Views!
HUNDREDS of daily LOCAL views - THOUSANDS of monthly LOYAL readers! THE MOST POPULAR ATTRACTION IN HARTIES!
Published:  2016-03-07 Views:  1043
Author:  Fanie
Published in:  Harties Heritage/Erfenis
Rondawel Huis Van Gustav Preller En Eugene Marais

HOEV: OPNAME VAN BESIENSWAARDIGHEDE   Nr 033

HEHA: SURVEY OF HERITAGE SITES  No 033

 

RONDAWELHUIS (PRELLER / MARAIS)

DATUM 1924

SAEA-BESKERMING (60JR): ja

VERKLAAR: ja, Maart 1973. GELYS: nvt

GPS data:X 27.54.36 Y –25.47.34

WELGEGUND 491JQ

PAD P 31-1.

EIENAAR / KONTAKPERSOON: NECSA

 

In die eerste kwart van die twintigste eeu, na die verlore oorlog teen Brittanje, het die Afrikaner homself op taal- en kultuurgebied opgehef en volwasse geword. Nie net het sterk leiers soos J B M Hertzog, Gustav Preller, Mabel Malherbe, Eugéne Marais en vele ander na vore gekom en die volk moreel opgehef, maar feitlik op elke kulturele vlak het die merkwaardigste ontwikkeling plaasgevind, waarvan baie die eng behoudende denkwyse van voor die oorlog in ‘n uitgaande en vernuwende krag omgesit het.

 

Meeste van die bedrywighede van hierdie kultuurbeweging het in Transvaal en om Pretoria plaasgevind. Afrikaans as skryftaal en later as kultuur- en voertaal in skole en amptelike taal het in daardie tyd sy beslag gekry. Die eerste, hoogstaande gedig in Afrikaans is “Winternag” van Eugéne Nielen Marais. Maar ook in die skilderkuns (H Pierneef, F Oerder, E Mayer), beeldhoukuns (A van Wouw, C Steynberg), teater (Volksteater, Mathilda Hanekom), wetenskappe (“Die Siel van die Mier” en “Die Siel van die Aap” deur E N Marais) is baanbrekerswerk op nasionale en selfs wêreldvlak gedoen.

 

Op die gebied van die boukuns het ‘n beweging ontstaan wat in later jare die “Transvaalse Styl” genoem sou word. Argitekte, W de Swaan, F Soff, J Burg, G Moerdijk en andere het ‘n boukuns ontwikkel wat bewustelik uit die plaaslike klimaat, omgewing, materiaal, kultuur en tradisie ontstaan het en daarin gewortel was. Hierdie argitektuur het hom ook onderskei van die herlewing van Kaaps-Hollands wat in die 1920er jare mode geword het asook van die Edwardeaanse en ander Europese style. Van die opvallendste kenmerke was:

 

  • Oriëntasie volgens die son en die landskap.
  • Stoepe en dakoorhange wat die mure in die somer koel hou.
  • Gebruik van plaaslike materiale soos klip en gras en bosveldhout maar ook vindingryke gebruik van eenvoudige materiaal soos papiervloer, klei van verskillende kleure, afvalhout ens.
  • Handgemaakte detail eerder as fabrieksgemaakte detail.
  • Afwesigheid van “klassieke” versierings soos bv Griekse, Romeinse, Toskaanse en ander kapitele ens.
  • “Aardse” of natuurlike kleure eerder as witgekalkte mure en geverfde hout.
  • Die gebruik van rondawels of samevoegings van ronde geboue of geboudele.
  • Die groepering van geboue en die skep van leefruimtes rondom en tussen geboue.

 

Laasgenoemde twee elemente asook stoepe en lapas is bewustelik afgelei van die boukuns van die Swart volke. Baie van hierdie elemente was reeds vroeër deur die Voortrekkers en pioniers as “leenwoorde” in die blanke volksboukuns teenwoordig.

 

In ons omgewing is daar ‘n hele paar goeie voorbeelde van die “Transvaalse Styl” maar die Preller / Marais-rondawelhuis is beslis die beste verteenwoordiger en daarby ‘n juweel in volksboukuns. Dit is in 1924 deur Gustav Preller as naweekhuis op Welgegund, die erfplaas van sy vrou wat ‘n Pretoriusdogter en aan moederrskant ‘n Retiefafstammeling was, opgerig. In 1935 het Preller ‘n groter huis (031) daar naby laat bou en het dan die rondawelhuis in 1936 aan sy vriend, Eugene Marais, beskikbaar gestel. Marais wat destyds reeds erg aan depressie gely het, het sy laaste maande hier deurgebring. Die huis is in 1973 as Nasionale Gedenkwaardigheid verklaar.

 

 

 

Hannie Preller (geb Pretorius), Gustav Preller, ‘n mnr Lub en Eugéne Marais op die stoep van die rondawelhuis.

Hannie Preller (daughter of “swart Martiens” Pretorius), Gustav Preller, a mr Lub and Eugéne Marais in front of the rondawel house.

 

Eugéne Nielen Marais is op 9 Maart op Daspoortrand, Pretoria, gebore. Sy skoolopleiding ontvang hy hoofsaaklik in Engels in Pretoria, Boshoff en die Paarl, waar hy in 1887 matrikuleer. Hy publiseer vroeg reeds gedigte in Engels en volg ‘n joernalistieke loopbaan deur werk te vind by die Tranvaal Advertiser. In 1890 word hy redakteur van die weekblad, Land en Volk, ‘n koerant wat krities teenoor President Paul Kruger was. Die volgende jaar koop Marais en J de V Roos die koerant wat mettertyd die opposisieblad word, gesteun deur Genl. P J Joubert.

 

Onder die opskrif, ” Waarheid, Vrijheid, Recht”, publiseer Marais in die daaropvolgende jare skerp, en dikwels persoonlike aanvalle op die beleid van Kruger en die regering. As gevolg hiervan word hy in 1889 toegang tot die persgalery in die Staatsgebouw (Die Ou Raadsaal, Pretoria) ontsê.

 

Op 27 Augustus trou hy met Aletta (Lettie) Beyers van Colenso, ‘n kleinniggie van Genl. C F Beyers. Sy sterf elf maande later met die geboorte van hulle seun, Eugéne Charles. Reeds voor sy huwelik het Marais as gevolg van geestelike oorspanning en pynlike aanvalle van neuritis aan morfien verslaaf geraak. Sy gebruik van die verdowingsmiddel neem toe na die dood van sy vrou en gedurende die herhaalde aanvalle van malaria wat hy in 1902 in Oos-Afrika sou opdoen.

 

Sedert 1896 studeer hy in London in die regte maar toon ook belangstelling in die medisyne, hiërogliewe, dierkunde, hipnotisme, spiritisme en goëlery. In 1902 onderneem hy met ‘n vriend ‘n geheime ekspedisie in Beira, Oos-Afrika om medisyne en ammunisie vir die Boeremagte te bring. Onderweg ontvang hulle egter berig van die vredesluiting. Hier het hy ook malaria opgedoen.

 

Terug in Pretoria hervat hy sy joernalistieke werk en oorreed Gustav Preller om nie te emigreer nie maar om Land en Volk vanaf September 1902 weer uit te gee. Marais behartig die politieke leiding en in sy hoofartikels probeer hy die volk moreel ophef en lewer kragtige pleidooie vir Afrikaans as skryftaal. Daarna praktiseer hy as advokaat in Pretoria en Johannesburg.

 

In 1907 vertrek hy na die Waterberg waar hy die gedrag van diere bestudeer en as “wonderdokter” en vrederegter optree terwyl hy dikwels sy kennis en ervaring met hipnose op mens en dier beproef. In 1917 vestig hy hom as prokureur in Pretoria en later op Erasmus (later Bronkhorstspruit) en vanaf 1922 tot 1927 op Heidelberg waar hy met die digter en medikus, A G Visser bevriend raak. Vanaf 1927 woon hy in Pretoria, onder meer by sy vriend, Gustav Preller en verhuis in 1936 saam met die Prellers na Pelindaba waar hy op 29 Maart 1936 sy lewe geneem het. In sy laaste jare het hy nog heelwat bydraes in die koerant, “(Ons) Die Vaderland” gelewer.

 

Vir meer inligting oor Eugéne Nielen Marais, kyk “Die Groot Verlange” deur Leon Rossouw by Human en Rossouw.

 

Die rondawelhuis is in 1973 deur die Raad op Atoomkrag onder leiding van kultuurhistorikus, dr Elize Labuschagne, en atgitek, Hannes Meiring, gerestoureer en tot Nasionale Gedenkwaardigheid verklaar.

 

Die huis se vorm het ‘n interessante ooreenkoms met Eugene Marais se waarneming oor die termietnes (Siel van die Mier). Hy het vasgestel dat die geheel, naamlik die termietnes, die organisme is. Die enkele termite in die nes is slegs onderdeeltjies wat funsioneel gebind maar nie fisies saamgegroei is sodat hulle saam die eenheid vorm en alleen saam as eenheid kan bestaan maar tog nog visueel onderskei kan word. Met hierdie ontdekking het Marais wêreldgeskiedenis gemaak. Die rondawelhuis (en ander soortgelyke rondawelhuise) bestaan ook uit herkenbare rondawels, maar saam maak hulle die huis. Marais het sy bekende “Huis van die vier winde” hier geskryf.

 

 

 

Die drie saamgevoegde rondawels is herkenbaar maar vorm ‘n baie subtiel geslaagde eenheidsontwerp.

The design of this building shows the three rondwaels, combined into a well proportioned unit.

 

 

RONDAWEL HOUSE (PRELLER / MARAIS)

DATE 1924

SAHRA PROTECTION (60yR): yes

DECLARED MONUMENT: yes, March 1973. LISTED: na

GPS data: X 27.54.36 Y –25.47.34

WELGEGUND 491JQ

ROAD P 31-1.

OWNER / CONTACT PERSON: NECSA

 

After their defeat at the hands of the British during the South African War (1899-1902) Afrikaners reached a low point in their self-confidence. This was, however turned around during the first quarter of the twentieth century under the political and cultural leadership of figures such as J B M Hertzog, Gustav Preller, Mabel Malherbe, Eugéne Marais and many others.

 

A remarkable coming-of-age took place in every aspect of Afrikaner cultural life and thought which had previously been narrow in outlook, particularly in the pre-war period. Interestingly enough most of the activities of this cultural renaissance took place in the Transvaal around Pretoria. At the same time “South Africa” as a land and a nation became a political and cultural concept, as highlighted by Hertzog’s call: “South Africa first!”

 

Afrikaans other than Dutch was now the medium of instruction in many schools and the natural language of written communication and cultural exchange between Afrikaans-speaking people. The breakthrough of recognition of the language as a cultural medium came with the publication of the poem “Winternag” by Eugéne Nielen Marais.

 

Artists such as Henk Pierneef, Frans Oerder, Erich Mayer and sculptors such as Anton van Wouw and Coert Steynberg were producing works depicting South African subject matter. The theatre was also helping to showcase Afrikaans writing and acting with the advent of the widely touring Volkstearter (the Hanekoms). Eugene Marais’ treatises, “The Soul of the Ant” and “The Soul of the Ape” on the scientific side gained prominence not only nationally but internationally as well.

 

In architecture there was a conscious effort at developing a movement, which took into consideration factors of local climate, environment, materials but also culture and tradition. This later became known, as the “Transvaal Style” and its interpreters were W. de Swaan, F. Soff, J. Burg, G. Moerdijk and others. It differentiated sharply from the Revival of Cape Dutch and Edwardian, which were fashionable styles in the 1920’s mainly with the English-speaking part of the population. Some of the characteristics of this movement are:

 

  • Orientation to sun and landscape.
  • Verandahs (stoepe) and roof overhangs to keep the walls cool in summer.
  • Use of local materials such as stone, slate, thatch and local wood, also inventive use of simple and traditional materials such as paper floors, clay of different colours for painting walls.
  • Handcrafted rather than factory-manufactured detail.
  • Absence of “classical” decoration such as Roman, Greek or Tuscan columns etc.
  • Earthy colours and natural finishes rather than whitewashed walls and painted wood.
  • The use of rondavels or incorporation of round buildings or part thereof.
  • The grouping of buildings and the creation of living areas between and around them.

 

The last two characteristics as well as verandahs and lapa’s were consciously borrowed from indigenous building traditions already used by the Voortrekkers and white pioneers in the interior of the country.

 

There are several good examples of buildings in the “Transvaal Style” in our area but the Preller/Marais rondavel house at Pelindaba remains its best example as well as being a jewel of South African folk architecture.

 

The house was built in 1924 by prominent writer, Gustav Schoeman Preller as a weekend house on the farm, Welgegund inherited by his wife Hannie (neé Pretorius) - also a descendent of Piet Retief. Preller built a bigger house (031) nearby in 1935 with a view to retirement there. The rondavel house was therefore made available to his friend, Eugéne Marais when the Prellers finally moved permanently to Pelindaba in 1936. Marais spent the finale month of his life here, suffering from severe depression and morphine dependency. The house was declared a National Monument in 1973 after restoration under the supervision of cultural historian, dr. Elize Labuschagne and architect, Hannes Meiring.

 

Eugéne Nielen Marais was born at Daspoort, Pretoria on 9 March 1871. He was educated primarily through the medium of English in Pretoria, Boshoff and Paarl where he matriculated in 1887. He published several early poems in English and worked as a journalist at the ‘Transvaaal Advertiser”. In 1890 Marais became editor of the weekly “Land en Volk” which was highly critical of President Paul Kruger. Together with J de V Roos, Marais purchased the paper the following year when it subsequently became the opposition newspaper, supported by Genl. P J Joubert.

 

Under the column heading “Truth, Freedom, Justice”, Marais published regular, sharply critical articles (often personal) on Kruger’s policies. As a result he was banned from the press gallery in the “Staatsgebouw” (today known as “The Old Raadsaal”) in Pretoria in 1889.

 

Marais’ marriage to a niece of Genl. Beyers, Aletta (Lettie) Beyers from Colenso was of tragic brevity. Lettie died during the birth of their son, Eugéne Charles, just eleven month later. Even before Lettie’s death, Marais had revealed symptoms of dependency on morphine, but the tragic matter simply exacerbated the matter. What had begun as a treatment for neuritis as well as for nervous tension was slowly getting out of hand. Repeated attacks of malaria, contracted during a secret trip to Mozambique to obtain arms and medicine for the struggling Boer forces in 1902, made the dependency alarming to his friends and colleges.

 

Another contributory factor was the fact that when he was in London in 1896, his law studies exposed him to much literature and to many eccentrics who dabbled in spiritualism, the occult, hieroglyphics and popular medicine. Experimentation with hallucinatory drugs was common in this milieu and it is certain that morphine and opium were used extensively. This was the unfortunate down side of an environment that was very stimulating to his keenly observant and open mind.

 

Back in Pretoria after the South African War (1899-1902), Marais resumed his journalistic career and persuaded Gustav Preller not to emigrate but to publish “Land en Volk” once again from September 1902. Marais used the publication in his leading articles to uplift and encourage Afrikaners to use their exciting new language rather than Dutch or English as literary and cultural medium. He also practiced as advocate in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

 

A lifelong interest in nature studies drew Marais to the Waterberg in 1907. Here he became known as “wonder doctor” and peacemaker, often applying his skill with hypnosis on man and animal. It was here too that he gathered material for his pioneering scientific work “Soul of the Ape” by his keen observation of a group of baboons.

 

Ten years later Marais returned to Pretoria establishing himself as lawyer, later moving to Erasmus (Bronkhorstspruit) and still later to Heidelberg where he became friends with poet, A G Visser. A final move back to Pretoria in 1927 saw him move in with the Prellers who were always concerned about his drug dependency.

 

There is an interesting parallel between the shape of the rondavel house and Marais’ treatise on “The Soul of the Ant (termite)”: He observed that the termite colony (or nest) was in fact the organism. The individual termites in the nest can be visually differentiated but they existed solely as parts of the whole (like corpuscles in animals) and could not live on their own. He also showed that there is a gradual “growing-together-into-one-organism” to be found in organisms such as the beehive, the termite nest and other such composite organisms till one gets the fully grown-together animals. The rondavel house (and several other such rondavel houses) parallels this in that the rondavels are the parts but the house is the complete organism.

 


Directors: S.A.M Smit & J.F Koster - Copyright ©2018 HartiesNet (Pty) Ltd - our Disclaimer