Did you know?
The De Buys offspring became Limpopo guides for the newly arrived Voortrekkers in later decades.
Tucked under a protective fold of the Soutpansberg in northern Limpopo province is Buysdorp, a little settlement with a big history.
The founding father of this quiet, industrious farming community between Makhado and Mapungubwe was a larger-than-life historical character called Coenraad de Buys.
People used to talk of this renegade Huguenot from the Western Cape province throughout the South African hinterland and up into the bushveld area near the Zimbabwe border line.
Coenraad de Buys, at a majestic height of more than 2m, was described by 19th Century explorer Henry Lichtenstein as ‘the living figure of a Hercules, the terror of his enemies, the hope and support of his friends’.
As a young man in the 1780s, De Buys left his family home in Swellendam and crossed the Bushman’s River in the Zuurveld, and over the years took wives from the Xhosa, Khoi and ‘Bastaard’ (mixed) communities. He befriended the Xhosa chief, Ngqika, and turned his fellow Boer farmers against the Dutch authorities.
When he left the patronage of Ngqika to venture into the interior, De Buys had gathered about him a motley host that consisted of English army deserters, a missionary, runaway slaves, Hottentots, 2 single Dutch mothers, Xhosa women, children of mixed blood and a ‘Mohammedan Hindu’.
His restless wanderings finally led him and his rainbow people up to the Soutpansberg, where he was the first white hunter to venture up as far as Mapungubwe on the Limpopo River.
After the death of a beloved wife, De Buys simply disappeared into the bush.
Modern-day Buysdorp has a general dealer, a school, a cemetery and a church. The people of Buysdorp live in a collection of domestic properties that stretch up into the foothills of the Soutpansberg, in a setting of aloes and giant euphorbias.
According to the local headmistress, the children learn about De Buys from their grandparents at home.
‘Here at school, they learn about Nelson Mandela,’ she said.
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