“This book is a story of success, of the triumph of man over a wilderness; of the triumph of science over disease; of the conversion of a Valley of Death into a paradise. It tells of the shaping of one of the cornerstones of South Africa from a stone which the earlier builders not only rejected, but found an almost insurmountable obstacle.
It tells of men and women of all races, principally Boer, Briton and Hollander, toiling against great odds, some for sheer love of adventure, some for wealth or personal advantage, some with a true desire for the common weal; of some who came and shortly went their ways elsewhere; of many who closed their lives here in a twilight of apparently hopeless failure; of some few who lived through the later stages of travail and of hardship to see at last, ‘The stubborn thistle bursting into glossy purples, richer than the most voluptuous garden roses’.
Each and all of these men and women of the past did their bit, great or small, consciously or unconsciously, with objects of self or of the common good, towards the shaping of the Stone, but the Great Architect could and did combine those individual efforts to the shaping of the things to come; none could foresee how great would be the eventual victory over the inimical forces of Nature, how great would be the use to which future generations would put the generous gifts of Nature in this Region of ours[: the Lowveld].”
—H.S. Webb, first president of the Lowveld Regional Development Association, in his preface to The South-Eastern Transvaal Lowveld published in 1954
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