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NEWS

BIG CHANGES: The view down Church Street from the Bokaap has changed
almost beyond recognition, but if you look very carefully you can just make
out the spire of the Groote Kerk, the church from which the street takes
its name, at the bottom of the road in both pictures. Its unclear when the
then picture was taken, but it was clearly well before the 1940s, when

APRIL 30 2016

the minaret of the Mosque Shafee collapsed. The mosque had been built in
1859. The mosque has been rebuilt with a much shorter minaret, but it is out
of sight behind the trees in the now picture, taken this week by Weekend
Argus photographer Leon Lestrade. Until the turn of the 20th century, Cape
Town was a largely a town of small, flat-roofed buildings, but this began to

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change just before and after the Anglo-Boer War. Send in pictures of old
Cape Town, with any date and background information you have, to Box 56,
Cape Town, 8000; to 122 St Georges Mall, Cape Town, 8001; or to argpix@
inl.co.za. Please mark them clearly for the Weekend Argus Picture Editor
Then and Now. If you want your picture back, please include your address.

Bleeks scholarly life far from bleak


MICHAEL MORRIS
DOROTHEA Bleek is a deceptively slight figure in the record and, arguably, a sorely misjudged one.
She is amply dotted about
the scholarly landscape for her
work on Bushmen, their language and their art, some of
which in a contemporary light
may seem patronising at best,
at worst, racist.
Yet, while she saw them as
little people and more than
once used words such as idle
and improvident to describe
them, she was one the 20th
centurys most indefatigable
champions of their life and
culture and of ensuring their
recognition and their dignified
presence in human memory.
Bleek appears here and
there in the public record as an
almost quixotic spinster adventurer, a woman who would
undertake ox-wagon treks into
the wilderness to seek what
may at the time have seemed
recondite knowledge of people
who had all but lost their grip
on their hinterland in the face
of invasions, atrocities and the
consuming creep of modernity,
whose art was little understood
and whose language might
have been as foreign as Latin.
At least one of the remarkable facts about this singular
woman was that, if it werent
for her, the celebrated Bleek
and Lloyd Collection (chiefly,
the remarkable work of her
father, the German philologist
Wilhelm and his sister-in-law

She championed Bushman culture and languages

CHRONICLER: Historian and former Cape Town journalist Jill Weintroubs biography
of Dorothea Bleek is the latest chapter in the long story of preserving a priceless
repository of southern Africas ancient culture.
PICTURE: LEON LESTRADE
Lucy Lloyd) would not have
been available to the world.
In 1997, more than a century
after its beginnings, the Bleek
and Lloyd Collection was given
the appellation Memory of the
World, a Unesco accreditation

of its status as a collection of


fragile documentary heritage of outstanding universal
value, and which is part of
the inheritance of the world.
Its a trove unequalled in its
way and Bleek, one of the five

daughters of the man memorialised in the name of the collection, was for decades its sole
devoted custodian.
Just as remarkable is that,
until today, there has been no
comprehensive biography of

the woman herself.


That deficiency is more
than compensated for by
Jill Weintroubs book, Dorothea Bleek, A Life of Scholarship.Wilhelm Bleek died in
1875, but Lucy Lloyd continued
the work until about 1884. The
vast 12 000-page collection was
latterly left to Dorothea (who
was only 3 when her father
died), and she spent the rest of
her life devoted to preserving,
and expanding, it.
Her singular achievement,
though she died before seeing
it, was collating a Bushman
Dictionary, published by the
American Oriental Society in
1956 (and available today as
an ebook for R79.75 on Google
books).
Until the last years of her
life she kept all of her father
and aunts collection with her,
donating it to UCT between
1936 and 1947.As Weintroub
has written elsewhere, in the
absence of a department dedi-

PIONEER: Berlin-born philologist Wilhelm Bleek, father


of Dorothea, right, who was devoted to preserving her
father and aunts remarkable archive.

cated to manuscripts at the


time, it is likely that the nonbook component of the nascent
Bleek collection was stored,
along with other manuscript
collections, in cupboards, cabinets, and innumerable steel
trunks throughout the Jagger
Library.
For decades, nobody seemed
to know of its existence and the
story of its rediscovery in
the early 1970s was, Weintroub
writes, the stuff of founding
mythology.
As Weintroub began her
long engagement with the
/Xam archive, she became
intrigued by the overlooked
figure of Bleek, the silence

about her and the willingness


of many critics to cast her as
a one-dimensional figure with
doubtful opinions, judged by
the values of a time that was
not hers.
Her staying power was
admirable, Weintroub said.
She was dogged, and insistent
on scientific rigour, on making
observations in the field. And
I think she really was just trying to be the champion of the
Bushmen.
Weintroub writes: The

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collection of private correspondence preserved among


her papers suggests that Dorotheas scholarship was motivated in part by her desire to
honour the idealised father
whom she barely knew and to
pay tribute to the aunt who had
mentored her in the /Xam and
!Kung languages and through
whom she was able to access
her intellectual inheritance.
Dorothea Bleek, A Life of
Scholarship is published by
Wits University Press.

Wes-Kaapse Provinsiale Parlement


Western Cape Provincial Parliament
IPalamente yePhondo leNtshona Koloni

HAVE YOUR SAY


Western Cape Health Facility Boards
and Committees Bill [B1-2016]
The Western Cape Provincial Parliaments Standing Committee on Community Development
invites stakeholders and interested parties to attend public hearings on the Western Cape
Health Facility Boards and Committees Bill [B1-2016].
The purpose of the Bill is to provide for the establishment, functions and procedures of
boards established for hospitals and committees established for primary healthcare
facilities; and to provide for matters incidental thereto.
Public hearings will take place as follows:
DATE
Monday 9 May 2016

AREA
Long Street, Rustdene
Beaufort West
Monday 9 May 2016
York Street
George
Tuesday 10 May 2016
09:0011:00 Riversdale Civic
Van den Berg Street
Centre
Riversdale
Tuesday 10 May 2016
17:0019:00 Caledon Town Hall 6 Plein Street
Caledon
Wednesday 11 May 2016 10:0012:00 Worcester Civic
High Street
Centre
Worcester
Wednesday 11 May 2016 17:0019:00 Allan Boesak
Zebra Street
Community Hall
Piketberg
Friday 13 May 2016
09:0011:00 Chamber (6th floor) Provincial Legislature
Building
7 Wale Street
Cape Town
Friday 13 May 2016
17:0019:00 Mew Way Hall
Corner of Mew Way
and Lansdowne Road
Khayelitsha
Interested persons who would like to attend any of these public hearings or who would like
to make oral submissions at these public hearings are requested to contact Ms Nomonde
Jamce (tel.: 021 487 1658, e-mail: njamce@wcpp.gov.za) two days before the date of the
specific hearing.
Issued by Ms LJ Botha, Chairperson: Standing Committee on Community Development
Posbus 648, Kaapstad
8000, Suid-Afrika
www.humanjobs.co.za

TIME
VENUE
09:0011:00 Bastiaanse Senior
Secondary School
17:0019:00 Banquet Hall

PO Box 648, Cape Town


8000, South Africa

PO Box 648, Ekapa


8000, Mzantsi Africa

www.wcpp.gov.za
+27 21 487 1600
Human Communications (Cape) C126584