Scott Balson's trip to South Africa -
September 2006 2007 tour at this link

A photo diary of Scott's trip to South Africa to visit Griqua communities and present pre-launch copies of his new book. The purpose of this visit was to get feedback on the accuracy and integrity of the history carried in the book "Children of the Mist". Very few changes needed to be made. The book has been published and can be ordered through the options at this link.

During the three week trip Scott covered over 6,000km on the ground in South Africa - 5,800km in a small rental car. A summary of his thought and experiences are outlined below the map. Hundreds of thumbnail photos - click to see screen sized.

Click on any thumbnail image in the links below for a screen sized photo.


Photo diary of signatures of the people that I met on the trip

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When I left South Africa 20 years ago it was under the Apartheid regime. I know it was wrong and I know that I was a privileged white. Things have changed dramatically today under a black government - some good and some not so good. While it can be said without question that there is a growing black middle class and white poor class - reflections of affirmative action in areas such as employment it is some of the underlying issues that face this country today which will pose its greatest challenges.

Without exception where I met a young modern black man the position was clear - pre-1994 is white man's history and they have little or no interest in it.

The sacrifices on this altar have been great and are growing. These include symbols of Africanerdom like Paul Kruger's house in Pretoria where priceless artifacts of this era have been stolen because of a lack of supervision to the decrepit state of "Moffat's Mission Station" at Kuruman. A common theme can be seen across most of the museums I visited while here and that is that the curators are African. There are a few exceptions like the Mary Moffat Museum in Griquatown (maintained by Hetta Hager), the Kokstad Museum and the Cape Town Museum which maintain a great standard. However many African curators have little interest in the historical importance of the historic timeframe under their protection and many, I assume, lean on the post-1994 era as the only one of significance.

As a researcher who has spent thirty years researching the history of the Griquas, or "Children of the Mist", I find this abuse of history tragic. One day the importance of sites now being lost will be recognised but by then it will be too late - like in Mafikeng where many icons of the siege have been simply destroyed and replaced by supermarkets. Thankfully the two most significant museums, the Mary Moffat Museum at Griquatown (under the curatorship of Hetta Hager) and the Kokstad Museum (under Milner Snell) have maintained a sense of pride in this extraordinary slice of early South African history.

It is clear from my meetings with whites that they feel under siege themselves and live from day to day. In places like Johannesburg and Mafikeng you can see, quite clearly, the contempt the new generation of Africans have for white people. Reverse racism if you will.

These were the negatives - the positives were many and probably topping the list was smelling the African air, embracing once again the spirit of Africa after such a long absence and I will miss this and so many of the new friends I made on my trip and the places I visited - many for the first time.