About CBK

History tells us that bonsai were first displayed in South Africa at the British Empire Exhibition held in Johannesburg in 1933, where Asian exhibitors displayed their trees. Thereafter, mention is made of soldiers, returning home from the east after the Second World War, expressing interest in the beautiful trees they had seen in Japan.

However, the person who was responsible for the initial start of the art of bonsai in the Cape was Becky Lucas who, loving what she saw and wishing to find out more and improve, went to Japan in the 1960s. There she attended a bonsai course under the guidance of a bonsai master. On her return she founded the Bonsai Society of South Africa – the first society in the Cape, and set about traveling the country promoting the club and the love of Bonsai. Through her many different offshoots of the Society were formed.


In 1970 – forty years ago this year - four members broke away from the Bonsai Society of South Africa, to form the CAPE BONSAI KAI.

Needless to say, our Kai was an immediate success owing to the foresight of our founders who arranged a public show to promote the art of Bonsai. Through this initial show, and the ones following every year since then, we have recruited many new members – besides encouraging an interest in bonsai in members of the public.

Well, since then our kai has not looked back and is today renowned as a forerunner for its high classical standards and disciplines.

The kai has been fortunate in having senior members who have completed courses held by Japanese bonsai masters, either in Japan or USA. Over the years, this nucleus of advanced artists and growers has shared their knowledge with all members to ensure and guarantee the high standards of the kai. The pattern has continued over the years with members traveling to international conventions and imparting their knowledge on their return.

We have also hosted many bonsai teachers such as John Naka, Ben Oki, Melba Tucker, Dorothy and Debra Koreshoff, Shigeo Kato, Vaughn Banting, Harry Tomlinson, Peter Chan, Mr I C Sui, Cheng Kung-Cheng and Marco Invernezzi. At our 40th celebrations in September 2010, we hosted Budi Sulistyo.

Our enthusiastic members meet frequently and the kai prides itself on providing members with a high standard of expectation through its well-structured organisation. The kai has always enjoyed a sound financial footing thanks to the support of its members and the executive committee ensures that it, and various sub-committees, is effective and well run. The technical programme is particularly well managed to ensure that the progress and knowledge of its members is continually being advanced.

For the last forty years this continuous handing down of knowledge, coupled with the technical and artistic skills taught to members by advanced growers, ensures that the standards of our kai and the magnificent trees belonging to its members, are highly respected throughout South Africa.