About Calamaish Books

Published by calamaish on Sunday, April 28, 2013

Who are we?
Calamaish is the imprint under which my book Pawns in a Larger Game, an account of the history of the Eastern Cape frontier of the Cape Colony, appears. It is a venture in self publishing and I make no apology for that.
Publishing is changing. The traditional publishing industry now has little room for books aimed at niche markets, while the economics of print-on-demand and of e-books have dramatically altered the landscape. Having published two postgraduate level texts in Physics with academic publishers, I was very happy with their technical and aesthetic support but less happy with their financial model. Prices of more than US$200.00 and small sales to academic libraries cover costs but put books out of the reach of individuals.
Pawns in a Larger Game is a venture into a completely new field for me. Commercial and academic publishers were polite but unencouraging. A print-on-demand publisher took on the project but failed dismally to deliver. At this point I decided to go it alone. Calamaish Books is the result.

The name Calamaish
In 1826 the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Richard Bourke, licensed William Thackwray to trade with the Xhosa outside the boundaries of the Cape Colony. It was one of only two such licences granted. Over the next few years he became one of the pioneer explorers of Southern Africa:

“… he thus became the object of chance – to forgo the comforts of home for novel and adventurous uncertainty – and thus after repeated journeys during which he had travelled almost every country between Lattakoo and the Indian Ocean, …”

Obituary in the South African Commercial Advertiser, Vol. 5, No. 251, Nov 7th 1829, p 2, col. 4.

His exploits are recorded in Pawns in a Larger Game. According to the adventurer Henry Francis Fynn, a pioneer of Natal,

“… whilst on one of the excursions I made from there to the Umzimvubu River, I heard of a European who passed among the natives under the name of Calamaish … He afterwards proved to be a Mr Thackwray, a [Xhosa] trader.”

The Diary of Henry Francis Fynn, edited by J. Stuart and D. Malcolm, Shuter and Shooter, Pietermaritzburg, 1950

The spelling of Xhosa and Zulu names in the early nineteenth century was hit or miss. It is difficult to relate Calamaish to any Xhosa word, Its meaning remains unknown.
William Thackwray was my great-great-great-grandfather. “Calamaish” was his trading name. I have adopted it as my own.

David Walker