Kathy Munro

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.

This is the personal story of a remarkable man who lived a long life. Mlangeni lived in the shadows of Mandela and other far better known ANC leaders, struggle icons and policy makers. Hence his self-assumed title of "the backroom boy". He says he was never at the forefront of ANC politics. After 1994 he was not given a senior position in the post-apartheid democratic government, though he became an ANC Member of Parliament and he served on the Sport and Recreation Portfolio committee (hardly a policy driving position).

Judy Campbell is South African born but emigrated to Australia nearly 40 years ago in the early 1980s. This is her memoir of growing up in South Africa, the  high jinks of a rackety teenage life in Cape Town in the seventies combined with the story of her immediate family and the family history of her mother’s family, the Luyts. Judy is a talented person - musician, singer, systems analyst, choir director and now author. She comes across as a strong woman who chose the life she wanted as an adult woman. It is an unusual memoir because it is her story, her parents

Sometimes it takes a foreigner to recognize a powerful  South African story. The title is arresting Barnato’s Diamonds. Such a title must surely refer to the diamonds owned or mined by Barney Barnato the flamboyant mining pioneer who made his first fortune in Kimberley in the 1870s and his second fortune on the Witwatersrand and Johannesburg after 1886. He was the man who founded Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Company, affectionately called “Johnnies” or JCI. Barnato was involved in everything that made Johannesburg, the mining camp that became the

This is a collection of essays by 12 distinguished academics who are top art historians, visual culture analysts, historians and educational leaders. They have teamed up to analyse the phenomenon of Afrikaner nationalism as this political movement or ideology found expression in visual images, public sculptures, architecture, cartoons, and the Voortrekker Monument.

 

This book does not appear to have one single editor but is a Don Nelson publishing project. Chapters on this selection of prominent South African schools have been contributed by people associated with the schools or compiled from previous histories. Hence the first impression is that an enormous amount of effort has been poured into this publication with many individuals writing chapters and many others editing. Archivists and curators have combed the archives and museums to supply the photographs. It is a visually pleasing book with an old fashioned period feel

Dr Pam Heller-Stern has written a novel based on the life and times of Jose Dale Lace, grand dame of Edwardian Johannesburg. Married to John Dale Lace, the couple commissioned the architect Herbert Baker to build them a grand mansion on the Parktown Ridge. Completed in 1904, Northwards was one of the most imposing and enduring of the mansions of Parktown.

We have all been looking forward to the appearance of Hidden Pretoria and we are not disappointed. The launch took place in October at the University of Pretoria on a clear starlit night under a magical crescent moon. It was a beautiful evening, the stylish launch comprised a three way conversation about the book, a photographic exhibition of Proust’s Pretoria images, and a sales table manned by Protea books.

In 1960 Hendrik Verwoerd, the Prime Minister of South Africa came to Johannesburg to open the Rand Easter Show at Milner Park. It was a traditional annual event of the Witwatersrand Agricultural Society and a highlight of the Johannesburg  calendar. In fact the Rand Easter Show was in everyone’s calendar - sportsmen, the horsey set, farmers who bred prize Ayrshire cattle, the radio world who ran their stations from the Tower of Light, housewives shopping for the newest home appliances, children who delighted in the funfair. Everyone looked forward to a day of fun

Everyone is interested in the human race and the age old question of human origins. Who was Adam and is there a biblical Eve? Human evolution has placed scientists, philosophers and religious thinkers at loggerheads for two hundred years. Here is a book to read closely; it is rich in detail, data and the scientific evidence as to why we all came from Africa.

This is a very early survey of Johannesburg circa 1893 by Henry Longland whose 1890s directories are an excellent source of early information about Johannesburg Streets. This slender book, just 60 pages, has been reproduced from the British Museum rare document collection and is available online from Amazon and Abe books.

 

A pleasure and delight of combing a bookshop in a random way (this is what browsing means) is that you are guaranteed to make a 'find'. A serendipitous happy find you never knew about but it instantly becomes a prized possession. A recent visit to Bookdealers of Melville yielded just such a small delight. It is a thinning small book on Arthur Elliott, the photographer of the architecture of the Cape and the master of black and white, light and shadow images of Cape scenes. Arthur Elliott (b. 1870, d.

Newspapers are the grist to daily living, you have a subscription, buy one at the local cafe or fall for the sales patter of the newspaper man or woman on the street corner. I can't live without a newspaper. My expectation is that a good daily newspaper will report on daily happenings in politics, international affairs, business and sport. There may be some editorial analysis and a favourite columnist worth reading. I look for balance, accuracy, sobriety and interesting stories in a newspaper.

This is a history of chieftaincies, tribes, rivalries, land congestion, conflict over land and a repeated pattern of rural violence placed in historical context but also with an eye on the intractability of current politics. The background is set with a quick documenting of early history on the Tambookie frontier of the Eastern Cape of South Africa (take a look at the map of the Tambookie or nort-eastern frontier in circa 1845. The focus switches to the colonial attempts to organize and order the Eastern Frontier of the Cape Province, an area of South Africa much

If you have ever visited Pilgrim’s Rest it is one of those places that stays with you and haunts your memory. It compares to Bendigo in Australia and Julian in California. It is still a tourist attraction of note in Mpumalanga and a village of romance and imagination. It is described in the online tourist blurb as a “a small town with a very colourful and exciting history”. The main street of this early mining settlement lives on its heritage and here you expect to find at least six bars to quench the thirst of the gold panner.

Constance Stuart Larrabee was a 20th century photographer of distinction but is not well known in the 21st century. This book sets out to change perceptions. Constance was born in Cornwall in 1914 and following her parents' emigration to Grootfontein in the then Northern Transvaal, grew up in South Africa. She always wanted to be a photographer and for her this was “the one road to take“, but in fact her life took her down quite a few roads. Photography mattered.

I always welcome books about books and book people. If people are interested in the making of a book they are extending their grasp and reach of all things bookish and book collectable. I was delighted to acquire this new book on a recent visit to Cape Town and found myself reading it from cover to cover in a couple of hours (it is just over 100 pages).

Heather Mason is an American who lives in Johannesburg, has embraced the city and blogs about her experiences on a website called 2Summers. She came to South Africa in 2010 and embraced a life as a migrant bohemian freelancer. She called her blog 2Summers as she experienced two summers in a row.

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