Dramatic month in Grahamstown

A water crisis – caused by drought and, worryingly, lack of infrastructure maintenance – resulted in the Sarah Baartman* District Municipality (includes Makana Municipality) being declared a local state of disaster. Half the town – the populous, poorer east side – watered by the plentiful Orange-Fish Tunnel beset by ongoing problems at the filtration plant. The west fed by Settlers / Howieson’s Poort reduced to 10% and week’s from dry. Gift of the Givers descended upon Grahamstown to save the day, and no doubt many lives.

And if that isn’t enough, Makana Municipal employees are striking and, as example, refuse collection has stalled for a month. Local residents, civic organizations (GRA, Makana Revive! Etc), and local businesses commended for their efforts to clean the city. Unfortunately it is the poor that suffer most. Imagine dry taps and mountains of refuse as a view. Oppressive to say the least. One wonders how this oppression will reflect in national and provincial elections come 8 May. Regardless, a court application has been submitted by the Unemployed People’s Movement to have the Makana Municipality put under administration. All manner of ills cited in the application. Pray senior members of the ANC and President Ramaphosa take note, cringe and act.

Meanwhile The Grahamstown Project has been cleaning-up at Oatlands Park (with thanks to many) and is progressing the historic St Philips Church Project in Fingo Village. A special thank you to Makana Revive who have made a meaningful financial contribution to project costs. My encouragement to locals and lovers of Grahamstown to contribute financially to Makana Revive. One wonders at the horrors without their efforts. Quite aside from all their good work the continuation of the Oatlands Park Project is dependent on growing Makana Revive contributions.

I attended a tour guide course in PE recently (caught day 1 of SA vs Sri Lanka too) and I look forward to conducting The Makhanda Tour. Thanks to Lizl Niewoudt, pictured with Madiba. Inbox


or email me at Graeme@TheGrahamstownProject.com for enquiries. The tour includes the Egazini Battle Memorial Garden (Battle of Grahamstown, 22 April 1819) and St Philips Church which I visited last month with Dr Marguerite Poland**. A video – a gem including Marguerite interview – to be released in time.Grahamstown may be under siege but it remains historically and culturally significant in the context of modern South Africa. It is here – on the streets and in the hills I walk most days – that the seeds of SA’s present day problems (read Poverty, Land Expropriation without Compensation etc) were sown. The Zuma et al kleptocracy*** will be proffered by the High-Horse brigade as cause (brings my blood to boil too) but I’m afraid +200-years of colonialism / apartheid trumps the ills of recent history by some margin.

I urge all to remain steadfast. Pray and work for good governance and water. Come to Grahamstown to experience it for yourself. It is – despite the siege – a place of magic. And to locals on the West side not acquainted with Grahamstown East, take a drive across the Amatyana stream to experience the real drama.

* Google search Sarah (Saartjie) Baartman. Horrifying.
** Google search Dr Marguerite Poland. Delightful.
*** No need for Google. A broad, multi-cultural, multi-racial gang of thieves. Dreadful.


Before moving back to Grahamstown in Oct 2017, Graeme was a bank executive based in the big smoke and craziness of Joburg. He has 20 years’ experience in the Payments Industry. He is a Chartered Accountant, has a Masters in Management by Research (MMR) from Wits Business School, and attended an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) offered by INSEAD (The Business School for the World!) in France.  

Graeme is the founder of The Grahamstown Project. It’s simple. He says, “Grahamstown is a microcosm of South Africa. If we can’t get this place to function properly then the whole country is stuffed. Many of the troubles we experience as a country today have their roots here in Grahamstown. it is here where black and white people first engaged in conflict on the African continent. It is here where 9 wars of dispossession over 100 years took place and virtually destroyed the amaXhosa nation. But we are where we are. I don’t have a British passport and the boat-trip back to where my ancestors came from is exorbitantly expensive. Furthermore, this is my home. I am a son of Africa. We must work together to redress the injustices of the past and move as one into a brighter future.”

Graeme is an avid historian, writer, vlogger and public speaker. Like and follow the Facebook page. Join him on a tour. Contact him. He would love that.