This book is a wonderful introduction to a unique South African architectural tradition - the corbelled structures of the Great Karoo. The book immediately engaged my interest and had this not been a stay-at-home time of pandemic, I would have been packing a bag and heading for the Cape, book in hand. It is so dense with information and photographs that it immediately becomes a big guide book to a unique part of the world - the Karoo. It is a cross between a travel guide and an introduction to archaeology and architecture.
Here is my pick for the ideal late Christmas or new year present for the South African heritage enthusiast. Paul Duncan (writer and publisher) and Alain Proust (photographer) have done it again. Top marks to this well-known duo in heritage for producing another handsome book.
Gordonia is a remote, frontier part of South Africa, located in the Northern Cape Province. It is a dry, mainly barren, marginal land with a small linguistically and culturally mixed population. Along the Orange River the land is fertile because it is irrigated. It was an area settled by the Basters (in the late 19th century but there are also Xhosa speakers and descendants of other Khoisan people). Frontiers people are a breed of their own, self-reliant, tough, hardy and poor.
This small publication (sponsored by the Goldfields Foundation) was published as a Johannesburg centenary venture in 1986 by the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust (today the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation). It is interesting in the context of the bibliography of both where the heritage lobby was some thirty years ago and how topics of historical investigation change. It has become a sought after little publication, highly collectible though only 40 pages long.