03-Mar-2005 -- The far Northern Cape area is commonly known in South Africa as the Kalahari, which is derived from the Tswana word Kgalagadi. It is the largest geopolitical area (province) in South Africa. It is a semi-desert region, which is sparsely populated with the main economic activities being farming and mining.
The main languages spoken by the population is Tswana, an indigenous African language, and Afrikaans, a language developed from the Dutch, who were the early settlers in South Africa, arriving in the Cape of Good Hope (Cape Town) in 1652. Farming activities are mainly centred around cattle ranching and sheep or goat farming, with only the hardier types of animal capable of surviving the extreme heat, cold, sparse vegetation, and dry conditions of this arid area.
The people from the area are well known for their friendliness and willingness to help. I can vouch for this, from my personal experience when visiting confluence 27S 24E, which is on "state" owned ground. I visited the area on 3 March 2005. As with the other confluence points that I have previously visited, being 27S 23E and 28S 23E, I was returning from a visit to clients, for whom the company that I work for provides medical insurance. Having noticed that 27S 24E was still not "discovered", I made a note to visit this point if time allowed it. Fortunately, time favoured me.
Having turned off to the north from the main road between Kuruman and Vryburg on a gravel road towards Louwna, I then turned west towards the confluence point. I was travelling in a Toyota Tazz, which is a small, light hatchback sedan (city car) and had to proceed very carefully due to the severe corrugations and large stones in the road. The roads are described locally as a "Sinkplaatpad" - literally meaning, a corrugated-iron-sheet-road. The road eventually took to me to Cassel, which is a rural settlement where certain development initiatives in the past have proven to be a total failure. A very neat shopping centre stands totally derelict alongside the road, with windowpanes broken and not a soul in sight. Yet right next door, it seems that a new Library will now be built.
The confluence is in the veld almost at the bisector of two roads, which lie 90° from each other. Being wary of leaving my car unattended next to the roadside and hotfooting it into the veld, I turned and went back to a roadside store about 2 kilometres back, where the shop owner, introduced me to Johannes van Wyk who knew the local area very well and who would be able to guide me through the veld by car, as close as possible to the confluence point.
Having briefly explained to Johannes what this was all about, he and I drove in the little city car through the raw veld, where there was not even a track. Fortunately, we could move quite easily since the area is not too overgrown, but we had to watch out for thorns from the Kameeldoring (Camel Thorn) tree, which could easily puncture a tire. We eventually reached a fence, about 500 meters from the confluence point. Over the fence, we took an easy stroll, mindful of the darkening clouds towards the South where a thunder storm was clearly brewing.
The GPS V did its work admirably and with eight "birds flying" giving an accuracy of 5 meters I reached S27 00.000 E24 00.00 at 04:38:08 p.m. at a height of 1316 m above sea level. The area is sand-veld with low scrub interspaced now and then with a Camel Thorn tree.
Just after taking the photographs, the storm let down on us and with lightning striking in close proximity, we rapidly made our way back to the parked car, however we could not escape the always welcome rain and arrived sopping wet at the car.
Whilst driving and walking, Johannes informed me that he was a qualified Diesel Mechanic. Johannes has an equipped workshop and provides service to the local community, repairing and even totally stripping and rebuilding vehicles. Johannes has worked at this trade all over South Africa. He is fluent in Tswana, Zulu, English and Afrikaans, and even understood a smattering of Portuguese. When I asked him about German, however, he could only give me the swear words. ;-)
Johannes is married and has four children, his eldest daughter has just recently started nursing and he still has one youngster at school. My sincere appreciation to Johannes van Wyk who showed me the way and guided me to drive as close as possible to the confluence point. Should anyone want further contact details, they can contact me via the email address at my member page.