Bosman Weekend - 21 - 23 October 2016
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The Herman Charles Bosman Literary Society (HCBLS) is a ramification of the Marico bosveld experience. Not a few visitors to the Groot-Marico find their way here in the first place as a result of the attraction of that powerful spell woven by Herman Charles Bosman, the author of Mafeking Road and Jurie Steyn's Post Office.
South African poet and author, Lionel Abrahams, observes that "Bosman had invoked in me, along with attitudes to the country as a whole, a special local patriotism." Nowhere can this be better exemplified than here in the Marico, among the people who came together at Groot Lotteringskop in the Dwarsberge on the 20 March 1993 to found the HCBLS. And we, inhabitants of the region, imbued with that special local loyalty, could not agree more with Bosman than when he characterizes our world in these expressive terms:
There is no other place I know
that is so heavy with atmosphere,
so strangely and darkly impregnated with
that stuff of life that bears the authentic stamp
Herman Charles Bosman
In an area as rich in historical events as to earn itself a right to the appellation of "crucible", it is significant but perhaps not so unexpected that the Marico bosveld should first and foremost, be associated with Bosman - it is after all the poet, not the historian, who deals in the eternal verities.
Therefore, apart from serving as a literary society to people locally, who derive pleasure, amusement, instruction and sustenance from the world of books, the HCBLS in the first place, aims to be a rallying point for the friends of Bosman and the Groot-Marico, scattered throughout the wide world out there, and to making the region more accessible to those, whose curiosity had heen aroused through Bosman's Marico stories.
But even more, we wish our Society to answer the purpose of a double celebration: commemorative of a great poet who had immortalised the Marico and its people, and simultaneously celebrating this unique place that had served as such a tremendous and enduring source of inspiration to him.
From here as a point of departure, we believe many valuable and unexpected further ramifications will follow.
It a recently held function a most interesting story related by Lionel Abrahams concerned the auction where the Bosman manuscripts were evaluated before their eventual removal to the humanities Research Centre in Austin, Texas. Professor Joseph J Jones acquired them for the sum of £300. Lionel amended: "why not at least make it guineas?" after the Johannesburg Municipality could not put up £300 to save them from leaving the country.
Written and compiled by Egbert van Bart
The Literary Society can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or you can Phone Cell 083 2722 958 and speak to Santa
Herman Charles Bosman was born in 1905 at Kuilsrivier, near Cape Town. Shortly afterwards his family moved to Johannesburg where he was educated. He was deeply absorbed in literature, excelled in languages, was repelled by Science and Mathematics and in his matriculation examination he answered the paper on Algebra with a beautifully phrased essay, explaining that he felt he might dispense with the knowledge of this subject since his ability in English was exceptional.
Apart from contributing to the school magazine, he was, at the age of 16, writing a series of amusing short stories for the "Sunday Times". He preferred the school library to the playing fields. At the University of the Witwatersrand, on winning the third prize for his entry in a student's poetry competition, he revealed that the piece had actually been written by Shelley.
On receiving his degree, Bosman was appointed to a teaching post in the Groot Marico district. A most fruitful year, for the place and the people enthralled him - they provided him with the background for his best-known works, the Oom Schalk Lourens and Voorkamer sketches.
On his return to Johannesburg for the June holidays, his visit ended in catastrophy in the house of his mother and stepfather when he fired a hunting rifle at his stepbrother and killed him. Bosman was sentenced to death, but later a reprieve was granted and at the age of 21 he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour. He was, however, released after four and a half years. He relates his prison experience in "Cold Stone Jug" and it was while he was in prison that he wrote his first Oom Schalk Lourens stories. On his release he started his own printing press and associated with a colourful group of journalists and authors in Johannesburg.
Then came nine years in Europe - London, Paris, Brussels and it was in London that he wrote a number of stories, later collected as "Mafeking Road".
On the outbreak of the war he returned to South Africa where he worked as a journalist and literary editor for several newspapers and at this time translated the Rubayat of Omar Khayam into Afrikaans.
In 1947, after "Mafeking Road" was published, the stories were broadcast on the B.B.C.'s Third Programme under the auspices of the South African poet, Roy Campbell, who considered them to be the best stories ever to come out of South Africa.
Herman Charles Bosman was a great party-giver and his parties were famous for the brilliant and witty conversation which went on far into the night. Two days after a housewarming party he was taken ill with severe chest pains. His wife took him to Edenvale Hospital. On arrival he was asked, "Place of birth?" Herman replied, "Born Kuilsrivier - Died Edenvale Hospital."
A few minutes after he entered the examination room, the doctor could be heard roaring with laughter. Herman came out of the room and told his wife he had indigestion. A few hours later he collapsed at home. He died as he was being wheeled back into Edenvale Hospital. The date was the 14th of October, 1951.
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