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Way back in Lekkersing – a Richtersveld journey


In a dry river mattress someplace in a faraway flowering desert referred to as the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Panorama manner again in 2000-and-bloody-hot, we meet a younger herder referred to as Rodney Joseph, his two canine and a small troop of goats. He carries a home made catapult, which he makes use of to chase jackals away from his livestock.

Rodney’s little group of beasts is about to affix the household flock of 350 goats not removed from right here. That is nearly the correct amount of animals to maintain your common Richtersveld clan. His father works at one of many diamond mines alongside the Orange River.

“However that is all I would like: simply to stroll within the veld with my goats,” the 17-year-old assures us. He’s certainly one of about 300 livestock farmers within the space, consistently roaming their herds by means of the dry nation.

We drive south to Lekkersing, accompanied by a relentless easterly wind that units complete hillsides of marigold-yellow flowers to dancing. 

A number of hundred goats amble into view, flanked by a few canine and led by a middle-aged herder referred to as Hans Gouws, who hails from Springbok. His pockets are bulging with plucked crops.

Dis Jantjie Berend, mevrou,” Hans solutions our query. “Good for an upset abdomen.”

We ask him concerning the flowers shivering throughout us. We expect they is perhaps gansogies – also called yellow marbles or grass buttons. Hans isn’t certain. “Maybe dassie gousblom?” he ventures. 

Hans Gouws, who will inform you all concerning the therapeutic powers of Richtersveld crops. Picture: Chris Marais
Rodney Joseph – carrying on a 2,000-year-old nomadic pastoral tradition.
Rodney Joseph – carrying on a 2,000-year-old nomadic pastoral custom. Picture: Chris Marais

We dig out a deal with for Hans, greet one another warmly and proceed our journey. These probability roadside encounters within the Richtersveld are golden. Rodney and Hans are a part of a 2,000-year-old Nama semi-nomadic pastoral custom, which led Unesco to declare this region a World Heritage Site in June 2007. 

At the crossroads – Eksteenfontein or Lekkersing?
On the crossroads – Eksteenfontein or Lekkersing? Picture: Chris Marais
Lekkersing village in its desolate Richtersveld setting.
Lekkersing village in its desolate Richtersveld setting. Picture: Chris Marais

Stoffel saves the day

Preliminary impressions of Lekkersing village aren’t promising. We’ve booked a room in a community-run guesthouse on the municipal workplaces, and are hoping to fulfill the native tourism particular person and interact the companies of a information.

The room isn’t prepared, the tourism officer is on vacation and the common information has disappeared. To not fear, says the municipality’s Marie Sampson. The room will likely be cleaned in a jiffy and maybe she will be able to monitor down Koos Stoffel for us.

“Who’s Koos Stoffel?”

“He’s not an official information, however you’ll like him, I promise,” says Marie. OK, we’re on, I say.

And what a delight. A middle-aged man with pleasant eyes and a fetching felt hat arrives throughout the half-hour and desires to know the way he might help us. After being handled to some minutes of our beautiful, mauled-up mixture of English and Afrikaans (referred to as Graaffrikaans right here within the Karoo), he provides an opinion.

Koos Stoffel, the unofficial five-star Lekkersing guide.
Koos Stoffel, the unofficial five-star Lekkersing information. Picture: Chris Marais

“I’m undecided whether or not you want a information – or a translator.” There’s a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. We quickly come to be taught that mild joshing is the Lekkersing manner of issues.

Stoffel (nobody seems to trouble with the Koos a part of his title) says Lekkersing is Lekkersing due to a merry little spring that after flowed by means of right here. “One more reason for the title is all of us like to sing, particularly when somebody performs the concertina.”

As if for instance his level, Stoffel begins to sing a hymn that’s stuffed with the plaintive chords and comfortable raindrop clicks of the Nama tongue. Now we all know that is going to be one helluva cultural go to. However first we now have to unpack the dusty bakkie.

“No have to unpack,” says Stoffel. “We’ve to, in any other case there’s no place for you within the bakkie.” The person is astounded by all the bags. “Are you transferring to Lekkersing?” he needs to know.

All Stoffel’s buddies

Stoffel, who’s on early medical retirement after injuring himself whereas working at Beauvallon Farm on the Orange River, has attained the standing of Grootmens (elder) in his neighborhood. “And also you don’t should be that previous to be referred to as a Grootmens,” says he with an air of secrecy. “You simply should know.”

We drive across the hardscrabble settlement and he factors out the areas of the church, the varsity and the borehole that retains everybody watered. Then he takes us on a sluggish ramble to fulfill, greet and chat together with his circle of buddies.

Oom Andries Isak, a Bo-Sluis Baster, is draped on his entrance steps in full sunshine, simply consuming within the day with a large smile on his skinny face. He says he’s very proud to be a residing a part of a World Heritage Website.

Up the street, Tannie Magrieta Cloete dons a standard bonnet and gladdens our hearts. We chat about veld meals (baroe, veldduimpies) and conventional meals like melkkluitjies (dumplings cooked in goat’s milk) and I start to salivate. I additionally know that if all of that overcomes the liver, there’s all the time a dose of Jantjie Berend available. “I need to inform you concerning the factor that occurred to me two days in the past,” she all of the sudden confides. “A gaggle of 17 white folks from Jo’burg came around me. I fed them roosterkoek and boerewors in my kitchen. “It seems they have been all Cloetes, both earlier than or after marriage. They instructed me they have been touring the Richtersveld, wanting up all the opposite Cloetes they might discover.”

Johanna Diergaardt, subsequent door, sits for a portrait {photograph} which exhibits off her amazingly Cherokee-like options whereas her grandson Roman retains making an attempt to slip into body. Tannie Johanna has by no means reduce her hair. “God doesn’t need it.”

We go on to fulfill the bonneted Tannie Regina Fieland and her husband, Oom Joseph, who seems just like the Hollywood actor-director John Huston. Oom Joseph is within the yard of the household dwelling, watching his son-in-law and a pal making an attempt unsuccessfully to attach a size of plastic piping between the indoor bathroom and a perilously small septic tank outdoors. Every now and then, Oom Joseph calls out good-natured mocking recommendation to the youthful males, who grin ruefully.

Oom Andries Isak loves being part of a World Heritage Site.
Oom Andries Isak loves being a part of a World Heritage Website. Picture: Chris Marais
Tannie Johanna Diergaardt has never cut her hair.
Tannie Johanna Diergaardt has by no means reduce her hair. Picture: Chris Marais
The bonneted Tannie Regina Fieland.
The bonneted Tannie Regina Fieland. Picture: Chris Marais
Oom Joseph Fieland, explaining the ways of the Richtersveld world.
Oom Joseph Fieland, explaining the methods of the Richtersveld world. Picture: Chris Marais
Koos Stoffel atop a quartzite hill.
Koos Stoffel atop a quartzite hill. Picture: Chris Marais
 Lekkersing stalwart Ouma Lena Joseph.
Lekkersing stalwart Ouma Lena Joseph. Picture: Chris Marais

The Grootmense of Lekkersing like to sit down round and speak to one another, editorialising on the world and its uncle. They’ve grown up with out digital connections of any form, and hanging out and chatting is their social media. Listening to their arcane, extremely descriptive use of the Afrikaans language, we realise they’re the Stoep-sitting Royalty of the Richtersveld.

Our day ends at sundown on a quartzite mine overlooking the city, with Koos Stoffel exhibiting us the dendrite patterns within the stone. On the best way again to our lodging, we provide to drive Stoffel dwelling. No, he says, simply drop me off the place you’re staying. “I have to go to the store anyway, to purchase some Coke and Boxer tobacco, after you’ve paid me.”

There may be silence within the bakkie. We’ve forgotten to debate the matter of cash. “Um, you’re paying me one thing, aren’t you?” comes a small voice from the again seat of the bakkie. “In fact!” we reply, and the money we hand over appears to greater than fulfill our most extraordinary information of the day. DM/ML

‘Karoo Roads III’ ebook cowl. Picture: Equipped

That is an extract from Karoo Roads III – The Adventure Continues, by Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit. For author-signed, first-edition copies of Karoo Roads III or the entire assortment of Karoo Roads books, e mail Julienne du Toit at [email protected]


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