Cliffwood Fogge focuses on non-fiction history, more particularly, on weaving through the properly documented history the lives and verifiable experiences of real people. Our publications range from formally published works of sweeping scope, such as the 630 page AmaBhulu covering 360 years of history, to popular articles on doing genealogical research by telephone between countries.

♦  AmaBhulu – The Birth and Death of the Second America


AmaBhulu—the white men—is a 400,000-word formal history of South Africa in 30 chapters and 630 pages. One third of the work comprises extended vignettes following a selection of the author’s ancestral family lines through that history from their origins in 17th century New York, Europe, Indonesia and Africa—all ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances—indigenes, slaves, frontiersmen and fighter pilots. They are variously banned to tropical islands, thrown in dungeons and killed with poisoned arrows. Their families are massacred and impaled by despotic black kings. Their relatives die in huge numbers in British concentration camps. Their friends are enslaved by the Moors. Some go in search of the legendary land of Monomotapa. Yet others rescue shipwrecked 18th Century Americans. The work opens in 1652 with young Eva on the Cape beach. It closes with the author taking the oath of loyalty to the British Queen—the country of his father lost to him forever. The book has its own Blogsite with permanent articles and excerpts.

♦  The First American in Africa

New York Adriana “Ariaentje” Sterrevelt and her sister Cornelia “Neeltje” were the first American immigrants to South Africa. This topic is presented with special graphics and access to websites that allow the reader to look in detail at the New Amsterdam (New York) of 1660, when Ariaentje was baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church in the fort. Her short life in that town coincided with one of the most tumultuous events in American history, and the family found itself wedged among a number of key players in the events. Peter Stuyvesant, the governor, also enters the picture. The story also takes us to the island of Curaçao, which is today still a Dutch Possession in the Caribbean. The page provides access to a very detailed downloadable paper on the subject of the two girls, providing exquisite detail of the family origin in Segwaart near Soetermeer in Holland. It provides some insight into the depth of research that was required to write a work such as AmaBhulu.

♦  The First True European Settler at the Cape of Good Hope

GermanyJacob Cloete, the twentieth of the first free men to get title to land, was the first of those men to stay, bring his family to the Cape, and have children at the Cape—a Real Settler. On this page we get a closer look at Jacob and we go in search of his origins, which we trace to the little Catholic village of Oedt in the Bishopric of Cologne. We also discover that his family name was actually Klauten and that he spoke a Lower Franconian language called Eutsch Plott; someting akin to Platt Deutsch. It is now practically extinct, but would be understood with some effort by someone capable of Dutch, Flemish or Afrikaans. This was the first genealogical paper published by the author in his quest for information crucial to the creation of AmaBhulu. This paper was the subject of an award for original work on a key subject.

♦  God Bless the Good Ship China

ProvenceThe epic tale of the little knot of Vaudois Huguenot refugees who in 1687 fled their farms in the Aigues Valley in Provence, France. They journeyed via Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands to the Cape of Good Hope to escape religious persecution by King Louis XIV. They sailed on the Dutch East India Company ship China. We have always known who arrived at the Cape,  but who exactly were the people that boarded this ship? And what exactly happened between Provence and the Cape? Why did the ship China earn such a bad reputation? Was it justified? In AmaBhulu we meet these families many years before they leave France, and we follow them through their trials and tribulations. We track them on their journey as they make their way to the Cape.

♦  Pierre Jourdan de Cabrières and the other man

Provence2This is the story of how two men named Pierre Jourdan from two villages in Provence, France were misidentified and their progeny confused in history books. One became a deacon in the Protestant Church and the daughter of the other married the son of a Moslem Indonesian Rajah at a time when faith was all. The Jourdan family is important to the story line of AmaBhulu. In the book we follow them from the mid 1600s. In 1687 they flee their homes and end up at the Cape of Good Hope. We then follow them to the Eastern Frontier and to the capital of an African King. What happens there is is one of the key events in the history of South Africa.

♦  Groot Matewis Schilpadbeen se mense

SchilpadbeenAka The People of Matthew Senior of Tortoise Leg: In this publication (in English), we trace the origins of the South African family Booyens to 1600s Denmark; far northern Germany in the 21st century. It is the story of how a young man from the wet and windswept polder flats of North Frisia ended up at the Cape of Good Hope. His progeny would eventually strike out into the eastern reaches of the early Cape of Good Hope and settle in the scrubland of the southern Karroo semi-desert; a far cry from the rain-swept Jutland. This work terminates in the early 19th century. Matewis’ descendants appear again in AmaBhulu, when they move northward to settle in the two Boer Republics where they and their families end up in British Concentration Camps.

♦  In Search of the Soul of the Afrikaner

ThumbLacosteThe author travels Western Europe in search of the soul of the Afrikaner nation. After visiting two parts of Germany and the Netherlands, he finds it in the Luberon region of Provence, France. It is the source of the bloodlines of key South African men who made the history of the country, for better or for worse. It is only when one studies the history of the Vaudois people of that region that one starts to understand the depth of faith and the grit of the Afrikaner as a nation.

♦  Twice in a Lifetime

ThumbMe109Potter hit in eye. Was hit twice by 40 mm & baled over Bertinore.” So reads the WWII flightlog of the author’s father-in-law, Flight Lt. Arnold Loubser “Bassie” Basson. This paper covers his experiences over the Aegean and Italy in World War II as a fighter pilot doing Ground Attack work in the South African Air Force in support of Allied troops, including American and Canadian. He is shot down twice, but survives. Bassie returns in AmaBhulu, where the reader is with him in the cockpit of his Spitfire. Most folks do not realise that, if their fathers or grandfathers looked up at an Allied aircraft over the Mediterranean in WWII, then they were most likely looking at a South African pilot who was quite likely an Afrikaner of Dutch-French descent like “Bassie”.

♦  The 350-year Telephone Call

ThumbEiderstedtAn amusing effort by the author to phone a genealogist in the far northern regions of Schleswig-Holstein in  Germany where his own ancestor was born in the 1660s, only to find that he has phoned his own distant family. In the conversation they bridge both a 350-year gap and the differences between High German, Platt Deutsch, Dutch and South African Afrikaans.