Day 12: Why I love South Africa: So many places to visit: Kaapse Hoop

Kaapse Hoop (or Kaapsche Hoop) is a misty town in Mpumalanga, South Africa. It is close to Nelspruit. I’ve visited this town only once but surely hope to be back soon! When you drive to this town you drive past plantations and the closer you get the more misty it becomes. Gold was discovered in the area, which was originally known as Duiwels Kantoor (literally meaning Devil’s Office)The first government buildings were erected in 1885 and the name of the developing town was changed to Kaapsehoop in 1886. Many of the original buildings from the 1800s still stand today.  Kaapse Hoop is also the home of wild horses.There are an estimated 150 – 180 wild horses. Nobody really knows where they come from and many fables exist.  These horses are most likely remnants of the gold mining days, the Boer wars and the early cattle farmers. Early documentation of these horses are found in old mining journals of the late 1800’s.  The breed of these horses are mostly Boerperd. The herds vary between 8 – 12 with the mature stallion and matriarch mare and they roam on a 17 000 ha property.

We were lucky enough to come across a herd of these lovely horses. I hope to be back there soon to visit these wonderful beings.

There are a few guest houses and restaurants at Kaapse Hoop
We enjoyed delicious pancakes!
We saw this old church in town
The wild horses of Kaapse Hoop are truly magical!
31 days

For a full list of posts in this series please click here.

The Siege of Mafikeng

September is Heritage month in South Africa. For this reason I have decided to post these articles of the Siege of Mafikeng. It was originally entered into the Think Quest web design competition back in ’99 when we were still in High School. Myself, my brother and sister designed the website and we placed among the first 3 places for that competition in South Africa. You can view the original project here. All 3 of us are still active on the web. I have my blogs, my sister has the most amazing photography page find it here. My brother is a real world traveller you can find his blog here. His blog is not very up to date as they are in Peru at the moment. I hope you enjoy this series. Thank you again for my brother and sister for the great journey of discovery that it was to get all the information. Enjoy reading this about the history of our hometown.

WAR WAS DECLARED by the Transvaal Government on October 11, 1899 and the opening shots of the war were fired by General de La Rey’s forces on an armoured train at Kraaipan, south of Mafikeng.  The train was carrying guns and ammunition meant for Mafikeng. When the siege of Mafikeng began on October 14, 1899, there was a population of some 1500 whites of widely varying backgrounds and nationalities, of whom 630 were women and children. There was also a smaller Chinese, Indian and Coloured community .And about 5000 Barolong in the Barolong Stadt. The town itself occupied an area of about 1000 square yards laid out around the market square with the municipal offices in the center. The station and railway workshops lay on its north. After the siege began, further contingents were raised amongst the Africans. The Barolong contingent  reached a strength of 500 men. Each unit was assigned a different section of the defense perimeter of Mafeking, with Warren’s fort and Cannon Kopje being key points in the defense scheme. Colonel Baden-Powell and his staff occupied Dixon’s Hotel with an adjacent attorney’s office as headquarters. Mafeking’s defenders were reasonably well-equipped with rifles (Lee Medford’s and the older Martini Henry single loaders) but were very short of artillery, having only four antiquated seven-pounders, one one-pounder Hotchkiss, one 2-inch Nordenfeldt and seven Maxim guns. With regard to food supplies, Mafeking was well prepared to withstand a siege. It had been expected that a new customs duty would be imposed on goods entering Rhodesia in 1899 and a large number of consignments were on their way northwards up the railway line from the Cape. The imposition was postponed because of the war, leaving Mafeking with large quantities in transit. These were supplemented as a result of the willingness of Ben Weil, proprietor of Marking’s largest wholesale business, to take in more supplies on the strength of a promissory note for £500000 from Lord Edward Cecil, Baden-Powell’s Chief Staff Officer and son of the British Prime Minister. A number of forts were constructed  in addition to Cannon Kopje and Warren’s For and these were connected by telephone to BP’s headquarters.The besiegers numbered between 6000 and 8000 men under the command of Commandants- Snyman and Cronje. Snymans’ headquarters were at McMullen’s farm, three kilometers east of the town. The Transvalers brought in a 94-pound Creusot gun one of  four purchased from France — which fired a total of 1497 rounds into the town. Altogether 20000 shells of various weights were loosed on to the defenders. The defenders had an armoured train for which a spur line was constructed on the north side of the town to strenthen its defenses there. The first battle took place on the northern side of the town towards Signal Hill where the Transvalers had a large laager near site of the present Mmabatho Sun Hotel. On October 27, Captain. FitzClarence led a night attack on a Transvaal trench just beyond me present golf course. Transvaal losses were high and in reprisal a heavy attack was made on Cannon Kopje on October .11, when 800 Transvalers attacked the fort, but were repulsed- The siege then settled down to a fairly hum-drum, day-to-day routine- The town was shelled daily and sniping continued with sporadic engagements occurring from time to time. Sunday was mutually agreed upon as a day of rest. The Transvalers held their church services and the townsfolk came out of the dugouts and resumed — for one day in the week — a fairly normal life and tried to complete the week’s domestic chores. The Anglican church continued with regular church services throughout the siege. One of Baden-Powell’s biggest responsibilities was keeping up the morale of the townsfolk and garrison, and to this end he organized baby shows, polo matches, concerts and the like. Lady Sarah Wilson the daughter of the Duke of Marlborough, who was at Setlagoli when the siege commenced and whose husband was an officer on Baden-Powell’s staff, surrendered to the Transvalers at McMullen’s farm with the request that she be allowed to enter the town. She was exchanged for a Transvaler at the beginning of December and spent the rest of the siege in Mafeking. On Boxing Day the garrison attacked Game Tree fort which stood just south of the present parliament building in mmabatho. The British lost 26 lives. Rationing was introduced on January 19, when it became obvious that the siege was going to last longer than initially expected. The daily ration of bread and meat fluctuated between half to 1 pound per person per day and the sale of matches and milk was prohibited. Rations were later reduced even further and the population was forced to eat horse meat two or three times a week. A locally-made biscuit which contained a high percentage of husk was also baked and the population even took to frying locusts — with the verdict that they were “not bad, all the aroma and subtlety of chewing string”. Towards the end of March whisky was fetching a sovereign a bottle and brandy 7/6d a bottle. It was during the siege that young boys, who had already been formed into a cadet corps, were first used by the military for running messages and errands. They proved so useful hat Baden -Powell all conceived the idea of founding the Boy Scout movement. Postage stamps were printed by the Garrison Mint at the end of March along with money vouchers to meet the requirements of the townspeople since there was a great shortage of money in the town. The shortage of artillery was alleviated when the Railway Workshops constructed a gun nicknamed “The Wolf’. It threw a shell weighing seven and a half kilograms, a distance of two and a half kilometers with great effect, A 1792 vintage ship’s cannon, found by the military being used as a garden ornament on Rowland’s farm, was reconditioned In the Railway Workshops. Cannonballs were cast for it and it was brought into service. In April, Commandant Sarel Eloff, the grandson of President Paul Kruger was sent to Mafikeng from Pretoria with reinforcements which included a French contingent. Eloff commanded the Barolong Laager outside Mafikeng and on the 200th day of the siege wrote a letter to BP saying that he had seen in the Bulawayo Chronicle that the Mafikeng defenders were playing cricket on Sundays. As life was so monotonous, he proposed that he and his men should play the Mafeking defenders at cricket and Join them in their dances — if Baden-Powell didn’t mind. Baden-Powell sent a reply stating that the score to date was 200 not out and that three bowlers — Snyman, Cronje and Botha — had tried, without success, to get Mafikeng out and it was high time that the Transvaal put on other bowlers. Snyman, who read the letter, was apparently not amused. On May 12, Eloff breached the western defenses, came into the Stad up the Molopo river, and succeeded in taking Warren’s fort with 300 men. He in turn was then besieged in the fort and had to surrender on the evening of the same day. The Relief Column, under Plumer from the north and Mahon from the South, entered Mafikeng on May 17. The jubilation in London at the Relief was such that a new word was coined in the English language (“to maffick” came to mean “to revel inordinately”) But the war dragged on for another two years. A refugee camp was established in 1901 in Mafeking and a large cemetery to the south west of the town marks the spot where all the Transvaal non-combatants who died in the Western Transvaal were laid to rest.

Mafikeng place of stones

Mafikeng lies along the Northern bank of the Molopo River, 298 km west of Johannesburg, at the altitude of 1 278 meters above sea level. Today it is the center of the thriving Molopo district – but it was once the lush and scenic home of cast herds of game witnessed by travelers early last century. One writer reported seeing a single herd of 1500 zebra and wildebeest at Mareetsane, about 48 km south of Mafikeng. The cast herds attracted early man to the area – as evidenced by the pre-Bushman ruins and the many artifacts to be found in the area.

The town in only one and a half kilometers from the center of the Barolong stadt, traditional capital of the Tshidi Barolong tribe. It was here that the Molema section of the tribe settled in the early 1850’s while the senior section of the tribe under Montshiwa remained at Machaneng in the Kanya district.

Subsequently Montshiwa moved to Sehuba and then to Molema’s town which was then re-named Mafikeng- “the place of stones’ – set as it was amongst great rock outcrops on the banks of the river. Chief Montshiwa prohibited the felling of trees and the plains became well-forested – so much so that Sir Charles Warren, traveling to Mafikeng in 1881, described it as the prettiest village he had seen in his travels.

By the early 1860’s, the Transvaal Republic was expanding westwards beyond the boundary fixed in 1854 and had established two republics – Goshen, at Rooigrond on the Transvaal border, and Stellaland at Vryburg. The Transvalers were laying out farms along the Molopo and this brought them in conflict with the Barolong. In 1865 the western Transvalers demanded hut tax, or alternatively, labourers from the Barolong – but these claims were rejected by Molema on the grounds that the Barolong were not subject to the Transvaal. By 1882, a near state of war existed between Montshiwa and the Transvaal, and in 1885, after giving due warning to Gey von Pittius, the president of Goshen Republic, Montshiwa sent 300 armed men to occupy Rooigrond. As a result, the High Commissioner, Sir Hercules Robinson, sent Reverend John Mackenzie to restore peace and order.

During the previous year, a treaty had been signed between Montshiwa and rev Mackenzie, whereby Montshiwa formally ceded jurisdiction of his country to the Queen’s Government. By this treaty all land north of the Cape Colony, west of the Transvaal and east of meridian 20E, became a British sphere of influence. However, the signing of the treaty had no effect on the men from Goshen and the fights and raids continued.

Things came to a head inn July 1884 when 300 Goshenites raided Barolong cattle posts north west of Mafikeng and drove off over 3000 head of cattle. The Barolong attempted to recover their cattle and in the subsequent fight lost 180 men while about 50 Goshenites were killed. among the Barolong dead were two whites who had assisting them -Christopher Bethell (whose grave is still to be found in Mafikeng) and Nathan Walker.

Rev Mackenzie was replaced as Commissioner Cecil Rhodes who spend two days at Rooigrond discussion peace terms with Gey von Pittius and Commandant Piety Joubert -the Transvaal’s special Commissioner for Bechuanaland. Soon after Rhodes’ departure, Montshiwa signed a very unfavorable peace treaty with Gey von Pittius and Joubert.

This was September 1884, just three Months after Montshiwa was supposed to have been taken under British protection. President Kruger then issued a proclamation placing Montshiwa and his subjects under the control of Transvaal.

Ten days later Kruger Withdraw his proclamation but the Goshenites continued with their plans to divide Montshiwa’s country amongst themselves.

Sir Charles Warren Had been appointed Special Commisioner for Bechuanaland to restore order , re-instate the Chiefs in their lands and hold the country until it’s density was decided. He arrived in mafekeng on mirth 19,1885 and on the same day the Goshenites retired to Transvaal. On March 23 a proclamation was issued providing for civil and criminal jurisdiction over the territory. During April and May, Warren visited the chiefs of what is now Botswana and persuaded them to place themselves under British protection.

Warren offered to help Montshiwa by erecting a chapel for his Wesleyan subjects to replace the one built by Molema and wrecked during the war of 1881-1884 against the Goshenites. Three Barolong regiments made bricks and supplied unskilled labour while the Royal Engineers did the masonry and skilled work. The church was opened on December 5, 1885 and continued to be in use until recently.

A Balloon Corps was attached to the expedition and the trial ascent made at Mafeking was the first in Southern Africa.

On August 13, Warren’s force was withdrawn and replaced by a detachment of mounted police. Forts had been constructed by Warren on the northern and eastern sides of the Barolong town and Sir Hercules Robinson gave permission for the establishment of the town of Mafeking close to these forts- although Montshiwa wanted the town built at Rooigrond.

The town was laid out with mathematical precision by the Royal Engineers in 1885. A magistracy was established at the town as a stabilizing point for the control of the area. The forts known as Warren’s fort and Cannon Kopje are still standing to this day. Cannon Kopje is so named because the Goshenites used to fire a small gun from this strategic “high” point into the Barolong Stadt during the early skirmishes.

On Sept 30,1885, the southern portion of Bechuanaland was constituted into a Crown Colony known as British Bechuanaland Protectorate. Mafeking remained the seat of government of the Bechuanaland Protectorate until 1965 – making the Protectorate the only country in the world with its capital outside its borders.

The first meeting of the Mafikeng Village Management Board was  held on December 29, 1886. Meanwhile, in 1890, a body known as the Water Syndicate had laid on regular water supply to the town from the Malelane Springs and from nearby wells. In 1894 Mafeking suffered an outbreak of smallpox. The s of fighting were paid for by the imposition of a special property tax. The railway line from Cape Town reached Mafeking in the same year.

Rinderpest hit the country with devastating effect in1896. Theresulting livestock carnage pushed prices sky-high and the humble donkey sold for £10 while a mule fetched £50.Fouroxen belonging to the municipality had to be destroyedandthe Government paid £15.10,0 in compensation.

Another unwelcome visitor at this time was the notorious Scotty Smith who — just for a lark — stole 100 horses destined for the BSAP from what is now the marketsquare. He returned them four days later, however, muchto the relief of the officer in charge.

Meanwhile landmarks continued to be erected many of which survive to this day. A public library was startedinMafeking in 1896 and the Victoria Hospitaland St Joseph’sConvent were opened in 1899.

Clarens and the Free state road trip

In 2009 my sister and I took a road trip to Clarens in the Free State. We left from Potchefstroom and crossed the Vaal river at Venterskroon.


 The scenes next to the road are amazing!

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When we reached Steynsrus we had to wait for cows that were walking down the main street.
Steynsrus is a small Free State town. It was founded in 1910 and named after the last president of the Orange Free State, Martinus Theunis Steyn.


The church in Steynsrus is beautiful

After Steynsrus we hit the road again to Clarens. As a photographer my sister wanted to take pictures in the Golden Gate National Park. Look at the beautiful pictures she took:


Golden Gate is near the Lesotho border in the Free State . It has golden, ochre and orange-hued eroded sandstone cliffs. There are a lot of caves with San paintings as well as dinosaur eggs and skeletons.

Clarens is a beautiful town. Known for it’s trout and art work. Clarens established in 1912.  In 1910 a farm was purchased and there was decided to name the new village “Clarens” in honor of Paul Kruger’s influence in the area. During the Basotho war of 1865 – 1866, five “burghers” from the Transvaal were murdered in the Eastern Free State; a direct consequence was the official declaration of war by the Transvaal against the Basotho leader Moshoeshoe. Paul Kruger together with a commando of burghers defeated the Basotho at the Battle of Naauwpoortnek. President Paul Kruger spent his last days as a voluntary exile in the attractive village of Clarens in Switzerland and Clarens was thus a very apt name for the mountainous village here in the Eastern Free State. A monument in honour of the five burghers murdered by the Basotho on the 29th September 1865, during the siege of Naauwpoort, was originally erected on the farm Ararat just outside Clarens. This monument was later moved to Clarens and re-sited on the central square.

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There are many interesting shops in Clarens, Jan se Dopshop is one of them.


We left early one morning (in winter) to take pictures of the sunrise. I was geared with a flask of coffee and a warmwater bottle. After we drove around for a bit we decided on a place to park and wait for the sunrise. We waited and waited and finally(after we where half frozen) the first rays of the sun came over the mountain. After we took a lot of pictures we decided to drive on a bit and after about 500m we realized that we chose the highest peak to wait for the We where parked just before Sandstone Valley where the sun was already up.

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Jozi inner city in pictures

I’ve blogged before about Jozi’s inner city. Here are some more pictures. Enjoy.


 As I said before we went through the inner city right before the election.


The Red Bus passes by Luthuli House. Here a lot of South African history was made.


The bus also passes Ghandi Square. Ghandi played a big part in our history.

Some more of the inner city’s architecture


Part 3 of my lovely city Johannesburg. You can find Part 1 and Part 2 here.  I’ve posted random pictures of the inner city so that you can get a feel of it.


Johannesburg- The City of Gold- Inner city

eGoli…..Jozi….Johannesburg. The different names for the second largest city in Africa gives an idea of the melting pot of cultures it is. From Soweto and Hilbrow to Houghton and Roodepoort this really is a remarkable place. Some people hate this city and others love it. No matter what side of the fence you are you must admit that this really is a one of a kind experience. I use the word experience because around every corner there is a new experience.  My family and I went on the Red Bus Tour in 2015 and it was really enjoyable. My sister in law  is American and it was great to see South Africa through her eyes. They also have a blog you can find it here.


 The bus departs from the Gautrain Park station. Minutes from going on the trip you are amazed at the views of Johannesburg. My mom and I with my brother and his wife in the bacground.


The architecture of Johannesburg is an array of old and new. The older buildings is more formal with colourful signs giving them a real african feel.  The inner city has great examples of  Art Nouveau to post-modern buildings. Read more about the architecture here.This gentlemen is proof that Jozi is a friendly city and that you don’t need to be a king or a queen to greet from your balcony. He isclose to the  old Trust Bank building.  It was built in 1970 to a height of 140 metres. When we took the trip it was rignt before our election so a lot of political posters was seen. This bird decided that the heart of the City of Gold is the place to be.


Parts of the inner city are still dirty but the city council is doing their best to solve the issue.  There are street vendors in abundance. Apples or banana’s anyone?




Spitzkoppe between Usakos and Swakopmund is an amazing mountain in Namibia. It has an altitude of 1728 metres. It is an island of mountains on a vast plain. The Welwitschia mirabilis plants of the Namib Desert can be found here and can survive for two thousand years.  I’ve camped there twice and it was an experience. We found an opening in the mountain and camped inside much like cave men. We climbed around on the Spitzkoppe. The views are amazing and there is a possibility of discovering a gem or two or even a desert rose. The stars above are very visible. 

There is no running water or electricity and safety might be an issue unfortunately. I don’t suggest going there in a small group.