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"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher

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F J van der Merwe

I shall start with the first Council of the newly formed South African Society for Animal Production (now SASAS ) and carry on from there to wherever memory takes us.

The first honorary President was M J (Gideon) Joubert who, as a teenager fought in the Anglo Boer War, was captured, continued his school career in the POW camp, matriculated at Grey College in Bloemfontein a year after the war ended and graduated B.Sc-Agric. at University of Guelph in Canada after 2,5 years of the normal 4 years course. He had a long and distinguished career in the Department of Agriculture but really made his mark as a leader in the wool industry.

The first chairman was dr F N (Fokko) Bonsma, elder brother of prof. Jan Bonsma of Bonsmara- and ‘physiological efficiency’ fame. Like Jan, Fokko was a strong character and original thinker, more often than not at odds with the bureaucrats in the Department of Agriculture, who also paid their salaries. But they were scientists with a mission and impatient with red tape. In the Department, against great odds but with a strong vision, F N Bonsma founded the then Dairy Research Institute at Irene which soon expanded into the Animal and Dairy Science Research Institute. Fokko was the founder of Irene. Like his illustrious successor, dr Jan Hofmeyr (who I am sure can tell us much more about both the man and the institute), FN Bonsma played a strong, leading role in the S A Stud Book Association. He played just such a role in the first formative years of SASAP. With W A Verbeek in the first council as secretary and D M Joubert as editor, he set our feet on sure path.

Prof. Dr Daniel Malan Joubert, who rounded off his illustrious career as vice-chancellor and rector of the University of Pretoria and Dr Wim Verbeek, who retired as Secretary for Agriculture (before the title was changed to Director-General), were with Dr George Hunter, the real fathers of the Society and the Journal.

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