A wonderful festive atmosphere was the spirit of the day. Everyone was talking and walking around the sport field of Kameel Laerskool. The mothers were feeding the crowds. People were meeting old friends from far away at the annual Kameel 250 Rally.
You would ask Kameel. Yes, Kameel and our village has nothing to do with camels.
The Kameel 250 Rally brought participants from all over South Africa to be part of this festive day. A record of 46 entries were part of the Kalahari race.
Our village is known for the railway line that was built in 1894 as part of the Cape to Cairo project. The railway line was built on my Great Grand-father, Alfred Ernest Fincham’s farm – Kameelbult.
A little more about Alfred Ernest. He was born in the year 1869 at The Grange in the Hopetown District and is a son of the late John Thornton Fincham, farmer and general merchant of the district. In 1870 he gave up the business in those parts and proceeding northwards to Vryburg. Bechuanaland where he assisted in establishing the firm of Fincham and Sons. He sold out his interest to take up farming in the Mafeking District, by purchasing a block of farms of 9000 morgens at Ramathlabama. Alfred was one of the defenders in the siege of Mafeking, belonging to the Town Guard, manning De Kock’s Corner Fort through the Siege of Mafeking. When it was raised he returned to farm life, giving attention to raising both large an small stock. He married the Elizabeth Ellen West and they had four children. Louisa Elizabeth, Mary Amelia, Ada Ethel and Victor Baden (my Grandfather)
The foot-and-mouth disease took its toll amongst the cattle and the family then moved to the farm in the Stella district. When they arrived at the farm Louise commented that there was a Lonely Hill. The house and piece of land is still known as Lonely Hill.
This piece of land is right next to the Stella Salt Pans and over the years David Livingston and Robert Moffat visited the area. H Anderson Bryden wrote in his book Gun and Camera in South Africa about his visits to the Finchams
The road between lies across a dead flat, unbroken tree or bush, and is inexpressibly wearisome. The telegraph posts, which follow the road between Vryburg and Setlagoli, rather add to than detract from the monotony. This fifty mile stretch to Setlagoli, dull, fiat, and uninteresting as it is, especially if you follow the post road and do not call at Fincham’s, is to my mind one of the most trying in British Bechuanaland . I have ridden it several times alone, and I have noticed at such times, that the utter lack of relief over this deadly bit of veldt seemed to impress itself even upon one’s horse.
Salt was mined and transported via donkey wagons to Kameel railway line. Later on, a wooden building was erected and the everyday running of Kameel Railway Station came into being.
Victor married to Hester Cecilia Guache and they raised three children namely Alfred Ernest, Gerald Cecil (my father) and Jean Dolores.
My Great-grandfather passed away on 15 Jul 1937 and was buried in the Mafeking cemetery. Victor and Hester then moved the Kameelbult.
They saw the need for education for their own children and for the children of the farming community. The Kameel Laerskool opened its doors in 1934 in a room in my grandparents house. My granny – Hester was very involved with the day to day issues of the school. My parents and we all attended the farm school. All the kids of family and friends also attended the farm school. Growth was evident and my grandfather built a stone school which was later demolished. He then built a two-class room school building and till today it is fondly remembered as the Witskool due to the fact that since I can remember it was painted white. https://deoudehuizeyard.com/2018/01/17/a-farm-school-in-kameel
Later years the school building was renewed and the school that hosted the Kameel 250 Rally was built. The sport fields are changed into the starting point and pit-stops for the competitors.
My dad, Gerald was a keen spectator of all kinds of sport. When my two younger brothers, Cecil and Mike was old enough they all got into the Off-road racing. An old farm bakkie was transformed into a racing machine. ith now sponsorship and no fancy engines they competed in every race. Dad and Pajapan would be the backup crew and my Mon would follow in a car. This was the beginning of holidays next to off-road tracks for the two. Mom would fondly remember all the funny incidents.
Kameel has also delivered some NR and National Champions over the years in the form of Hein Moolman, Cecil Fincham, Wikus van Deventer and most recently, Victor Fincham. Victor is my cousin.
In the words of Victor : Well to be honest it started while I was still wearing nappies. I basically grew up next to the track. My uncle, Cecil Fincham Snr, (is a NRCCC Champion ) started racing the the late 80’s, and him and my Grandfather use to take me to all the races and that is where I fell in love with racing and the mystique and adventure surrounding it. I had done thousands of races in my head and with my bicycle in the back yard growing up and finally got my chance in 2013 and the rest as they say is history…..
Till next time