• VENUE: KwaMUHLE MUSEUM Bram Fischer Road [Ordnance Road] Durban.
  • TIME: Meeting commences at 17h30; Refreshments will be served from 16h45.
  • PARKING: Off Bram Fischer/Ordnance road [next to the Museum]; security person is present
  • FEATURE: Our Speaker this month is ROBIN SMITH and his topic is NAVAL ACTION IN THE MEDITERRANEAN, AUGUST 1914 – the escape of the Goeben and the Breslau. That surely will be a very interesting story!


Mary de Haas was our Speaker in July; her topic, ‘‘Twenty Years of Human Rights: are we Progressing or Regressing?” As far as the Constitution is concerned, it seems the answer is ‘No’ primarily because of the increased secrecy. Although polarization has improved there are still ‘class’ divisions with the poor, predominantly black, at the bottom of the heap. Mary de Haas also touched on land claims mostly dealt with incompetently, but also involving corruption, nepotism and secrecy. She quoted the battle the Dunn Family has had to regain what is rightfully theirs. She asserted that the Freedom of the Press is crucial otherwise secrecy will become rampant, exacerbating the problem of patronage and lack of accountability. There was comment, too, about the silence of the Churches.


Apropos WW1 – the Royal Flying Corps [RFC] was formed in 1912 but the earliest records date from 1899 when the Royal Engineers Balloon Service was used during the Anglo-Boer War! Over 58 nationalities served in the RFC during WW1 – some of the men continued to serve in the RAF — men signing up as far from Britain as India, Brazil, Japan, Russia, Poland, Mexico, Romania and Germany. The first Indian to fly into combat was Hardutt Singh Malik. Hardutt was the only Indian aviator to survive the war, despite coming under significant attack and ending up with bullet wounds to his legs that required several months in hospital. After the war, Malik joined the Indian Civil Service, serving as the Indian ambassador to France, and following his retirement became India’s finest golf player, even with two German bullets still embedded in his leg!

This year, the month of August will count 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This phenomenon occurs only once every 823 years. Chinese people call it: ‘Pocketful of money!’ and is based on Chinese Feng Shui. The last time this happened was in 1191 and the next time will be in the year 2837. Hope you receive a ‘pocketful of money’!!

Because of China’s ‘closed door policy’ prior to 1861 no railways were considered until in 1876 when a 20 kilometre line was built from Shanghai to its outer port Wusong. The Natal Railway Company built the 3.2 kilometre line in 1860 from the Point to the Market Square in Durban. The engine, manufactured in Leeds, was appropriately named ‘Natal’.

The first World Population Day was marked on 11 July 1987; that day the United Nations estimated the world’s human population to have reached five billion. Today, there are over seven billion of us, with the most growth taking place in the world’s poorest countries. Forecasts state that, in Africa, human numbers could more than triple by the end of the century. The least developed countries, which are already struggling to lift their citizens out of poverty, are often the same countries which will bear the brunt of climate change. Expanding human populations make successfully dealing with these challenges even harder to achieve.

Robin Smith’s talk should be very interesting ……….. see you there?

Naureen Craig
28th July 2014

Newsletter August 2014