I had the honour of attending a private book launch of “Cattle of the Ages“, a thick and heavy coffee table book by cde Cyril Ramaphosa who was also celebrating his 65th birthday.
The book gives a sneak peek into the private life of Cde Cyril Ramaphosa and his love for cattle farming. He reflected on how he got his love for farming from his father – who lost his herd due to migration of labour. In a way he is living his father’s dream. “Life in the city was tough and demanding, weakening Samuel’s links with his ancestral origins and causing the loss of his herd. The love of cattle runs deep in South Africans and Cyril is doing more than restoring his father’s loss, he is resuscitating a new pride for South Africans with these remarkable cattle,” says publishing company Jacana.
The Ankole cattle are originally from Uganda, and Ramaphosa brought the Ankole cattle to South Africa. Ramaphosa was in Uganda when he was struck by these beasts. He was visiting Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni. They talked. Ramaphosa wanted to bring some of the animals to his South African game farm, Ntaba Nyoni, but local agricultural officials were having none of it. The disease risk was too high. Such obstacles are a trifle for a man of Ramaphosa’s wealth and connections. He purchased a selection of the cattle from Museveni (at the knock-down price of $200 a head – not bad considering that Ramaphosa would later sell one bull for R640,000) and trucked them over the border to Ol Pejeta in Kenya.There, the herd grazed in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, a tranquil existence rudely interrupted by the occasional intrusive “flushing” of embryos. A South African veterinarian, Morné de la Rey, who had previously cloned a cow, was now working on cloning an entire herd. The harvested embryos were transported to South Africa, where they were tricked into believing they had been fertilised at De la Rey’s Embryo Plus facility in Brits. Voila! A herd of Ankole cattle emerged from the test tubes and were soon grazing on Ramaphosa’s farm. The herd now numbers over 100 beasts.
Ramaphosa supplied narration weaves the beautiful story. Daniel naude captures the magic in pictures. houghts turned to how to celebrate this. Why not a book? A photographer, Daniel Naudé, was hired. He followed the cattle around, a pursuit not without its dangers. According to Jacana the “photographic collection moves a little from the classic portraits of single animals Naude is known for and here we find portraits of the herd, images encapsulating the movement of these cattle who carry their horns like crowns and the interactions between the beasts.” The cover depicted two bulls.
Another big highlight was definitely the personalized gift of the book.
Cattle of the Ages is available at Exclusive Books for R859,00. Its a collector’s piece and totally worth it.
Looking forward to drowning myself in the world of these beautiful and majestic beasts!
Thank you to the foundation for the invite and the wonderful event.