Mov­ing back to na­ture has a cruel side

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

TO RECHARGE the hu­man bat­tery, noth­ing’s bet­ter than the wide open spa­ces of a land­hold­ing like Langkop.

Peo­ple ask: “Where’s Langkop?” Easy, it’s not far from Boshof. They ask: “Where’s Boshof ?” Easy, it’s 50km from Dealesville. They say: “Where’s Dealesville?” Easy, it’s half­way be­tween Hert­zogville and Ja­cob­s­dal.

There is an al­ter­na­tive an­swer – “less than an hour from Kim­ber­ley” – that is bet­ter for putting your fin­ger on the map. But it sac­ri­fices the ro­mance, no? It dims the sense of dis­tant­ness; clut­ters the feel of tran­quil­lity.

So in­dulge me, kindly, wal­low­ing in the vast­ness that makes en­ter­ing Boshof from a long veld walk feel claus­tro­pho­bic, like a Cen­tral Busi­ness District of hard­scrab­ble en­ter­prises –“Fridge Re­pairs, Bricks and Boubokke for Sale”.

In Boshof, and many dorps, shut­tered doors and boarded yards whis­per a tale of nowhere to go. But then look at the huge healthy spruce church, clean and kempt and in use. It’s in vogue now to pre­dict the van­ish­ing of the plat­te­land, but the world has funny ways of turn­ing.

Is it im­pos­si­ble that one day the sale of your Joburg house will cover the de­posit on a re­tire­ment cot­tage in thriv­ing peace­ful Boshof ?

A year ago, things were dire. We city peo­ple knew that 2016 was dry. We saw the news, the ter­ri­ble pic­tures. But first-hand ac­counts of the mercy slaugh­ter­ing of starved herds, the ruin of hu­man lives, can stir your soul like no news re­ports.

Now, wa­ter is back, the veld­grass is as high as a buf­falo’s eye.

More last­ing, the hu­man fac­tor shines bright. I look at H and G, young pro­fes­sion­als, ab­di­cat­ing choice jobs in Rivo­nia Road’s choic­est tow­ers to give re­birth to a cen­tury-old farm.

Their am­bi­tion is large and the route is clear: hunting. A den­tist from Min­nesota pays more to shoot a rooi­bok than the abat­toir of­fers for half a herd of cat­tle.

And to boot, the buck nib­bles dain­tily at your veld, pre­serv­ing it for­ever. That placid beef cow with big soul­ful eyes eats more in a fort­night than the rooi­bok in a year.

Across the val­ley W and C run two unique ho­tels. One is for the four-footed. Now non-landown­ers can own an­te­lope; lodg­ing them at the Wild­shotel un­til their num­ber is up.

The two-footed ho­tel, Blikkies­dorp, is bolder still. Af­ter Mr Hunter from Helsinki shoots his har­te­bees, he spends his nights in what at face value looks like that other great African icon, a squat­ter shack.

This cre­ativ­ity is in­spir­ing. To the soft­ies among us it’s jar­ring, too, built on the sud­den death of liv­ing crea­tures.

But if we didn’t want to con­front that we should have stayed where meat comes blood­less and tidy, nearly as neat as a box of choco­lates but less ef­fi­ciently de­signed.

Con­sid­er­ing the gen­eral right­eous­ness with which most of us view hun­ters, it’s quite an ouch to con­tem­plate their view of us, gob­bling fil­let and chops but hyp­o­crit­i­cally thin-lipped on how they got on to our din­ner plate.

Well, di­ver­sity is our na­tion’s game, so let us co­ex­ist.

I’m in­ured to the heads and horns on the walls, now, and bravely bear the hun­ters think­ing of me as a sissy who won’t even watch, never mind tote a gun.

I still star­tle, though, at the pho­to­graphs, the proud hunter squat­ting be­hind his de­ceased prey.

I can’t help think­ing that if I’d ended the days of that beau­ti­ful beast I’d have my hat in front of my face.

Mer­ci­fully, the hun­ters and the nons can alike share the space, the grace, and the cour­te­sies of the coun­try­side.

Thanks, Langkop, for a de­li­cious taste.

There are some out there giv­ing re­birth to a cen­tury-old farm

DENIS BECKETT

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