This is a mammoth, giant, over-the-top King Edward VII School Memorial effort by and for the boys of the 1970 Class. Edited by Tim Haynes, Derek Hewitt, Donald Macdonald and Michael Kakusin, it was designed to bring back memories of the sixties, their childhoods and the formative years spent at KES. It is a government school with a rich 20th century history that has educated many professional men of Johannesburg. The fact that 50 years after leaving the school the men of that year feel such affection for one another and for the school speaks much for the bonding experience and the nature of their education. The editors wanted to gather the stories, and the memories of as many men as possible of their matric year. Over fifty such personal contributions were received; the editorial team has made an effort to trace and record in then and now photographs each and every boy. Sadly probably 40 to 50 per cent of the Class of 1970 now live abroad.
Weighing in at over 500 pages this is a fat book full of fun stories, memories, some lighthearted, some risqué, some good and some bad, of their five years at KES. The book is filled with photographs of that era. The editors scoured the archives, drilled into the museum holdings and dipped deep into personal photo albums to bring back those scenes of school sport, cultural endeavors, cadet drills and classroom pranks. It is a school that made and left its mark on this generation.
It will have a particular appeal to the old boys of the school, most particularly for the men of the specific year 1970. The book reminded me that an all-boys high school, such as King Edward School founded in a colonial era when British conquest of the Transvaal saw the Milner administration deciding to remake the new colony in an imperial image, delivered on the promise of an English education for city boys; the school turned out boys prepared to enlist and go to war for empire and country. This is a school that has continued to both shape and be shaped by evolving politics and the generations of school boys.
It is still a remarkable school as it adapted to new circumstances but retained its school traditions and ethos.
Old photo of KES (SA Builder Magazine)
I think the book will have a wider appeal as the educational experience is core to the Johannesburg story. I shall be donating my copy to the resource centre of Johannesburg Heritage Foundation. School histories are worth placing in a Johannesburg library.
Kathy Munro - January 2020
* * *
The first print run is sold out so people who want a copy of the original colour version of the book will need to send a request to be placed on the reprint pre-order list. Price will be $40 (roughly R600) plus shipping within South Africa.