The Van Riebeeck Society for the Publication of
Southern African Historical Documents
Newsletter 49, March 2016
Farewell and Welcome
Unfortunately, both our longstanding treasurer, Piet Westra (33 years), and our administrator, Cora Ovens (9 years), have been forced to resign because of poor health. We took formal leave of them at our AGM in January, where each was presented with a voucher (not for a VRS volume!) as a mark of our deep gratitude for their years of devoted service to the Society. Usually, in such circumstances, a wish of easeful repose in retirement would be appropriate, but, knowing their up-and-doing personalities, such tranquillity would be out of character. Instead, we wish them years of reduced (but no less enjoyable) activity and enterprise.
In their places we welcome Danie de Villiers as treasurer and Rolf Proske as administrator. Danie is the third generation of his family to be a VRS member, while Rolf, as a retired librarian, has hands-on experience of many red-jacketed VRS volumes. May both of them flourish in their new jobs.
AGM and launches of our 2015 volume
As Boris Gorelik, the editor of our 2015 volume, An Entirely Different World: Russian Visitors to the Cape, 1797-1870 (your copy should have long since reached you) could not be in Cape Town until early this year, we postponed our 2015 AGM until 28 January 2016. The wait was certainly worth it! On a windless summers evening, in a splendidly restored Georgian townhouse belonging to one of our members, Patrick Esnouf, about 90 members and guests heard the chair, Howard Phillips, sketch some of the problems facing the VRS in the future, suggest ways in which these might be effectively addressed and float some ideas about how best to mark the Societys forthcoming centenary in 2018.
The AGM was followed by the first of three spirited launches of An Entirely Different World, at which a copy was presented to our special guest, the Russian Federations consul-general in Cape Town, Mr Roman E. Ambarov. After the editor had explained to a fascinated audience how he had come to compile the book, everyone filled the houses formal garden to enjoy a rich array of refreshments until well after sunset.
Boris Gorelik spoke entertainingly again about the book at two further launches, the one next day during UCTs Summer School (at which he presented a course on Russians at the Cape) and the other at Bookdealers bookshop in Johannesburg on 11 February. Also, he was interviewed about his volume on radio twice. (Photographs of these launches will soon be available on www.vanriebeecksociety.co.za)
Subscriptions must rise alas
One of the problems mentioned by the chair in his annual report was an
almost doubling of postal charges despite the SA Post Offices faltering
delivery system. This has unfortunately necessitated an increase in our annual
subscription to R230 p.a., a sum still far below the commercial price of an
equivalent hardcover book. Invoices for this sum will be sent out during March.
Please renew your subscription speedily by EFT (making sure you put your name
in the Reference field) or payment by cheque, direct deposit or cash
delivered to our office. To facilitate administration, please ask your bank
to send us a proof of payment via email to
To facilitate administration, please ask your bank to send us a proof of payment via email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Rodney Constantine from Fichardt Park; Scott Drimie from Stellenbosch; Petrus Kritzinger from Johannesburg; Annie & Jacques Olivier, also from Johannesburg; Wynand Malan of Randburg and Kay McCormick of Kalk Bay.
Professor Pieter Kapp (a member of the VRS Council for over 20 years)
Our next volume will be the hitherto unpublished Out of Darkness: From Cattle-Herding to Editors Chair: The Unfinished Autobiography and Writings of Richard V. Selope Thema which provides an almost unique personal account by a black African growing up in South Africa from the 1890s to the 1920s. It ranges from his involvement in the South African War (on both sides) and the fledgling ANC to his career in journalism which culminated in his becoming the founding editor of Bantu World in 1932. It is a work of rich, measured and articulate reflection.
To assist Rolf Proske in the office we need the services of a willing volunteer for one morning per week. In return, we offer an opportunity to help in the day-to-day running of a unique historical publishing organization. The work required is primarily administrative in nature and would suit an active retiree. Free parking in central Cape Town is provided.
Volumes for sale
The following volumes are for sale from Mrs Betty Davenport who can be contacted on 021799 8962 or at firstname.lastname@example.org :Series II, vols. 32-46
ORDER FORM FOR VRS REPRINT SERIES
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NB. Reprints already available:
Reprint Series I Reprint Series II
Vol 1: Chavonnes/Van Imhoff (R75) Vols 6 & 7 Sparrman vols 1 & 2 (R100 each)
Vol 2: Mentzel: Alleman (R90)
Vol 3: De Mist (R110)
Vols 4,6,25 Mentzel: Cape vols 1,2,3 (R75, R75, R120)
Vol 5: Collectanea (R75)
Vol 8: Grosvenor (R110)
Vol 9: Hendrik Witbooi (R110) with newly compiled index
Vol 12: Bergh (R145)
Vol 14: Early Cape Hottentots (R200)
Vol 15: Wikar (R155)
Vol 16: Isaacs I (R110)
New! Vol 17: Isaacs II (R130)
Vol 18: Van Reenen (Map on CD) (R110)
PLEASE ADD POSTAGE!!