DATE: Tuesday, 15th November 2011
TIME: 7 pm (not the usual 8pm)
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Campground and Mariendahl Roads

Pieter Jolly is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Archaeology at UCT, whose special area of research is San history and rock art, specifically the history of interaction between the south-eastern San and southern Nguni and Sotho communities.

He became interested in cave dwellings and other cave structures while staying at Masitise in southern Lesotho in the early 1990s while researching the history of the last San people living in present-day Lesotho.

The house he stayed in at Masitise was close to a well-known cave house occupied in the 19th century by the French missionary, Reverend D.F. Ellenberger, and was the first of many made over the next 20 years to cave houses and other cave structures in the south-eastern areas of southern Africa – specifically Lesotho, the Free State and the North-eastern Cape.

His informal study culminated last year in a self-published book :”Rock Shelter: some cave and cliff structures in Lesotho and South Africa”, which is dedicated to James Walton, who pioneered the study of cave dwellings in South Africa and Lesotho.
It will be on sale at R140 on the night.

The illustrated talk focuses on a little-known aspect of the architectural heritage of Lesotho and south-eastern South Africa – structures built in caves and in the shelter of cliffs, built and occupied by a wide range of people – including traditional healers, European priests and European, Nguni and Sotho farmers.

In some cases they were simply considered convenient places of shelter. It was quite common, for wandering Sotho groups to build their mud or stone thatched dwellings within a cave or in the lee of a cliff. European farmers, too, sometimes lived in caves before building themselves more traditional dwellings.
Often features of the cave or cliff would be incorporated into the design of these cave and cliff dwellings.

In other cases, caves were sought out by “holy people” who considered them inherently sacred spaces – portals between the surface of the earth, inhabited by human beings, and the hidden world inside the earth, inhabited by spirit beings.

In more recent times, some cave structures have been erected to provide shelter for hikers and others fleeing the pressures of city life, looking for a return to an earlier time when the shelter from the elements took a simpler and more environmentally-friendly form.


Why we are starting early is that Thys Hattingh will be presenting to you proposed changes to our constitution –which have been intended since he commenced his chairmanship in March this year.

What’s required at this Special General Meeting is your mandate to proceed.
This is why we are attaching a copy of our exisiting constitution (see VASSA -Constitution) as well as the proposed new constitution in a draft form, so that you are fully in the picture, and can make an informed decision (download VASSA – New Constitution: Draft)

Should you not be able to be present on the night, please participate in this important issue nonetheless by letting us know your mandate via completing the attached proxy (download VASSA – Proxy Form).

We’ll begin with the Constitution amendments at 7pm, and Pieter’s talk will follow.
And in order to celebrate James Walton’s birthday, there will be sherry on the house (a slight deviation from his favoured tipple of whisky) but in the spirit of things!