• 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 who will raise the boom; please wait for him
  • FEATURE: Something different this month; we will be introducing the person who has successfully achieved this year’s Killie Campbell Bursary, who will tell us a little about her proposed dissertation; we will, as well, be asking Karthi Gopolan, last year’s bursary winner, to tell us about the progress he is making towards his Ph.D. Then one of our members, Graham Hammond, will speak on ‘Politics in the 1950’s up to the referendum of 1961’


A successful AGM was held at the Royal Natal Yacht Club. The election of office bearers went off smoothly and the following office bearers were elected:

  • President: Naureen Craig
  • Chairman: Ian Smith
  • Treasurer: Graham Hammond
  • Secretary: Jayne Moir
  • Committee members: Dr John Cooke, Prof. Franco Frescuro, Kathrine Fenton-May, Dr Mikhail Peppas. We are delighted to welcome Mr Robin Ralfe on to the committee

The lunch was enjoyed by all; the Speaker was Prof Donal McCracken, speaking on his new book ‘Teddy Luther’s War’- Luther’s diary edited, plus a commentary, by Donal. He spoke of the ‘problems’ of getting hold of the diary and he spoke not only of Luther but also, in his inimitable, humorous and easy-going style shared his wide-ranging knowledge with us.

After Prof McCracken’s talk there was the ‘unveiling’ and launch of “DURBAN Once upon a time” by Franco Frescura and Barbara Maude-Stone. From the advertising ‘blurb’:

” Durban Once upon a Time is an exploration, on a number of levels, of Durban during the post-colonial era. It is a collection of romantic images from a time gone by which, together with the memories of a number of Durban’s early residents, paints a picture of when life was conducted at a more leisurely pace. ************** Or, if you choose, it begins to explain why early Durban developed close to The Point, how the lower part of West and Pine Streets remained, for many years, “the preferred habitat of several species of waterfowl”, or why the Borough of Durban, in its pioneering years, was perpetually bankrupt.”

At the public launch at Ike’s Farook Khan was a speaker and he has said, “What a marvellous adventure this is for any who launch themselves into a magical journey and want to relive, from page to page, the growth and development of this wonderful city of Durban”. There will be another launch at Adam’s book shop in Musgrave Centre on the 4th Dec. A book worth having.


Ernest William Luther must have been a young man looking for adventure! He was born in Halberstadt in Germany in 1879 and sailed, with his mother, from Hamburg to New York in 1890. Returning to Europe in 1897 it seems he joined– on the losing side! – ‘the Greek Legion of Foreign Volunteers in the Greco-Turkish war’ –a war primarily over Crete. Back in New York City Luther, known as ‘Teddy’, joined the New York Volunteers, a regiment raised because of the Spanish-American War, which ended in 1898. Discharged in 1899, Teddy Luther subsequently travelled to South Africa and, almost by chance joined an Irish Commando, fighting against the British. Wounded in action and captured he died in a military hospital in Machadodorp in 1900. A German/American fighting with the Irish in the Anglo-Boer War!
It is 150 years ago that Abraham Lincoln gave his speech [several months after the Battle of Gettysburg] and “sought to heal a nation’s wounds by defining what a nation should be,” when, although politically risky at that time, he reiterated the principles of human equality – with “a new birth of freedom,” that would bring true parity to all of its citizens

Also in December but more recently, 124 years ago, Sydney Harold Skaife (‘Stacey’) was born in London, England and came to Cape Town in 1913 to teach biology at the Rondebosch Boys High School. Sometime later he moved to the Cedara College of Agriculture in Natal; he became an eminent South African entomologist and naturalist. In 1929 he established the Wild Life Protection and Conservation Society (now called WESSA), largely as a result of his concern at the widespread destruction of game in Zululand as part of the tsetse fly control campaign. In his capacity as chairman, he helped to establish the Addo Elephant Reserve. The original section of the park was founded in 1931, in order to provide a sanctuary for the eleven remaining elephants in the area. The park has proved to be very successful and currently houses about 500 elephants and a large number of other mammals as well as the largest remaining population of the flightless dung beetle (Circellium bacchus) which is why there are signs, in the Park, “Dung Beetles Have Right of Way”; this is an endangered species of dung beetle which only lives in this one area in South Africa. Therefore, in this Park it is actually illegal to run over dung beetles and even elephant dung because there might be beetles in it, so one sees cars driving around piles of elephant dung throughout the Park. There are about 35,000 species of dung beetles around the world; because these beetles move and bury dung they move nutrients around which is important for the ecosystems. Addo Park has expanded and it now contains five of South Africa’s seven major vegetation zones (biomes) and is home to Africa’s “Big 7” (elephant, rhinoceros, lion, buffalo, leopard, whale and great white shark) in their natural habitat. The expansion means that not only the Big 7 but the Park also includes Bird Island, home to the world’s largest breeding colony of gannets and the second largest breeding colony of African penguins.

If you intend paying at the December meeting the Treasurer, Graham, has asked that the correct amount be tendered as he does not have change. Thank you to all who have already paid.

Emphasis on variety will be the theme at the December meeting and I hope to see you there – the last meeting of the year so perhaps mince pies will add a festive touch?

Naureen Craig 23rd November 2013

Newsletter December 2013