A historic walk around Graaff-Reinet

History buffs totally love Graaff-Reinet, what with it being the oldest town in the Eastern Cape (fourth oldest in South Africa) with about 220 listed historical buildings.  Best of all, you can see just about all the best ones on a relatively short walk around town.  And obviously, that is what we did otherwise I wouldn't be writing about it.  We parked our car in front of the Graaff-Reinet Tourism office, grabbed a map from the friendly staff in the…

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Celebrating Youth Day

Youth Day is celebrated in South Africa on 16 June.  It commemorates the Soweto uprising of 1976 which took place in response to multiple issues with the Bantu Education Act and the government edict in 1974 that Afrikaans be used as medium of instruction for certain subjects in black schools.  Police opened fire on the protesting students and it was then when photographer Sam Nzima took the iconic picture of the dying 12 year old Hector Pieterson being carried away…

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The Bethulie Concentration Camp cemetery – a sad part of our history

Bethulie in the southern Free State is one of those places not many people pass through as it's not really on any of the main thoroughfares going south (or north, depending how you look at it).  On my last trip up to Johannesburg I deviated off the normal route to see what this town on the banks of the Orange River is all about.  One of the things I found out was that Bethulie was the site of one of…

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Who was Louw Wepener and why does he have a monument in the Free State?

How are you going to explore, discover new places and see interesting things if you don't road trip and venture off the beaten track?  A little detour past Bethulie in the southern Free State while heading north had me cross the second longest bridge in South Africa, take a walk through the Bethulie Concentration Camp Cemetery and learn who Louw Wepener was.  To be honest, I probably would have totally missed the Louw Wepener Monument a few hundred meters off the…

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A historic water trough in Mowbray

I often wonder if people really realise how many historic places and objects there are around our cities and towns.  I'm not only referring to the big and well known historic attractions but rather to smaller ones many people probably drive past without even a second look.  One of these I discovered in the Cape Town suburb of Mowbray while on my way to a meeting.  I was following my GPS to a Geocache that was on my way and…

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Madiba gazing over Bloem

Naval Hill in Bloemfontein has always been a beacon in the Free State capitol and known for the magnificent views of the surrounding city.  In 2012 an eight meter tall bronze sculpture, made by the same sculptor as the one standing in Mandela Square in Sandton, was revealed.  Last year during the #MeetSouthAfrica bloggers trip before Indaba, the one group spent a night in Bloem and visited Naval Hill at sunset.  The pictures they posted were stunning.  I also got…

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The Settlers Family in Grahamstown

Grahamstown has two monuments to the 1820 British Settlers on top of Gun Fire Hill overlooking the town.  The most prominent is the Settlers Monument building, heart of the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, with its huge auditorium.  I prefer the second one a few hundred meters away from the building a lot more.  It depicts a British Settler family as they arrived on our shores.  When I look at it I can actually hear the little girl ask her mother…

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Remembering the Slagtersnek hangings

If you are flying along in a northerly direction through the Karoo Heartland on the N10, the main drag between Port Elizabeth and Cradock, do slow down a bit after you pass the first turnoff to Somerset East and keep a look out on the right hand side of the road for a cenotaph like monument.  Once spotted, do pull over and have a look as this is a very significant spot in the early history of the area.I'm not…

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Unusual monuments

At the end of August I took a road trip to Johannesburg and on my travels discovered two slightly unusual monuments.  Discovered by the way, as there were Geocaches hidden close to both. The first one was a monument just outside of Middelburg in the Eastern Cape.  The stone monument has a picture of a chair on it and the sign says "Stoel Monument" (Chair Monument).  So what is the story behind the Stoel Monument?  There's a long and a short so…

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