President F W Reitz at Eighty

Posted on March 10, 2015 by Cape Rebel

From No Outspan
by Deneys Reitz

In his third book, No Outspan, Deneys Reitz quotes an address signed by all the delegates of a touring Empire Parliamentary Association and presented to his father, F W Reitz. This occurred at a dinner held to celebrate the eightieth birthday of the former Chief Justice and President of the Orange Free State Republic who subsequently, as State Secretary of the Transvaal Republic, wrote the ultimatum that precipitated the Anglo-Boer War in 1899.

The address reads as follows:

Victoria Falls
Southern Rhodesia
5th October 1924

Dear President Reitz

We, who have been your travelling companions, thrown together in the most intimate way for over six weeks, desire to seize the occasion of your eightieth birthday not only to congratulate you upon passing another milestone in your long, full, and public-spirited life, but to assure you of the affectionate regard we have learned to hold for you. One and all, we account it the greatest privilege of our memorable tour that we have had the opportunity of knowing you in your ripe and vigorous old age. You have helped us in many ways of which you are unaware, to appreciate the manliness, courage and generosity of the great people in whose history you have played so large a part.

Your life has covered almost the whole of the distressing period of discord between the two races upon whose friendship and co-operation the well-being of South Africa depends, and in all these troubles you have played a manful and an honourable part. We like to regard it as a happy augury for the future that you should be spending your eightieth birthday in companionship with public men drawn from the four quarters of the globe – men of five nations and at least three languages, all now united in peace, and in the earnest desire that the comradeship of the peoples whom they represent shall never be broken. 

What is more, you celebrate this notable anniversary at one of the remoter outposts of the white man in the dark continent which you and yours have done so much to win for civilisation. It is our sincere wish that you may be long spared in the enjoyment of your great powers of public service, and that you may see unbroken peace, a harmony of peoples, and a healthy and just prosperity established beyond the risk of disturbance in the land to which you have devoted your life.

Posted in English