Recently the author was in Port Elizabeth searching for photographic material at book dealers, used goods and antique shops in town. At one of these stores he posed his standard question to a dealer: “Do you have any old photo-stories”? With the dealer not understanding the question, the author then explained what they were. To which the dealer responded: “Oh, you are referring to Café Bibles!”.
South Africa General
This article reflects on the influence of South African ethno-photographs on the picture postcard industry together with a reflection on their individual histories.
Most picture postcards at the turn of the 19th century had a strong photographic theme where publishers of the picture postcard relied on the original photograph for commercial purposes.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), London, has a monthly magazine entitled the “E & T” magazine, which has a regular column, written by Justin Pollard called the “Eccentric Engineer”. It is factual, informative and above all witty. Pollard is not an engineer but a historian with an inkling for science and technology. In his column he brings personalities that were little known or have been forgotten, along with their inventions back to life.
The aim of the annual endangered heritage campaign run by the Heritage Monitoring Project is to raise awareness of South Africa’s most at risk sites. While the call for nominations for the 2018 campaign is issued this week (click here to view), we asked site champions and community activists for updates on previously nominated sites. We also analysed comments posted by community members to site threads on the Heritage Portal.
If I undertook a street survey and asked passers-by how much they weighed or how tall they were, the answers I would get back would be dependent on what system of weight and measures a person was brought up on and was familiar with. Grandparents would most likely answer in imperial units (pounds, feet & inches), and their grandchildren would reply in metric units (kilograms and metres), the reason for this is that South Africa converted to the metric system in the early 1970’s.
On 25 May 1978, the SA Navy hydrographic survey vessel, the SAS PROTEA under command of Capt C.J.H. Wagenfeld rescued twenty-six crew members from the Japanese crab fishing boat, the Kaiyo Maru No 1, which foundered off the Skeleton Coast of Namibia. Shortly thereafter, PROTEA was involved in another mercy mission to evacuate a heart attack victim from the tanker Texaco Sweden off the Namibian coast. SAS PROTEA was justly rewarded that year with the award of the SA Navy Sword of Peace for humanitarian efforts.
A modern photographic phenomenon that has emerged is “found photographs” – these include everyday snapshot photographs taken by others years ago, but have subsequently been discarded. These discarded photographs can today be bought up cheaply by photographic curators at car boot sales, charity organisations, fairs or auctions (online auctions included). These photographs are typically found in old photo albums, boxes with photo-odds or photo sleeves holding old prints.
At 05:30 on the morning of 11 November 1918, in a railway coach standing at a remote railway siding in the heart of the forest of Compiègne, Germany signed the Armistice Agreement that brought the war to an end.
Soon after, telegraph wires were humming with the message: “Hostilities will cease at 11.00 today November 11. Troops will stand fast on the line reached at that hour...”.
For a greater part of the 19th century, abundant and large herds of game were common in the interior of South Africa, resulting in it becoming a “sportsman’s” paradise
Robert Crawley, the 7th Earl of Grantham (a British peer) is a fictional character in the popular television period drama, “Downton Abbey”, set one hundred years ago. His family seat is Downton Abbey, Yorkshire, where he lives with his wife Cora, the Countess Grantham and their three daughters, the Ladies Mary, Edith and Sybil. He, being one of the landed gentry, generates his major income from tenant farmers farming on his Estate which he inherited from his father the 6th Earl.
In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie delves into the powerful story of struggle stalwart Albertina Sisulu. The piece was originally published on 27 December 2008 on the City of Joburg's website. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
Albertina Sisulu, or MaSisulu, the anti-apartheid stalwart, midwife, beloved member of the ANC, and devoted wife of the late Walter, has spent most of her life in Johannesburg.
I wrote about the Johannesburg Lithograph (circa 1937) below by Charles Ernest Peers in a recent article on The Heritage Portal - click here to view. Tracking down Peers’ presence in Johannesburg at this time led me in search of Peers, the artist. Peers was a notable and prolific artist in his lifetime. He is mentioned in the Esme Berman (1993) and has a biographical listing in Grania Ogilvie (1988).
When Sobukwe left Healdtown Mission Institute for the next stage of his education, he found that most of the country’s universities were closed to blacks. Only the universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand gave limited access to black students. The premier institute for blacks was near Alice – the South African Native College at Fort Hare.
In the article below, well-known writer Lucille Davie unpacks some of the complexity behind the life and personality of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. The piece was written on 23 August 2013 for the Media Club South Africa website shortly after the publication of Madikizela-Mandela's book 491 Days: Prisoner number 1323/69. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
By the end of March 2018 the 14-member Africa Media Online team resident in Alice, Eastern Cape and working in the National Heritage and Cultural Studies Centre (NAHECS) at the University of Fort Hare, had completed the digital capture of all the material assigned to them in the current phases of the ANC Archives digitisation project.
Heritage encompasses all that we experience in everyday life. It is far more fluid in how it is experienced by society than what we perceive it to be. It is where ideas of individual identity and the role of nation states connect. It is who we are as individuals and how we relate to one another in society.
The first thing I did when researching this piece of writing was to look at a modern physical map of South Africa and envision that the urban areas and the modern road network shown thereupon were on a thin film that could be peeled away. What remained on the under layer were the physical features such as the coastline, rivers, escarpments and mountain ranges. It was a clean canvas on which I could put settlements on, but before I could do this I had to determine a date in history.
Below is a fascinating article on the origins and development of the famous Chappies brand. It was written by well known journalist Lucille Davie on 10 March 2003 and appeared on the City of Joburg's website. Read all the way to the bottom for a 2018 update. Click here to check out more of Davie's work.
Worldwide early photographs have enjoyed a restoration to their rightful position in the history of art, photography and people – especially in Europe, America and Australia. Sadly, antique photographs (more than 100 years old) are still insufficiently preserved and appreciated in South Africa.
In the article below, Adrian de Villiers (Chief Architect Heritage Advisory Services at the Department of Public Works) explores the history and legacy of the brickfields of John J Kirkness. The piece first appeared in the December 2017 edition of The Arcadian. Thank you to the Arcadia Residents and Ratepayers Association (ARRA) for giving us permission to publish.