The 7th annual Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival took place 21 – 24 July. Lovers of literature and all things Karoo were treated to close encounters with well known authors and a chance to mingle with like-minded spirits. Here are some of the highlights Toby and I attended:
Karoo INKspiration was an introduction workshop on painting with ink, bleach and water, using the landscapes, textures and buildings of the Karoo as inspiration. Theresa Hardman is a P.E.based artist and architect with a special place in her heart for the Karoo and particularly Cradock. The workshop was thoroughly enjoyed by all!
Mike Hardwich – Vet and conservationist enthralled a captive audience with the trials and tribulations of his career as a country vet. He has worked with wild and domesticated animals for over 39 years. All of his enjoyable tales are documented in his 3 books and proceeds go towards ‘Dr Mike Hardwich Foundation’ – to help animals of the less fortunate. Find more info here.
Liz De Wet – Archivist at the Cory Library for Humanities research presented a collection of Lidbetter photographs. Catherine Knox is a textile artist with a particular passion for stitch and natural fibre. Her work can be seen at The Studio, Donkin Street, Bedford. Her creative touch and impressive stall was much appreciated by all, one of the Festival organizers. Browsing through second hand books for sale at bargain prices. We came home with far too many books and not enough weekend! “In this wild and tender place may we ever hear the sound of truth, in the whispering of stars. In the turning of windmills, in the silence of the veld” – Antony Osler.
Poetry, politics, mindfulness, laughter, tears, and honesty were the order of the day as this enigmatic and inspirational man wove the story of his Buddha and Zen wisdom. He gave an enraptured crowd a fascinating glimpse into his books and encounters with human kind whilst simultaneously imprinting his playfulness, appreciation, insight and perception.
Thanks to the sponsors of the festival, the National English Literacy museum and all the organizers for a spectacular event! From one festivity to the next…don’t miss our monthly Farmers Market in Cradock on Orange Grove. An exciting new addition are 4 beautiful donkeys…see you there!
The eccentric Dr Ingram Anderson was the spark that ignited and inspired the gathering of the Michau family. We met him in 2014 when he came to Cradock and visited us on Orange Grove in search of information about his ancestors (his mother was Michau). This culminated in a massive gathering of the clan two years later over two days. The organizers as below from left to right: Paul Cecil Michau, Dr Ingram Anderson, Toby Michau, Johan Michau, Mike Michau.
Mike Michau from Somerset East has spent the last 25 years of his life studying Michau ancestors and provided a wealth of family information and anecdotes. The family tree was put up for display, it wrapped around the entire conference room! Various speakers gave interesting talks and family members brought along memorabilia to share. The day was concluded with a banquet dinner at Victoria Manor Hotel. Many thanks to the Antrobus family and staff of Victoria Manor Hotel – the food was absolutely out of this world and the attention to detail was appreciated by all.
Sunday morning was spent exploring historical graves and visiting Doornhoek grave sites. The NG Moederkerk was also visited where a Michau ancestor donated the pulpit.
Sunday lunch was on Orange Grove in true Karoo style, half a kilo steaks and good times spent getting to know distant relatives. The venue was the shed which is home to Cradock’s monthly farmers market and long table lunch. A great weekend was had by all! There is a CD available for anyone wishing to obtain a copy. I have documented the weekend in photographs and historical memorabilia and old photos. Also included is historical Michau grave sites. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the best things about The Market is that we are able to share it with family. For the first one Toby’s sister was here from P.E. and for this one my parents came all the way from KZN, along with my son from P.E. It’s a lot of work but it’s such a great feeling to share all this with our family. Our intention with the Market is to create a platform for locals to sell their wares, to encourage people to buy local and also to attract visitors to our beautiful town. All proceeds from The Farmyard, Feed The Animals goes to Cradock Animal Shelter and sales of handmade shopping bags goes to Vukusebenze Homeless Shelter.
Below are my parents – Lyn and Graham Wright, enjoying the scenery and coffee on the mountains on the farm. We are so grateful for the support of the local community and for the privilege of being able to give back to a town we also lately love living in.
The evening kicked off with Pomegranate Mojitos at the windmill.
The starter was Venison Carpaccio – a combination of Mountain Reedbuck fillet and Fallowdeer sourced from the farm. This was accompanied by a Shiraz Peach chutney, Gruyere and Melba toast.
Mementos to take home.
The pigs and chickens had no problem munching the left overs!
Some husbands get nervous when their wives go to Woolies…Toby starts twitching when I mention I’m going past the shelter. Last time I came home with a bakkie load of things which would have included 2 piglets if they were for sale! Besides being a completely humbling experience I always pick up some gems there – we’ve been searching online for black Victorian tiles that are no longer made, to fix our kitchen..couldn’t believe it when I saw 4 crates of them there at my last visit. Then there’s the 30 liter glass jar that I’ve no idea what to do with but it was awesome (and only 10 bucks)…and the old wooden door frames I’m going to put mirrors in and sell at the Farmers Market. And a colour Laser printer for my new office 😃.
The saying goes that you can judge a town by the way it treats the less fortunate…that is very true. The vibe at the shelter is warm, upbeat and friendly…the people look genuinely happy to work there and Gussie is an incredible woman, the driving force and life of the place.
NGO and BEE compliant, Vukusebenze literally means “wake up and work” in Xhosa. It was established 7 years ago by Gussie Botha. Through community led workshops it was noted that there was a great need for a shelter for the large numbers of aged, disabled and jobless Cradock residents who went hungry.
The shelter was started with the generous purchase of its building by a local resident, Mr Stander. From its humble beginnings of one pot and a small gas stove, feeding 5 people on its first day, the shelter now feeds up to 120 people a day. On weekends the staff have a break and weekend groups are organized to prepare the meals. Schools such as St Andrews are regular volunteers. During school holidays this number increases as children who normally get their food from the school feeding schemes also come to Vukusebebze for meals. Gussie has recently started ‘Meals on Wheels’, a great initiative where companies sponsor meals for the aged that cannot get the shelter. R160 will sponsor one old age pensioners meals for a month. Currently they feed 20 old age pensioners.
The services they offer have expanded beyond meals to:
KITCHEN: Food distribution, making and selling of bread, cakes, scones, and curry bunnies
SECOND HAND SHOP: Clothes, blankets and other household items sold at exceptionally cheap prices and given to the poor for no cost.
LIBRARY: Sells magazines and books from public donations
COMPUTERS: 5 computers and provides training to underprivileged
NEEDLEWORK: they do repairs, make clothes and train ladies to do needlework and sewing. After completing the training the learners receive a sewing machine with which to start their own business.
WOODWORK: Restoration, training and selling garden furniture.
GARDEN: Produce their our own vegetables for meals provided
LAUNDRY PROJECT: Laundry service offered to the public and guesthouses, ironing press kindly donated by Die Tuishuise. This is very well supported by local businesses.
JOB CREATION: 14 staff members from all communities including people with disabilities. Initially they were all voluntary workers, but recently have been given a small weekly stipend
ACCOMODATION FACILTIES: 6 rooms (28 beds) were built by friends of Vukusebenza from the Netherlands. The bedding and towels were donated. After 7 years these sleeping facilities have become a big income generator. Some people do not have the means to pay, other such as church and other groups pay R30 per person per night and other individuals pay R50 per person per night. Cyclists and groups such as Nuogwaja make use of this accommodation every year.
Gussies philosophy on giving:
“Here we have a system where we say we have to work to eat. So all people who come to eat must have a ticket for a meal. This they get from people who sponsor a book at R50 for ten tickets where people beg for money or food they are given a ticket which they bring and hand in for a plate of food. These ticket books can be purchased from the ACVV and all the NG churches in Cradock. Others must pick up plastic or glass bottles which they hand in for food. We then sell it for an income recycling, simultaneously tidying up Cradock. We also use our discretion and at times will give food to someone who did not visit the shelter. We also have meals on wheels for pensioners who live alone with only old age grant. This is also sponsored by the public.”
This place is inspiring…pay them a visit and ask for a tour…I promise you will leave with a happy heart and a renewed faith in humanity.
If you would like to donate to this worthy cause, you can contact them here:
5 Cawood Street, Cradock, 5881
Contact Person – Mrs AJ Botha
048 8815 177
EDITED TO UPDATE: 19 March…
Im very sad to relay the passing of both Gussie and her husband within days of each other (completely unrelated incidents). I still vist the shelter on a weekly basis and am happy to report it is going stronger than ever and is in the most capable hands. The staff that worked with Gussie have carried on her vision – I am sure she is smiling down at them!