Aliwal Adam Yamey

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Aliwal  by  Adam Yamey

Aliwal by Adam Yamey
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The small, sleepy town of Aliwal North lies on the southern bank (Cape Province side) of the Orange River. Today, two bridges cross the river into the Orange Free State (now ‘The Free State’). When Aliwal North was founded in 1849, and named inMoreThe small, sleepy town of Aliwal North lies on the southern bank (Cape Province side) of the Orange River. Today, two bridges cross the river into the Orange Free State (now ‘The Free State’).

When Aliwal North was founded in 1849, and named in honour of a battle won by Sir Harry Smith in the Punjab, there were no bridges. The town was positioned at a point where the river was easily fordable.Months after Aliwal North was established, a young Jew, recently arrived in the Cape Colony from his native Bavaria, came to the barely built town and opened up a general store there. He was Henry Bergmann, a first cousin of my mother’s grandmother.

Business was brisk, and soon Henry became a wealthy man. His reputation was so great that he became elected a town councillor, and held other civic positions.In 1860, wishing to get married to a Jewess (they were scarce in the Cape Colony in those times), he made a journey to Frankfurt on the Main, and married Jenny, the daughter of a prominent banker. The newlyweds returned to Aliwal North.Henry’s business continued to prosper, and he became the managing director of one of Aliwal North’s banks, soon to become the only one in the town.In 1866, Henry took his own life.

The reasons for doing so have become obscured in the mists of time. In my novel “ALIWAL”, I have woven fiction with fact in order to reconstruct the tragic life of my relative, and to provide a plausible, if unproven, reason for his suicide.



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