Kuboes, Northern Cape

Regarded by the local people as the heartland of the Nama culture, the little town of Kuboes lies nestled between the mountains of Ku Boesberg to the north, Van der Stel Berg to the east and the Ploegberg to the south. The origin of this town can be traced back to recent history with the establishment of the Rhenish Missionary Church. The nomads of the Richtersveld would commute for miles in order to attend church services and to enable their children to be educated, until more missionaries came, and the itinerant population decided to settle in Kuboes itself and commute between stock posts.
Kuboes church became one of Richtersveld first permanent settlements, in a time when people still had a nomadic lifestyle. Reverend Johan Hein, teacher and evangelist, began his work here in 1844 and established the landmark Rhenish Church in 1893. The local school, once situated under trees, still bears his name. Since most of the locals spoke the Nama language, a wondrously soft tongue of clicks and clacks (that may sound like the language of the San to the untrained ear), Reverend Hein relied on an interpreter, Andries Domorogh, whose family still lives in Kuboes. This is the only school in the world that teaches the Nama language. It also does valuable work in preserving the Nama culture. The young students have exhibited their dances on stages internationally, and are taught beautiful Nama poems and stories. Performers in Kuboes are both old and young. The village boasts choirs and dancers, who perform both traditional and contemporary scenes, many highly spiritual in nature. A life-giving mist from the far off sea sometimes happily interrupts the harsh and dry climate of Kuboes where temperatures soar to over 40C in summer. The Namas familiarly know this phenomenon as:'hurries or malmokkie'. Rolling in from the coast, the malmokkie is crucial to refresh the ecosystems inland. Walking in this area is almost like walking on another planet. Plants jutting out of rocks, bright blue lizards creeping under bushes, tiny multicoloured birds flitting between the kokerboom-(quiver trees), myths told under a starlit sky are the order of the day or night.
 
Fred Cornell was a pioneer, explorer and prospector who spent quite some time in the Richtersveld at the start of the 1900s, and wrote the fascinating book entitled:'The Glamour of Prospecting'. In his honour a famed hill was named Cornellskop. The site, just a few kilometres from Kuboes, hosts the largest population of the endangered Baster Quiver Tree in the world.
Often called the heartland of the Nama culture, Kuboes offers traditional meals, dancing, singing and music.
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Last updated : 16-Apr-2019

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Apr-2019

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