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).
In the previous article the origin, course and outcome of the 1922 Rand Revolt were discussed (click here to read). In this follow-up article, some of the surviving sites from this event are reviewed.
A friend who grew up in Germiston claimed at his recent birthday bash that while you could leave Germiston, it would never leave you. His words mulled through my mind as I arrived at the Primrose Cemetery. Visiting a historic cemetery like Primrose is similar to visiting an interesting museum. Instead of viewing artifacts one sees the tombstones of people who participated in events that may have shaped one’s life in one way or another. One also starts better interpreting the tombstone symbols and appraising the epitaphs.
Perhaps you recall the 1980s advert, ‘Where did you have your first Campari? – in Benoni.’ That was well before Charlize Theron made Benoni famous.
Well, you do not have to be a taphophile (someone who takes an interest in cemeteries and tombstones) or require a taste for Campari to visit the Rynsoord Benoni Cemetery.
In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie tells the story of Taffy Long who was executed for a murder that took place during the 1922 Rand Revolt. The piece was originally published on the City of Johannesburg's website on 5 July 2002. Click here to view more of Davie's work. The image above shows Fordsburg Market Square during the Revolt.
1922 is often seen as the year that South Africa teetered on the brink of civil war. Fighting broke out across the Rand following a dispute between mine owners and workers. The crisis only ended after martial law was declared and bombs fell from the sky. If you are ever looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon why not take a drive and recreate a few of the scenes from this turbulent time. The following driving tour was created by the team from the Johannesburg Historical Foundation (now defunct) in the 1990s.
[Originally published 11 March 2013] On Saturday 9th March the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation had a walking tour around Fordsburg looking at heritage buildings and talking of the dramatic history. At 3.30 pm the group reached the historic Fordsburg Square where a plaque was unveiled recording the final battle of the 1922 Strike which took place in the Square. Dino Badroodin, proprietor of The Train on the Square, and Flo Bird of the JHF unveiled the plaque as shown in the photograph above.