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Author Topic: Burchell's Travels by Bike, 2010  (Read 110814 times)
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« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2010, 06:32:45 PM »

TokTokkie, as usual, fascinating stuff!
You should compile your "expeditions" into a book!


I agree. I already have a collection on my blog: Tok-Tokkies Travels

These reports deserve to be read by a wider audience than just us muppets Smile and it's obviously getting more hits off Google on the blog than here.

A book would be great.
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« Reply #21 on: May 26, 2010, 07:35:52 AM »

shoe oom Tok tokkie
Dis nogal breedvoerige ride report die.
Ek wil soortgelykte een doen van George.  Was nogal een oggend by George museum en dit was ongelooflik om te sien die berge en die landmerke lyk dieselfde, al was dit 100 jaar gelede
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« Reply #22 on: May 26, 2010, 08:04:16 AM »

Excellent post TT.

An absorbing and authoritative read.

Thanks
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« Reply #23 on: May 26, 2010, 06:44:44 PM »

Hippo Hunt

Burchell was seriously messed around by the missionaries in Klaarwater.  I will summarise those events after describing the hippo hunting trip.

After being in Klaarwater almost a month Burchell left on a hippo hunting expedition to the confluence of the Gariep & Vaal rivers.  He wanted to lay in a stock of biltong for the onward trip (1:421). It took less than a month (1:476). His intention was to spend three months in Klaarwater of which six weeks remained after this trip.(1:475)

Setting off from Griekwastad towards the Vaal river.  I love these open under populated places.  My last year at school was on the tiny island of Guernsey followed by two years in England; that made me long for places like this – most of us only appreciate them when they are no longer an option.


Burchell went across that plain to hunt some hippo on the Vaal.  Here it is:


The view upstream from the bridge at Douglas.  This trip took me past a lot of our rivers & I now realise how much they appeal to me by the number of photos I took of them = every time I saw one.


I much prefer Douglas to Prieska although it too completely ignores the lovely river right there.  I went down to the confluence of the Gariep & Vaal on the south side (I had tried to do that from the north but the road is now locked).  In this panorama of the confluence the Vaal is on the right, the Gariep in the left foreground and the combined Gariep flowing away up the picture.  Burchell camped on the far (north) bank.


The old Orange upstream of the confluence was called Nu-Gariep coming in from my left.


The Ky-Gariep (Vaal) from my right (names 1:391):


The plain Gariep just below the confluence:


I always carry a bottle of wine with me & some food in case I have to stealth camp.  In Douglas I went to the Two Rivers bottle store where I selected, naturally, Confluence as it is a locally made blend (I prefer blended wines).  Because I was on a bike & the manager had a Yamaha R1 parked inside the shop & the wine was not listed in their computer he gave it me.  It was fine & I would buy it at a reasonable price.

Burchell’s wagon at the confluence.  He flew the Union flag every Sunday.  He is giving gifts (=tobacco usually) to a group of San (1:389)


Burchell’s men shot three hippos (1:409  1:418  1:427).  One floated across to the opposite bank & took a long time to get back, then the trees grew so tightly they could not easily haul it out of the river & it was in poor condition from being in the sun all day so they abandoned it.  They cut up the other two & dried the lean meat.  The really fatty bits had to be salted.  Some San from the other side came over & helped them get them out of the river & cut them up (1:415).  By custom they got the guts, bones & head (1:413). Each hippo was further upstream so although Burchell had established his camp right at the confluence he had to move up to load the meat ending up at present day Schmidtsdrif.

The hunting party had ended up with 10 wagons as the locals wanted to join in the action and also cut reeds for their houses (1:381 1:401).  Burchell issued some of them with gunpowder and shot on the condition that he received half the proceeds.  He was continually verneuked (1:438).  Burchell titles the pages describing this as ‘Dishonesty’ ‘Disappointed’ & ‘Covetousness’; he became highly disillusioned by the locals. A huge amount of the meat was eaten by the locals right there.

When his wagon was filled with dried meat they returned directly to Klaarwater (1:431).  The trip took 26 days (1:476) but he was now ready for the next leg.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2010, 06:53:33 PM by tok-tokkie » Logged
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« Reply #24 on: May 26, 2010, 06:48:35 PM »

Burchell’s engraving of the head of the female hippo.


I like this one by Daniell.


This is a Le Vaillant picture.  In fact most of his pictures were painted by other artists based on Le Vaillant’s descriptions & sketches.  This guy drew a pig pretending to be a kitten– literally.


Another Le Vaillant picture, this time a portrait.  A wonderful picture in my opinion.


The Vaal & Gariep are significant rivers but the San crossed them quite easily.  As Dicey notes the Gariep is probably the largest river on earth that had nothing more than a floating log as watercraft before the Europeans arrived (37).  Burchell watched them crossing from the far side and points out that they were nomadic so a canoe or other watercraft did not fit in with their lifestyle (1:415). Hippos they could manage and, luckily, crocodiles were never in the Gariep or Vaal.  It was a willow log with a branch poked into it which went under one armpit & over the shoulder. Daniell gives this picture.


But I like this one of Le Vaillant being ferried across the Olifants river.  Look at him, fully dressed with ostrich feathers around his hat being pulled across the river still wearing his shoes.  There is a little about Le Vaillant at the end of this post.


Here Le Vaillant excels.  Boat of the coastal Kaffirs (sic) must refer to the Xhosa as that is where he went – looks like they already had marine plywood & Le Vaillant was there in 1782.  In fact the first boat on the Gariep was 1834 by Andrew Smith right here at the confluence. (Dicey 89 though he states that Robert Gordon launched a boat at the mouth in 1779). I enjoy Le Vaillant’s work.


From the confluence back to Douglas and across the bridge to the northern side and along to Schmidtsdrif.  The Vaal from the bridge at Schmidtsdrif.


Next to the new bridge is the old bridge where you can see branches and stuff still on it from the last time the river flooded over it.


I went to have a good look at it but refrained from actually riding on it. Two of the locals were fishing there.


I then went to see the settlement where those fishermen came from.  


I showed pictures of the San hunters with arrows stuck into their hair.  Here is the story about this settlement taken from Dicey (page39)

Quote
I was amazed to discover, that very afternoon, that there are still San living near the confluence. .. Laurence asked Jakob about the army fatigues he was wearing. 'Ons is Boesmans van Schmidtsdrift… For the next hour they talked of the San of Schmidtsdrift, a tented village near the Vaal, fifty kilometres upstream of the confluence. In 1972 the !Xu and Khwe people were chased out of Angola into Namibia by the MPLA, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola. Three years later Angola gained its independence from Portugal and the colonial war became a civil war. South Africa took the side of Jonas Savimbi's UNITA against the communist-backed MPLA. Many of the ousted San enlisted with the South African Defence Force, serving as both trackers and combatants. A friend of mine had been a medic in the feared 201 Battalion. Their badge was a witborskraai or white-chested crow. Its black body signified the fighting-men, all San, and its chest the white core that commanded each platoon of thirty men — a commissioned officer, a two-stripe corporal and a medic. The MPLA were terrified of the San, who would sneak up on them and fight at close quarters. If a San soldier was killed, his friends would break ranks and pursue the killer, for weeks if need be. South Africa left the fray when the Berlin Wall came down. There were fears of reprisals against the fight¬ing San when SWAPO, an ally of the MPLA, won Namibia's first democratic elections. The San were given the option of moving to South Africa, and in 1990 some seven thousand members of the !Xu and Khwe communities arrived at Schmidtsdrift. They were promised houses within six months. Eleven years on and they are still, said Jakob, living in military tents.

I was struck by the irony of San people being brought to South Africa to secure their safety. Seen in the light of history, this borders on the surreal. Of all the blood-soaked episodes in South Africa's past, few rival the sys¬tematic and protracted extermination of the San as a people. They were seen as vermin by Boer and Baster, Xhosa and Khoi alike. Thousands of San were hunted down or, if they were lucky, enslaved:
That is why I wanted those pictures of the San warriors.  Think about the plight of that race.

Then back to Griekwastad.  This is the sort of bush that Burchell must have been going through 200 years ago.


It was not easy trekking through that country.

Now read this (1:482)
Quote
The whole waggon-load of meat which we brought to Klaarwater as a stock for our future journey, was totally eaten up in four days, although I had nobody but Philip to feed. It was not consumed by the crows, nor by the vultures, but by the Klaarwater Hottentots, who are by no means inferior to them in the power of smelling out meat, wherever it may be concealed. From an early hour in the morning, till late at night, my waggons were constantly visited by men, women, and children, whose only object was to eat. But, from the moment the last of the stock was gone, from that moment not one visitor more came near me. Yet still it was impossible to account for this rapid disappearing of the meat, without supposing that they came secretly and stole it by night, as there was nothing to pre¬vent them but their own sense of honesty ; nobody sleeping at the waggons but myself, and Philip remaining every night at the village to be in attendance on Gert. Nothing could be more vexatious than this loss, or, more correctly speaking, robbery, as provisions were not easily to be purchased, and a large supply not by any solicitations to be obtained from the inhabitants of this place.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2010, 09:25:54 PM by tok-tokkie » Logged
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« Reply #25 on: May 26, 2010, 06:50:35 PM »


Francois le Vaillant.

*Wiki*

Quote
This website provides an introduction to the flamboyant figure of François Le Vaillant (1753-1824). Hugely popular in his lifetime for his engaging and colourful travel accounts, Le Vaillant is best known today for his spectacular books of ornithology, but his reputation has always been controversial. His travel books, written after his return to France, are considerably fictionalised, and his bird books include conspicuous falsehoods and fabrications, but recent research has begun to rehabilitate his reputation.

Here you will find out about his life, his travels and his contribution to ornithology. The image gallery contains a small selection of images from his published works and from some surviving collections of water-colour paintings produced by him or under his guidance.

In 1782 he travelled along the southern coast to the Great Fish river and back along the Swartberg.  In 1783 he went up the west coast to the Gariep river.  This was 30 years before Burchell did his trek. His accounts of these journeys came out in 1790 and 1795 (delay due to the slight inconvenience of the French Revolution taking place).

Quote
Le Vaillant's travel books mingle adventure, anecdote and natural history, all told with great vividness and style. Le Vaillant is the hero of every episode and portrays himself as a Rousseauist man of feeling, sharing his emotions and opinions about everything he encounters. From a literary point of view, his travels are of interest for the intermingling of factual narrative and fictionalized episodes, and for his contribution to the myth of the noble savage. Despite the imaginative elements, his books are a valuable source for descriptions of indigenous peoples and the Dutch Cape colony, and his social commentary shows an early critical awareness of colonial problems.
(From the same source)

His work was badly reviewed by historians, geographers and ornithologists because they were expecting perfect accuracy but they found exaggeration and fabrication mixed up with really good work.  Le Vaillant was writing for the general public as well as the specialists.  If you publish in South African Journal of Botany you had better be terse and accurate but if you want to describe the same plants in Wild Things aimed at the general public you had better write an entirely new article.  I dismissed him as a fool based on the professional opinion but since reading the introduction to the recent Van Riebeeck Society reprint of his first book I now understand what he was trying to do and how exceedingly well he did it.
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« Reply #26 on: May 27, 2010, 04:09:28 PM »

Graaff-Reinet Trip

Burchell waited seven months in Cape Town before starting his travels largly on the advice of the Klaarwater missionaries.  Then it was almost nine months before Burchell could get away from Klaarwater.  They arrived Sept 1811.  He had to go down to Graaff-Reinet five months later to recruit staff, that took three months. It was some weeks after his return when he could get away finally.  When they arrived in Klaarwater the relationship between Burchell and the missionaries started to deteriorate. What was this all about?
 
Burchell says three men men would be enough as crew per wagon for local travel; 1 leader (person who walks at the front), 1 driver & 1 to look after the spare oxen (1:166).  He found soon after leaving Cape Town that his wagon was overloaded to such an extent that it required 14 oxen to draw it through loose sand instead of 10 (1:174) so he bought a second smaller reconditioned wagon in Tulbagh (1:184) which meant he needed double the staff and oxen. He travelled in convoy with two of the Klaarwater missionaries through the Karoo, Anderson & Kramer, who had been in Cape Town.  This was both for their party knowing the way across (and most importantly the watering places) and for mutual defence as it was San (Bushman) territory.  The San were in conflict with the trekboers both over occupation of the Karoo (particularly east of the Sak river) and for the wild game there.  This made the San hostile to anyone in their region.  Besides that there was a party of Xhosa who were in rebellion against their chiefs reportedly waiting to ambush them in the Kareeberg (1:185, 1:223, 1:227).  The missionaries’ party had extra Khoi & Griqua men who filled in for Burchell for the crossing but they would only be available as far as Klaarwater.  Burchell intended hiring people in Klaarwater for his onward travels.  When the whole party united (near Fraserburg) there were 97 people in 14 wagons (2 for Burchell, 4 for the missionaries & 8 for the Griquas returning to Klaarwater) (1:266).  At Celeryfontein they came across a party of five Xhosas (1:268) who ‘accosted us in an easy manly tone, and with manners perfectly free from servile timidity’ – they turned out to be the ones they had been warned against.  Burchell was always disinclined to believe the alarmist reports he was to get throughout his travels.

When they got to Klaarwater Burchell had only 3 men, Speelman & Philip from Cape Town & Gert from Groen Kloof (Mamre) (1:513).  He needed 6 more for his journey north.  His problems really arose due to an official party sent by the Governor in 1809 to go overland by an inland route to Mozambique had been killed after passing through Klaarwater where they had recruited two locals. (1:50, 1:232 1:498).  The missionaries did not want to lose any more of their flock or allow outsiders to influence them.

Burchell had quietly ascertained before they got to Klaarwater that his men were happy to go on a long trek with him as shown in this quote (1:330):

Quote
With respect to the long journey before us, none of the men were acquainted with my intentions; and I now thought it time to ascertain the degree of willingness with which they would enter into my plan. Without being directly informed of this, they were told that my object was to penetrate far into the interior of the country, and that we should, most probably, be a long time absent. To this none made the least objection; but, seemingly pleased at the idea of a rambling life, and in high spirits at finding themselves now in the midst of a kraal of people of their own nation, they declared that even a twelvemonth's journey would not exhaust either their patience or their strength. This declaration was most agree¬able and satisfactory, as I had calculated that it would be possible to reach the Portuguese settlements on the western coast, in nearly that time.

I distributed amongst them various useful articles, and assured them that whatever could be supplied for their comfort should always be freely given, as long as our stores lasted; and that they would never be put forward into hardships which I would not myself participate in. I thought it proper, while we were on such good terms with each other, to state, without reserve, that, although they might confidently depend on my never feeling dissatisfied with any of them, so long as he conducted himself to the best of his ability and judgment; yet, as it was indispensably necessary for the general safety, that each one should zealously do that part of the duty which had been allotted to him, that they might feel equally certain that I should not overlook any wilful neglect.

This mutual declaration created a perfect confidence on both sides; and there appeared to be established betwixt us, a correct understanding, and cordial good-will. To confirm and strengthen this, I permitted them, without restraint, to visit their new friends at the kraal during our stay.

I made that a long quote so that it is complete. Note that they were quite happy to accompany him wherever he was going even if it took a year (although he did not reveal that he intended going to what is now Angola).  He sums up the standing between himself & them in the last paragraph.  Now read what happened once they were in Klaarwater.

Burchell had the necessary men enlisted before they arrived in Klaarwater but they seemed to change their minds once there. The missionaries had actively (but clandestinely) prevented any of the locals from enlisting to accompany Burchell further (1:517  1:526).  He was thus stuck in Klaarwater unless he could make alternative arrangements.  Burchell arranged for Gert to go to the Roggeveld with a party about to leave then go by himself to Cape Town and recruit the necessary men & return to the Roggeveld for the return with the same party.  Anderson foiled this by lying to Burchell (1:527) saying they were only due to leave in another three weeks time (which would have not left enough time for Gert to get men in Cape Town & meet up for the return journey).  Burchell found out he had been lied to later and was still so disgusted by the missionary’s duplicity when he wrote the book that he could only record these events in a particularly dry and brief passage (1:528).

Burchell then came up with the idea of going himself to Graaff-Reinet to recruit staff.  Graaff-Reinet is much closer than Cape Town but no one had ever travelled there from Klaarwater.  He went to Anderson to tell him of his intention and ask for assistance in recruiting men for this journey.  Once more Anderson was duplicitous (1:531, 1:533 1:551) so that Burchell was forced to clandestinely go back to the next village, Kloof, where he managed to get a few helpers (1:542).  He had difficulty because most of the available men had left on the Cape Town trip which Anderson had lied about. However he did manage to get some men and returning to Klaarwater the missionaries did all they could to prevent him going (1:551).

Quote
The missionaries remained mere lookers-on to my preperations, but not silent ones.  They ceased not till the last moment to discourage me from the attempt, and Mr. Anderson seriously asked me to give him a written paper, in which it should be stated that they had used their utmost endeavours to dissuade me from so perilous an undertaking; so that in case of fatal termination, they might stand cleared from the imputation of having contributed to it by any encouragement or advice of theirs.

Burchell’s party of eight (2:139) went by riding oxen & taking pack oxen for their luggage though Burchell himself rode a horse.


This was a much quicker than going by wagon; he expected to travel 48km per day so it should take him 11 or 12 days each way (1:532).  In fact the trip took three months.  In Graaff-Reinet Burchell has an official letter from the Governor instructing the landdrost to assist him.  The landdrost had recently died and the acting landdrost wanted specific instructions from his distant superiors before he would help Burchell in any way.  Later the landdrost arranged for five Hottentots to work for him (2:154).  Burchell soon found out that the landdrost had given him the worst of the tronk Hottentors (2:158).  Burchell found out about five other tronk Hottentots who were suitable.  The landdrost prevaricated about allowing Burchell to have the ones he wanted (2:160).  In the end Burchell got one of his selection plus three of the landdrost’s  & later he picked up another one (2:166).  Eventually the one Burchell selected turns out to be a star & the others awful.

Burchell was the first colonist to travel from Klaarwater to Graaff-Reinet.  He had a compass so knew the direction to travel though they followed the Brak river. On this map the middle track is this trip, later on he went to Graaff-Reinet by wagon following the eastern tack.  You can also see the Hippo Hunt track.  The track to the north is the next posts about Litakun & what I call the Giraffe Trip.  Add navigator to Burchell's abilities.


On my bike trip I did not do this leg though I went to Graaff-Reinet when following the later part of Burchell’s travels.  They crossed the Gariep at a different place which I went looking for later as well as where they crossed the Sneeuberg.  Burchell shot two rhinos along the way. He presented the British Museum with seven rhino skins on his return *source* which included the white rhino he shot near Kuruman which was the first white rhino identified .

Quote
Just eighty years after having been "discovered" (near present-day Kuruman) and named by William Burchell in 1817, the white rhino had been hunted so excessively in South Africa and beyond, that just 30 individuals remained in a small corner of Zululand. After the establishment of the Umfolozi Game Reserve in 1897, however, its numbers slowly increased so that by the 1960s, surplus animals were translocated to other reserves so as to ensure the conservation of the species. The Natal Parks Board can rightly claim to have saved this great creature from extinction. Since 1960, over 3 000 white rhino have been released from Umfolozi-Hluhluwe into reserves such as Mkuze, Kruger, Pilanesberg, Phinda Private Game Reserve, Waterberg and Madikwe Safari Lodge. Many of these have subsequently sold rhino offspring to smaller sanctuaries.
*Source*



Daniell picture.


There is one quotation that I must include.  Burchell went in a horse drawn wagon after leaving Graaff-Reinet.  His observation (2:171).

Quote
Our road presented nothing remarkable; or rather, perhaps, the rapid travelling of a vehicle drawn by six horses in hand, left little time for making remarks of any kind. We flew past every object, and, hardly had I turned my eyes to any thing remarkable by the roadside, than it was already behind us. Such expedition was, indeed, a novelty to me, and very different from the rate to which I had been accustomed during the last ten months; but, as a traveller desirous of observing, the features and productions of a strange country, I abhorred galloping horses, and would have preferred sitting behind a team of my own oxen, whose steady pace seemed to have been measured exactly to suit an observer and admirer of nature.

I have a 650 Dakar but prefer the 200 TW for much the same reason (amoungst others).

Burchell’s difficulty in finding workers was no different to what any other employer experienced.  There was a shortage of available khoi labourers.  The Xhosa had not been subjugated and it was not possible to make a San labour.  As a consequence the Cape had to continually import slaves from Africa & India and the East Indies to meet its need for labour.  It also resulted in much resentment of the activities of missionaries as they provided shelter to khoi so they were not available as labour.

This is Speelman, the reliable man from Cape Town.  He was ex army and became the hunter who supplied the food once they left Klaarwater (2:238).


This is Juli the star from Graaf-Reinet.


« Last Edit: May 31, 2010, 09:37:08 PM by tok-tokkie » Logged
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« Reply #27 on: May 29, 2010, 04:09:03 PM »


Litakun

Anderson had predicted that Burchell and his party would be killed on the journey to Graaff-Reinet but instead of rejoicing at their safe return they ignored them as far as possible (2:223).  Burchell got out of there as fast as possible which was two weeks after getting back from Graaff-Reinet.  I didn’t care for the place either(2:238) so pressed on to Kuruman after doing the Hippo Hunt circuit. I followed minor gravel roads staying as close to Burchell’s route as possible up to Kuruman.


Parts of it were lovely.  Those are the Kuruman Hills.


On the other side of the hills on the right of this picture is Lohatla & Sishen.  The road changed to this lovely red colour due to the iron oxide (it had been even darker earlier).


Camped in the municipal campsite.  Next day I went & had a look at the famous eye.  Municipal strikes everywhere so I was fortunate that there was anyone to let me in.


There is a little waterfall seemingly keeping the eye full.  In fact it is deception; here is the plastic pipe feeding the waterfall.  I know from visiting many years ago that the actual spring is at the bottom of the pond & you could see the water bubbling up when I was there before.




There were many fish in the Eye at Kuruman including barbell.  This is Burchell’s drawing of a barbell.

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« Reply #28 on: May 29, 2010, 04:10:11 PM »

A little outside town is the Moffat Church complex.  The church.


The Moffat’s house.  The  Moffat Mission fell into ruin during Apartheid.  The Bantu Education Act & the Group Area Act resulted in schooling and worship ending there.  The teachers & pupils left as did the congregation so the buildings fell into ruin. They have since been restored.


I am not certain what this is but I particularly like it (probably the old school building).  Local stone used very neatly & nice proportions.


The Moffat church is 5km from the eye in Kuruman.  The water flows past in this stream which slowly peters out – Burchell mentions it.

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« Reply #29 on: May 29, 2010, 04:14:00 PM »

I headed north east to Dithakong. On map #2722 it is marked as being quite extensive & it is but it is just a scattering of huts and RDP style buildings.  When Burchell came here in 1812 it was the capital for the local tribe of Setswana named Bachapin by the colonists.  The countryside has now changed with bigger and more established trees than there were up to Griekwastad.


Picture right in the center of the marked settlement.  See what I mean about not being tightly developed?


Burchell wanted to spend time in Litakun to get to know the people and their customs.  He spent just less than one month there.

These are pictures of Latakun (Dithakong) from Burchell. Notice that each house is inside a lapa of woven branches.


This second one is a three page fold out picture.  You can see the detail and care that Burchell took with his pictures.  When Burchell arrived they were expected and welcomed (2:359).  He stayed, as intended, three weeks so that he could ‘learn the character and customs of the people’ (2:353).  Most of his staff were extremely nervous the entire time there (2:353) – remember they were the social dregs from Graaff-Reinet.  Burchell describes Litakun as a collection of little villages each centered on a chieftain (2:513) comprising about 5 000 people (2:514) spread over 2.5 km N-S x 3.2 km E-W (2:515).



Samuel Daniell had been to Litakun in 1801 (Burchell there in 1812) in the first party of Europeans to visit it, a party of 40 people coming to trade for cattle led by Dr. Sommerville & Mr. Truter.

Quote
Samuel Daniell (1775–1811) was a British artist on the P.J. Truter and William Somerville expedition of 1801-02 into the southern African interior.

Daniell arrived in the Cape on 9 December 1799. He was appointed by Lieut.-General Dundas, who became his patron and to whom the first volume of his book, African Scenery, was dedicated.

On this expedition, Daniell sketched the people and natural history that he found around the Orange (Gariep) River in what is now the Northern Cape.

On his return to England, with the assistance of his brother William and uncle Thomas Daniell, he used these sketches to produce thirty watercolours for his magnificent folio, African Scenery and Animals - one of the great plate books of the 19th century.
*Source*

 We have a copy of the Daniell book  and it was this one in particular that I wanted to try and find.  The commentary for the reprint of the Daniell book says that Litakun was in five different places – 1 minor and 3 major moves.  One of the minor moves took place between Daniell’s picture and Burchell’s picture. See Burchell V2P512 also for info about the town moves.


This is the picture in the town where the road crosses the Moshowing river.  Looking upstream:


Looking downstream.


This is obviously not what Daniell was looking at.  It could easily be in the Burchell pictures though.  As I was taking the pictures a friendly man stopped and asked why I was taking pictures.  I showed him the Daniell picture & said I was trying to find that place.  Emanuel (his name) did not recognise the places but was very interested in knowing that Dithakong had been written about.  I promised to send him a photostat of the relevant parts of the Burchell book & I had decent prints of the colour pictures made – the long fold out one on A5 paper.

 Emanuel.

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« Reply #30 on: May 29, 2010, 04:18:51 PM »

Since the Daniell site is somewhere nearby I went downstream as that looked most promising.

This?  Right shape but not nearly high enough.


Bigger view from the other side a little further downstream @ S27° 3’ 33.5”  E23° 54’ 6,5”.


Same place looking upstream.


I then went looking upstream.  The whole settlement is spread out; this is the sort of twee spoor I was riding on to get to the likely Daniell picture spots.


Start of the upstream sites.  There were seven pictures of the upstream sites but I have cut it down to three. This is a bit stony for the Daniell picture.  In the commentary to the picture they state that the river only runs for three months in the year.  Daniell was clearly there when the river was at its prime.


Further upstream.


I think this spot is the closest.  At S27° 6’  42.8”  E23° 55’ 10.9”


My track looking for the sites.


Here is a second Daniell view, similar to the previous setting but closer to what I found upstream.


There are two other Daniell pictures.  That is a big clay mielie storage silo.  Notice the umbrella like sunshade of ostrich feathers; also on the first Daniell picture and the next one.


Here is a picture of a woman making one of the mielie storage silos (2:520).  The women also built the houses entirely without any input from the men (2:455  2:515).  The men attended to the cattle and gathered in the mootsi (public enclosure) to chat about social and political matters (2:371  2:386  2:522).  The women attended to the fields also.


Daniell shows the roof extended past the walls and was supported by poles.  I saw a few huts like that but, unfortunately, only took one photo of a poor example.


Burchell has this plan and section view of a Buchapin hut.  On the outside is a wall of woven tree branches enclosing the ‘erf’, also to be seen in the Daniell pictures.  In the drawing the entrance into the front yard is at the bottom of the picture.  Burchell writes

Quote
Plate 9 is a plan, with a geometrical elevation, or rather section, of a bachapin dwelling. In order to show its structure, it is here represented as cut through-jar to the side of the door-way in the outer fence.  In the ground-plan, A is the veranda; b, the outer room; c, the inner, or central room; D, the storeroom; E, the corn-house; F,F corn-jars; G, the servants’ house; H, the fireplace; and I, the outer fence.

I have shown that Burchell was an excellent cartographer.  Here he displays his abilities as an architect and draughtsman. 


An engraving of a hut of one of the chieftans.  Burchell remarks that it was much more modest than many of the other huts at Litakun (2:521).  Status was earned by your social behaviour it seems and not by your outward appearance as is now the custom.  The yard enclosed by the reed fence had a public front section and a private rear section.  There was a screen wall inside the house so the interior was not visible from the outside.


An engraving of a ‘Bachapin’ hut.


I stated that the ‘Bachapin’ men spent a lot of time talking.  Burchell includes this engraving of himself at one such meeting.


The chief endlessly demanded, at such meetings, that Burchell trade a musket as the locals felt very threatened by their neighbouring clan who had recently obtained muskets (2:376).  This haggling and demanding continued until they obtained one by a ruse (2:405).
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« Reply #31 on: May 31, 2010, 02:29:41 PM »

Giraffe Trip

I was really looking for the site of the pictures of Litakun by Samuel Daniell.    When I had finished with the picture quest my plan was to head to the N14 (Johannesburg - Upington road)  where there were some self catering chalets according to T4A.  T4A was wrong as the place had closed years ago; my experience on this trip was that T4A information is hopelessly out of date.  Time and again during this 16 day trip it was wrong as in this example.  I had the latest T4A installed the day before I left.  For the Groot Karoo it only shows the biggest roads – even less than Garmin Streetmaps. The road to the N14 was pretty corrugated & my camera was taking a beating as I had become casual about the foam packing (unrelated story behind that) before this trip so I decided to carry on to Vryburg and stay there.  Then I could rejoin my intended route up to Heuningvlei further on where the road should be better (roads tend to be most corrugated where they are most used – around the bigger towns).  

The husband of the owner of the very nice Cosy Corner self catering place was Johan.  He is an engineer working for the North West roads department.  I did not ask what his position is but it is clearly quite senior.  I am a Capie who was travelling in Black Africa (part of the old Bophuthatswana); something I have precious little knowledge about.  I had decided before  leaving Cape Town that in Litakun I would see whether I felt safe to do the next stage around through Heuningvlei & down to Hotazel by myself.  In fact I felt completely unchallenged as I rode around Dithakong so that I was quite prepared to stealth camp alongside the road as there is masses of unoccupied territory.  However there is no petrol available in Dithakong that I saw (quite a big filling station that ceased trading some time ago-T4A wrong again) so the trip out to the N14 was required in any case.  When Johan knew what my intentions were he came and gave me lots of advice.  He is going to lead a group of quads all along the Moshaweng river (the one I had been photographing) from Dithakong to Severn.  Anyway he assured me that the road was fine, there is no petrol before Hotazel (Black Rock possibly?) and nowhere to stay or get much to eat or drink and that the people are not aggressive.  I had been a bit apprehensive about this unknown & unfamiliar territory but now all of that had been allayed.

I call this leg the Giraffe Trip because on Burchell’s map he labels one of his stops as Giraffe Station and has a note ‘First Camelopardalis’ as the extreme northern point..  Burchell’s volume 2 ends as he is about to set off.  His map shows where he went after leaving Ditakong and there are the McKay maps which show it on a 1940s road map.  From Vryburg I got onto the D311 gravel road then took the D3492 across to Heuningvlei.  Then some un-numbered road (in the 3 Mapsource maps but T4A does not show it at all) down to Hotazel.

The good gravel road on the northwards leg.  Johan calls it the Bona Bona road which means Bones.


At the end of this road is where Burchell marked the giraffes (camelopardalis).
We have now gone past the end of volume 2.  Volume 3 was intended but never came out.  750 of volume 1 were published; it came out in 1822 (that was 7 years after his return to Britain) (1:i11).  The second volume came out in 1824 but as the publisher had been disappointed by the sales of the first volume consequently only 500 of the second volume were printed (1:i14).  In the introduction to the 1967 facsimile reprint there is a detailed (& very informative) introduction.  They say that it is obvious but not certain that a third volume was intended even though they quote how Burchell ends volume 2 with (2:510):

Quote
The narrative of these travels having now proceeded as far as it was intended, the two following chapters, containing observations extracted principally from the subsequent, part of the journal, are added for the purpose of completing the work as an account on the inhabitants...

They seem to view the word journal as used above to refer to the diary Burchell kept.  So the word work would then refer to the published books.  I don’t agree with them because Burchell writes this in a footnote volume 2  page 326:

Quote
I may be allowed here to make the remark, although it belongs properly to a part of the journal not comprised in the present volume .....

Also there this footnote in volume 2 page 146:

Quote
A further account of Graaffreynet and its natural history, belongs more properly to a later period of my journal; for which it is therefore reserved.

They may wish to refrain from being certain but I am sure that a third volume was intended.  Burchell took so long in preparing his work for publication that he missed his market.  As pointed out in the introduction, it would have been ten years after the event when the third volume would have appeared and other later travellers had already issued their books by then.  Burchell took too long in preparing his books so missed the market for the third volume.  His note books (except one) have been lost.

Now the bush where the giraffe was hunted looks like this – pretty much the same as when Burchell was there?

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« Reply #32 on: May 31, 2010, 02:31:32 PM »

There are thus no more Burchell pictures to try to replicate.  Here are some by Francoise Le Vaillant who I introduced in the Hippo Hunt post.  He did not come up towards Heuningvlei but he did shoot a giraffe in the Richtersveld area; the stuffed skin was one of the first to be seen in Europe.  Giraffe were still very mysterious to Europeans in Burchell’s time.  Here are the Le Vaillant pictures.

A young giraffe.


A female.


A male.


Head of a giraffe.  The first three show his ability to do accurate pictures which are also artistic.  This one, I think, shows his artistic side particularly well. (Le Vaillant did not do these drawings; the practice was that he made sketches and professional artists made the pictures for publication.)


Skeleton of a giraffe.  This one shows his fantasy side.  It is anatomically wrong in so many details.  There was a public demand for something like this so he satisfied it (he had brought just the skin of a giraffe back to Europe).  This is typical of the work that earned him such a poor reputation.  In fact Le Vaillant had his artist copy a picture from an earlier book  (see page 116 of 1973 Library of Parliament Francois le Vaillant vol 2)


This is a particularly well known picture of his.  It was at the end of his first journey book as a teaser for the second book.  Imaginary trees and Le Vaillant dressed in the highest fashion with two pistols in his belt, the hunting gun in hand and ostrich feathers in his hat. To me it shows what a character he was.  It is fun.  The giraffe was never in the camp and it is disputed that he actually shot it.


You can judge from the number of pictures Le Vaillant produced how fascinated the Europeans were by giraffes and why Burchell so much wanted to see them. He presented the British Museum with 43 of the best of the 120 skins he brought back from this trip.  A German museum had offered to buy the skins but Burchell felt the patriotic thing was to donate the finest and rarest to the British Museum (1:383).  It included two giraffe skins.  Four years later only seven were stuffed and only five put on display.  Burchell was very annoyed by this.  A year later he went to the museum to look at the horns of a Hartbees he had given them and was mortified to find that an old packing case they had stuffed many of the skins into was now swarming with live moths and maggots and the skins rendered useless (2:337).
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« Reply #33 on: May 31, 2010, 02:35:35 PM »

The road running westwards to Heuningvlei.  As Johan had said, the roads were good. You could stealth camp anywhere along these roads.


I have written an ode in praise of windpumps.  The Cape is reputed to be windy but I have never seen a windpump blasted like this in the Cape yet saw a few north of the Gariep river.


Heuningvlei


Locals riding on it.  It was only just dry enough to ride on (this is a usual cart track in the dry season). Burchell took his wagon on there and camped.


So I went out there too.


Then you turn south for the long run down to Hotazel.  


I have wanted to see Hotazel since noticing it on a map in primary school.  When my grandmother explained the name I thought it was a naughty thing to have done & I was very surprised it had been allowed – it tickled my fancy. Here is the story behind the name as recounted by T.V.Bulpin Discovering Southern Africa page 303:

Quote
In 1915-17 a full-scale land survey of the area was undertaken by Dirk Roos and Hendrik Wessels. They were responsible for surveying and naming many of the farms: Wessels (named by Roos after his colleague) Mamathwane (bats), and the celebrated Hotazel. This farm on the Gamagara River was surveyed by Roos assisted by J W Waldeck. The day was blazing hot and in the camp that evening Roos practically collapsed. 'What a day, what a place! Hot as hell.' he exclaimed. 'That 's it', said Waldeck 'the perfect name!' So they called the farm Hotazel without realising that the ground beneath them was almost solid manganese.

Another place I had wanted to see from those days is Verneukpan.  Now my little TW has taken me to both.



The whole area around here is riddled with manganese and iron; the British had sent a geologist here as early as 1872.  Manganese mining started in 1925 and a whole succession of companies mined for it in many different places with varying success.  In the mid 1950s a geological survey was done by Leslie Boardman (he had been coming to the area since 1937).  Here is what Bulpin writes:

Quote
Using a magnetometer, Boardman conducted a careful geophysical search of the area near Black Rock. The instrument detected a great deposit of manganese below the sands on the farm Wessels. More deposits were found on the farms Smartt, Rissik, Goold and Alamathwane. What the instrument had detected was the greatest manganese deposit in the world.

S A Manganese bought Smartt. Boardman continued prospecting. Farmers were always com-ing to him with reports of manganese. A diviner from Lichtenberg, a Mr van Rensburg, was employed by the farms to find water and he reported seeing black rocks beneath the surface on farms such as Langdon and Hotazel. Almost unwillingly Boardman was induced to visit these farms. He was staggered at what he found on Hotazel. The magnetometer overshot its own scale! Only an ore body of unimaginable size could have had such an effect.

Hotazel is a company town (BHP Billiton) where I did not wish to stay so I went on to Kathu (though I still think of it as Sishen) where there is a municipal camping site.  It is called Khai-Appel.  In the Cape we have Kei-Apples (in fact I planted one on the hillside behind my house in memory of my mother).  Never heard of a Khai Appel & it is not in my Trees of Southern Africa but an interesting looking fruit, but not edible I was told.


The camping site was municipal; as was the one in Kuruman.  I now know to avoid them.  They cater for the wishes of the majority which seems to be stolen shower heads, broken and dirty lavatories, basins with missing taps, scruffy walls and no hot water.  They may be cheap but I am part of the minority that wishes for something better.  I camped twice after this but both were commercial and they were excellent.

Right in Kathu village is the best thorn tree veld that I saw anywhere.  


I suspect this is how it looked when Burchell was hunting giraffe.  Those are kameeldorings which used to have the scientific name Acacia giraffe but it had to be changed as it was found to have originally been called Acacia erioloba and the original name takes precedence.  In English the Afrikaans name has been mistranslated so it is named Camel Thorn instead of the correct Giraffe Thorn, so named because it is much liked by them.  From K.C. Palgrave Trees of Southern Africa:

Quote
The pods form an excellent fodder for stock: farmers say that animals pick them up as fast as they fall to the ground and that there is a noticeable increase in the milk-yield of cows that have eaten them.
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« Reply #34 on: May 31, 2010, 02:38:08 PM »

I went to have a look at Sishen.  This is the overburden dump though it could be mistaken as for natural hill.


I went to see the big retired Wabco dump truck.


The steel structure painted brown at the front of the Wabco dumper is the pantograph for drawing electricity from overhead cables just like electric trains.  The diesel engine drives a generator which powers the wheel motors while the truck is off the overhead cable but then it connects up to the overhead electric cables for the long climb out of the mine to the tip as electricity is cheaper than diesel for these machines.

One of my careers was as foreman in the tyre retreading industry.  My area was re-lugging of earthmover tyres.  These machines have 36x51  tyres. The largest I ever dealt with were 21x35 &  37.5x33.  Our autoclave and buffing machine could handle tyres up to 3,3m diameter so these tyres would have just fitted in.   To metricate those tyre sizes as they are all in inches whereas bike tyres are mixed  mm section x inch rim, in bike convention those sizes are 915x51 in the picture & 533x35  &  953x33 that I worked with.

Also this old rope shovel.


I went down to Postmasburg for a late breakfast. Burchell had now completed his Giraffe loop and was back on the track from Klaarwater to Litakun. Just outside the town is a hill with an ancient haematite quarry. Silver/grey flaky iron oxide crystals known as specularite was quarried, ground up, mixed with fat and worked into the hair.  Burchell gives this picture of the hill (he passed this way on his way up to Litakun). 


I found the hill no problem.


Hill is called Blinkklip. I walked up there and looked all over for the quarry but did not find it.  The joke is on me as now that I write this I read (2:255):

Quote
The entrance to the mine is in front, at the foot of the rock; but is not visible in this point of view.

He says the mine is 6m high by 9m deep – possibly I did not recognise it as being a mine. Antonia (wife) was here some years ago on an archaeological excursion and she has been to the quarry.  Bulpin says there are several similar places Logagena and Gatkoppies which are ‘riddled with excavations’ so possibly Antonia went to one of those.

Just to show you that I had a thorough look here is the picture from the top of the higher peak of the other outcrop and the surrounding countryside that Burchell had seen.   


Here is a picture of a Bachapin at Litakun.  The silver in his hair is the haematite which they called sibelo.  It was only found in this small area so they came here to dig it up and used it in trade with the neighbouring clans.  It was used over quite a wide area.


Another portrait from Litakun.  A girl about 12 years old.  Very pretty and also has sibilo in her hair (note the hair style).


Then through Griekwastad where I had a beer and down towards Douglas again.  Burchell’s giraffe trip is now over.  He then went back down to Graaff-Reinet (he previously went there by horse to recruit staff) and on to what is now Grahamstown
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« Reply #35 on: May 31, 2010, 06:52:31 PM »

Very interesting!

Quote

A diviner from Lichtenberg, a Mr van Rensburg, was employed by the farms to find water and he reported seeing black rocks beneath the surface on farms such as Langdon and Hotazel.


This was Siener van Rensburg?
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« Reply #36 on: May 31, 2010, 09:15:58 PM »

Not someone I know anything about.  Do tell.
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« Reply #37 on: May 31, 2010, 09:28:07 PM »

Siener van Rensburg was a boer "prophet" who accurately predicted things very far into the future. Even Chernobyl and Mandela and a black government. His visions also helped during the Boer war, saving countless lives even though he himself never carried a gun.

Seems he was right with what he saw in your report as well.

It's fascinating stuff, but be warned, if you read up about him be careful of the sources. The right wing likes to use his visions for propaganda purposes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siener_van_Rensburg
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« Reply #38 on: June 01, 2010, 12:12:13 PM »

Tok-tokkie I was doing some research for an upcoming Karoo trip and came across Burchell's name. Also, it's seems that Carel Kruger of Carelsgraf and his brother, Jacob, embezzled money and were fleeing prosecution by the colonial government since July 1783.

Here's the link if you're interested: http://www.carnarvon.co.za/History.htm
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« Reply #39 on: June 01, 2010, 03:38:44 PM »

Thanks I will check it out.  Embezzelers - have you read about Stephanos the Pole who declared himself a prophet?
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