1887

n Historia - Water for Saldanha : war as an agent of change

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Abstract


Saldanhabaai is een van die beste natuurlike hawens ter wêreld en was as sodanig aan die Franse bekend selfs voor die Hollanders in 1652 aan die Kaap geland het. Met die eerste Britse besetting van die Kaap bykans 'n anderhalfeeu later, het daar egter nog geen ontwikkeling by Saldanhabaai plaasgevind nie. Die Britte het groot potensiaal in Saldanhabaai as 'n vlootbasis gesien, maar nooit dié potensiaal ontgin nie. Die hoofrede vir hierdie gebrek aan ontwikkeling was die afwesigheid van 'n volhoubare bron van vars water. Selfs Saldanhabaai se vroeë Khoikhoi inwoners moes 'n ander heenkome gedurende die droë somerseisoen vind. Die moontlikheid om vars water van die nabygeleë Bergrivier na Saldanha weg te keer, is reeds sedert die Hollandse nedersetting herhaaldelik geopper, maar het eers teen die middel van die twintigste eeu 'n werklikheid geword. Die Tweede Wêreldoorlog het die verskynsel van oorlog as 'n kragtige instrument van vinnige, ingrypende verandering duidelik gedemonstreer toe Saldanhabaai plotseling in 1943 'n volhoubare toevloei van vars water ryker geword het. Hierdie artikel skets Saldanhabaai se "waterlose" geskiedenis tot 1943 en toon aan hoedat Saldanhabaai gedurende die Tweede Wêreldoorlog van sodanige strategiese belang geword het dat die Suid-Afrikaanse Geniekorps opdrag gekry het om water vanaf die Bergrivier na die baai aan te lê. Die artikel sluit af met 'n beknopte oorsig van die onmiddellike en langertermyninvloed wat hierdie oorlogstydse ontwikkeling op Saldanhabaai en sy inwoners uitgeoefen het.

Saldanha Bay is one of the best natural harbours in the world and was known as such by the French even before the Dutch set foot at the Cape in 1652. However, when the British first occupied the Cape almost one and a half centuries after the Dutch arrival, no development had yet taken place at Saldanha Bay. The British saw great potential in Saldanha Bay as a naval base, but never exploited it. The principal reason for this lack of development was the absence of fresh water. Even Saldanha Bay's early Khoikhoi inhabitants had to seek greener pastures during the dry season. The prospect of diverting water from the nearby Berg River to Saldanha Bay had often been contemplated even from the time of the Dutch settlement, but never came to fruition until the mid-twentieth century. The fact that war is a powerful agent of rapid and profound change was clearly illustrated when Saldanha Bay acquired access to a sustainable supply of fresh water during the Second World War. This article traces Saldanha Bay's "waterless" history to 1943 and explores the Bay's acquisition of strategic importance during the Second World War, resulting in the South African Engineer Corps being tasked to tap into the Berg River to quench Saldanha's thirst. The article then concludes with a brief overview of the immediate and longer-term impact this wartime lifeline had on Saldanha Bay and its inhabitants.

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/content/hist/53/1/EJC38299
2008-05-01
2016-12-04
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