Posts Tagged ‘Luka Jantje’

I still find it hard to believe that a simple question I asked on the blog over four years ago has grown a life of its own.

On 4 June 2007, I asked David van Wyk if he had heard of Luka Jantje. Much discussion followed (all the posts are under blog category ‘History’), and as a result, several descendants from both sides of the Langeberg Campaign have commented on the various posts, and have been able to contribute in a very small way to ‘Luka Jantjie – Resistance Hero of the South African Frontier’. It all came to a head when the publisher, John Aldridge, found the blog in December last year.

When I held my own copy of the book for the first time last week, I had a little cry. For my dad. He would so have loved to have been part of these discussions. But he died in February 1995, sixteen years too early.

There has been an incredible sense of serendipity throughout this whole project – as far as the blog is concerned (and for Kevin Shillington it seems, from what he writes in his prologue). The moment one thread dried up, another would start. It’s almost as if the ancestors have been prodding us to take it further. And they started prodding over twenty years ago:

My dad’s letter to the Albany Museum, dated 4 April 1987*:

The museum’s response, dated 21 April 1987*:

Another letter from the museum, dated 27 April 1987*, in response to Michael Searle’s query on the same matter:

I’ve just noticed that Micheal Searle and my father used the same post office. They probably lived close to each other, yet neither knew of the other’s existence. But I digress…

The book was launched in Kimberley last week, as part of a 3-day conference: Resisting Colonisation: The Northern Cape Frontier 1850-1900. Many of the Setswana chiefs were there, including Luka’s descendants. I have heard that it was wonderful to be part of the whole experience – plenty of interesting information in a great atmosphere.

And now the book is being launched in Cape Town – tomorrow! At the District Six Museum Memorial Hall. If you can make it, it’ll be great to see you. I’ll be the one with the camera, all bug-eyed in wonder at being surrounded by so many clever people.

*If you can’t read the letters, and believe that without this information you won’t be able to sleep tonight, let me know and I’ll transcribe them in the comment section. My pleasure.


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A new thread of correspondence has arisen from my blogs on Luka Jantjie*.  It deals with medals and badges relating to the Bechuanaland Field Force, and in particular with the Lang(e)berg Campaign.

WordPress does not permit the posting of pictures in comments, so I have created a new blog in response to Robin Scott, who commented on 29 January and later emailed a photo of the badge to me:

Robin does not know the history of this badge, but perhaps one of the readers of this blog may be able to help him.  Robin, perhaps you could sign up to one of the websites dedicated to badge collecting, like this one.  There are a lot of knowledgeable people on these sites and they seem like quite a friendly bunch too.

John Aldridge responded to Robin’s query and emailed a picture of this badge to me:

Interesting to note the different spellings** for the same campaign.

John has also been researching memorials to the men who fell in the Bechuanaland Campaign, and has discovered virtually identical memorials in Kimberley and Cape Town. (St George’s Cathedral).

Bechuanaland Field Force Memorial

We are currently investigating the possibility that there is another one in Grahamstown. Does anyone know of any other, similar, memorials in South Africa?

*In earlier blogs, I have used the spelling ‘Jantje’, but have since discovered that the correct spelling is ‘Jantjie,’ with the ‘i’.

**On a lighter note, my maiden name was also subjected to various spellings.  Once, I was asked to spell my surname, and responded, “Cooke, with an e”. A few days later I received a letter addressed to Miss Koek.

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