The Burgher Monument, Harrismith

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The Chevy pays a visit to the Burgher Monument

The Burgher monument was inaugurated on 8 November 1938.

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On Friday morning 1 March 1940, six months after the beginning of the Second World War, Harrismith awoke with the upsetting news that the Burgher Monument had been damaged: pieces of the kneeling burgher’s hat and rifle had been broken off. Angry people were already gathered around the Monument, more followed out of curiosity, wild threats were made and more than one fiery fist fight had to be stopped.

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Protesters on horseback

Although it could never be proved, persistent rumours had it that it was one of the two MacFadyen brothers who had got to the Monument with a piece of water pipe. They had been socialising in the Central Hotel on that Thursday evening before they were to depart to the front in North Africa the following morning. In die city hall, across the street from the hotel, a function was in full swing. Late that night they departed from the hotel, tipsy and upset with the Afrikaners’ apparent disapproval of the war in which they, as allies, were to place their lives at risk. Lively dance music from the city hall lured them to see what was going on. When they reached the Burgher Monument in front of the city hall, one brother froze, refusing to walk under the Boers’ granite arch. In the heat of the moment he grabbed a nearby piece of water pipe, and with his brother’s help, climbed onto the top of the arch. He aimed a massive blow at the burgher’s head, which he missed, but smashed off a piece of the wide-rimmed hat as well as the barrel of the mauser.

The leadership of the English-speaking community of Harrismith was most upset and immediately began collecting funds to repair the damage. Crankshaw Brothers, the original constructor of the Monument, repaired the barrel free of charge.

One would have thought that this would be the end of the matter. Not so! There was great disagreement about the fortune of the Monument between the followers of the two political parties of that time: The South African Party (SAP), the ruling party of General Jan Smuts, and the National Party (NP). While the SAP was quite satisfied that the Monument be repaired, the NP totally disagreed.

The neatly-repaired barrel was broken off again and hidden by members of the Ossewa Brandwag (OB), an organisation working in close co-operation with the NP. It was decided to make a political martyr of the statue: if would be left incomplete as a remembrance of injustice. The broken-off pieces of the statue were hidden, in great secrecy, in a loose sandstone brick in a wall on a farm in the district.

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The new marble plaque

A new marble plaque was made with an inscription in Afrikaans, stating that the Burgher Monument had been violated on the morning of 1 March 1940 by the enemies of the Boer nation. Its inauguration was accompanied by great ceremony and political fanfare. The guest speaker was Mr. JC van Rooy, chairman of the Afrikaner Broederbond. Advocate Blackie Swart, a future state president, was also a speaker at the ceremony.

As a compromise between the two Afrikaner camps, it was decided to place the Monument in the hands of the Voortrekker Commando of Harrismith. A document was compiled, signed and the necessary stamps applied in order to make it official.

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The broken-off pieces of the statue were put into safekeeping by the firm Cloete and Neveling Attorneys, where it remains to this day.

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The broken of barrel

I think we have the most interesting monument in the country! By far!

Thanks to Leon Strachan and Jeannie Wasserman Cook for the information.

For more information we suggest that you read Leon Strachan’s book

Krygers en Skietpiete

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

Grandfather of Aviation and a caravan

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John Weston was a South African aeronautical engineer, pioneer aviator, farmer and soldier. He travelled in a motor caravan that he designed and built himself with the help of his family.

Weston was born on 17 June 1873, in an ox wagon at Fort Marshall, South of Vryheid, Kwa-ZuluNatal.  He was married to Elizabeth Maria Jacoba Weston (nee Roux) a direct descendent of Adam Tas. The couple had three children, Anna, Kathleen and Max.

Known as the THE “GRANDFATHER OF AVIATION IN SOUTH AFRICA

John Weston, a civil engineer, began the construction of his own aeroplane in 1907 at Brandfort, in the Free State. This was the first South African built aeroplane. He lacked an engine with enough power so he dismantled the aircraft and shipped it to France. In France he fitted a Gnome rotary engine (50hp) and flew it successfully (in France) in 1910. On 16 June 1911 John made the first flight in Kimberley establishing a South African non-stop flight record of eight-and-a-half minutes in his Weston-Farman biplane.

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On his return to South Africa in 1933, Weston bought a farm in the Bergville district, near the Sterkfontein dam.

At the outbreak of World War I (1914-1918) Weston was appointed ground officer in charge of landing grounds in South West Africa and prepared an airfield with hangars and workshops at Walvisbay. For services rendered to the Greek Ministry of Marine he was made an honorary vice-admiral in the Royal Hellenic Navy.

In 1918, John Weston who is often glorified by the title of admiral, took his family on an amazing adventure in this motorhome. From about 1920 for 12 years, he and his family travelled with a motor caravan.

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 It doesn’t look like much, from the outside. And, if the truth be told, the interior is enough to give anyone claustrophobia. Yet, remarkably, this ingenious camper van once travelled the world − the ‘seven-by-fourteen-foot mansion’ ferrying the pioneering Weston family on the kinds of far-flung adventures many of us can only dream about. Even the girls are handy mechanics. The result has been a neat and compact arrangement of luggage, folding bed, ext, all of which can be removed from the chassis proper with the minimum trouble in 10 minutes.

The ‘Weston caravan’, as it’s called, is an extraordinary example of our forefathers’ tenacity and ingenuity, and can be found in the museum of the picturesque little town of Winterton, KwaZulu-Natal.

The ‘motorised caravan’ took him and his family on various journeys, including a 15-month Trans-African trip: an odyssey fraught with challenges and tribulations. They had run-ins with elephants, occasionally had to float their vehicle across rivers on logs, and on several occasions, ‘entire villages of more than a hundred natives’ had to dig them out of mud and thick sand, and pull them up river banks. And, in those days, there were no fuel stations dotted along the route; and there was no easy access to water or spares shops.

After fifteen months spent in caravanning from Cape Town to Londen. During the caravanning trip they had suffered misfortunes in the Southern Sudan when the rains broke later than usual. Weston broke a bone in his foot and the two daughters were laid up with injuries.

On the family’s caravan trip Weston used to fly the South African blue ensign from a long bamboo pole on the sides of his “South-Afrika” as he called the caravan conversion of his Commer truk, the following inscription was painted:

“Our mansion: seven by fourteen feet

Our field: the whole world

Our family: mankind”

 

On Friday night 21 July 1950 Weston and his wife (70) were in the dining-room of the family house of “Admiralty Estate” when they were attacked by three masked men. Mrs Weston regained unconscious three days late in the Harrismith hospital. John at the age of 78 on  24 July 1950 went on his last mission. It was his wish that his funeral should be quiet and simple. His body was cremated and no last word spoken.              Lily recovered from the attack although certain permanent injuries persisted until she passed away on 14th April 1967 at the age of  91.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra

Book launch and a corma recipe

I’d always been a sunshine lover. Rainy weather made me unmotivated. This time of the year I find myself to love the cold and the beauty of Winter. Saturday was a special day and during the book – #Bergburgers launch we serve Corma Chicken. Corma is a fragrant Indian dish – the king of curries.

DSC_0067DSC_0058Sharing our recipe with you.
12 chicken thighs fresh and organic grown.
Salt and pepper to season the chicken pieces well.
Olive oil and butter to drown your chicken in.
Place the chicken in an oven proof dish
Use the oil and butter to fry one chopped onion, red pepper, yellow pepper and green pepper
Add the fried onion and peppers over the chicken.
Mix 8 crushed Cardamom pods, 25ml Masala, 20ml ground Cumin, 20ml Mustard seeds, 4 garlic cloves coarsely chopped, 2.5cm of fresh ginger – peeled and chopped.
50g almond flakes, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, cayenne pepper to your taste
Place in a blender and blend.
Add to the chicken pieces
Add 250 ml Greek yoghurt to the pan and bake for 40 min in the oven.
Remove from oven and add
50g sultanas, 50g almond flakes, 250g of mushrooms and 150ml cream to the dish.
Bake another 15min.
Dish with fresh baked bread or rice.

korma-recipe

Enjoy your corma and let us know how you have used our recipe.

Till next time

Hennie & Sandra