The Depression in the Karoo: 1933

The worst thing about the Great Drought was that it coincided with the Great Depression – a terrible time for farmers and almost everyone else in the country.   Many farmers left their farms because they could not afford to stay. Animals stood forlornly about without food or water, abandoned by owners who could not afford to keep them. They simply waited patiently to die. Dead and dying sheep were everywhere. Swollen carcasses lay all over the veld, decaying in the fierce heat.  By the end of September 1933, millions of sheep and cattle had been lost.  Hundreds of farmers searched for “relief jobs.”  Prime Minister Barry Hertzog called on the people to turn to God, confess their sins and pray for help.  The change came in October when some showers were reported at various spots in the drought stricken area. The people rejoiced and gave thanks. Then, the rains came in earnest and by the end of November, rivers were in flood and dams overflowing.  Farmers deserted their “relief jobs” and raced back to their farms. They displayed an amazing resilience. Everyone was keen to start again.


© Rose’s Roundup, January 2011 (No 204)

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