Andrew Geddes Bain

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(1796-1864): Scottish born South African road-builder, geologist, explorer, author, artist and dramatist. He designed a variety of famous passes in the Cape and his drawings of flora and fauna are valuable Africana.

Born in Thurso and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, he emigrated to Cape Town in 1816, accompanied by his uncle Lieutenant Colonel William Geddes of the 83rd Regiment, who was stationed in the Cape. He married Maria Elizabeth von Backstrom on 16 November 1818 and had 3 sons and 7 daughters.

Settled in Graaf Reinet in 1822, and from there undertook travels, tried to farm and worked for the army in various capacities. During his early journeys he discovered his talent for drawing and writing and became a regular correspondent for John Fairbairn's South African Commercial Advertiser. Later his talent for roadbuilding evolved, and he was appointed inspector by the Cape Roads Board in 1845, working from Grahamstown. He also developed an interest and skill for geology, which led to a state pension for his research. He died in Cape Town following a heart attack on 20 October 1864.

Bain and SA theatre

While he lived in Grahamstown, he became involved with amateur theatre there through his "habit of dashing off doggerel rhymes" and his friendship with George Rex and his fourth son Frederick Rex. It is generally assumed that he and George wrote a sketch in verse and prose called "Caatje Kekelbek", also known as "Kaatje Kekkelbek" (Katie Gossip), and this was later published as Kaatje Kekkelbek or Life Among the Hottentots. It is believed to be the first publically performed piece of dramatic writing in Afrikaans, being performed in Grahamstown on 25 October 1838. However, Ludwig Binge (1969) argues that is was, in fact, George's son, Frederick Rex, who was the co-author of the piece.


Binge 1969;

Bosman 1928;

Bosman, 1981;

Fletcher, 1994;

De Beer,1995

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