BOOK REVIEW: A scholarly yet passionate story of old SA
Aim of unity was not achieved, as many anticolonial Afrikaners turned their backs on the British king’s visit
THE LAST HURRAH: South Africa and the Royal Tour Graham VineyJonathan Ball Publishers Reminiscent of Jan Morris’ Pax Britannica, Graham Viney’s The Last Hurrah is a tour de force of sparkling brilliance, anecdote and detail about the British Empire, down to the music it played: SABC favourite By the Sleepy Lagoon was a banquet staple. The British royal family travelled for two months across SA in 1947, making 410 stops in its white train with 14 carriages, ivory and gold livery. The palace on wheels carried footmen, dressers, valets, cypher clerks, secretaries, speech writers, hairdressers and more staff. In those days, SA Railways employed 178,00 people, many of them poor Afrikaners. Its network is one of the engineering achievements of the British Empire. With a hiss of steam the train clanked into life to the sounds of Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye. Viney’s acute eye describes a host of charming vignettes, including tea with Ouma Smuts; and a raft of characters such as Jan ...
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