Hierdie is die LitNet-argief (2006–2012)
This is the LitNet archive (2006–2012)
Paul Murray - 2010-07-27
Figure 1. The Victoria Hotel, Cradock. This majestic hotel was built in 1840 and is one of the oldest of its kind in South Africa.
Mother and daughter team Lisa and Sandra Antrobus have created a traveller’s haven in Cradock. The Victoria Hotel, which boasts several dining rooms and well-appointed rooms in classic Victorian style in the hotel, not forgetting possibly the best known of all, the row of Tuishuise, is an absolute must for anyone passing through. Karoo hospitality and the wonderful dry air will lure the visitor.
The weekend of 2–4 July was no exception. These dates had been cast for the first ever Spirit of Olive Schreiner Festival organised at the hotel.
Figure 2. Olive Schreiner as a young woman.
It was an uplifting experience to participate in a festival where the organisers intended reviving the memory of Olive Schreiner. Special meals, speeches and visits were arranged to celebrate the great poetess and writer. The spirit of Olive Schreiner surely lives on in Cradock and the visitor could feel it almost as if the verse from Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” had become real:
Thy voice is on the rolling air;
Figure 3. The road sign to Cradock from Somerset East. The road over the Swaershoek Pass (R337) is a long and bumpy one, but as you reach the peak you see the town of Cradock neatly tucked into the Karoo countryside landscape.
Acclaimed South African writer Etienne van Heerden, one of several guest speakers at the Saturday evening function and dinner, spoke on the influence of Cradock and its landscape on his work. His youth novel, which is also his debut novel, Matoli (Perskor, 1978), as well as Kikoejoe (Tafelberg, 1996), recall his time as a young person growing up on his father’s farm along the Great Fish River. His consciousness of the political and socio-economic events of the 1970s and 1980s developed strongly, as is reflected in these works. Van Heerden enjoys returning to the place of his youth and the unique landscape of Cradock and environs.
Figure 10. From left: Darryl David who organised the Festival; author Etienne van Heerden; South African poet Stephen Gray; Tony Jackman, writer and playwright; and Paul Walters, professor of English, at the Saturday night celebratory dinner at the Victoria Hotel in Cradock.
Figure 11. Proprietor Sandra Antrobus, second from left, joins the team for a special photograph.
Figure 12. The house at 9 Cross Street, Cradock, once inhabited by Olive Schreiner, today curated by the National English Literary Museum (NELM) in Grahamstown. Olive Schreiner lived here with her siblings from 1868 to 1870. (Photograph by PL Murray)
Van die Schreiner-graf af, hoog teen die berg, kan mens oor die Visriviervallei uitkyk. Soos ’n groen rusper kruip die Groot Vis oor die valleibodem, met weerskante van die loop besproeiingslande, hier en daar ’n opstal met buitegeboue, en verderaan die semi-grasveld van die berghange. In die verte blink die son op die dorpsdakke van Cradock, die dorpie wat sy naam ontleen aan Sir John Cradock, die man wat van Gibraltar af ingevoer is om die stryd tussen die grensboere en die Xhosas aan die Oosgrens te beëindig.
In hierdie vallei het die grensboer-kommando’s, waaronder die voorsate van Kobus was, in die tyd van Sir John in konfrontasie gekom met die voorvaders van Matoli.
Sowat twee kilometer suid van die klipstapel wat Matoli se graf merk, is Kransplaas, ook genoem River View, waar Olive gewoon en gewerk het.The fare at the Festival was scrumptious. Every effort was made to serve rich Karoo food as was enjoyed at the table from the time of Olive Schreiner and her family. The rich Karoo food is still a hallmark of the place as it was then, and the Victoria Hotel and staff pulled out all the stops to recreate the historic occasion.
Figure 14. Sherry served on a cold Karoo evening at the gala dinner.
Figure 15. Venison Carpaccio with vinaigrette and fresh salad.
Figure 16. Venison pie served at the Saturday night gala dinner.
Recipe for venison pie
800 g venison steak
Figure 17. The Spirit of Olive Schreiner at our table.
Figure 18. Karoo gravy to accompany the fine fare.
Figure 19. Breads served at the breakfast for Sunday morning, freshly baked by the Victoria Hotel, to celebrate the Spirit of Olive Schreiner Festival. (Photograph by PL Murray)
Figure 21. Stewed fruit, to precede the rich English breakfast made from fresh Karoo produce.
Figure 22. Cradock commemorates several of its sons and daughters – Olive Schreiner is one; others are The Cradock Four: Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlauli. The Four were abducted while travelling from Port Elizabeth to Cradock in 1985 and assassinated by security police, and their bodies and their vehicle burnt on June 27, 1985. The Cradock Four Monument can be seen in the Municipal Park of Cradock.
The landscape of Cradock features strongly in certain of Etienne van Heerden’s novels. Kikoejoe is an example. It contains the harsh reality of deep political undertones. I ended my tour to Cradock by visiting the Matthew Goniwe Monument site of the memorial to the Cradock Four. The words of Olive Schreiner in From Man to Man came to mind, aptly chosen by acclaimed international South African writer Etienne van Heerden for the opening page of his first novel, Matoli, published in 1978:
Then among men
Figure 23. Olive Schreiner as a young lady.