museum logo

English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

noticeThe following articles were originally published in the Amathole Museum's newsletter, Imvubu. Strict adherence to copyright refers. Full reference needs to be made to any of the text in these articles.

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.

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

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

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

Birds of a Different Feather: The Ciskei Flag and its Variants

The Amathole Museum has an impressive collection of Ciskei objects. We recently unpacked our Ciskei flags and were surprised to notice clear discrepancies in the flags. These differences were specifically in the depiction of the Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus) or indwe as it is known in Xhosa. For example, one of the flags depicts the bird with a twig in its beak whilst another boasts no twig and the portrayals of the Blue Cranes are significantly different. Furthermore, all the variations completely ignore the original specifications which were described in the Ciskei Flag Act of 1977 as follows:

The flag of the Ciskei shall be blue with a bend sinister of white, over all a Blue Crane proper edged white (sic). The width of the flag shall be equal to two-thirds of its length. The width of the bend sinister shall be one-sixth of the length of the flag. The height of the Blue Crane shall be one-third of the width of the flag.


We measured the width and length of the blue and white segments of the flags as well as the height of the Blue Crane and found that none of the flags in our collection adhered to the above specifications. Moreover, although the official description gives the colours of the Blue Crane as proper - that is in its natural colour - in practice the indwe was depicted on the flag in black outline and with black detail against a white background.

Read more: Birds of a Different Feather: The Ciskei Flag and its Variants

The Xiniwe family and the Temperance Hotel

Temperance hotel modernWe have been receiving several enquiries regarding the exact location of an old King William's Town landmark, known as the Temperance Hotel, a building which was closely associated with the Xiniwe family of King William's Town. The establishment, also known as Xiniwe's Hotel, was a large double-storey building overlooking the Market Square and is fortunately still standing, although it is much altered. We were able to pinpoint its exact location with the assistance of the Museum's photo collection, the King William's Town Burial Register, as well as the Deeds Office records. After comparing old images of the hotel with contemporary photos of a double-storey building in Fleet Street, I am now confident that the hotel was indeed situated in Fleet Street, adjacent to what is now known as 'KwaKokoyi'.

According to Prof. Z.K. Matthews: 'The Temperance Hotel was not merely a business place. It was a centre of culture ... A home away from home for many thousands ... who, for one reason or another have had occasion to pay a visit to King William's Town.' In a short time the Temperance Hotel made a name for itself. It was, reputedly, the first hotel for black people in the erstwhile Cape Colony and was founded by Paul Xiniwe, a pioneer black businessman and a prominent African intellectual at the turn of the century. Xiniwe worked as a teacher before establishing, with his wife, Eleanor Xiniwe (neé Dwanya) who hailed from Annshaw Mission near Middledrift, a successful general dealer's business and the hotel. Subsequently they branched out to East London and Port Elizabeth. It is not clear when exactly he commenced business in King William's Town. It is estimated that Xiniwe set up business c. 1885 in town. The venture was probably encouraged by J.T. Jabavu, the editor of the first black-owned newspaper in South Africa, Imvo Zabantsundu. The Xiniwes bought the hotel in 1895.

Read more: The Xiniwe family and the Temperance Hotel

Lt. Gen. Charles Xhanti Sebe: A few Famous Quotes

© DRUM September 1983:13

"I know that the communists are after my blood but I can't be killed by heathens. God has spoken to me. He won't kill me until communism has been eradicated in South Africa."

In spite of his firm conviction that God was protecting him, Charles Sebe slept with a sub-machine-gun, had a rifle in the cupboard in his bedroom, two sets of gates to his home and a double barbed wire fence.

Read more: Lt. Gen. Charles Xhanti Sebe: A few Famous Quotes

Khotso: Legendary Herbalist

© Hirst, M. 2001 Imvubu 13:3, 1,6-7. 

As befits a powerful healer, 'shaman' or intermediary with the spirits, Khotso Sethuntsa (1898-1972),1 the famous Transkeian herbalist, was a man about whom many incredible stories were told. He was a legend in his own lifetime and the inspiration of a number of popular magazine and newspaper articles.

Read more: Khotso: Legendary Herbalist

Old Town Revisited

© Victor, Stephanie 2005 Imvubu 17:3, 1.

With the assistance of the Friends of the Museum, the History Section, celebrated Heritage Day in style this year by hosting a special reunion for Old Town's erstwhile residents. At the luncheon, partly sponsored by ex-residents themselves, guests were encouraged to recall the history of Old Town and to share their memories and experiences.

Read more: Old Town Revisited

Wonders of Nature: The Honey Badger & the Honey Guide

© Kigozi, F. 2002 Imvubu 14:3, 2.

The honey badger, Mellivora capensis, is widespread in Africa and parts of Asia. The generic name, Mellivora is derived from the Latin mel, honey, and voro, to devour, a reference to its fondness for bee hives filled with honey. Its Afrikaans name, ratel, is also sometimes used in English texts. The honey badger, known as icelesi, is revered and held in high esteem by the Xhosa of the Eastern Cape.

Read more: Wonders of Nature: The Honey Badger & the Honey Guide