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South Africa’s new National Library

first_imgIts music library will have listening posts for CDs and a DVD/video collection which will include South African and African content. Speaking at the official opening of the National Library in Pretoria on Friday, Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan said: “We are trying to make our libraries warm and engaging public spaces thronged by young learners seeking knowledge.” Jordan said an additional R200-million had been made available for building and renovating public libraries all over the country in 2008/09. The book stock will have a similarly strong focus on local content, and will be the only library in the city offering reading material in all 11 official South African languages. Warm, engaging public spaces Jordan said that access to information promoted critical thinking, particularly among young people, helping them to open up to differing, even conflicting, dimensions of the same issue. The aim, he said, was for the country’s libraries to have better staffing, more sensible opening hours, upgraded educational support material and other information resources, facilities promoting children’s literature, and more books in South Africa’s indigenous languages. 4 August 2008 Cape Town’s new central library, now housed in the Old Drill Hall, offers a wider selection of books, free internet access on 40 computers, a professional children’s collection intended for research purposes, an extended Art Library, and a Music and Performance Arts Library. Focus on local contentcenter_img Two state-of-the-art, multi-million rand public libraries opened in South Africa last week: the new National Library, built in Pretoria at a cost of R374-million; and Cape Town’s central libary, refurbished and upgraded to the tune of around R50-million. South Africa’s new National Library, situated at the corner of Proes and Andries Streets, can accommodate up to 1 300 visitors at a time and stocks around two million books, with capacity for another 3.5-million. The facility, which will contribute to the regeneration of Cape Town’s central business district, will also have a coffee shop, bookshop, meeting rooms, seminar rooms and an auditorium. “The power of written word resides in the fact that recording words transforms them into powerful means of communication, not merely between two people, but potentially amongst millions.” The upgrading of Cape Town’s central library was funded by a US$2-million (around R15-million) grant from the US-based Carnegie Corporation and R36.6-million from the City of Cape Town. At last week’s official opening, Carnegie Corporation announced that it would donate a further $2.495-million over the next three years to upgrade the library further. Carnegie Corporation president Vartan Gregorian said that libraries were invaluable to those who were engaged in lifelong learning, and who could not imagine an existence without something new to learn about every day. Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

What’s in a South African name? From Krotoa to Van der Stel

first_imgDespite generations of official efforts to keep South Africans apart, “racial” mingling goes back to the very first years when white and black met at the Cape of Good Hope.Unravelling our ancestry – and our names. From left, Krotoa of the Goringhaicona, Shaykh Yusuf of the Macassar, Walter Sisulu and Simon van der Stel.Saddled with the burden of apartheid and colonial-slanted textbooks, South Africans have tended to take their identities from their political leanings. But so-called “mixed marriages” are as old as South Africa itself. And more people are finding family tree research the key to understanding their own heritages.The first written records of births, deaths and marriages, incomplete though they are, came with Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck in 1652, when he set out to establish a way station at the Cape of Good Hope with the aid of Robben Island.Krotoa of the GoringhaiconaPerhaps the most representative of the mix of South African ancestry lines dating from those early days is the marriage of Krotoa of the Goringhaicona, a Khoi interpreter who worked for Van Riebeeck and married a colleague of his, Danish explorer Pieter Meerhof.Burdened with the double obligation of fitting into European society and being loyal to her own people, Krotoa’s life was made even harder when Meerhof was seconded to Robben Island as superintendent.Left as one of only two women on the island when her husband was killed on a slaving expedition, and shunned by both societies, Krotoa succumbed to depression and an early death at only 32. But she left behind at least eight children, one of whom was the progenitor of the Zaaiman family in South Africa.Some of them went on to become key figures from all spectrums – including white premiers Paul Kruger, Jan Smuts and FW de Klerk.Slave routes, slave rootsThen came the slaves: in 1658 the first two boatloads – one from Angola and one from west Africa – arrived, and some of these went on to marry Dutch citizens of the Cape or bear children by them after intermarriage became outlawed.One couple, Anna and Evert, who were purchased by the Dutch from African slave lords in Benin in 1658, produced a daughter who went on to have a son by prosperous Dutchman Bastiaan Colyn. Her son, Johannes, married a descendant of the wealthy Cloete family and purchased De Hoop op Constantia, still one of the finest estates in the Cape.After west Africa was declared out of bounds, the Dutch East India Company began bringing in slaves from the east – either from their base in Djakarta or China, Sri Lanka or India, often with Arabs as middlemen. The first boatloads arrived in 1681, and by 1730 they had extended their operations to include the Mascarenes, Mozambique and Zanzibar, with Portuguese colonists as middlemen.With only 19 European women and 100 white free burghers at the Cape in 1677, most 13th generation South Africans with colonial ancestry have at least one slave ancestor from these parts. Though European female numbers increased 30 years later, slave women were often favoured for their beauty, and many became the ancestral mothers (or stammoeders) of generations of families in South Africa.Angela of BengalBefore the first official slave consignments had been sanctioned, Angela of Bengal (or Maaij Ansela) was bought by Jan van Riebeeck, the founder of the Dutch colony, was resold and freed by her master. She then married Arnoldus Willemsz Bason, and became the stammoeder of the Basson family in South Africa.Through marriages of her children, Maaij (or Mooi, beautiful) Ansela is also the stammoeder of the Bergh and Van As families. One of her descendants was Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius, who married Anna Retief, niece of slain trekboer Piet.In 1692, four of the 34 Cape Town free burghers had ex-slave wives, but according to “Cape Town, Making of a City”, compiled by Nigel Worden et al, this mestizo culture was gradually discouraged by the ruling Dutch, although this did not discourage illicit affairs – and illegitimate children borne out of such unions.One well-researched case is that of Isabella of Angola, who had children by a Dutchman thought to be Cornelis Claassen.One of Isabella’s children is believed to be Armosyn van de Kaap, who became matron of the Slave Lodge and went on to have a daughter by a European. Armosyn’s daughter later married German soldier Hermann Combrink, the stamvader of that prolific family in South Africa.Often the only ticket for freedom for slave women – or their children – was through marriage to a white man. In terms of a 1685 decree, male halfslag Company slaves of European ancestry were permitted to buy their freedom at 25, females at 22, provided they had been confirmed in the Dutch Reformed Church and could speak Dutch. Because of this, many Muslims officially converted religions, providing yet another marriage barrier.Other Easterners taken as slaves were Muslim political leaders who objected to Dutch domination in the East Indies, perhaps the most well-known being Shaykh Yusuf, whose kramat near Faure is today an important pilgrimage destination for South African Muslims.It is still not known whether Yusuf’s remains lie in the tomb or were transported back to Macassar, as the Dutch government reported, but some of his descendants did remain. One of his grandsons married Marie Jordaan, whose origins were in France.The HuguenotsIn 1688, a new influence brought with it another European aspect to the cultural kaleidoscope: the first French Huguenot Protestants escaping Catholic persecution in France were brought out by the Dutch.Settling the area now known as Franschhoek, many of the Huguenots owned slaves to cultivate the winelands, and half-caste children, born mainly out of wedlock, were among the unfortunates who produced children who failed to pass the apartheid government’s pencil test over two centuries later.By the early 1700s Dutch farmers had started moving inland. Though they were not officially allowed to be enslaved, Xhosa and Khoi were employed by the Dutch under conditions often equivalent to slavery, and inter-breeding among all three continued, often in the capacity of mistress or cuckold.1820 settlers, shipwreck survivorsIn 1795, the British occupied the Cape for the first time, and after losing it to the Dutch again in 1803, seized it as their own in 1806. With the British occupation came the impoverished 1820 settlers, who were sent to help wrest land from the Xhosa in the Eastern Cape and the Zulu in KwaZulu-Natal.One of the better-known of these settlers to cross the racial divide was Henry Fynn, who befriended Zulu King Shaka and fathered children by many Zulu wives.Other English names which crop up regularly in the history of the Wild Coast, traditionally the home of the Pondo, are King and Cane, explorers who lived among the local tribes.Shipwreck survivors through the centuries have also produced many a blue-eyed black child in the area. In his book “The Caliban Shore”, Stephen Taylor describes the meeting of survivors from The Grosvenor with an escaped Cape slave who had made his home on the Eastern frontier, an indication of other possible influences in tribal ancestry.Inter-tribal marriage was another influence, as Shaka absorbed smaller tribes in his quest for dominance.With British rule came the banning of slave importation in 1807, but boatloads of “prize negroes”, slaves secured by the government from illegal slave ships, were still introduced into the colony as cheap labour. A number of British settlers married Madagascans and Mauritians imported in this way.St Helena servantsIn 1834, slavery was officially abolished, and mission stations dotted around the Cape absorbed many of those left jobless by the system.Another much-contested scheme to compensate for the loss of slave labour saw a wave of St Helena servants imported, which continued to the end of the 19th century. A large portion of Cape Town’s Cape Flats today is the product of intermarriages, and many can remember their St Helena ancestors being broken by the system which crushed their progress with forced removals in the 1960s.For brief spells between frontier wars, there was relative peace among the many nations of the land, but it was not long before the Boer Dutch farmers grew unhappy with their lot under British rule without slaves, and headed north.By the time of the South African (or Anglo-Boer) War in 1899, after the diamond rush and the discovery of gold, Boers had married Brits, who had followed the original settlers in droves, both had married across the colour line, and slaves had married Khoi and Bantu.Walter Sisulu, Simon van der StelThough marriage across the colour line was outlawed, it was little deterrent to those with soul aspirations. Perhaps the most well-known and most ironic product of such unions was ANC stalwart and pragmatic long-time adviser and friend of Nelson Mandela throughout his exile on Robben Island, Walter Sisulu, born in 1912 in Qutubeni, Transkei.Though he had little to do with him, Sisulu’s white father, Albert Dickinson, a Port Elizabeth government worker, went on to have another child by his mother, Alice. They never officially married, and Walter took on his mother’s surname, adding Max Ulyate as his middle names. Though it has not been explored, the name Ulyate was a surname of a prominent family of 1820 settlers.It only takes a trip or two out of Cape Town to be reminded just how much craziness the system bred. Simonstown, a naval base and popular tourist spot, and Stellenbosch, the home of the Afrikaans language, are just two of the many spots named after Dutch governor Simon van Der Stel, who set about seizing land from the Khoi on his arrival in 1679.Though Van der Stel is widely accepted as being the greedy progenitor of apartheid whose sprawling, slave-worked estates were the elite homes of generations of Afrikaners, a little-known fact is that Van der Stel, born in Mauritius, was Eurasian – and probably just a generation away from slavery.His father Adrian van der Stel was Dutch and his mother, Maria Leviens, was the daughter of Monica of the Coromondel, a former enslaved woman from India who became known as Monica da Costa.Evidence shows that he and his sister covered up their mother’s origin in order to be given white status when they emigrated to Holland. The only proven picture of Van der Stel disappeared in 1934, but another which is thought to be his portrait shows an arguably Eastern demeanour.Brand South Africa reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Grower organizations encourage manufacturers to implement AgGateway’s ADAPT for precision ag

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest A dozen leading U.S. grower organizations are hailing the collaborative efforts that led to the new AgGateway ADAPT framework for interoperability in precision ag systems – citing the many benefits to farmers, and are calling on Farm Management Information System (FMIS) companies to formally commit to integrating the ADAPT framework into their systems in the near future.The support was expressed in a letter this month to AgGateway Chairman David Black from the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Farmers Union, National Sorghum Producers, National Sunflower Association, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Dry Bean Council, and USA Rice.“Over the last decade, the most consistent concern raised by farmers using precision ag is that ‘different systems won’t work together,’” the letter states. “The farm and commodity groups are pleased that AgGateway member companies worked collectively to solve this problem by creating ADAPT…. As organizations representing producers of all commodities and in all 50 states, we offer our support to encourage FMIS companies to formally commit to integrating the ADAPT framework in the near future.“We are grateful for this truly impressive show of support from grower organizations, and are ready to assist companies — and get their feedback to continually improve ADAPT — as they incorporate this technology into their proprietary systems,” said Mark Stelford, Chairman of AgGateway’s ADAPT Oversight Committee and General Manager of Premier Crop Systems.As AgGateway’s ADAPT is integrated into products, the grower will be much better equipped to manage data across different precision agriculture systems, regardless of the system manufacturer. ADAPT is an open source project, allowing precision ag software providers globally to use the software and to contribute to its continued development. The ADAPT framework is comprised of an Agricultural Application Data Model, a common API (Application Programming Interface), and a combination of open source and proprietary data conversion plug-ins. Developers can access additional information about the ADAPT SDK, as well as access the model, by going to www.ADAPTframework.org.“ADAPT and the accompanying data format enables the interoperability between software systems, service providers and advisors that farmers need to perform their routine operations more efficiently and seamlessly,” said Tarak Reddy, Chair of AgGateway’s ADAPT Technical Committee and Delivery Architect of John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group.Companies that have committed to using ADAPT and releasing plug-ins for many of their proprietary data formats currently include AGCO Corporation, Ag Leader Technology, CLAAS, CNH Industrial, Deere & Company, Praxidyn, Raven Industries, Topcon Precision Agriculture, and Trimble Navigation. The “plug-in” technology allows the ADAPT platform to work with individual, proprietary products.The AgGateway team publicly released the open-source ADAPT — which stands for Agricultural Data Application Programming Toolkit — in February. The timeline for plug-in development will vary by manufacturer this fall and into 2017; some plug-ins are immediately available to FMIS companies, who can check with the manufacturer for availability and licensing details. At the same time, AgGateway members have developed an ISO plug-in to support a broad range of ISO-compatible systems under an open source license.Companies currently participating in AgGateway’s ADAPT Oversight Committee include Ag Connections, Ag Leader, AGCO, Agrian, CNH Industrial, Central Valley Ag Coop, CLAAS, Conservis, Independent Data Management, John Deere, Land O’ Lakes, Monsanto, Premier Crop Systems, ProAg, Raven Industries, Software Solutions Integrated, SST Software, Syngenta, Topcon Precision Agriculture, Trimble, Uptake and ZedX. For more information and to join the work of the committee, contact the committee at Adapt.Feedback@AgGateway.org.In addition, the ADAPT Oversight Committee met at the AgGateway Annual Conference November 7-10 in Orlando. More details can be found at www.AgGateway.org.last_img read more

Blame game on as train mows down 5 elephants in Assam

first_imgA passenger train mowed down five elephants on Saturday night, triggering a blame game between the Assam forest department and Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).The engine of the train derailed due to the impact at 9.40 p.m. The section was restored after the engine was put back on track almost five hours later.Forest officials said the drivers of the 15611 Guwahati-Silchar Fast Passenger train ignored flashlight signals and ran into a herd of elephants crossing the track in central Assam’s Hojai district. They said the spot between Hawaipur and Lamshakhan stations, some 180 km east of Guwahati, is a notified elephant corridor.Railway officials claimed the section where the elephants were crossing was not a notified elephant corridor and that a 30 kph speed restriction had been imposed on all trains based on inputs from the Forest Department.Three calves dead“Five elephants, including three calves, reportedly died due to the impact. The loco pilots said the calves did not move from the track and the adult elephants began surrounding them when the accident happened,” an officer of the Lumding Railway Division said.“Our people are trying their best to prevent elephant casualties, but the railways seem to be taking such incidents lightly. I cannot fault our department as the railways had been informed about the movement of elephants and forest guards had tried to warn the drivers with flashlights,” Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma said on Sunday.A railway line passes through 13% of the elephant corridors in the Northeast, primarily Assam. Though the NFR said Saturday’s tragedy did not happen in one of them, forest officials said they submitted a list of 19 places along railway tracks where elephants have been moving across tracks constantly in Lumding, Hojai and Lanka forest ranges.Saturday’s accident site falls under the Lanka forest range, the area’s wildlife officials said. According to the NFR, incidents of elephant crossings have increased sharply in the recent past and trains have been slowed down whenever the Forest Department shared information on herd movement.Coordination is crucial“It is only because of the close coordination between field level officials of the forest and railway departments that 200 incidents have been prevented this year alone,” NFR spokesperson Pranav Jyoti Sharma said.The NFR is keen on mitigating elephant mortality on railway tracks but at the same time safety of train movements has to be ensured, he added.Green activists say encroachment and habitat destruction have forced elephants to stray out of traditional routes for food. One such diversion in December last year saw five wild elephants being knocked down by a speeding train near a tea estate in north-central Assam’s Sonitpur district. Data provided by the Wildlife Division of Assam’s Forest Department say electrocution, train-hit and attack by villagers killed 40 elephants in 2017. Despite the mortality, elephant population in Assam rose from 5,246 in 2002 to 5,719 last year.last_img read more