Last week, when I was photographing landscapes and animals, I suddenly remembered the story of Kiro Granaatsak which was told to me about 20 years ago when we were living in the Klaas Voogds area. South Africans are good in story telling and the best stories are those with a core of truth in it. Of Klaas Voogds it’s told that he was ‘trampled to death by a rogue elephant’ in the area named after him. The truth (National Archives) is that he was a spy for governor Simon van der Stel and passing the area chasing a bunch of marooning slaves who attacked a farm near Tulbagh and which he (and his ‘army of 12 ‘hottentots’) caught in Buffeljags River. Truth is also that Voogds was a ‘Ladies man’ (‘rondloper’) with a numerous spin off amongst the coloured people. But that is not what this story is about but it provides a bit of ‘Couleur locale’ as the French say.
A long time ago, ‘locals’ are not conscious of time, A man from Genadendal came over the mountain near McGregor in the Western Cape, South Africa, and walked all the way to the Klaas Voogds area between Robertson and Ashton. He settled somewhere in the mountains (nobody knew where exactly) and slowly became known as the best shepherd the local farmers could think of. His name was Kiro and ‘Granaatsak’ was added because of the bag he was always wearing over his shoulder. During the day he herded the sheep and every night he went home with a full bag but always kept himself out of sight. One day however a police helicopter flew over the mountain and his hide-away (half under the ground) was discovered, sheer by the presence of his veggie garden. The same evening the police undertook an overland expedition to the spot and there they found Kiro in his hut full with sheep skins. In court the judge asked him ‘why’. “Feeding the leopards”, Kiro answered. “I just wanted to prevent them from going on farmer’s property where they would get shot”, he reasoned .Kiro did not survive the prison; within a few months he died and within a few months also, all leopards in the mountains were shot.Years after locals would tell me that Kiro was a funny man full of jokes and anecdotes. When asked him how to count sheep in a flock, for example, he would say something as ‘Count the legs and divide them by 4’