30-Jun-2004 -- 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. Mining activities are mainly iron and manganese, with some of the biggest deposits in the world being found there. Any koppie/kopje (hillock or small hill) is almost guaranteed to be a deposit of the aforementioned minerals.
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 renowned for their friendliness and hospitality, which I can vouch for, from my personal experience from visiting 27S 23E, which is on the farm "Gamodisa" of Louw and Annette Krüger. Both Louw and Annette were born in the area and clearly the dust and traditions of the Kalahari flow in their veins.
I visited the area on 30 June 2004. The company that I work for provides medical insurance for employees at Assmang Mine, who mine manganese at Black Rock, a little mining town, north of Hotazel. Black Rock is the common visible form of exposed manganese, hence the name. The name Hotazel is traditionally believed to be derived from the early geologists proclaiming the area to be as Hot-as-Hell. Knowing of the yet undocumented confluence point, I made a point of attempting to find the confluence point.
The general road map had pinpointed the Confluence some 3 km east of a gravel road. Questioning the Black Rock HR Officer, Ross Klopper, I was taken to Siebert Noeth, a building contractor, who informed me that he believed that the farm belonged to Louw Krüger. I was provided with his cell-phone number and after contacting him, he not only expressed his willingness to receive me, but also his desire to look at our medical insurance product. Having had business until 18:00 on 29 June, I proceeded in the dark to Louw's farm. Upon arriving at the farm gate, the GPS pin-pointed the site to be some 3 km in a north-easterly direction from the gate.
Louw was unaware of the confluence point on his property and agreed to take me there the following morning in his Land Cruiser. It was my intention to return to Black Rock and come back the following morning, but after a cup of coffee and some good chatting, Louw insisted that I stay the night. It had not been my intention of staying and I had not brought an overnight bag, but having detected the sincerity of the invitation, I accepted, hoping that I had not overstayed my welcome. What wonderful and friendly people live in the Kalahari!
Living in Durban on the east coast of South Africa, I was somewhat surprised when Louw said he would wake me, early, at 07:00. In Durban the sun is up long before 07:00, even in winter. Since farmers are renowned as early morning risers, my interpretation of early would have been 06:00, but South Africa has only one time zone spreading over 15º, from 17º E to 32º E. However, at 07:00 when Louw and I met for the traditional cup of coffee, it was still dawn and the sun had not yet risen. I was also somewhat concerned about the time available, to complete the exercise, between 07:00 and 10:00 when I had an appointment in Black Rock. I still needed to get back to the Mine's guest house to clean up and dress.
After coffee, Louw and I departed in his Land Cruiser. I pointed in the general area and he drove the Cruiser along the numerous tracks, and farm roads, crisscrossing the farm. Eventually we arrived at a fence some 250 meters from the confluence point. This being my first confluence point, at the same time also being an undocumented one, I was quite excited. Louw also seemed pleased about this new discovery on his farm.
The area around 27º 00' 00.00" S 23º 00' 00.00" E, is covered in low vegetation, predominantly a thorny scrub known as Swart-Haak (literally Black Hook), which wreaked havoc on my formal trousers. It is also very rocky and flat. Louw and I congratulated each other and the Confluence was photographed and documented. Louw also marked the point by making a small rock pile.
Arriving back at the farmhouse I was invited to breakfast, which I regrettably had to gobble down in order to get back to Black Rock in time. Everything however panned out wonderfully and I left with a warm handshake and mutual invitations to revisit each other if we were ever in each others areas.
To get to the confluence point, one travels north from Kuruman, the main centre, to McCarthy's Rest, one of the border posts between South Africa and Botswana. This tarred road leads past Hotazel to Black Rock and then becomes a gravel road to the border post. Turn off at the Severen turn off, to the northeast prior to reaching Hotazel. Travel approximately 28 km along a good gravel road to the farm gate. After entering the gate drive along that farm road. Louw's farmhouse is the first on the left. Should anyone want further contact details, they can contact me via the email address at my member page.
My sincere thanks to Louw and Annette for accommodating myself and this unique project.