28 October 2011 by Chris Marais

A Pair In Paradise

Some time ago, I met a couple who lived in the far reaches of the Richtersveld, that stark moonscape of magic in the Northern Cape.

It was springtime. Aah, I can hear you say, spring is always lovely. In the ragged, rugged Richtersveld up near the Orange River, it’s a riot of daisy and succulent and magnificent plants I’ll never know the names of.

Oom Kous Joseph and his wife Tannie Sarah have a home in the village of Eksteenfontein. You have to look hard to find it on a map. The Josephs also have a veepos (stock post) about 20 klicks out of town.

They and other members of the family take it in turns to drive out by donkey cart to the veepos and look after the large herd of goats grazing merrily in the only World Heritage Site devoted to the Wandering Shepherd. The only one I know of, anyhow.

I drove out to have coffee with them one morning.

Oom Kous Joseph and his wife Tannie Sarah were just finishing milking a hillside of goats when I pitched up in the dawn light. For the entire interview and photo shoot, Tannie Sarah clutched onto a small pail of milk. Their life seemed simple and wonderful: milk goats, breakfast on tea and bread, Oom Kous walks the goats out to the veld while Tannie Sarah makes quilts and prepare the meals.

The recent highlight of their lives happened when they were bussed across to Namibia to teach the Namas there how to make matjieshuise out of reeds and wooden frames.

But when you go out there and visit them, just look around at the marvelous wilderness they breathe in every day of their lives. And hope like hell the developers of this world haven’t read this article yet…

Category: Culture & History

comments powered by Disqus