Milo, an iconic Australian brand, was first developed in 1930 by a young trainee chemical engineer, Thomas MAYNE of Smithtown, New South Wales. Nestlé wanted to develop a tonic drink that would address malnutrition in children during the great Depression. The drink was made from malted barley, dried milk and cocoa.

Thomas spent four years developing what we now know as Milo. He wanted to create a mix with vitamins and minerals that would dissolve when stirred, not just fall to the bottom of the glass. One day, he walked into his kitchen to discover his daughter and son scooping the crunchy bits of Milo powder off the top of their drinks. It was then that he realised that the crunch was not a problem, but a feature - and so Milo as we know it today was born. It was named after Milo of Croton, a Greek wrestler who lived in the 6th century BC and possessed legendary strength. Milo Tonic Food was introduced to the public at the 1934 Sydney Royal Easter Show in the iconic Milo tin. Today it's the world's leading chocolate malt beverage that can be prepared with hot or cold milk or water.  Nestlé’s Chembong Factory in Malaysia is the world's largest Milo manufacturing site.

The Spanish call it calimocho or kalimotxo. In Germany they call it kora or korea, In Chile, it’s jote and in Croatia it's known as bambus. In Argentina it's known as "Jesus juice". If you're familiar with Africa or Portugal, you know it as catemba. A 50-50 mixture of red wine and Coca-Cola, it is said to have originated at a festival in Algorta, Spain, in 1972 when traders discovered the wine they planned to sell was terrible so they added Coca-Cola and ice to disguise the flavour. But for many years before that, the drink was already well-known in South Africa, Mozambique, and Angola - thanks to the Portuguese communities living there. According to family stories, catemba was invented by the owner of a restaurant on the island of Catembe when it was still a small fishing community. It was common to mix red wine with Sprite, but one day the owner used Coca-Cola instead.


The first qualified, non-military veterinarians started arriving in South Africa in the middle 1800s. In 1886, Dr Jotello Festiri SOGA became the first South African-born person to receive a degree in veterinary medicine (MRCVS). The second formally-trained South African veterinarian was Dr Philip Rudolph VILJOEN (1889 - 1964) who qualified in 1912.

Jotello SOGA and his wife Catherine

Jotello was born at the Mgwali Mission in the then Transkei in 1865, the youngest son of Reverend Tiyo SOGA (Xhosa) and his Scottish wife Janet BURNSIDE (Scottish). Reverend SOGA was South Africa’s first black ordained Presbyterian clergyman. After his father’s death in 1871, the family moved to Scotland where Jotello and his six siblings completed their education under the protection of the United Presbyterian Church (Church of Scotland). He completed his matric at the Dollar Academy. He entered the Royal School of Veterinary Studies (later part of the University of Edinburgh) in 1881 and qualified as a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS) in April 1886 and earned a gold medal for botany studies. His brothers graduated from the University of Glasgow - William Anderson SOGA (1857 - 1916, medical doctor), John Henderson SOGA (1860 - 1941, missionary and Xhosa historian), and Allan Kirkland SOGA (1862 - 1938, journalist and politician).

From 1886 – 1889 Dr SOGA worked as a veterinarian in private practice in Tutuka, Cape Colony. On 01 November 1889 he was appointed as Dr Duncan HUTCHEON's (Colonial Veterinary Surgeon Cape Colony) second assistant (Dr John D BORTHWICK was the first) and served as a District Veterinarian in many places in the Cape Colony. He was much esteemed by Dr HUTCHEON, and was appointed at the same rate of pay as Dr BORTHWICK. He was first stationed at Fort Beaufort.

From 1889 to 1894 he was employed by the Cape Colony as Junior Veterinarian. He was involved with the vaccination campaign against contagious lung-sickness. While working as veterinarian for the Cape Colony he studied toxic plants and their effect on animals – both for their poisonous and curative effects. He also lectured on diseases of stock and their treatment in Somerset East. After working with the bacteriologist, Dr Alexander EDINGTON, at the Colonial Bacteriological Institute in Grahamstown, Dr SOGA was appointed as District Veterinarian and was transferred to King William’s Town in 1894, where he worked on foot-and-mouth disease, red water, and biliary fever. He did his own inoculation experiments for Contagious Bovine Pleuro-Pneumonia (lung-sickness), after which his vaccination method became standard use.  He assisted Professor Andrew SMITH with investigations into the medicinal properties of South African plants. During this time he was appointed as Assistant Veterinary Surgeon in the Veterinary Department of the Cape Colony and Bechuanaland (now Botswana).

In 1892, three years after rinderpest broke out in East Africa, Dr SOGA published two articles in the Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope, in which he warned of the devastation that the virus would bring. He predicted the rapid spread of the disease towards South Africa and warned that if proper measures were not taken, "I make bold enough to say, that more than two-thirds of Colonial cattle will succumb to its ravages".

In March 1896 rinderpest entered the Northern Cape and Dr SOGA was sent to Mafikeng to help deal with infected animals. Dr SOGA was part of a small team of animal health professionals that eradicated rinderpest, a contagious and fatal disease that almost destroyed South Africa’s herds in the late 19th century. By 1903 the team succeeded in eradicating rinderpest. More than a million cattle died, either from the disease itself or deliberate slaughter to control the disease.

He continued to conduct important research on animal health and frequently contributed articles on veterinary medicine to professional journals - his first article was published in January 1891 in the Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope. He was a much sought-after speaker at conferences and was a co-founder of the Cape Colony Veterinary Society in 1905 which later became the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA). He often served as a judge at horse shows at the East London Agricultural Show.

Dealing with the rinderpest epidemic was exhausting and depressing work. As a result, Dr SOGA's health suffered and he eventually retired from the Cape Civil Service in 1899, with a government pension. He was commended by the British High Commissioner, Lord MILNER, for his services in combating rinderpest. In 1900 he went into private practice in the Border area. In 1902 he was employed by Carl H MALCOLMESS to supervise his cattle on the farm Itala in the Stutterheim district. He later moved to the farm of Anthony Peter FITCHETT, a farrier, at Amalinda close to East London where he continued with his own small veterinary practice.

Dr Jotello SOGA died at Fitchett's farm on 06 December 1906 from an overdose of laudanum and was buried in Amalinda. He was married to a Scotswoman, Catherine Watson CHALMERS, on 09 July 1892, and they had three daughters: Catherine, Margaret and Doris. After his death, his widow and daughters returned to Scotland.

In 2009, the University of Pretoria named the library of its Faculty of Veterinary Science in Dr SOGA’s honour. The ceremony was attended by Carole GALLAGHER, a great-granddaughter of Dr SOGA, Camagu Malcom SOGA (from King Williams Town) and Thembi SOGA. The Onderstpoort Veterinary Institute created the Jotello SOGA Ethno-Veterinary Garden. The South African Veterinary Association awards the SOGA Medal annually in recognition of exceptional community service rendered by a veterinarian or a veterinary student.


Sylvia Lee RAPHAEL was born on 01 Apr 1937 in Graaff-Reinet to Miriam Helena SMIT (born 1907 in the Orange Free State and a Christian), and Ferdinand RAPHAEL (born in 1886 in the Cape and a Jewish atheist). She was baptised and raised in her mother's Dutch Reformed religion. 

When her parents were married in June 1935, her father was an insurance agent and her mother a typist. It was Ferdinand's second marriage, having married the divorced Alice Louise WATTS in Johannesburg in 1917 (they divorced in 1935). Ferdinand and Alice lived at 58 Gracht St, Boksburg, at the time of their marriage. Alice had married her first husband in 1897 and divorced him in 1908. She died in Johannesburg in 1942.

Ferdinand later owned the local cinema in Graaff-Reinet. He died at St Joseph's Hospital in Port Elizabeth in 1958. Miriam died in Worcester in 1993.

Sylvia's grandfather, Solomon RAPHAEL, was born in Odessa circa 1861 and died in Graaff-Reinet in 1933. He was a produce buyer. He married Emilia DAVIS. She died in Graaff-Reinet in 1920.

As a young girl, Sylvia saw some boys pushing a Jewish girl in a wheelbarrow in Graaff-Reinet and chanting, "We're going to take you to Hitler." She was so distressed that her parents sent her away to a girls’ boarding school. After studying at Rhodes University and breaking off her engagement to a South African when his drinking became a problem, she moved to Israel in 1959, working on Kibbutz Gan Shmuel, near Hadera, and later in Tel Aviv as an English teacher.

In 1962, she received a phone call from a man who introduced himself as Gadi. He said he was a representative of an Israeli government agency looking for new female recruits. When she asked what kind of work, he asked her to meet him at the Café Hadley in Tel Aviv the next day and he'd explain. Gadi was Moti KFIR, the commander of Mossad’s School for Special Operations. Sylvia was intelligent, beautiful, and spoke English, Afrikaans, French, German, Hebrew, Spanish and Arabic. A Mossad agent's girlfriend was Sylvia's flatmate at the time and he recommended her to Mossad recruiters. Sylvia joined up and after completing her training she qualified to operate in foreign countries.

She was given a new identity, Patricia ROXBOROUGH, a Canadian photojournalist, and was sent to Vancouver, Canada for six months to create her cover story as a freelance photographer. Next she was sent to Paris, the centre of Mossad's operations in Europe. Her first job there was for an international photographic agency. Sylvia was so good at her job that she held a photography exhibition in Paris. She was a gifted artist, drawing and painting, so photography was natural for her.

Sylvia was one of the first Mossad agents to penetrate Yasser ARAFAT's bases in Jordan and Lebanon in the 1960s. She later survived at least three assassination attempts by the PLO. She was known to have operated in Cairo, Mogadishu, Asmara, Djibouti, Beirut, Amman, and Damascus. She is said to have replaced Eli COHEN in Damascus, after he was publicly hanged in 1965 after the discovery of his high-level infiltration of the Syrian regime. As a close friend of the Jordanian royal family, she is said to have babysat the future King Abdullah II. 

In the summer of 1972, the PLO’s Black September carried out the Munich Massacre, in which 11 Israeli athletes participating in the Olympic Games were murdered. When the Israeli government decided to track down the Black September operatives, Sylvia provided intelligence that led to the killing of three. She was then assigned to a covert operation to assassinate others involved in the massacre. In July 1973, Sylvia was part of the team that mistakenly assassinated Morocco-born waiter/pool attendant Ahmed BOUCHIKI in Lillehammer, Norway. He was the brother of Gypsy Kings musician Chico BOUCHIKHI. The team had mistaken him for the mastermind of the massacre. Sylvia had studied the mastermind closely and realised the team had the wrong man but her calls to abort the mission were not heeded. She was arrested shortly afterwards and was convicted in early 1974 of planned murder, espionage, and the use of forged documents. She was sentenced to 5½ years in prison, but was released after serving 18 months and deported from Norway.

While in prison, she was adopted by the Ramat Hakovesh kibbutz in Israel, where her brother had worked. She married her Norwegian attorney, Annæus SCHJØDT, and retired from Mossad. She was deported again after re-entering Norway in 1977. Two years later she obtained a residence permit, but left Norway with her husband in 1992, settling in Pretoria, South Africa. The couple did not have children. Sylvia died in Pretoria on 09 February 2005, having battled cancer. She was cremated in South Africa and her ashes interred in the military section of the cemetery at Ramat Hakovesh.

In Steven SPIELBERG’s 2005 film Munich, Sylvia's character is played by Daniel CRAIG who later became James Bond 007. He played Steve, the South African driver in the Mossad team. After being sentenced in Norway, Sylvia (known for her sense of humour) joked that she went from 007 to 005½. A documentary, Sylvia: Tracing Blood, tells her story through the people who knew her, including her brother David (aka Bunty) and her husband who died shortly after filming finished in 2014. It was directed by a South African, Saxon LOGAN.

While living in Pretoria, Sylvia re-connected with her nephew, Derek WATTS, the Carte Blanche journalist. His father was Basil Havelock WATTS, born in Johannesburg in March 1912 to Alice Louise WATTS and Ferdinand RAPHAEL. Basil died in Bulawayo in 1982. He married Edna Lily TRIGGS in Johannesburg in 1940. They had three children - Derek, Roy and Gaynor. Basil started his working life as a boilermaker on ships, and later worked his way up to Managing Director of an engineering company in Bulawayo.


After a scientific search of more than 30 years, researchers in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University, in collaboration with international partners, pinpointed the gene that causes the inherited heart disease known as progressive familial heart block type I, in a group of South African families whose ancestor can be traced to one immigrant who landed at the Cape in 1722.

The disease was first described by Professor Andries BRINK, a cardiac specialist and former Dean of the Faculty, in 1977. In 1986, his son, Professor Paul BRINK, in collaboration with Professor Valerie CORFIELD, embarked on the search for the genetic mutation that triggers the condition and causes a disruption of the electrical impulses that control heart contractions. They traced this to a small area on chromosome 19 which contained about 80 genes. This search came to an end when Brink and Corfield, in collaboration with German scientists managed to pinpoint the exact gene amongst this group.

The study of progressive familial heart block started at Stellenbosch University in the 1970s when Professor Andries Brink, then practicing as a cardiac specialist at the Tygerberg Hospital, treated a baby who was born with a very slow heart rate. The child's condition was so serious that she had to be fitted with a pacemaker, becoming the first baby in South Africa to be treated with a pacemaker. At the time, pacemakers were at an early stage of development and were almost the size of a brick. While Brink was treating the baby, he became aware of another child who also needed a pacemaker. This child was a close relative of the baby under his care. He then examined the mother and found evidence of a similar underlying disease, but not as advanced as that of the baby. This lead Brink to believe that he was dealing with a family problem and he asked Dr Marie TORRINGTON to trace other families. She found most of them living in the Eastern Cape and that the carrier of the defective gene arrived at the Cape from Portugal. He married a woman of Dutch descent in Stellenbosch in 1735. Today, all South Africans affected by progressive familial heart block I are descendants of this couple.

Roughly 50% of children born to an affected person will be carriers. Of these about two thirds will need a pacemaker at some stage, according to Corfield. A very small percentage of them will show no evidence of the disease on an electrocardiogram, even though they carry the gene, while others will display an underlying electrical glitch. The disease can occur any time from birth until old age and in some cases it has been identified in utero. Today it can be managed with the timely implantation of a pacemaker, but before the advent of this device it often claimed the lives of patients affected by the condition.

Ignácio FERREIRA statue
in Humansdorp
Ignácio FERREIRA was born in 1695 in Lisbon, Portugal to Manuel FERREIRA and Antónia Francisca (from Alcântara, a suburb of Lisbon). He was baptised on 01 Nov 1695 in the Catholic church "Nossa Senhora da Ajuda". On 16-17 June 1722 a powerful north-westerly wind hit the Cape. On the morning of the 17th, ten ships were found wrecked and stranded, including the Chandos, an English East India Company ship. The Chandos was on its return voyage from Bengal to England. Today the Chandos is buried under reclaimed land near the Castle in Cape Town. The 27-year-old Ignácio FERREIRA was a surviving sailor on the Chandos. He decided to stay at the Cape and entered the service of the Dutch East India Company as a soldier.

On 06 November 1735, Ignácio (later Ignatius) FERREIRA married the 18-year-old Martha TERBLANCHE in Stellenbosch. They had 10 children. All the children were given Dutch names. In 1748, Ignácio applied for tenure of a stock farm called "De Hartebeest Kuijl" near Mossel Bay. The original homestead and a portion of the farm is today under the water of the dam supplying Mossel Bay. From here the family spread through the Langkloof, Karoo, to the Gamtoos Valley, throughout the Eastern Cape and beyond. Ignácio FERREIRA died on 24 May 1772 at the age of 77 years.


In October 1945, the Liberty ship SS Samnesse sailed into Durban Harbour, bringing returning servicemen and tanks from Europe. The ship was built in the United States during World War II and transferred to the British Ministry of War Transportation upon completion.

The only woman aboard was Elena VAN PRAAG (born 27 November 1920).  She was the girlfriend of Captain George Samuel JENNINGS (born 25 December 1914) of the 6th South African Armoured Division. Elena was of Dutch-Jewish descent and had grown up in Italy where her father, Barend, owned a shipping business in Genoa. In 1940 the VAN PRAAG family was forced into civilian internment. Her father lost his business and Elena’s reign as an equestrian champion was over. Banished from their home in Genoa, they left behind their work helping German Jews escape Europe via Italy, including Albert EINSTEIN's sister. They found refuge in Florence where their apartment in the Palazzo della Gherardesca backed on to a garden which the Germans occupied from 1943 until the Allies took over in 1944. This is where Elena met George.

George was tasked with marking the route north for his division, as well as driving Major-General Evered POOLE on his daily traverse of the Monte Cassino Pass, always under sniper fire. For this he was mentioned in dispatches. Elena’s father often hosted officers at home and one day he offered George a night’s accommodation. Elena met the young officer in the dining-room the next morning. At the end of the war, George managed to get Elena a berth on the SS Samnesse. Elena sailed out with 13 pieces of luggage, including a pasta machine.

In Durban, Elena was met by Stan CONKER, who had served as a Sergeant with George. At the same time, an official approached her and told her that she had been declared an "undesirable immigrant" and was to be repatriated within the week. She had to stay with Stan at his home until she boarded another ship back to Europe, where she worked for the Allies in their clean-up operations until 1947 when George was finally able to take her to South Africa.

The couple were married on 25 April 1947 and leased a guest farm in Munster, Natal. Elena had gone ahead of George and set about clearing lands and setting up a home. The farm had a party line telephone. Not being familiar with this system, every time the phone rang Elena picked it up, until the operator, Dulcie SAWYER, at the Munster Trading Post, shouted at her. Thereafter she wouldn’t touch it and eventually a policeman arrived on horseback to check on her because George couldn’t get hold of her.

Cecil BLAKE, a South African Airways pilot, was often a guest at the farm during sardine season. During his Johannesburg-Durban-Cape Town flights, he would drop a copy of the Sunday Times newspaper, weighted with a bag of sweets, onto the front lawn and repeat the service for the Port Edward Hotel. Whenever he flew over, he buzzed the guest farm. One day he spotted George kite fishing, so he severed his line. George retaliated by launching some kind of explosive device at the Dakota the next time the aircraft flew over. Unfortunately, Cecil wasn’t the pilot and the pilot reported being attacked. Cecil was in the office, overheard him, and realised it must have been George.

When the farm lease ran out, they decided to run the post office in Port Edward. George became the postmaster with Elena as his assistant and telephone operator. There was very little in Port Edward in 1957: a few rondavels at the Police Holiday Camp, the hotel, a couple of stores and a few cottages. John MPOFU, who had come from Munster with them, would wheel the postbags to the railway bus stop at the entrance to Port Edward every day. He would often take a nap in the wheelbarrow, head pillowed on the post bags - he and George started their postal work at 4:00 a.m.

In 1972, George was diagnosed with cancer and given nine months to live. The cobalt treatment worked, but left him with colon problems and he had to retire. Elena took over as postmistress and George spent his time as chairman of the town board for eight years. Although this was a voluntary position, he got the roads tarred and organised the construction of the civic buildings. Elena was also a capable draughtsperson and was responsible for drawing up plans for various buildings. George discovered that the defunct golf course was about to be lost and fundraised enough to revive it and build a small clubhouse. George loved playing golf and continued to play with the aid of a scooter when cancer incapacitated him. He battled poor health for 17 years. He passed away in Port Edward on 21 February 1988. His ashes were scattered on the seventh hole of his beloved golf course.

From the back of her cottage, Elena had a view over the golf course and from the front, a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean. She passed away in Port Edward on 30 October 2016.

Ruth FIFIELD was born in Johannesburg and became an English teacher in Port Shepstone. Her writing interests include local history, and that is how she got to spend Monday afternoons with Elena to record her life story. Eight years later, in September 2014, Ruth’s book, The Postmaster's Mistress, a 316-page biography, was published by Partridge Publishing. The book is available in softcover and e-book on Amazon.


Corrie WIJNBEEK lived through two World Wars (28 Jul 1914 – 11 Nov 1918 and 01 Sep 1939 – 02 Sep 1945), the Spanish Flu (1918 – 1920), the Great Depression (Aug 1929 – Mar 1933), and the current COVID-19 pandemic. She passed away on 13 July 2021 at the age of 108 in Swartruggens.
She was living with her son, Dirk WIJNBEEK (75) a Gereformeerde Kerk minister, and his wife Nelriet, who looked after her.
Cornelia Geertje VAN DER BURGH (aka Corrie) was born on 18 February 1913 in Den Haag, The Netherlands. She was married on 08 December 1937 and had five children. During WWI, her husband, Dirk Hendrik Petrus WIJNBEEK (13 Jan 1914 - Jul 1981), was a prisoner-of-war in Germany, and one of her sons, Dirkie, died at home. She immigrated to South Africa in 1949 with her husband and four children. They rented a home in Johannesburg before buying land in Bodmin Street, New Redruth, Alberton, and building a house. Dirk Hendrik Petrus worked in the paint business in Alberton, where Corrie lived for 58 years.
In those early years in New Redruth, the roads were still untarred, and there was no sewage system in place, a night wagon came through twice per week to empty the buckets.
A daughter, Yvonne, and her husband Willem RAS, were killed in a car hijacking on the N12 near Eldorado Park in 2008.
Her other son, Marinus (28 Aug 1939 - 02 Aug 2020) was a well-known scientist, journalist and SABC TV presenter. He was a lecturer for 9 years before he joined the SABC as science editor. In 1979 the SABC started broadcasting the Afrikaans science magazine show Brandkluis for 4 seasons, in which Marinus as presenter discussed science subjects. He immigrated to the Netherlands in September 1996 with his wife, Annatjie. He was the founder of Kempton Park Technical College. 
Another daughter is Beatrix VAN DER WALT who lives in Brackenhurst, Alberton.
After a break-in at her flat in Alberton, she moved in with Dirk and Nelriet. In 2013 they moved from Steynsburg in the Eastern Cape to Swartruggens.
She had 14 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren.
At the time of her death, Corrie was the second-oldest living Dutch emigrant, after Catharina VAN DER LINDEN (born 26 August 1912)of Adelaide, Australia.

Ella Johanna POTGIETER
, age 101, tested positive for COVID-19 in June 2021, and survived. Ella Johanna THERON was born on 22 July 1920 in Middelburg, Eastern Cape. Her family moved to Pretoria when she was 4 years old. She attended Laerskool Oost-Eind in Sunnyside, and Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool. Ella is the high school's oldest living past student, celebrating her 100th birthday in the school's century year. She left school in Grade 10, to work on the family farm in Rosslyn. She married Barend Jacobus Daniel POTGIETER (14 Aug 1916 - 12 Oct 1988) on 08 November 1941. She worked as a school secretary at Laerskool Akasia for many years before retiring in 1982. Ella currently lives in Pretoria North with her daughter Welma JACOBSZ. Ella has three children - two daughters, and a son who died four years ago. She has 8 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Shariefa KHAN
(100) has finally returned to District Six, where she once lived with her husband and six children until the Group Areas Act evictions of the 1960s. On 17 June 2021, she received the news that she was getting a new 2-bedroom flat in Russell Street. She had applied for a house in 1996 and is the oldest living District Six land claimant. She is one of 108 people who were due to move into their new homes this July, but a construction snag has caused a delay.
On 11 February 1966, the government declared District Six a white area and shortly thereafter, the family received a letter that they would have to move. Shariefa and her husband, Dawood, lost their house and their Bombay Cafe (aka Dout's Cafe) at 238 Hanover Street in the evictions in 1968, the buildings were bulldozed. Dawood (aka Dout) was a chef. The family lived in Bailey Flats in Hanover Street, close to the Avalon Bioscope. Their cafe was famous for its Indian and Cape Malay cuisine. The family was forced to move to Rylands Estate on the outskirts of Cape Town in the then newly-formed Cape Flats.
She's been living with her daughter, Sumaya MUKADAM (59), a caterer, in Connaught Estate, Elsiesrivier. Another daughter, Nadiema KHAN (68), will move in with her mother in the new house to care for her as Shariefa had a stroke in stroke in December 2020 which left her whellchair-bound.
Shariefa was born on 25 April 1921in Vryburg, North West, to Ahmad Khan DESHMUKH and Gadija MALLAK - who were Indian immigrants to South Africa. Her family moved to Cape Town in 1928, first living in Muizenberg and later in Kensington where her father had the first halaal butchery in the area. She had eight siblings but only one younger sister is alive and she lives overseas. Shariefa married Dawood KHAN, also an Indian migrant living in District Six.
Dawood died in 1978 at age 63 of heart failure. Shariefa started making samoosas for an income, working into her 90s. Of her six children, only three are alive - Sumaya, Nadiema, and Rashida DA COSTA (63) who lives in Crawford, Cape Town. A daughter, Shamsunisa, died at 21, and another daughter, Zainab, died at 12 in an accident in front of the family's cafe. Her only son, Abdullah, died at age 72. She has 17 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren.

Bredenkamp twins
Hendrik and Anna BREDENKAMP
, twins born on 31 August 1919 and originally from Bultfontein in the Free State, celebrated their 100th birthday in Garsfontein, Pretoria. The wheelchair-bound twins were the last surviving of 11 children. Anna never married and worked as a missionary in Malawi for 26 years, after which she did counselling work with soldiers at 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria. Besides Afrikaans, she was fluent in English, Zulu and Chichewa. Anna died on 28 July 2020 of COVID-19, at Serene Park Retirement Home in Garsfontein.
The twins lived at Serene Park Retirement Home, with Hendrik living in a private unit across the road with his son Gerhard.

Hendrik was a Magistrate in the Free State, and later the Chief Magistrate in Pretoria. He was also fluent in English, Zulu and Dutch. He married Mona Marie Catharine BAASCH on 26 January 1946 and they had five children. Mona died on 18 October 2002 in Pretoria. Hendrik has 13 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.

Tossie GOUWS celebrated her 100th birthday on 15 February 2021 at Ons Tuis Riviera Retirement Home in Pretoria. She's lived at Ons Tuis since May 2014.
Hendrika Margaretha MEINTJIES was born in Klerksdorp, where she grew up. She outlived two husbands, VAN ZYL and GOUWS. Her oldest daughter is 80 years old, another, Tersia KLEYNHANS is 72. Tossie had 6 children, and has 15 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and 6 great-great-grandchildren.
She once sent some of her smocking work to Princess Anne. Tossie was also a baker and cook. At one stage, she and her husband owned a furniture store, and she was a regional manager for Russels. 

Katriena, Jan (back), John-Will, Benjamin 

Katriena STRYDOM
of Rietvallei farm, near Robertson, was born on 28 June 1919. She grew up in the area, and worked on the farm in the house and in the vineyards. Her first work was as a shepherd on Chris VILJOEN's farm.
Her mother died at age 106. Katriena had 9 children, of which 5 are deceased. She has 25 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren, including Benjamin LOUW (grandson) and John-Will ARENDSE (great-grandson).

Janet ROBERTS died at age 101 at Huis Weltevrede in Welkom on 01 June 2014. She was often seen at rose shows, and at age 95 was still doing her own laundry and ironing. Her son, Ian, visited her every day, and until a few weeks before he passing, they would go out forice cream or waffles evey day.
In her younger years she was a league tennis player in Virginia. She stopped playing tennis at age 79.
Janet ARNOT was born on 07 February 1913 in Roodepoort. She married William Robert Charles ROBERTS on 01 June 1940, and they settled in Virginia in 1952. He worked at the Harmony Gold Mine. They had two sons, Ian and Clive. Janet had 2 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.

Miss Mary
Miss Mary SWART
of Huis Klippedrift in Napier celebrated her 100th birthday on 04 June 2015. She moved to Huis Klippedrift in 2015.
Maria Carolina SWART (aka Miss Mary) was born on 04 June 1915 on Heuningberg farm in Bredasdorp. She died on 18 Julie 2017 at age 102 in Napier.
Her father donated a small hall on his property to the African People's Organisation so that they could have a meeting place. Her sister, Susan and husband Jack VAN RENSBURG, fought to save the buildings that now house the Shipwreck Museum in Bredasdorp. In 1967, the authorities planned to demolish the old Independent Church building and hall. The community joined hands and after a large donation from Gideon ALBERTYN, they raised funds for a museum fund. The buildings, which belonged to the Anglican Church at that stage, were bought under the auspices of the municipality and declared a National Monument. The church building houses the Shipwreck Museum and the old hall next door houses the village museum. Miss Mary was an active member of the Friends of the Shipwreck Museum.

Lydia RADEBE of Villiers in the Free State turned 100 in August 2019. She was born on 13 August 1919 on a farm near Villiers.
In 1995 she received the first low-cost 3-room house built in Qalabotjha, Villiers, where she lived with two granddaughters. For her 100th birthday the community made repairs to the house.

Gerty LÖTTER of Robbertsz Street, Brandwacht in Stellenbosch celebrated her 100th birthday on 29 April 2019. She was born in Hopefield. She lived in Somerset West for many years before moving in with her daughter, Rita DE JAGER. Gerty was the youngest of 9 children and outlived them all. She also outlived her son. Gerty died in November 2019.

Willie SMIT turned 100 years old on 10 June 2021, a few days before moving to Ons Tuis Rivera in Pretoria.
Willem Frederick Jacobus SMIT was born on 10 June 1921 near Boksburg, one of six children. Three of them are still alive. He started an apprenticeship at Simmer & Jack Mine, and worked until his 40s on the gold mines in the Welkom area. He left to farm with sheep and cattle on the Highveld, together with his wife Henriëtte and their 4 children ((of whom two daughters are still alive). They later retired to Hartenbos for a few years before moving to Pretoria. He outlived Henriëtte and 2 children. Willie has 7 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild.

Chithekile MaGumede HLABISA, 101, survived COVID-19 and later received her vaccination. One of her daughters, Nelisiwe HLABISA, died from COVID-19. Chithekile lives in Ward 1 near Mzingazi in KwaZulu-Natal.

Eunice FICK
from Bellville, Cape Town, celebrated her 102nd birthday by getting the COVID-19 vaccine on 26 May 2021. Eunice DE JAGER was born in Oudtshoorn and has lived in her flat behind Eureka Retirement Home in Bellville for 26 years. Welhma LISHMAN is one of two daughters.
Eunice has 7 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Her husband, Gabriel Stephanus FICK (aka Kokkie), died on 04 September 2009 at age 94. They were married on 14 March 1945. She is one of Die Burger newspaper's oldest subscribers, having had a subscription for more than 50 years. Her father was also a subscriber.

Coba SCHABORT of Bloemfontein celebrated her 104th birthday on 29 April 2021, spending the day with her two daughters, 9 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Her daughter, Annalet NEL, lives with her in a townhouse in Langenhoven Park. Helene WILKE is her other daughter.
Coba is the oldest member of the Voortrekkerbeweging, having been a member for 90 of their 101 years. She received an honorary award from them in their centenary year.
She grew up in Reivilo, in North West province. The town was named after her father, A.J. OLIVIER. Coba survived the Spanish Flu pandemic, having been infected in 1918.


John Ronald Reuel TOLKIEN was born in Bloemfontein on 03 January 1892, the son of Arthur Reuel TOLKIEN, an Englishman who had taken up a position with the Africa Bank Corporation, and his wife Mabel SUFFIELD (1870–1904). Arthur arrived in Cape Town in 1890, and in 1891 he was transferred to Bloemfontein. He sent for his fiancée, Mabel, and they were married on 16 April 1891 in the St. George's Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town. In 1895 when JRR was three years old, his mother took him and his brother, Hilary Arthur Reuel (born 17 February 1894) back to England. During their absence, Arthur fell ill with rheumatic fever and died of severe brain haemorrhage on 15 February 1896. Arthur's funeral service took place at the Anglican Church in Bloemfontein, and he was buried at the President Brand Cemetery on the corner of Church and Rhodes Avenue.

Handwritten Christmas card photo of the Tolkien family, sent by Mabel from Bloemfontein to her relatives in Birmingham, on 15 November 1892. Mabel is seated, the nanny is holding baby JRR then ten months old. The cook and a servant are also included. The original photo was sepia, Mabel had coloured in some sections and added the writing.
In 1992, Arthur's grave was located after a long search made difficult by the lack of a gravestone. Sarel THERON, who worked for the Department of Parks and Recreation in the Boemfontein Municipality, eventually found a burial register for the President Brand Cemetery. Together with Frans VAN DER WALT, who was responsible for the cemeteries, they located the grave using three registers that finally showed the grave was in Block D, Row 3, Grave number 20. A new tombstone was placed on the grave in 1994 by the Tolkien family and and the South African Tolkien Society.

Arthur Tolkien's grave in Bloemfontein
Arthur was born in Handsworth, Stafford, England, in 1857, the eldest child of John Benjamin TOLKIEN and Mary Jane STOWE (circa 1834, Birmingham; died 13 February 1915, Newcastle upon Tyne). His father had previously been married to Jane HOLMWOOD (circa 1806, Fareham, Hampshire; died 1854, Worcester) with whom he had four children:

1) Jane (born circa 1836, Marylebone, London)
2) Emily (born June 1838, Marylebone, London)
3) Louisa (born June 1840, Marylebone, London)
4) John Benjamin (born March 1845, Birmingham, Warwickshire; died 1883, London)

He married Mary on 16 February 1856 at All Saints Parish Church, Birmingham, Warwickshire. They had the following children:

1) Arthur Reuel (born 1857, Handsworth)
2) Mabel (born 1858, Handsworth; died 1937)
3) Grace Bindley (born 1861, Handsworth; died 1904, Kings Norton, Worcestershire)
4) Florence Mary (born 1863, Birmingham)
5) Frank Winslow (born 28 July 1864, Birmingham; died 24 April 1867, West Bromwich)
6) Howard Charles (born 27 December 1866, Birmingham; died 27 October 1867, West Bromwich)
7) Wilfrid Henry (born 1870, Handsworth; died 08 August 1938, Essex)
8) Laurence George H. (born 1873, Moseley, Worcestershire)

John Benjamin was born in 1807 in Middlesex, London. He died on 01 August 1896 in Kings Norton, Warwickshire, England. He was a piano maker, teacher, and tuner. Arthur did not follow in his father's footsteps into the family trade in pianos, instead he became a bank clerk.

The Africa Bank Corporation was a double-storey sandstone building on the corner of Maitland and West Burger Street. The family lived in the top floor. The building later became a Bradlows furniture store. The building was demolished in 1933 and replaced by an Art Deco building that is still there. A bronze plaque was placed on the building in 1984, but was stolen in 1997. Thanks to an alert policeman, it was recovered a few days later, and is now kept at the Hobbit Boutique Hotel in President Steyn Street.

After Arthur's death, Mabel had no income, so she moved back in with her parents in Kings Heath, Birmingham. In 1896, they moved to Sarehole, a Worcestershire village. Mabel taught her two children herself, teaching them art, calligraphy, maths, science, English literature, and reading Latin and French. JRR liked to draw landscapes and trees, but his favourite lessons were languages.

Mabel became a Catholic in 1900, despite her Baptist family's protests. This led to her family stopping financial assistance to her. In 1904, when JRR was 12, Mabel died of acute diabetes at Fern Cottage in Rednal. She was buried at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. The young boys stayed with their aunt, Beatrice SUFFIELD, for a short while. Prior to her death, she assigned guardianship of her sons to her close friend, Fr. Francis Xavier MORGAN of the Birmingham Oratory. After her death, JRR grew up in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham and attended King Edward's School, Birmingham, and later St. Philip's School. In 1903, he won a Foundation Scholarship and returned to King Edward's where he was one of the cadets from the school's Officers Training Corps who lined the route for the 1910 Coronation Parade of King George V.

JRR was known as Ronald by his family, and had the nickname Tollers. While in his early teens, JRR's cousins, Mary and Majorie INCLEDON invented their own language called Animalic. Mary and others, including JRR, went on to invent a more complex language they called Nevbosh. His own first invented language was Naffarin.

The 1901 England Census shows JRR living in Kings Norton, Kings Heath, Worcestershire, with his mother and brother. The 1911 England Census shows him boarding at 4 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, with his brother Hilary (occupation: hardware merchant's clerk).

In 1911, JRR went on a summer holiday to Switzerland. In October 1911, he began studying at Exeter College, Oxford. He initially studied Classics but changed his course in 1913 to English Language and Literature, graduating in 1915 with first-class honours. At Oxford he was friends with Clive Staples LEWIS, who went on to write the Narnia Chronicles. Every Monday morning the two would meet to read each other's writings. They later formed a group of writers called The Inklings.

At the age of 16, JRR met Edith Mary BRATT, when he and his brother moved into the boarding house where she lived. She was also an orphan, and a Protestant, which did not please Fr. MORGAN who forbid JRR from having contact with her until he was 21. He obeyed this prohibition, with one early exception, over which Fr. MORGAN threatened to cut short his university career. The day he turned 21, JRR wrote to Edith, asking her to marry him. Edith replied that she had already agreed to marry another man, thinking he had forgotten her. They met up, after which Edith returned her engagement ring and accepted JRR's proposal. She reluctantly converted to Catholicism, after which her Protestant landlord evicted her. They couple were married at St. Mary Immaculate Roman Catholic Church, Warwick, on 22 March 1916. Mary was born on 21 January 1889 in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, and died on 29 November 1971 in Poole, Dorset. She served as the inspiration for his fictional character Lúthien Tinúviel, an Elven princess and the most beautiful of all the Children of Ilúvatar. The couple are buried side by side in Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford; below the names on their grave are the names Beren and Lúthien: in Tolkien's legendarium, Lúthien and the Man Beren were lovers separated for a time by Lúthien's father King Thingol.

Edith and JRR
JRR and Edith had the following children:

1) John Francis Reuel (16 November 1917 - 22 January 2003). Became a Catholic priest in 1946.
2) Michael Hilary Reuel (22 October 1920 - 27 February 1984)
3) Christopher John Reuel (born 21 November 1924). He married Faith FAULCONBRIDGE in 1951. Their son Simon Mario Reuel was born in 1959. They separated in 1963 and divorced in 1967. He next married Baillie KLASS (born 1941, Winnipeg, Canada) in 1967. They have two children: Adam Reuel (born 1969) and Rachel Clare Reuel (born 1971)
4) Priscilla Mary Anne Reuel (born 18 June 1929)

JRR in World War I
When World War I broke out, JRR did not immediately volunteer for the British Army as he was completing his degree. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1915, after graduation. After training as a Signals Officer, he was sent to the Somme. In between terms behind the lines at Bouzincourt, Tolkien participated in the assaults on the Schwaben Redoubt and the Leipzig Salient. JRR and Edith developed a secret code for his letters home so that Edith could track his whereabouts on a map of the Western Front. In October 1916, as his battalion attacked Regina Trench, JRR came down with trench fever and was invalided to England on in November. By 1918 all but one of his close friends were dead.

In 1921, while teaching at Leeds University, the University of Cape Town offered him a position. However, Edith was still recovering from the birth of their son Michael in 1920, and JRR turned the offer down. In 1922 he became a Professor of English at Oxford.  He became a Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1925 to 1945, and then Professor of English Language and Literature at Merton College, Oxford from 1945 to 1959.

He started writing The Hobbit in the early 1930s. It was published on 21 September 1937. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, he started writing The Lord of the Rings, taking 12 years to complete. It was published in three volumes over the course of a year from 29 July 1954 to 20 October 1955. The three volumes were titled The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Sir Stanley UNWIN, his publisher, said of The Lord of the Rings: ''a book for all times which we will be selling long after my departure from this world... a great work''. The Lord of the Rings was released as a film in 2000.  After he retired, JRR started work on completing The Silmarillion, which was inspired by his relationship with Edith. It was only completed after his death by his son, Christopher, and published in 1977. JRR died on 02 September 1973 at Bournmouth, England. He was buried at Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford.

JRR at the Botanical Garden, Oxford. This is probably the last photograph of him, and was taken by his grandson Michael George in 1973.
In 2003, Bloemfontein launched a Tolkien Route. Sights on the tour included Arthur's grave, and the St. George' Anglican Cathedral where JRR was baptised on 31 January 1892, and a bronze plaque can be seen next to the baptismal font. This was followed by a visit to where the Africa Bank Corporation building stood. The tour ended at the Hobbitt Boutique Hotel in President Steyn Street, where each of its seven rooms is named after one of the hobbit characters in The Hobbit. The privately owned Hobbit house has hosted dignitaries, including the Duke of Kent, and JRR's daughter Priscilla. It is owned Jake UYS, who was chairman of the Haradrim Society, a Tolkien society for Afrikaans speakers in South Africa founded in 2000 and now defunct.

It is often claimed that the Amatola Mountains in Hogsback, Eastern Cape, served as inspiration for JRR's stories, and that his family visited the area when he was a baby. No factual evidence has been found for this claim. It is said that while serving in the Royal Air Force, JRR's son Christopher was stationed in nearby Queenstown and visited Hogsback several times. He sent his father sketches and descriptions of the mountains and forests, which might be the root of this claim. Christopher drew the original maps for his father's The Lord of the Rings, which he signed C.J.R.T.

I have not found reference to him being in Queenstown. Christopher enlisted in the Royal Air Force in late 1943 and was sent to South Africa for flight training at 7 Air School in Kroonstad, and 25 Air School in Standerton. He was commissioned into the general duties branch of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on 27 January 1945 as a pilot officer on probation. He transferred to the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve on 28 June 1945, and promoted to Flying Officer on 27 July 1945.


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