Moving back to nature has a cruel side
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