Two hundred years ago, 28 sailing ships sailed to the Eastern Cape from Britain to establish an intensive agricultural farming community - 'an intention doomed from the start'.
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About the speaker: Emeritus Professor and Research Fellow, Department of History, University of South Africa and a member of the Pretoria Management Committee of the University of the 3rd Age. John has published widely in the field of Natal history concentrating on the African peasantry in colonial Natal. After tiring of peasants at the end of the 1990s, his main field of research has been recreating the history and identity of white English-speaking South Africans. He has published numerous journal articles and book chapters and is working on a book on the group, the writing of which alas is having a long gestation period. He also gives talks to various groups on topics, ranging from ancient Africa and medieval Europe to those on South Africa.
He lectured in the Department of History at the University of South Africa from 1973 until 2004 when he became Director of the School of Arts and Humanities in the College of Human Sciences. He was responsible for research in the College until retiring in 2008 and was then contracted to provide research assistance to lecturers in all the university’s colleges before finally retiring in 2015.
As a 6th-generation descendant of 1820 settlers, he is very conscious that his work on English-speakers has a strong autobiographical element and that as a historian there are traces of his own past and memories in his writing.
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