Books

Hermanus History Society Library.

The library holdings comprise donations from authors and editors of material, donations from members, and purchases made by the Committee relating to the work of the Society.

A list of the books and other documents presently in the library can be made available and may be loaned by members

The Chairperson, Angela Heslop, has agreed to act as Librarian and store the collection at her home. For the remainder of this year she will be available to issue and receive material on Monday mornings, provided you contact her first. Her contact details are: landline: 028 312 1663; cell: 072 609 8655;

email: aheslop@hermanus.co.za

In a Time of Plague:
Memories of the‘Spanish’ Flu Epidemicof 1918 in South Africa

This is a timely, significant, moving and often absorbing compilation of testimonies, letters and memories of one of the most important events in South African (SA) history; yet, paradoxically, one that has been largely forgotten: the ‘great’ or ‘Spanish’ influenza epidemic of 1918 - 1919. This virulent infectious disease visited the region in waves. The first – its impact relatively muted – via Durban, affected people in the then Natal hinterland, followed by the Witwatersrand region in September 1918. A few weeks later, the second, far deadlier mutation of the virus struck. Over 6 weeks it scythed through the Cape, the then Orange Free State, and the Ciskei and Transkei, and indeed across the country, as far north as Messina. A third, milder wave occurred in August 1919.

Many readers will know that the global pandemic resulted in ~50 million deaths (3 - 4% of the total population). Its lethal impact on SA is not as widely appreciated, with ~300 000 - 350 000 people perishing – most of them between 18 and 40 years of age – during ‘black October’. Losing ~5% of its people, SA was ‘… probably the fourth worst-hit state in the world after Western Samoa (22%), India (6.2%) and Gambia (5.7%) …’. The social and economic consequences for the country were profound.

After a succinct introduction, there are extracts from 127 letters and interviews from survivors and family members collated in the 1970s and 1980s. These are supported by a number of illustrations. The epidemic had a terrible toll, leaving behind ‘a generation’ of flu orphans, widows and widowers, as well as a legacy in national public health legislation whose implementation by no means benefited the majority.

means benefited the majority. Representing as broad a cross-section of South Africans, black and white, as it was possible to muster, this is a unique contribution to our history, giving glimpses into medical beliefs and practices of the time, and of the turns towards – and away from – religious healers and rituals in times of crisis. Evident too is the persistence of poverty and hunger in facilitating the work of pathogens in whichever age.

A sombre, yet deeply humane, testimony of the personal and social trauma of the epidemic and its impact in shaping 20th cen - tury SA, this book gives us much to think about as citizens of a globalised world where, it is widely predicted, a new, equally disastrous, plague of illness is likely to emerge within the foreseeable future.

Julie Parle School of Social Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa parlej@ukzn.ac.za

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The Cape Odyssey 103

Featuring Woodstock
South Africa's Earliest Suburb

The Cape Odyssey 103 - the third book to be published in the new Cape Odyssey soft-cover series - embraces articles from the Woodstock Whisperer (2003 - 2007) together with new material and pictorials.

Woodstock, Cape Town's and South Africa's first real suburb, has a treasure house of historic stories and events. Treaty Park in Woodstock is the spot where, in 1806, the history of South Africa changed forever. One of the bravest sea rescues of maritime history took place from Woodstock Beach.

The volume captures for posterity articles that relate to this wonderfully colourful suburb.

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The Forgotten Front

The significance of confrontations along the southern front during the Anglo-Boer War has inclined to be under-reported and hence strategically under-emphasised. This illustrated course undertakes to facilitate recollective justice to a ‘forgotten front’, particularly by means of the untold stories of the local people and common soldiers. The unmediated experiences of previously voiceless people during turmoil in a Karoo community are brought sharply into focus – though projected of necessity against the ravages and casualties of war. Because of battles elsewhere military chroniclers, even the usually punctilious British recorders, ignored or glossed over this phase and front of the war. The Anglo-Boer War, now more accurately referred to as the South African War, was neither “a gentleman’s war” or “a white man’s war” (references in earlier writings). In the region in question the descendants of the earliest inhabitants became equally embroiled in the conflict – as did brown and black South Africans. The role of women, too, was underacknowledged. Though enmity and depredation often prevailed, these lectures bring to the fore the human and humane, and even the humorous side of the adversaries.

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Rogues to Riches

How did the influence of Simon van der Stel impact on the spectacular fortunes of Olof Bergh? Was it possible that the spoils of buried treasure plundered from a Portuguese shipwreck on secret instructions from the Governor finally enabled the old soldier to succeed Simon van der Stel as owner of Groot Constantia, the Cape's most precious home?

Marius Diemont, following on his book, the Strandveld - Africa's Foot of Isolation, about the Cape's southernmost coastal sector, delves into the fascinating history of Olof Bergh, one of the Cape's most colourful pioneers of the 17th and 18th centuries.

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The Strandveld

The Strandveld, not to be confused with the West Coast's Sandveldg is generally accepted to be the coastal region from Cape Infanta at the mouth of the Breede River the mouth of the Klein River, near Hermanus. Its eastern sector} through part of which the spectacular Whale Trail meanders, is a nature and marine re- serve controlled by Cape Nature Conservation.

From the west of Koppie Alleen, where the Whale 'frail ends, almost as far as Arniston, some 30 km away, the coast and abutting land are owned by Armscor, for use as a missile testing range. From just beyond Arniston to near Struisbaai, 20km to the west, including the mouth of the Heuningnes River, a haven of tranquility, Cape Nature Conservation is again the custodian, as is the case for several other substantial Strandveld sectors all the way to Hermanus.

The principal towns and resorts of the Strandveld are Bredasdorp, Napier, Arniston, Struisbaai, Agulhas, Elim, Pearly Beach, Kleinbaai, Gansbaai, Die Kelders and Stanford.

The Strandveld is remote and largely unspoiled. Its history of pioneers and shipwrecks is fascinating and its people colourful. I have been privileged to have known much of that coast for more than 50 years and 1 have a deep attachment for its isolation and splendour,

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Life at the Cape over a hundred years ago

This fascinating book gives a day-to-day picture of life in Cape Town and its neighboring suburbs a century ago.

he Strandveld, not to be confused with the West Coast's Sandveldg is generally accepted to be the coastal region from Cape Infanta at the mouth of the Breede River the mouth of the Klein River, near Hermanus. Its eastern sector} through part of which the spectacular Whale Trail meanders, is a nature and marine re- serve controlled by Cape Nature Conservation.

From the west of Koppie Alleen, where the Whale 'frail ends, almost as far as Arniston, some 30 km away, the coast and abutting land are owned by Armscor, for use as a missile testing range. From just beyond Arniston to near Struisbaai, 20km to the west, including the mouth of the Heuningnes River, a haven of tranquility, Cape Nature Conservation is again the custodian, as is the case for several other substantial Strandveld sectors all the way to Hermanus.

The principal towns and resorts of the Strandveld are Bredasdorp, Napier, Arniston, Struisbaai, Agulhas, Elim, Pearly Beach, Kleinbaai, Gansbaai, Die Kelders and Stanford.

The Strandveld is remote and largely unspoiled. Its history of pioneers and shipwrecks is fascinating and its people colourful. I have been privileged to have known much of that coast for more than 50 years and I have a deep attachment for its isolation and splendour,

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