South Africa General

Knowingly or unknowingly, South African historians and researchers would have come across a wide variety of original albumen print photographs captured in South Africa during the late 1890s, all of which are titled and numbered followed by the cryptic initials G.W.W.

These photograph titles and numbers with the G.W.W. initials appear in white capital letters across the bottom of each photograph. But who or what was G.W.W.?

It is almost inconceivable to think the South African Air Force (SAAF) was established when T. E. Lawrence was still working on his much acclaimed biographical Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a history of the Arab Revolt during the First World War. Yet, this was indeed the case when Prime Minister Jan Smuts on 1 February 1920 appointed Lieutenant Colonel Sir Pierre van Ryneveld ‘Director of Air Services’ in the Union Defence Force (UDF).

We South Africans are renowned for being sports fanatics and none more so than our rugby supporters, so we are looking ahead, with relish, to next year’s series between the Springboks and the Lions (2021 version). For those of you who are not Rugby Union aficionados, the Springboks are the national rugby team of South Africa and the Lions are a touring rugby team comprising players from the four home unions of the British Isles, namely England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

‘The Bird Calendar’ as it is affectionately known throughout our country and much further afield too may have become just another victim of modern technology.

The proliferation of smart phones, watches and other wonder toys that include time and date info, combined with financial considerations brought about by the effects of Covid-19 may have deprived a great many birders of their beloved desk calendar now that AECI Limited has made the decision to suspend production of its legendary Bird Calendar, at least for 2021.

Every loved domestic dog, no matter how humble their origin, remains the best dog in the world in the eyes of their masters.

We affectionately refer to dogs as our best friend. They also happen to be humankind's oldest "friend" in the animal kingdom in that Canis familiaris, the domestic dog, was the first animal species to be domesticated by humans.

The gladius is a short sword which narrows near the base of the blade. This shape makes the sword effective at cutting as well as thrusting. The gladius is best known as a primary weapon of the Roman legions. It forced Roman soldiers to get in close to their enemies and to kill quickly. It was the Roman defeats of the famous Greek hoplites that showed the sword to be more deadly than the spear.

In its heyday, black African competitive cycling on South Africa’s gold mines received little publicity either locally or internationally. Nevertheless, it flourished for nearly three decades, beginning in the late 1950s and extending into the mid-1980s. Today it has been almost totally forgotten. However, a recently published biography of a leading South African cycling personality of the period, entitled Basil Cohen: South Africa’s Mr. Cycling, vividly recalls this lost history of Black South African cycling.

JC Smuts was born on the farm Bovenplaats, part of Ongegund near Riebeek West, in the then Cape Colony, and what is now the Western Cape, to parents Jacobus Abraham and Catharina Petronella (nee de Vries) on 24 May 1870.

 

After having been largely forgotten and ignored for decades, in the post-apartheid world of the new South Africa, Sol T. Plaatje (1878-1932), has been hailed as a pioneering figure in the African nationalist movement and the struggle for equal rights. The local authority of the diamond-mining centre of Kimberley in the northern Cape region where he lived for many years and where he is buried, has been renamed the ‘Sol Plaatje Municipality’ in his honour and a new university being established there is to be called the ‘Sol Plaatje University’.

Herbert Maurice John Prins, distinguished architect, professional conservation and heritage architect and practitioner passed away on Wednesday, 15th April 2020, just 12 days short of his 93rd birthday. His was a long, rich and remarkably productive life. Herbert was a role model in his work and ongoing commitment to the heritage of Johannesburg and other parts of South Africa until just a couple of months before his death. It was a joy to celebrate his 90th birthday in 2017. His professional career extended over 72 years - surely a record.

I hardly Knew Robin fee personally except shaking hands in a restaurant was a warm experience. But his presence in the profession was known over 3 decades & more: 1960-1990s. He embodied much of the complexity that characterised architecture over this period. Complexity?

A 1:48 scale model of the Type VIIC German U-boat “U-96” was donated to the Museum in September 2019. The model is a true representation of the original submarine used in the Second World War (1939 – 1945) and was constructed by the donor, Mr Brian Echstein (see image above).

The Importance of the Donation

In order for an archaeological or palaeontological site to be declared a National Heritage Site, it must first be Graded as being of appropriate national cultural significance. At the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), our approach is that the Grading process should encompasses the lion’s share of the work in assessing a site’s significance in order to compile an extensive Grading nomination dossier.

During mid-2019, an exceptional Anglo-Boer War (1899 – 1902) collection of artefacts went up on auction at a Johannesburg based auction house. Photographic images in this collection fetched high prices. However, images that high-end bidders did not pursue with the same vigour were magic lantern slides in the collection. Why would this be?

 

Roger Webster, storyteller, raconteur, heritage supporter, broadcaster and author passed away after a short illness on 6th January 2020. Roger was an enthusiast of South African heritage and history. 

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