South Africa General

An article published in the May 2015 “Popular Mechanics” magazine (RSA edition), was entitled “SUPERTRAINS coming down the line” in which it was stated “Let’s get one thing straight: we don’t send much freight via railway because the country’s extensive rail network is too narrow”. Yes it is true that South African wagons run on a narrow gauge track (1065mm) - narrow by definition being a gauge less than the standard gauge of 1435mm (4’-8½”).

Death, or more specifically images of the dead, remind us of our own mortality. During the mid 1800’s to early 1900’s, photography played a vital role in capturing images of loved ones, not only whilst alive, but also at the time of their death.

Where citizens could not afford a painted portrait of a loved one, photography was a cheaper and quicker alternative, providing the middle class with a photographic image in memory of a loved one who had passed away.

Rust by definition is a reddish brown coating formed on a ferrous metal (i.e. iron or steel) by oxidation, especially in the presence of moisture, which gradually corrodes the metal. Rust would seem to be Nature’s way of restoring iron and steel back to the state of the iron ore found in the earth’s crust. This process could well be called metallurgy in reverse.

The tragedy of the present day Migrant Crisis caused by the Syrian Civil War has an earlier precedent which occurred in the late seventeenth century when the King of France – Louis XIV (the Sun King) revoked the Edict of Nantes (a law protecting religious tolerance).  It was on the 22nd October 1685 that the King formally outlawed the Protestant religion in France, however, prior to that date the Huguenots (French Calvinists) had been persecuted rather like the Jews were in pre-war NAZI Germany.

When the British army first reached Pretoria in 1900 during the South Africa War, Lord Roberts (Commander of British Forces) increasingly realised that the railway was of great strategic importance and that its long lines of communication lay undefended. This was further underlined by the destruction of the railway line and the detrimental effect this had on the transporting of troops and supplies to the front by train.

 

In today’s world, large infrastructure projects such as the state of the art “Gautrain” rapid transit railway between Johannesburg and Pretoria (80 km in length) are constructed using mechanised plant and equipment for better productivity when working to tight project schedules (fast tracking). Occupational Health and Safety on construction sites has become a main concern when it comes to planning and executing large civil engineering projects with hazard operability studies (HAZOPS) and risk assessments being mandatory.

If you page through archive copies of Restorica, the old journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation, one company has a regular presence as an advertiser: Gordon Verhoef & Krause. Below are adverts from the mid 1970s to the early 1990s showing significant restoration projects from around the country that the firm was proud to be involved in. Look closely for details. Thank you to the Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA) and the University of Pretoria for giving us permission to publish.

 

The recent discovery in the cellar of a home in Saxonwold, Johannesburg of an old discoloured, brass plaque is a heritage opportunity and opens space for reviewing the motives and outcomes of the Royal Visit to South Africa in 1947.

For many years members of the heritage community have been talking about establishing guidelines for the blue plaque world. For a variety of reasons none have yet been set but renewed efforts appear to be emerging in Johannesburg. To aid the discussion we thought it would be helpful to publish the results of a survey we conducted during February and March 2014. 

“Be quiet and calm, my countrymen, for what is taking place now is exactly what you came to do. You are going to die, but that is what you came to do. Brothers, we are drilling the drill of death. I, a Xhosa, say you are all my brothers, Zulu, Swazis, Pondos, Basutos, we die like brothers, for though, they made us leave our weapons at home, our voices are left with your bodies.”

On 15 September 2016, the South African Heritage Resources Agancy (SAHRA) hosted a colloquium on 'Heritage and Development'. Heritage expert Herbert Prins attended and presented a paper arguing that the heritage resources management system has failed to achieve its purpose and that until equlibrium is restored there is no chance of achieving a balance between heritage conservation and development. The full paper is published below.

"For young black South Africans like myself," Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography, "it was Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Yale all rolled into one." Of the hundreds of pages in Long Walk To Freedom, barely a dozen recount Mandela's days at Fort Hare University. Understandably so. He spent less than two years of his 94 years as a student there.

It is hard to believe that it has only been a few decades since South Africa adopted the metric system. The shift had a profound impact on the economy and the daily lives of citizens. Many of South Africa's largest trading partners at the time were either using the metric system or had committed to moving over. This provided the impetus for South Africa to get going. The strength of the apartheid state ensured that implementation was highly effective.

The question is easy to answer; South Africa was formerly part of the British Empire, which decreed that the rule of the road was to keep left in order to avoid collision, end of story.

NO not the end of story. The real question to be asked, is why does Britain (and her former colonies) drive on the left, when 65% of the countries of the world drive on the right?

Her birthplace remains a bone of contention but Charlotte Maxeke's legacy as a woman visionary is cemented in the annals of South African history. She was born Charlotte Mmakgomo Manye on 7 April 1874 in either Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape, or at Botlokwa Ga-Ramokgopa, in Polokwane District, in the Limpopo Province, South Africa.

The old saying that “Good walls make for good neighbours” has been taken to heart in Johannesburg, where high walls have sprung up where once there were only low diamond mesh fences and hedges to keep the children and pets from straying onto the road.

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