MARTHINUS VAN BART is a senior journalist with Die Burger newspaper in Cape Town specialising over more than two decades in the conservation of the built environment, architecture and national heritage.

Marthinus van Bart

Marthinus van Bart

He has written widely on the diverse cultures of Southern Africa, educating the readership on the long forgotten cultural-historical myths, legends and histories of these peoples. This includes the cultural history of the Cape Muslims, the Chinese and the slave history of diverse people involved.

Apart from his journalistic career, for which he has been honoured numerous times, he has been directly involved in the restoration of two national heritage sites, namely the St. Stephen’s Church on Riebeeck Square in Cape Town, originally the first public theatre in the country called the African Theatre, erected in 1800, and the Gedenkschool der Hugenoten, the first Afrikaans school in the country, on Kleinbosch Farm, Dal Josafat, dating from 1882.

He is the Chairman of the St. Stephen’s Restoration Trust, and past Deputy Chairman of the Hugenote-Gedenkskool Board of Trustees. He is also past member of the Anglo Boer War Monument Trust at Laborie in Paarl and was actively involved with the erection of an Anglo-Boer War Monument on this heritage site.

One of the personalities honoured by this monument, is the freedom-activist John Ntengo Jabavu. This was done on the initiative of Van Bart. He has also published two highly acclaimed books on the Anglo-Boer War, Vir Vryheid en Vir Reg and Songs of the Veldt and Other Poems, a banned anthology of English anti-war poems published in 1902 in London. Van Bart found a rare copy in the archives of the University of Stellenbosch and had it re-published in 2008 by Cederberg Publishers. He wrote an extensive Preface and Introduction, in Afrikaans as well as English, for the second edition. He has been researching the slave history of the Cape over the past decade and plans to publish an extraordinary, reveiling book – Kaap van Slawe – on the subject during 2011.

He is a member of the Leeuwenhof Restoration Advisory Committee (currently dormant) and has recently been involved, as journalist and cultural advisor, with the restoration of the Robben Island World War II heritage site and the erection of an Anglo-Boer War momument at Fort Wynyard, Green Point.

His journalistic, cultural-historical and conservational inputs of the recent past has been instumental in the restoration of the Palace Barracks heritage site of the SA Navy at Simonstown. He has been directly involved with the restoration of Mostert’s Mill in Mowbray, the Durbanville Windmill, Valkenberg in Observatory, and the Congregational Church at Robertson.

His inputs over his distinguished career has brought about a greater awareness in governmental and public conservational circles of countless homes, buildings and other heritage sites of major importance which needed urgent attention and has been declare as national heritage sites.

The Stellenbosch University has collected and bound all his newspaper publications up to 2002 in yearly volumes. It is kept in the Africana section of the Special Collections at the J.S. Gericke Library. His later writings are electronically archived by the library.

Contact Marthinus van Bart at

Marthinus van Bart is editor of this page. The articles that appear here are by various authors.