Clark wrote in 1875 to inform Lord Carnarvon that ‘orders have been given to the Chiefs to send Kafirs to work on the Railway whether they will or not’, which was the first the Secretary of State for the
Book Reviews and Notices
Colonies had heard of the system. ‘I can hardly suppose, however,’ Carnarvon reflected, ‘that the system can have more than a very limited trial’ (p. 62). In behaviour typical of the secretive Shepstone though, it had operated effectively for nearly three decades before startled senior officials in Britain discovered it even existed. Called to account for the exploitation of fellow subjects in a Confidential Despatch of 31 May 1876, the response of the Natal administration was novel. As there was still no discrete legislation regulating the widely accepted convention, nor would there be any until the passage of Law 19 of 1891, Shepstone advised the successor in his post, and others, to explain that isibhalo was merely a customary entitlement of tribute in labour the Lieutenant-Governor could call upon Africans to deliver. Its provision thus lay within the terms of Ordinance 3 of 1849, which described the authority of the Lieutenant-Governor in his role as ‘Supreme Chief’. For good measure Theophilus Shepstone went to lengths explaining that isibhalo was actually the colonial form of the ibutho system used by the Zulu kings to extract labour from homesteads and which was still in use in the kingdom at that time. Machin demonstrates the considerable fiction sustaining this interpretation. In the first instance, the relationship of obligation between amakhosi and their people was reciprocal, but very little benefit could be found in colonial administration for the average isibhalo participant. Further, ‘tribute’ was already exacted from homesteads across Natal in the form of various taxes paid by Africans living in government locations. Finally, the ibutho arrangement of young men in the Zulu kingdom was the product of integrated customs the entire community was aware of and freely participated in. The imposition of isibhalo was part of the arbitrary application of Shepstone’s power and most Africans saw it as a punishment. As a result of the official curiosity regarding isibhalo, fuelled by concerns over treatment of Africans in Natal following the Langalibalele debacle in 1873, the Lieutenant-Governor was obliged to test the opinion of high-ranking local bureaucrats regarding the matter. The summary of their responses is enlightening. Of course, even more relevant are the feelings of the men put to work and the amakhosi calling upon them at government behest. Machin presents the relative independence still allowed by the homestead economy, which made it possible for many African communities to prosper, and the lure of selling their labour on the open market as the preferred alternative of most people eligible for isibhalo. Aside from legitimate resentment at the comparatively low wages paid by the government there was apparently much hard feeling about the nature of the work, and amakhosi struggled to provide labour in the numbers demanded by the colonial government. Ironically, the authorities found it easier to raise African levy forces which would probably face greater dangers than road gangs, and these levies are the focus of the book’s second part. What emerges is the reliance of the Colony of Natal on local forces, initially armed with spears and shields, for a variety of military duties. Joint expeditions with Imperial troops and colonial volunteers against San-Bushmen cattle rustlers along the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg were enthusiastically embraced by both amakhosi and ordinary African men. Their herds were also preyed upon regularly, but the undeniable excitement of campaign played a role as well. Familiarity with terrain and conditions, in addition to common purpose, made these African men doubly valuable to the officers responsible and they generally responded promptly when called up
Book Reviews and Notices
in the early levies. Of more sinister import were a series of call-ups in a show of force against various amakhosi perceived as threats to the government, including Langalibalele kaMthimkulu of the Hlubi who was reluctant to move off land initially allocated to his people in 1848. A number of incidents involving other amakhosi were to prove precursors to major government action against the Hlubi in 1873, and levies were used in all of these, most famously in the Bushman’s River Pass engagement where three ‘Tlokwa’ (or amaHlongwane) mounted levies lost their lives. Apart from the attraction of adventure, most amakhosi contributed forces because they expected a share in cattle taken as loot, but the prospect of a fight also proved a strangely strong motivation. Circumstances were slightly different in 1878 when a case for war was made against King Cetshwayo kaMpande of the Zulu. Imperial troops would rely on the support of vast regiments of levies, many of whom were drawn from communities with longstanding grudges against the warriors of the king and eagerly anticipated the opportunity to settle scores. As might be expected, however, responses of African communities were not uniform and some amakhosi were tardy in sending men. Unfortunately, a host of problems attended the organization and training of the Natal Native Contingent, as it was called, and a terrible price was paid at Isandlwana. As the British invasion of the kingdom forms only part of this study, the aftermath of that massacre and resultant reorganization of the contingent are addressed only briefly. Subsequent chapters illustrate the contribution made by levy forces in both the Anglo-Boer War of 1899–1902 and the Bhambatha ‘Rebellion’ in 1906, describing the degrees to which amakhosi acquiesced to demands made upon them and the manner in which the process was handled by the officials responsible. In contrasting the despised isibhalo duties with the slightly more acceptable levies for military undertakings, and her survey of the regulations and staff used in this deployment of African colonial subjects, Ingrid Machin has added a vital degree of detail to the view we have of life in Natal during the colonial era. The combination of two separate elements of African service to the colonial government and Imperial army, spanning the time Natal was a colony, partly dictates the structure of the book, with the two aspects dealt with discretely. Her text suffers slightly from an erratic organization of information which tends to move with sudden jumps between dates and episodes within the two main categories of isibhalo and levies. This is particularly evident in the account of the Anglo-Zulu War where it is often difficult to follow events. The problem is evident to a lesser degree in other passages. Though the book would be enhanced by allowing narrative flow to develop to a greater extent, the lack of engagement with claims that territory between the Thukela and Mzimkhulu rivers was largely devoid of inhabitants in the early 19th century is a position worthy of query. Overall, Antbears and Targets for Zulu Assegais evinces palpable empathy with the plight of Natal Africans and amakhosi in the unusual demands placed on them, and is a useful account of the scope and duration of both isibhalo and levy drafts. In spite of some structural weakness, it will prove interesting reading to anyone drawn to the history of KwaZulu-Natal. An interesting post-script to the legacy of isibhalo is the resounding success of the current Zimbambele rural job creation project of the provincial Roads Department. Groups of unemployed people are assigned sections of roads and are responsible for
Book Reviews and Notices
maintaining proper drainage, clearing verges and carrying out minor repairs. Where previous generations resisted exactly this form of work, protesting that they were not ‘antbears’, a democratic government has used road works to bring welcome economic relief to communities suffering from long-term under-development. The most celebrated mobilization of African levies in Natal resulted in the formation of the Natal Native Contingent in 1879 and is the subject of Paul Thompson’s exhaustively researched book. The NNC naturally features in any text on the British invasion of the Zulu kingdom, but only on one prior occasion has it formed the basis of a separate study. This is surprising, considering the wealth of information Thompson has marshalled on its brief but eventful history. In most histories of the Anglo-Zulu War the NNC is referred to disparagingly due to the misfortune that befell detachments at Isandlwana and is only fleetingly alluded to in other episodes of the war, while regular Imperial regiments and colonial volunteer forces receive most of the attention. Thompson departs radically from previous approaches with a treatment that can only be described as comprehensive. The famous redcoat troops so familiar in conventional chronicles fade away and the war takes on a decidedly different complexion. Instead of the standard type of reference to ‘two companies of the Native Contingent’, which treated it as if it were a homogenous group of Africans, the distinct regiments and battalions of this unique force now emerge as manifestly different from one another and enrich the story. From the second chapter Thompson describes not only the conception of the three initial regiments, but how the numbers of levies were raised and from which amakhosis’ areas they were drawn. Suddenly companies become more tangible when they are known to be amaNgwane from the foothills of uKhahlamba-Drakensberg, amaQadi from Inanda near Durban or amaMchunu from the arid thornveld of the Thukela valley. The texture of the regiments emerges clearly for the first time. Beyond the men of the contingent, the terse dispute over the nature of its organization also becomes clear. The Acting Secretary for Native Affairs, John Wesley Shepstone, out of his depth in dealing with senior military figures and with the effectiveness of his communication with the magistrates often questionable, was a poor image of his brother. The near farcical deployment of white officers resulted, for example, in Germans who were able to speak no Zulu and little English being made leaders of some units. No attempt was made to explain to the men why their traditional form of military structure was abandoned in favour of the unfamiliar British regimental system, and they were drilled ceaselessly without being told why. Reading the account makes a great deal of what came to pass more understandable, and more tragic. Isandlwana is transformed. A considerable blame has always tainted the record of the NNC in that fight, but the complexity of their behaviour in the gruelling battle and the diversity of their experience is faithfully portrayed. Some units are already well known: Nkosi Hlubi and his mounted Tlokwa (or amaHlongwane), Simeon Kambule, Jabez Molife and the earnest amakholwa of Edendale are there with Colonel Durnford. Most fascinating, though, are the men of No.9 Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment NNC. Veterans of the civil war of 1856, they had fled the Zulu kingdom after their iziGqoza faction was defeated and had taken refuge in Natal. Sent by their Nkosi, Mkhungo kaMpande, to aid the British against their old foe Cetshwayo kaMpande, they were a full-blooded Zulu company standing side by side with Imperial troops. It is not
Book Reviews and Notices
an aspect of the story readily imagined, much less told. Neither are the reports of brave amaNgwane holding back the Zulu right horn until they ran out of ammunition, or of two companies of amaMchunu commanded by the Nkosi’s son Gabangaye kaPhakade who lost 80% of their men, including their induna. While it has always been clear that more than half the British force engaged was in fact African and Zulu-speaking, the way it fought has never been portrayed with such gripping intensity. Reasons for the NNC leaving the firing line before other detachments, long cited as the fundamental cause of the final disaster, are also examined and explained as part of a broader context. The same deliberate care is taken in analysis of the aftermath of the fight, including accusations of desertion and the restructuring of the contingent reckoned necessary. Probably most surprising is the distinguished role played by men of the contingent in every single engagement of the entire war, excluding the attack on Ntombe Drift on 12 March 1879. As a result, the invasion of the Zulu kingdom comes across as more noticeably a conflict engaging local people than in any other account. Particularly relevant in this regard are the ‘demonstrations’ across Middle Drift on the Thukela River below Ntunjambili at Kranskop. Several of these included raids across the river during which homesteads were burned. ‘[These] orders were to have unpleasant consequences for the people who lived in the middle Thukela valley, for raiding invited retaliation. For the sake of a grand strategy peace in the valley was destroyed. An intermittent, sometimes cruel war was introduced with a life of its own’ (p.236). Who knows to what degree the contemporary violence in that region can be traced back to these raids? The path of the NNC is tracked through the capture of Cetshwayo, towards whom the amaQadi demonstrated acute animosity, mocking the deposed monarch in terms revealing certain Natal African sentiment toward the House of Senzangakhona. Thompson’s account concludes with the final disbandment of the contingent and the poignant celebration held by the amakholwa of Edendale as they welcomed their mounted troop home. Affirming themselves once more as loyal subjects of the Queen, they expressed in their actions a simple faith that this, in conjunction with a proud war record, might gain them some degree of respect from the white colonists. The knowledge of how bitterly they were betrayed makes their actions even more heartrending. Some of the amakhosi had a better sense of what to expect in the future. Denied a share of the cattle captured during the course of the war, Mqawe kaDabeka of the amaQadi declared: ‘Now I find that we have been fighting for nothing, for a shadow. We are wholly the losers by the campaign… I come out of the fight unrequited in any sense. Well, so be it. You are not human beings, you white men, but phenomena’ (p. 373). If only he had known what the coming century held. While Thompson’s subject is defined by a very precise title, and to widen the scope would increase an already substantial text, there is still a conspicuous lack of comment on the treatment of Africans by the Natal colonial government, as opposed to simply the officers that commanded them. The effort and sacrifice of the NNC is thus not set in the context of what those men might have expected from the Establishment in return. It is not due to the author’s reluctance to speculate, for several passages offer conjecture on aspects of certain engagements and other military action. The general predicament faced by Africans could perhaps be judged in the light of some excessive
Book Reviews and Notices
claims made for the Colony of Natal. Stating that the ‘life of the people was in fact little changed by British rule’, Thompson describes isibhalo and the various taxes levied as an unaccustomed cost of steady government. ‘These were consequences of the British coming, but did not appear to be part of a British plan to overhaul the existing way of life’ (p. 3). Yet the way of life changed dramatically over a short time. Thompson describes part of the process. ‘The white settlers were encroaching and demanding. Fortunately the Supreme Chief checked their extravagance and pretension. A man could live his life away from them without being troubled by them. The government sought to protect the old and true. Above all the British kept the peace’ (p. 10). This sounds discordant in a book concerning a war local British officials specifically orchestrated, apart from other clashes with amakhosi like Matshana kaMondisa and Langalibalele kaMthimkulu. In addition, there are several other examples of armed intervention catalogued by Ingrid Machin in the second part of her book. In terms of content, Thompson’s text demonstrates a degree of confusion regarding the particular constitution of various NNC regiments. On page 23 it is stated that ‘Phakade [kaMacingwane of the Mchunu] was ordered to furnish 600 men for the 3rd Regiment of the Native Contingent’, but later on, ‘The 2nd Battalion [of the 1st Regiment] consisted almost entirely of men from Locations in Umvoti County, selected by the Acting Secretary [of Native Affairs]. There were two separate levies of amaBomvu, one each of the amaChunu and abaThembu, and a smaller one of amaZondi, also known as the abaseNgome’ (p. 44). The former view is restated on pages 69-70 where the Thembu and Mchunu are described as levies of the 3rd Regiment without indication of whether these are different levies to the ones mentioned as part of the 1st Regiment. The identity of the 2/1st Regiment is never entirely clarified. There is also an inconsistent use of Zulu orthography which pervades the book. On occasion older forms of words appear, such as ‘Sandlwana’ , ‘amaChunu’ and ‘Kumalo’, among others. There are also examples of words such as ‘isiGqoza’ (p.85), ‘Gamdane [kaXongo]’ (p. 88) and ‘amaQwabi’ (p. 174) which are not commonly found at all. Although such variations detract somewhat from the general impression of the book, it remains a point of reference for the history of an armed force that has been severely neglected until now. STEVEN KOTZE
Select List of Recent KwaZulu-Natal Publications
Select List of Recent KwaZulu-Natal Publications
ALBERTS, Derek. Pietermaritzburg : poised for growth. Pietermaritzburg: Purple Boa Creations, 2002. 48 p. illus. Published free with Public Eye newspaper. ARBUTHNOT, Anthony. The descendants of James Arbuthnot of Dens: comprising ‘Table M’ of the Arbuthnot family genealogy. Johannesburg: Arbuthnott family association (Southern African branch), 2001. 331 p. ISBN: 0-620-26298-2 BAMBER, Robin. Smile with Robin Bamber. Pietermaritzburg: Handmade Books, 2003. 104 p. ISBN: 0-620-30235-6 R50,00. A book of poetry. BAMBER, Robin. Tungin cheek. Pietermaritzburg: Handmade Books, 2003. 145 p. ISBN: 0-620-30743-9. Short stories. BARNES, Bill. A personal history; ed. by David Johnson. Pietermaritzburg: Priv. print, 2003. 282 p. illus., map, tables. ISBN: 0-620-31130-4. R160,00. BARTHORP, Michael. The Zulu war: Isandlwana to Ulundi. Jonathan Ball, 2002. 181 p., illus., maps. ISBN: 1-86842 122-8. R129,95. BOTHA, Charles and BOTHA, Julia. Buyusela imvela engadini. Pietermaritzburg: Interpak, 2003. 244 p. illus. ISBN: 1-87497-508-6. R86,00 COLENSO, John William. Commentary on Romans by Bishop John William Colenso; ed. by Jonathan A. Draper. Pietermaritzburg: Cluster publications, 2003. ISBN: 1-875053-30-1. R120,00. DICKSON, John and HAMMAN, Keith. The postal stationery of Natal. Ilminster: Natal and Zululand Study Circle, 2001. 221 p. ISBN: 0-9540380-0-2. £16. DRAPER, Jonathan A., ed. The eye of the storm: Bishop John William Colenso and the crisis in Biblical inspiration. Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications, 2003. 415 p. front. ISBN: 1-875053-39-5. GILLINGS, Ken. Battles of KwaZulu-Natal: a pictorial history of battles in KwaZuluNatal from 1818 to 1906, by Ken Gillings, photos by John Hone. Durban/Cape Town/Johannesburg: Art Publishers, n.d. 56 p. illus., maps. R128,00. HOBBS, Philippa and RANKIN, Elizabeth. Rorke’s Drift: empowering prints: twenty years of print making in South Africa. Cape Town: Double Storey Books, 2003. 242 p. illus. ISBN: 1-919930-13-2. R254,00 JACKSON, Allan. Facts about Durban. Durban: FAD Publishers, 2003. 60 p. illus. ISBN: 0-620-30485-5. R40,00. uKHAHLAMBA-DRAKENSBERG: WORLD HERITAGE SITE. Durban/Cape Town/ Johannesburg: Art Publishers. 48 p. map. R40.00. KNIGHT, Ian. Isandlwana: the great Zulu victory. Oxford: Osprey, 2002. 96 p. illus., maps. ISBN: 1-84176-511-2. R214,00.
Select List of Recent KwaZulu-Natal Publications
KNIGHT, Ian. The National Army Museum book of the Zulu War. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 2003. ISBN:0-283-07327-6 . Published in association with National Army Museum. R481,00. KOOPMAN, Adrian. Zulu names. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal press, 2003. 324 p. illus. ISBN:1-86914-003-6. R164,00. LANCASTER, Graham Vivian. Windsong. Priv print, 2003. A novel. LEWIS-WILLIAMS, David. Images of mystery: rock art of the Drakensberg. Cape Town: Double Storey Books, 2003. 127 p. illus, maps, diagrs. ISBN:1-91993006-x (paperback). R254,00. LIEBENBERG-BARKHUIZEN, Estelle. Die lewenstyl van die Voortrekkers. Pietermaritzburg: Voortrekker Museum, 2002. 34 p. illus. Voortrekker Museum series, 3. LOCKE, Ron and QUANTRILL, Peter. The 1879 Zulu War through the eyes of the Illustrated London News. Kloof, Q-Lock Publications, 2003. 310 p. illus. ISBN: 0-620308-99-0. R300,00. MACHIN, Ingrid. Antbears and targets for Zulu assegais. Howick, Brevitas, 2003. ISBN:1-874976-279. R107,00. MOODLEY, Praba. The heart knows no colour. Cape Town: Kwela, 2003. 266p. ISBN: 0-7957-0159-4. 142,00. Historical novel about Indian immigration to Natal. MOOLMAN, Kobus. Feet of the sky. Howick: Brevitas, 2003. 57 p. illus. ISBN: 1-87497-37-6. A book of poetry. Moolman is Education Officer at the Tatham Art Gallery. MUIR, Michael. Youth leads the way: a guide to leadership for young adults. Malvern: Umsinsi press, 2003. 220 p. diagrs. ISBN: 1-86900-376-4. R99,00. NICHOLSON, John Bertram. From the very beginning to the very end: John Bertram Nicholson’s Natal Carbineer Anglo-Boer War diary and letters, September 1899 to July 1902; comp. and ed. by Mark Coghlan and Sybil Kaye. Pietermaritzburg: Priv. Print, 2003. 387 p. illus., maps. Not for sale (first issue of 11 complimentary copies). NUTTALL, Michael . Number two to Tutu: a memoir. Pietermaritzburg: Cluster publications, 2003. 178 p. illus. ISBN: 1-875053-34-4. R70,00. NXUMALO, O.E.H.M., MSIMANG, C.T. and COOKE, I.S. King of goodwill: The authorised biography of King Goodwill Zwelitini Ka Bhekuzulu. Cape Town: Nasou, 2003. 229 p. illus. ISBN: 0-7994-2144-8. R212,00. O’GRADY, JOHN. It’s that vet again & other stories. Pietermaritzburg: Handmade Books, 2003. 183 p. illus. ISBN: 0-620-30909. R95,00. PIETERS, Elaine. Not only a white man’s war. Pietermaritzburg: Voortrekker Museum, n.d. Voortrekker Museum series, 1. PILLAY, Guru, PADAYACHEE, K.R. and GOUNDEN, Swaminathan. Come to the Point: a history of the Indian community and some well known personalities. Durban: Point Indian Remembrance Committee, 2003. 69 p. illus., map. R20,00. Out of print. POLAND, Marguerite, HAMMOND-TOOKE, David and VOIGT, Leigh. The abundant herds: the celebration of the cattle of the Zulu people. Vlaeberg: Fernwood press, 2003. 144 p. illus. ISBN: 1-874950-69-5. R295,00. POOLEY, Elsa. Mountain flowers: a field guide to the flora of the Drakensberg and Lesotho. Durban: Flora Publications Trust, 2003. 312 p. illus., maps, diagrs. ISBN: 0-620-30221-6. R179,00.
Select List of Recent KwaZulu-Natal Publications
POOVALINGAM, Pat. Anand: a novel. Durban: Madiba, 2003. 315 p. ISBN: 0-620-30405-7. R120,00. PRESTON, Bernard, pseud. Frog in my throat. Truth House Publishing, 2003. PROZESKY, Martin. Frontiers of conscience. Pietermaritzburg: Equinym, 2003. 118 p. ISBN: 1-874976-10-4. R85,50. RADFORD, Dennis J. Guide to the architecture of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Cape Town: David Philip, 2002. 60 p. illus., maps, diagrs. ISBN:0-86486-5996. R135,00. RAINIER, Margaret. Madonela: Donald Strachan, autocrat of Umzimkulu. Grahamstown: John Rainier, 2002. 261 p. illus. ISBN: 0-86810-392-6. R200,00. RATTRAY, David and GREAVES, Adrian. David Rattray’s guidebook to the AngloZulu War battlefields, by David Rattray and Adrian Greaves, in conjunction with the Anglo-Zulu War Historical Society. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2003. 216 p. illus., maps. ISBN: 1-86642-174-0. R128,00. ROBBINS, Sidney. Usutu!, the final war cry: a story of the 1906 Natal Zulu Rebellion. Milnerton: Capsal, 2002. 328 p. illus., map. ISBN: 1-874-947-341. R150,00. A novel. STIDY, pseud. of Anthony STIDOLPH . Over the rainbow: the first 10 years of South Africa’s democracy in cartoons. Pietermaritzburg: The Witness, 2003. 148 p. illus. ISBN: 0620-31408-7. R147,00. SYCHOLT, August. A guide to the Drakensberg. Cape Town: Struik Publishing, 2002. 200 p. illus., maps. ISBN: 1-86872-593-6. R153,00. SYCHOLT, August. Scenic Drakensberg. Cape Town: Sunbird, 2003. 112 p. illus. ISBN: 1-91993-801-X. R152,00. TEMKIN, Ben. Buthelezi: a biography. London and Portland: Cass, and Balgowan: J B Publishers, 2002. 415 p. illus. ISBN: 0-714652554-7. R184,00. THOMPSON, Paul S. The Natal Native Contingent in the Anglo-Zulu War 1879. Rev. ed. Howick: Brevitas, 2003. 179 p. maps. ISBN: 0-620-30298-4. R150,00. TRAPIDO, Barbara. Frankie and Stankie. London: Blooomsbury, 2003. 310 p. ISBN: 0-7475-6034-X. R159,00. A novel set mainly in Durban. VIETZEN, Sylvia and HADDON, Catherine. Our College of St Anne 1877–2002. Hilton: St Anne’s Diocesan College Foundation, 2003. 200 p. illus. ISBN: 0-620-30157-0. R175,00. WASSERMANN, Johan. A man for all seasons: Mohandas Gandhi. Pietermaritzburg: Voortrekker Museum, n.d. 31 p. illus. Voortrekker Museum series, 2. R44,00. WIMBUSH, Bev. Midlands pot-pourri: a couple more stories from the Natal Midlands. Howick: Priv. print, 2003. 106 p. illus. ISBN: 0-620-30984-9. R57,00. WING, Deborah. Stolen childhood: rape and the justice system; a dossier on a case of child rape that took four years and four months to reach a ‘successful’ conclusion. Durban: Children First, 2003. ISBN:0-620-30632-7. The assistance received in the compilation of the above list from Mr John Morrison, Director of the Natal Society Library, and his staff, Mrs Coleen Cook of Cascades Book Shop, and the staff of Exclusive Books , Liberty Mall, is gratefully acknowledged.