By Rose Willis
Photographs By Chris Marais
Lords, lairds, dukes, and Britain’s queen
Are forever linked to the dryland scene.
Victoria and Albert, will remain
With many governors on the thirstland plain.
Among these Lord Charles gave family’s names
To little towns across the plains.
Soon brilliant Beauforts, were a part
Of Africa’s great, growing heart.
Somerset, both East and West
Honour this Lord, at whose behest
Worcester, the Boland town so friendly,
Was named in honour of brother Henry.
Then Peregrine Maitland to Richmond granted
His in-law’s name – they were enchanted
Colesberg shared Sir Lowry’s fame.
A duke to Bedford gave his name.
George Grey, Cradock, Caledon
Gave their names a local spin.
Then Donkin and Chris Barnard play
Roles in Beaufort, to this day.
Donkin kept his wife’s heart forever
in a casket, like a treasure.
And Barnard, transplant pioneer
with brothers spent his boyhood there.
The Scottish clergy, who came to guide
far-flung flocks, all took pride,
Robertson, Fraser, Sutherland too
Added their names to the Great Karoo.
Graaff-Reinet was Murray’s home
From there he far and wide did roam
Naming Aberdeen, Bethesda , Murraysburg
As he travelled preaching God’s own word.
Hanover, shares a German name
It also shares Olive Schreiner’s fame.
Afrikaners then tried for par
Naming Noupoort, Middelburg, De Aar.
Vos, Brits, Loxton and Merwe, too
With Laing and Willis, are in the Karoo.
William Moore became Willowmore,
Sharing fame with men of yore.
Matjiesfontein – quite unique
of a “Scottish Laird” and spa did speak.
Uniondale paid tribute to
the end of old, the start of new.
So shakers, movers, men of merit
Were honoured and in this zone got credit
People, weather, politics and chance
Wove a tapestry of rich romance.
- Poem by the original Rose of the Karoo: Rose Willis, author of the popular monthly Rose’s Roundup newsletter. If you want to subscribe (R200 annually), email her on email@example.com.