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Mrs Ball, KWT, and her famous chutney

mrsballsThe story of Mrs Ball and her famous chutney has been doing the rounds on social media recently. Based on several printed sources and internet sites, the narrative is however, so riddled with errors that it warrants an attempt to waylay some of the fabrications. This is important as Mrs Ball's chutney is an iconic South African condiment with a distinctive King William's Town flavour.

A quick search on the internet will tell you that the chutney recipe supposedly originates from Canada, that it was brought to South Africa by Mrs Ball's mother, Sarah Adkins, and that she, together with her husband, Henry Adkins (erroneously referred to as Captain Adkins), and the recipe for the chutney was shipwrecked on the SS Quanza in 1852. Settling in King William's Town , or so the story goes, the couple had a daughter, Amelia in 1865. As a young bride Amelia supposedly received the coveted secret chutney recipe from her mother. It is, admittedly, a fascinating story of a shipwrecked family recipe. It's just the kind of narrative that adds brand value and can sell chutney and probably newspapers too. As the saying goes – never let the truth get in the way of a good story!

The popular narrative is problematic on several accounts. Mrs Ball's (neé Amelia Adkins) parents were English not Canadian and Henry Adkins held no naval appointment. In addition, the SS Quanza was shipwrecked in 1872 not 1852 and the couple only met in South Africa. Moreover, the original Adkins chutney recipe considerably differs, or at least has been significantly adapted, from the now famous chutney, notably by replacing dried apricots with mixed fruit as well as adding a vital secret ingredient. The Sarah Adkins' recipe can therefore not be described as 'the coveted secret chutney recipe'.

Read more: Mrs Ball, KWT, and her famous chutney

Khoi prayer

When the Pleiades appeared on the eastern horizon in spring, the Khoi held an important communal ritual. It involved slaughtering and a dance at which a song, very much like a hymn, was sung in honour of Tsuni-||Goam. Tsuni-||Goam, a founding hero or sky god identified with the Supreme Being, was believed to control rain, which had religious significance in a land sometimes prone to drought.


Chief Khoisan S A

Tsui-||goatse! Thou, oh Tsui||goa!
Abo-itse! Thou Father of the Fathers – i.e. All Father!
Sida itse! Thou our Father!
|Nanuba \avire! Let stream – i.e. let rain – the thunder cloud!
En xuna uire! Let please live (our) flocks!
Eda Sida uire! Let us (also) live please!
Khabuta gum goroö! I am so very weak indeed!
||Gas xao! From thirst!
|As Xao! From hunger!
Eta xurina amre! That I may eat field fruits!
Sats gum xave sida itsao! Art thou then not our Father!
Abo itsao! The Father of the fathers!
Tsui-||goatse! Thou Tsui\\goa!
Eda sida gangantsire! That we may praise thee!
Eda sida ||khava |khaitsire! That we may give thee in return (i.e. that we may bless thee)
Abo itsao! Thou Father of the fathers!
Sida! Khutse! Thou our Lord
Tusi-||goatse! Thou, oh Tsui-|goa!

Theophilus Hahn, Tsuni-||Goam: The Supreme Being of the Khoi-Khoi, Trübner & Co., London, 1881.

Apartheid Legislation

Race has shaped South Africa's very core. The system of racial segregation assigned superior and inferior statuses according to a person's skin colour. It was enforced by a large body of legislation.

Population Registration

• Population Registration Act, 1950

• The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, 1953

Read more: Apartheid Legislation

100 Years On: The Sinking of the SS Mendi

Reference: Victor, S., 2017. Imvubu 27:1.

Architectural drawing

Cordeaux and Farrow's 1921 architectural drawing of King William's Town's memorial to the First World War (1914-18) forms part of the Amathole Museum's collection. Included on the War Memorial plaques are the names of men from King William's Town who died a century ago during one of the worst maritime disasters of the 20th century to occur in British waters, resulting in the accidental sinking of the troopship, SS Mendi. The names of the men are: James Pambili, George Nini, John Clout Nziba, Squire Nodolo (Dodolo), Kleinbooi Petela, July Mdunyelwa, Durward Ngcenge and Style Tetani. Lance Corporals Robert Madosi and Henry Gqweta, as well as Private Anderson Soka from King William's Town, also died during the Mendi disaster, but have been omitted from the memorial.

According to the author, Ian Gleeson, the SS Mendi had left Cape Town on 16 January 1917 with members of the South African Native Labour Contingent (SANLC) on board. After calling at Plymouth, the Mendi was en route to the French port of La Havre. In the early hours of 21 February 1917, approximately 12 miles off St. Catherine's Point on the Isle Of Wight, the 11 000 ton liner, SS Darro, travelling at full speed in thick fog and sounding no fog signals, rammed the Mendi on her starboard side almost cutting her in half. The Darro backed out of the hole she had caused and the sea poured into the breach on the Mendi. She immediately started to list to starboard and sink, disappearing under the sea in about 25 minutes. Despite numerous individual acts of heroism, 615 members of the SANLC were drowned in the incident.

Read more: 100 Years On: The Sinking of the SS Mendi

The Time Family of Zwelitsha, 1947 and 2015

© Victor, S. 2015. Imvubu, 25: 2.

time family1947

The story of this photograph unfolded while researching the development of Zwelitsha for the new permanent exhibition Idabi lenkululeko eQonce.

Zwelitsha was an experiment; a blueprint designed by the Native Affairs Department and the Industrial Development Corporation to 'bring factories to the workers at their homes'. The first families moved into their two-roomed rented homes in November 1947. By 1952, however, the majority of factory employees were living in cheaper accommodation elsewhere. As an incentive, houses were sold to prospective Ciskeian buyers from 1956. The demand for housing increased when Zwelitsha became the parliamentary seat for the Ciskei between 1973 and 1981.

When the above photograph was taken c. 1947, The South African Information Service labelled this image "Public housing in Zwelitsha showing the interior of the livingroom (sic) in the teachers' house".

Sixty-eight years after the photo was taken, in August 2015, a chance meeting with Mr Velelo Time meant that the family on the photograph was finally identified. Mr Time was sure that it was his mother, Tryphina neé Ntshona, a nurse by profession, with her daughter, Nandipha Mati (neé Time), on her lap. At the sideboard is standing Nomfundo (Pinky) Msutwana (neé Time). After a phone call to his two sisters in East London, the excited family came to the Museum to view the image and obtain more information. Mrs Nombulelo Time, wife of Velelo Time, brought the vase, originally portrayed on the living room's corner shelf, with her. It is now a family heirloom.

time family2015


Mager, A. K., 1999. Gender and the Making of a South African Bantustan: A Social History of the Ciskei, 1945-1959. Cape Town: David Philip.

Zituta, H. M., 1997. The Spatial Planning of Racial Residential Segregation in King William's Town: 1826-1991, Unpublished M.A. thesis, Rhodes University.

Stephanie Victor
Curator of History