Thursday, December 18, 2008

Irene Kampkerkhof

Kampkerkhof is a cemetry in the village of Irene. A memorial to a sad chapter in our history where over over two thousand Boer men, women and children are buried. They were victims of the concentration camp during the Anglo Boer war between 1899 and 1902. These plagues depict some of the hardships they endured during their incarceration.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Farm in the City

Irene farm situated about 15 kilometers from the city center, in the Centurion area, is an example how agricultural land has been consumed with the march of progress. Irene is a village that was established many decades ago. It was an isolated, detached village with loads of character. The nearby Irene farm, well known for it's dairy herd, was really in the countryside.
Much development has taken place and the whole area has now become urbanized with housing complexes surrounding the original farm. However, the farm seems to have embraced modern development remarkably well by establishing an attractive restaurant and outlet for it's farm products. It is always a treat to have sunday morning breakfast here. It is like stepping out of the city and into the country side with it's tranquail surroundings.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jakaranda City

The Jacarands are now in full bloom and many parts of the city are cloaked in purple. The Jacarandas are very prominent with many streets lined with a double row of the trees forming a colourful canopy as you drive through. I posted a similar scene in June when the trees were green. This scene shows the Telkom communcations tower in the background. It is visible from many parts of the city. At present we are experiencing hot sunny days. Yet there has still been no rain.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stairway to the sky

Sunnypark shopping centre in Sunnyside Pretoria has been undergoing a major renovation. This staircase with it's bulkheads leads to the top floor with a large sky light which floods the entire complex with natural light. In the post 1994 period after the first democratic elections much of the inner city decayed remarkably. Presently there has been a huge injection of capital to rejuvinate the city. Sunyside in particular has been a hive of activity with many new buildings being constructed.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

City Park

This tranquil park, called the Trim Park, is situated about 7 kilometers from the city centre in Muckleneuk. We had a family breakfast at the Blue Crane reataurant adjacent this spot. The stream leads down from the dam in the Austen Roberts bird sanctuary. It was established in 1958 and about 170 species have been recorded by birders. A hide which penetrates into the santuary permits visitors to view many species close up.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Jacaranda Spring

It is now late spring in Pretoria and the jacaranda's are starting to bloom. During October and November the city will be bathed in a blanket of purple. Many of the inner city streets and surrounding suburbs are lined and saturated with Jacaranda trees and form a boulevard with a purple canopy. Any sale or planting of these trees is now prohibited in South Africa as they have been classified as an invasive flora.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

City Founders

Three statues of the city's founders line up in front of the Pretoria city hall facing eastward. In the background is Chief Tshwane after whom the greater metropilitan area is named (see Sept 26 for a larger photo). The founder of the modern day city in 1855 was Marthinus Pretorius who is standing in the foreground. It was named after his father, Andries Pretorius who is riding his horse in the middle ground.
According to cultural history it is claimed that local tribal inhabitants, led by Chief Tshwane, lived in the region before the voortrekkers arrived to establish the modern day city. Questions have been raised whether Chief Tshwane ever existed. At present the controvery is still raging regarding the city's renaming. It has been proposed that Pretoia should be renamed to Tshwane. The name Pretoria would then be retained as the inner city centre suburb.

Friday, October 3, 2008


The city is a blaze of colours during spring. With the initial blossoms now begining to wilt and fall from the plants and trees, the Jacarandas are beginning to emerge. During the later part of October and into November the Jacarandas will form a blanket of purple over much of the city. This has earned the city the nickname of the 'Jakaranda city'. In this instance it is spelt with a 'K' which is the Afrikaans (South African language) version. This shot is looking down Leyds street in Muckleneuk with the Union buildings in the background.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Three Strelizia's in the gardens of the Transvaal museum. The more common name is bird of paradise flower or altenatively the crane flower. It appears as if these flowers are frolicking like a group of birds. The Strelitzia is a genus of 5 species of perennial plants and is native to South Africa. They are always an attractive feature in any garden and rather intriguing with their unique shape. This particular species normally reaches a height of about 1.2 meters. There are other larger species that can reach a height of 10 meters.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Interesting Shapes

This interesting shot was taken of the front gardens of the Transvaal museum in Pretoria. The circular lawn terraces contrast sharply with the regimental columns of the building. I have not visited the museum in many years so it is time for a visit once again.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Office Park Art

Another one of Fourie's murals at the office park.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Office Park Art

This artists name is Fourie and he has painted many magnificent murals depicting South African wild life scenes in this industrial office park. I am always fascinated by the details and true to life art work. He has certainly done a sterling job. There are many other magnificent scenes which I will post in the days to come.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sixteen Flags

These 16 flags form a semi circle between the fountain and UNISA. This shot was taken at .... Yes, you guesed it fountains circle. These flag masts were erected in 1995 just before the Rugby world cup, that South Africa hosted. Each bore the flag of one of the 16 nations that participated in the tournament. South Africans, who are passoinate about their rugby, were of course ecstatic when we won the coveted William Webb Ellis rugby world cup that year. A feat which we repeated in the 2007 competition in France. Presently these masts proudly display 16 South African flags that flutter in the wind.
UNISA stands for the University of South Africa. It is Africa's leading distance learning institution. It primarily services it's students through correspondence courses throughout the world.
Fountains circle if a prominent landmark in Pretoria and an important traffic junction that services the commuters and motor vehciles to the south of the city.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Chief Tshwane

Chief Tshwane stands in front of the Pretoria city hall as the controversy of the city's name rages on. "Pretoria" is still the official name of the city according to the South African geograhical names committee. The city council prefers the name Tshwane.

According to history it is claimed that the african people, led by Chief Tshwane, were the first inhabitants where the modern day city now stands. This means that they were here before the great trek which commenced in 1838 leading to the the first european settlers arriving at the area of Pretoria. I have not come across any historical encounters that the Europeans had with the local indeginous inhabitants, but it should make some interesting reading.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This large potted cycad graces the foreground in front of the Pretoria natural museum. A skeleton of a whale is suspended in front of the museum as the late afternoon sun bathes the sandstone walls. Cycads are found all over South Africa. The sub tropcial plant takes many years to grow and is a protected species.

Monday, September 22, 2008

African Innovation

The conversion and modification of a cargo container can serve a very useful and enterprising purpose. Someone has been very innovative to come up with the idea of establishing a restaurant adjacent a flea market in down town Sunnyside using this container. And they have customers for good measure. There are certainly many creative ways to establish a small business to earn a living.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Caught in the act

This artist is painting a wildlife mural at a busy street intersection. There a many other murals inside the business complex called Tannery Park nearby. The artwork is extremely well done and depicts life sized scenes of African wild life. It certainly adds a lot of life and colour to an otherwise dull concrete railway bridge. Hopefully the irresponsible grafitti artists will refrain from making their contribution as well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

End of Winter

With winter at an end and spring in the air we can look forward to a long summer. We are fortunate to have short winters in South Africa. Generally it spans from mid May to mid August - which is only 3 months of generally cold winter weather. In Gauteng the winters are usually dry and cold and we expect our first rains in early September. Strangely, it has not rained yet so we can expect thunder storms to appear any day now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gaurding the city

This gun looms over the gardens of the union buildings. It probably originates from the 1 st world war. It is similar in appearance to the Long Tom guns used by the Boers in defending their positions against the advancing British during the Anglo Boer war. The tall building, dominating the city skyline, just beneath the barrel is the Reserve (Central) bank.

Pretoria was founded in 1855 by Marthinus Pretorius, who named it after his father Andries Pretorius. The founding of the city marked the end of the boer settlement movements known as the 'Great Trek' which began in 1838. It was an initiative to escape from British influence in the Cape and gain independance. This in turn lead to the formation of the Zuid Afrikaansche Reupubliek or ZAR and informally known as the Transvaal Republic. Marthinus Pretorius was the first president of this new republic.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gautrain progress

The construction site for the Gautrain flyover located at the Lyttleton offramp on the M1 highway between Johanneburg and Pretoria. The Gautrain is the rapid rail link currently under construction, an innovative and necessary development in our transport infrastructure. Prior to the start of the project much unfounded controversy raged as many parties objected to the concept. The trade unions argued that it will not benefit the poor. Opposition parties and other organisations argued that the cost was exhorbitant. Nevetheless the government went ahead and launched the project.

In my opinion it is a positive development with some vision and insight into the future. Public transport needs to be progessive and is urgently needed in this region. This is the intention of the rapid rail network that is being developed around the Tshwane and Johannesburg metropolitan centers.

This section of the rail network will be part of the link that will run South from Pretoria, through Centurion, Midrand, Sandton and on to the centre of Johannesburg. The line will service the commuter traffic to the rapidly developing industries that straddle the M1 highway between the two cities. The project may just be completed before the start of the Soccer world cup in 2010.

Embracing the past

Oom Paul's house. Situated in Church street about 1 kilometer from the Church square. This is the original house where Paul Kruger lived as the president of the Transvaal Republic. He enjoyed spending his spare time on his 'stoep' and greeting the passers by. Of course security was not an issue in the 1890's. The house is now a museum that covers the life and times of the charismatic leader.

Tall buildings dominate the skyline and loom over the little house. A vastly different world from the days of ox wagons and gravel roads when Kruger governed the fiercely independant republic. All that changed with the march of progress and the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand just 50 kilometers to the south. This brought a flood of prospectors and the development of new industries to the new city of Johannesburg after 1886.

The growth of the gold mining industry brought on the demise and eventual colapse of the boer republics with the outbreak of the anglo boer war as the British empire spread their imperial tentacles to take the spoils of the richest gold fields in the world. Paul Kruger went into exile as the advancing British armies overran the peaceful city of Pretoria. Thereafter the Union of South Africa was established with the incorporation of the Boer republics into the geographical region of South Africa today.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Servamus et Servimus

A monument dedicated to the South African police officers who have died in the line of duty. The names appear on the tablets on the inner semi circular panels. I was shocked to see the number of names appearing on these panels.

The monument was unveiled by the late PW Botha in 1987 and is situated in the gardens of the union buildings. A sombre relic to the complex problems and challenges facing our society in combating crime in the country. The newspaper headline on Sam's site, pretoriadailyphoto, sums up the magnitude of the problems confronting us. Nevertheless, we have a great country, a developing nation and a growing economy that will improve the lives of all our citizens.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Smuts House

Jan Smuts relaxes in his garden in Irene during the late afternoon winter sun. This house is the Smuts museum where he lived whilst being the Prime minister of the Union of South Africa and into retirement. There are interesting artifacts relating to his life and times. Smuts was mainly responsible for drafting the 'Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations'. He was born in 1870 and died in 1960. When war broke out with Great Britain in 1899, Smuts received a command in the Boer army. As a skilful military leader he rose to the rank of General.

Today the grounds serve as a recreation center. One can enjoy a picnic, tea and scones in the well known tea garden or enjoy a leisurely walk in the grounds and onto the top of the Koppie (hill) to view the surrounding country side. On the first and last Saturday of the month the popular Irene Village market is held in the grounds and many visitors flock to the stalls. It makes an interesting outing to visit the flea market where the merchants sell anything from beads to furniture.

The town of Irene has transformed from a quiet tranquil village to a busy residential suburb with many shopping malls and business complexes emerging. Traffic jams are now becoming the norm as construction expands in the City of Tshwane.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Obviously this fellow has decided to resist change. It is usually quite amazing to see an original, old building sandwiched amongst the new modern and tall buildings. Personally I find old buildings fascinating Particularly when an owner has said "I do not want to sell" and sustained their trade. I am not sure what trade the owners of this building are indulging in. But the wording on the right side of the building suggests that the are manufacturing cigarettes. How big is their market? Well that can be anybody's guess. I don't think they can compete against Phillip Morris by being this small.

And.. with the South African government prohibiting any form of advertising of tobacco products, their market influence must be extremely limited. So, I can only surmise that they must be merchandising something else. unfortunately they were closed when this shot was taken. Next time I am in town, I will pay them a visit and investigate.

On the subject of old buildings. I visited Europe recently and one of the highlights was seeing all the old buildings in Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels and many other cities dating back to the 1600's and older. Modern cities tend to tear down old building to make way for big concrete structures. Well.. I suppose there is a price to pay for progress.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Union Buildings

The Union buildings, one of the famous buildings in South Africa and a landmark in Pretoria. Designed by the famous architect, Sir Herbert Baker, it was completed in 1913. It houses the offices of the State President, currently Thabo Mbeki. This view shows the large lawns that lead up to terraced gardens and onto the buildings. A statue of General Louis Botha, the first prime minister of the Union of South Africa graces the foreground. South Africa became a republic in 1961.

The buildings are about 275 meters long, are made of sandstone and comprise of two symetrical wings that were intended to represent the bilingualism and unity of the two cultures after the Anglo Boer war.

Unfortunately the buildings are not open to the public. I have been fortunate to roam around the outer buildings when they were open to the general public in the 1980's. The lawns are often used for functions ranging from presidential inaugurations to concerts and even protests.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Jakaranda City

Pretoria is often called the 'Jakaranda' city by virtue of the thousands of Jakaranda trees that grace it's streets. The tree's flowers blossom in October and bathe the city in a cloak of purple. The city looks absolutely beautiful during early summer, especially when viewed from the hill tops, under the blanket of purple Jakarandas.

The Jakaranda is not indigenous to South Africa. It originates from Brazil and was brought to Pretoria in the early 20 th century and planted along the streets of the inner city. It does appear in many parts of the surrounding areas of Tshwane (the greater metropolitan area) including Johannesburg. It is now considered an invader (non indigenous) plant and legislation prohibits the distribution and planting of the trees in South Africa. Trees that are removed are not replaced.

This photo was taken looking up Bourke street in Mukkleneuk with the Telkom communications tower rising above the trees. I often used to run up this street which rises steeply near the top and passes over into Groenkloof.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oom Paul

Paul Kruger majestically graces Church square in the centre of Pretoria. One of the few statues in Pretoria. Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger was born in 1825 and served as president of the Transvaal Republic from 1883 to 1900. With the discovery of gold in Johannesburg in 1886, which subsequently brought thousands of Uitlanders (foreigners), mostly British, to the Republic. This led to serious conflicts of interest between Britain and the Boers leading to the Anglo Boer war which broke out in 1899. This ultimately lead to "Oom (uncle) Paul" fleeing the country and into exile in Europe.