Blackened walls without their characteristic thatch roofs stood etched against the blue Cederberg sky to the right. The once beautiful old buildings, a stark reminder of what happens when nature runs riot. The restaurant which was something of a museum dating back to the mid 1800's is gone. The old shop and hall are gone. Row upon row of family homes stand empty and devoid of life.
On the sports fields tightly packed Nutec houses stand awkwardly modern in this old valley. Here residents have temporary shelter as the huge task of rebuilding the traditional homes begins. Miraculously the old Moravian church which dates to 1832 escaped the inferno, as did the little thatched post office next door. It's going to be a long, tough road to a full recovery.
We headed on up the steep Kouberg Pass and north towards the Biedouw Valley - a favourite flower spotting zone - and it was as if the display had waited patiently for our arrival. Millions of wild flowers had the photographers in our group eagerly on hands and knees capturing the raw beauty of the area. The weather was so perfect, we decided to have our lunch break right there.
On up the Hoek se Berg Pass - another steep pass which is partially concreted to aid traction - on on to join the tarred R364 where we discussed the Englishman's grave as well as Leipoldt's grave which is along the middle plateau of the Pakhuis Pass, itself which was originally constructed by our favourite roads engineer, Thomas Bain.
The long descent into the Olifants River valley and the pioneer town of Clanwilliam was a bit too busy for us as it was their weekend flower show. The little town was packed cheek to jowl with tourists, so we limited our sojourn there to a refuelling stop only.
There is something deeply satisfying about seeing a dam 100% full as was the case with the lovely Clanwilliam Dam with its deep blue waters being the play area of many bass fishermen and host to an annual bass fishing tournament.
(Next week we will cover the last part of this tour)
South African History - Chapter 20.
Formation of the Union of South Africa
Following the end of the 2nd Anglo-Boer War, High Commissioner Alfred Milner transferred his headquarters from Cape Town to Pretoria, the move symbolizing the centrality of the Transvaal to his mission of constructing a new order in South Africa. By the time Milner departed in 1905, his vision of a country politically dominated by English-speaking whites had failed. Schemes to flood the Transvaal with British settlers had yielded only a trickle, and, worse yet, compulsory anglicization of the education system had further intensified feelings of Boer nationalism.
Britain was now forced to accept the fact that English speakers would never constitute a majority in white South Africa. In 1907, the British granted limited self-government to both the Transvaal and the Orange Free State and, in subsequent elections, Boer parties swept to victory in both provinces. In the following year, the South African Party came to power in the Cape Colony. Reassured by the stated readiness of the Boer leaders to assist with the stabilisation of the mining industry, the British government encouraged negotiations amongst white representatives of the four self-governing colonies with the aim of establishing a single state.
Negotiations held in 1908 and 1909 produced a constitution that embodied three fundamental principles. South Africa would adopt a Westminster style of government and would become a unitary state in which political power would be won by a simple majority; the question of voting rights for blacks would be left up to each of the four self-governing colonies to decide for itself (the Cape and Natal based their franchise on a property-owning qualification; the Orange Free State and the Transvaal denied all blacks the vote); and both English and Dutch would be the official languages.
On 31 May 1910, exactly eight years after the end of the 2nd Anglo-Boer War, the Union of South Africa was officially recognised. Louis Botha was appointed as the first prime minister, and Jan Smuts became his deputy.
PODCAST: A discussion about our latest tour scheduled to be run from the 22nd to the 24th November. The Bedrogfontein-Zuurberg Tour. CLICK TO LISTEN.
PASS OF THE WEEK:
Hidden away amongst the leafy suburbs in Cape Town's Newlands and Constantia areas, is a busy, but beautiful suburban pass, which holds a host of sights and interesting points of interest.
* * * * * R H O D E S D R I V E * * * * *
New passes added this week:
Padkloof Pass - An interesting pass in the so called Green Kalahari.
Thought for the day: "We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have, if only we seek them with our eyes open" ~ Jawaharial Nehru