Last week, when I was photographing landscapes and animals, I suddenly remembered the story of Kiro Granaatsak which was told to me about 15 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’ 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’
A photo-graphic with some symbolism. If you are known with the art scene you surely understand the story within this photo-graphic composite.
Every morning when I wake up and go outside Grootbek has to tell me a story.
Some people think it’s #ART: a flower against a black background. For me it’s just skills but I know that if I add a nice story to it this image will increase in value. Just a thought on a Sunday morning.
(replaced the original garden background with black plus texture)
…. the Nguni cattle, the Zulu, the snail and the spirits that bee …
In my youth in The Netherlands parents told their children story that babies are delivered by storks. In South Africa I haven’t seen storks so it must be a relative; the heron.
From history people can learn that history is always repeating itself. Unfortunately history is not high on the list of subjects in education so people forget or are unaware of the existence of certain events. I’m not a South African but Dutch living in South Africa and, while not pretending to know it all, I do know that I know more about the South African history than the average South African.
Why am I writing this? Yesterday I was in my favourite South African bookshop and noticed some books about one of the most prominent South Africans of all times: Jan Smuts. Unfortunately the Wikipedia article does not mention everything except that Smuts walked on Ghandi’s sandals, was mentioned in one of Albert Einstein’s writings, had dealings with Winston Churchill, etc. etc. If the ‘General’ had won the 1948 elections there wouldn’t have been ‘Apartheid’ to the extend it grew into under the Broederbond (brotherhood) supported National Party. Neither does it say that many (white) South Africans moved out of the country after the 1948 elections in which Smuts was defeated.
Smuts’ funeral (15 September 1950) attracted more people (especially native Africans) than that of Nelson Mandela. How people forget … W.F. de Klerk’s older brother wrote in 1975 (!!!) “The Puritans in Africa‘ with as subtitle ‘A Story of Afrikanerdom‘ (Published by Penguin Books, UK).
About the last days and the funeral De Klerk writes:
“…. From everywhere in the world, inquiries and good wishes started pouring in to Doornkloof. From everywhere advice and a variety of medicaments were sent. ‘Never did he speak any words of criticism or bitterness of his political foes,’ his physician recounted. ‘The only tone of disappointment I ever noted during my conversations was against those of his fellow-Afrikaners who, he thought, did not regard him as one of them because he thought wider than the South African scene’ …..
…… At each station on the way …. the speed was slackened to permit the standing crowds on the platforms to pay their last respects. Crowds of all races… were on the station. At Irene Station, near his home, an African children’s choir stood to sing the train through the platform lined with flowers. At Olifantsfontein, Africans lined the fences along the rail track, heads bowed, hands folded. A quarry edge was lined up with silent watchers ………. ” etc. etc.
Again: Why am I writing this? Standing in the bookshop, seeing and picturing the ‘Smuts collection’, I recalled the paragraph I just quoted and wondered if Mandela’s funeral wouldn’t have been more respectful this way than the political propaganda spectacle it was made into last year …