Here s to the memory of Karoo town Aliwal North MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

I want to tell you about the intriguing history of a little town called Aliwal North

Let me take you back to 1872 when something remarkable happened. There was a dominee, or preacher, at the Dutch Reformed Church who had a shocking revelation to share with his congregation – he announced that the earth actually revolves around the sun!

Who knows where he got this idea from? Maybe he snuck a peek at a book by Galileo, the famous astronomer. Well, as you can imagine, this news didn’t sit well with everyone. Right in the middle of the church service, a man named Mr. JW Sauer stood up and objected to what he called “rubbish.” He walked out, and guess what? Most of the congregation followed him.

After this incident, the church council held an emergency meeting to come up with a solution. They wanted to win back the people who left, so they made a resolution. And what was that resolution? Brace yourself – they declared that “from this day forward, the earth around Aliwal North will no longer rotate.” Yes, you heard it right! They just decided that the earth wouldn’t spin anymore, especially around Aliwal North. And believe it or not, this declaration has never been taken back. It’s still in effect, even today!

I stumbled upon this incredible story during a visit to the local museum. Isn’t it amazing how museums gather interesting facts and objects, all with the aim of preserving our history?

In small country museums, you’ll often find intriguing displays that capture the essence of time’s fleeting nature and our limited moments to embrace it. These museums are carefully curated by individuals who understand the importance of preserving history.

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For instance, the museum in Oudtshoorn proudly exhibits the precise weight needed to crack an ostrich egg when placed with its small end facing upwards. Meanwhile, in Villiersdorp, you can uncover the remarkable story of Mr. and Mrs. DJ le Roux. Back in the 1930s, this adventurous couple circumnavigated most of the globe by simply pushing a wheelbarrow.

Back in Nieuwoudtville, way back in the day, the whole town got quite a shock. You see, the treasurer in charge of all the money they had collected to build their Dutch Reformed church had passed away. And he left behind a big mystery – no one knew where he had hidden the 8,000 they had saved up.

But then, a few years later, someone spotted him in South West Africa. The people of Nieuwoudtville couldn’t believe their eyes. They decided to investigate, and what they found was truly bizarre. They dug up his coffin, only to discover that it was filled with a dead pig. A dead pig, can you believe it?

Now, let’s shift our attention to Port Nolloth. There, you’ll find a fascinating photograph from the late 19th century. It captures the railway line that connected the port to Okiep, a place where copper was mined. But here’s the truly intriguing part – the carriages in the picture were not pulled by a train engine. No, they were pulled by mules! Can you imagine that?

If you ever find yourself in Springbok, be sure to pay a visit to the local museum. Inside, you’ll come across an old wind-up gramophone. Now, what’s so special about this gramophone, you ask? Well, this treasure has a 72 rpm recording of Bing Crosby, the legendary crooner, belting out his famous tune ‘Hawaiian Paradise’. Enjoy some old-school sounds!

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And here’s another fun fact for you – Protea Motors, the local garage in Nieuwoudtville, boasts an incredible collection of motorbikes. In fact, some say it might just be the best collection in the whole country. And they’ve got something truly unique – an extremely rare Panther bike that has been beautifully restored from its rusty remains. It’s a real gem!

Imagine this: there’s an old typewriter sitting in front of me, covered in dust and with a faded label that reads ‘Tik Masjien’. Right next to it, there’s a bottle of dried-up Tippex. This whole scene got me thinking about how much technology has evolved in just a few short years.

But here’s the thing – we humans are more transient than we realize. Take a moment to think back to something from your childhood – maybe it’s a memory that you can still see, feel, or even smell. You were there when it happened, right? You experienced it first-hand. Well, hold on to your hat because I’m about to drop a bombshell on you: you weren’t actually there. Not a single atom in your body today was part of that memory. They’ve all been replaced.

Hey there! No matter who you are, what truly defines you is not the physical matter that makes up your body. Instead, it’s the memories and experiences that you hold dear. While vast collections like national libraries and online resources like Google and Wikipedia store the memories of entire nations and generations, small local museums have a special way of capturing the everyday memories of regular people like you and me. They have a knack for making us smile at our own quirks and reminding us of our shared humanity.

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Southern Africa is brimming with these intimate museums, and I never pass up the opportunity to visit one. Each visit is like a nostalgic journey, filled with sentimentality and reflection. And hey, don’t forget that September 24th is Heritage Day! Why not start your celebration by flipping to page 76 and taking a tour of the old forts of Cape Town?

Southern Africa is brimming with these intimate museums, and I never pass up the opportunity to visit one. Each visit is like a nostalgic journey, filled with sentimentality and reflection. And hey, don’t forget that September 24th is Heritage Day! Why not start your celebration by flipping to page 76 and taking a tour of the old forts of Cape Town?

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