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Die Kappie (Bonnet)


Figure 1. Kappie (1940 - 1950) belonging to Hannie Hanekom. Cotton cloth.


Figure 2. A photograph showing my grandfather crossing from Namibia into South Africa. Please note the women in the background wearing their kappies.

Time to play

I inherited the kappie shown above in Figure 1 from my great grandmother on my maternal grandmother's side. Hannie Hanekom (nee Dreyer) made this between 1940 and 1950. It is not a Voortrekker kappie but a smous or boere kappie, headgear that was worn by women in the Northern Cape and Namakwaland regions.


Figure 3

I noticed the smudge on the bottom left hand corner of the slide in Figure 3 showing the railway map of South Africa.This is the area close to the Northern Cape and Namakwaland, the underdeveloped, poor side of the country. It is empty. Nothing to be offered here. It is almost prophetic that this area should be smudged out. It is from here that Hannie Hanekom and all my family came (Figure 2).

The kappie speaks of the hardship these women endured, protecting them from the hot sun while they helped dig irrigation trenches with the men to divert water from the Orange river and transform desert into cultivated lands (Kakamas). Under the supervision of the German engineer Japie Lutz, a labyrinth of irrigation channels was dug by hand.

This was a hard-wrought existence, unlike the images on most slides where the land is presented in the style of a box of Bakers Choice Assorted Biscuits (Figure 4) - only the best parts and progress are shown and the areas and opportunities that offer the most potential for financial gain are presented, to be picked at like an array of biscuits.


Figure 4. Bakers Choice Assorted Biscuits.

The reality was that on the ground, under the smudge, it was 40 degrees Celsius in the shade.

These images might as well be of another country, a foreign country, and speak so clearly of the diversity of the people who are now called Afrikaaners. The lesser known German immigrants moved in their thousands into the vast hinterland up the West Coast, trailing with them some of the rebellious French Huguenots who refused to have their church services and school teachings in Dutch. The Huguenots got send off with warm lead to follow.

As a child I was so disappointed that Die Groot Trek and The Great Boer War were mere myths to all of my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of course these events were used in propaganda ploys, hiding all of the associated horrors while strengthening the Afrikaner movement in which I was schooled. All over again, these slides profess a non-truth.

This kappie is therefore a precious relic of my past. It is steeped in the materiality of memory and history. I have decided to reconstruct the pattern of the kappie and become deeply familiar with the construct. By using cheap, disposable plastic packaging and Sellotape as the physical materials of construct, this first replication of the kappie is almost entirely ephemeral in nature (Figures 6 and 7).


Figure 5.
Kappie reconstruction, June 2021.
Plastic packaging materials, Sellotape.


Figure 5, 6, 7. Kappie reconstruction details. June 2021. Plastic packaging materials, Sellotape.

Using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software I drew out the pattern (Figure 8) which can then be printed to scale. It reminded me of the fabric patterns I marked out with the tracing wheel when I helped my mother at her sewing table (Figure 9). It might be the clear plastic that reminded me of the thin translucent waxy paper on which the sewing patterns were printed. In a strange twist of time and technology I could now save Hannie’s pattern on a Google folder online, and in doing so make it accessible for eternity. In a sense, I could “un-smudge” it.

Great fun!


Figure 8. Screenshot of kappie pattern on CAD software.


Figure 9. Sewing pattern with tracing wheel.

Other points of interest


Figure 10. Example of a colourised black and white photo slide.

With greater access to new digital technical tools it has become popular to add colour to black and white images (Figure 10).

The Flying Train (1902) from the Museum of Modern Art’s archives (MoMA 2020) shows footage of the flying train in Wuppertal, Germany (Figure 11). A favourite of mine, the film shows the possibilities in this old, but also new genre with the addition of digital editing tools adding sound and colour.


Figure 11. The Flying Train (1902), Museum of Modern Art.

Jean Archard


Figure 12.

Jean Archard, Statue of

Paul Kruger in Rustenburg.

Figure 13.

Anton Van Wouw, Pretoria Kerkplein

statue of Paul Kruger.

One of the most known descendants of the German immigrants is former Boer Republic president Paul Kruger, of whom I am a descendant. I have as my middle name his father’s name - Casper.

Slide 157 (Figure 12) shows the statue of Paul Kruger in Rustenburg sculpted by French artist Jean Archard. Archard (Figure 14), a friend of Renoir, was known as a landscape artist. I can not trace definite proof that this is the same artist responsible for the Paul Kruger statue, and further research is needed in this regard. The Pretoria Kerkplein statue (Figure 13), was sculpted by Dutch artist Anton Van Wouw in 1896. This monument to Kruger is better known than the statue in Rustenburg.


Figure 14. Henri Ding, bust of Jean Achard

Nice places... not anymore!

Living just outside of Pietermaritzburg in Hilton I am somewhere between Edendale Falls (Figure 15) and Howick Falls (Figure 16).

Unfortunately because of safety and security these two scenic spots are almost completely off limits.


Figure 15.

Slide showing Edendale Falls,

near Pietermaritzburg.


Figure 16.

Slide showing Howick Falls,

in Howick.

What you not what you get.


Fake news? Photoshop? Slide 75B has reference. What is the chance of getting a steam locomotive, a car and Junkers in the perfect spot?

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