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"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher

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F J van der Merwe

At a recent SASAP meeting and awards ceremony in Stellenbosch the name of the late David Uys came forward when the 2003 award for the best publication by a young Animal Scientist was handed over to her by SASAS president Chrisjan Cruywagen.

This particular award was instituted by the Society many years ago on the initiative of David Uys, one of our founder members and manager from 1972 until his retirement in 1986 of the, now defunct, Mohair Control Board. The main objective with the award is to stimulate young scientists to publish in our refereed journal and to recognize excellence in published results. The David Uys award is also a living memorial to a highly respected member who left another livestock production landmark in the form of the, not sufficiently known, book CINDERELLA TO PRINCESS: The Story of Mohair in South Africa 1838 to 1988.

After his retirement as manager of the Mohair Board, David spent the next two years researching, writing and completing this excellent publication. David, who was a fibre and textile specialist himself, was passionate about the Angora goat and its quality fibre. With his scientific background and wonderful managerial and human relations skills David played a major role in the phenomenal growth of the mohair industry in all its facets in South Africa. This included his excellent work in assisting Lesotho with their fledgling industry in the second half of the previous century. What an apt title he chose! Cinderella to Princess! And what a contribution this book makes to our “corporate memory” which is now in such great danger of being lost in the juggernaut process of transformation.

As a member of our Society David apparently never aspired to elected positions on the Board but, more than any-one else I know, he distinguished himself by his loyalty, his attendance of every annual congress, his active participation in discussion at Annual General Meetings and his critical appraisal of the minutes and the financial statements. While I was chairman and a member of the Board I had the highest regard for his contributions in this regard and I would go as far as to say that in this respect David also set an example of how important it is for the ordinary members of the Society to not only excel in their chosen lifework but also to support and keep the Board members on their toes. Let us never take our ordinary members for granted. They are the lifeblood of the Society.

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