With a Magisterial District of 47 962 sq km (18 518 sq miles), in the North-Western Cape. This region is sometimes referred to as Little Namaqualand, so as to distinguish it from Great Namaqualand in South-West Africa. 'Namaqua' is the plural form of Nama, the name of the large Hottentot tribe who lived here when the first Whites came to South Africa. The Western boundary is the Atlantic Ocean and the Orange River Mouth, is the North. Namaqualand was created a separate District in 1856. The first civil commissioner, appointed in 1860, had his seat at Komaggas, 40 km South-West of Springbok, the present seat of the magistracy. The first farms were allotted in 1850.
The rainfall is mostly below 250 mm and even as low as 50 mm a year. Along the coast 77 % of the rain falls during the six Winter months, whilst at Pella, farthest from the sea, only 37% falls during Winter. There is little surface run-off, and lack of water for human and stock consumption is a major problem. Storage dams are of little use because of evaporation and most supplies are obtained from springs and boreholes. As can be expected from this meagre rainfall, the vegetation is sparse and stunted. But it does contain an immense variety of succulents and flowering plants, including the famed Namaqua daisies and other species which make a short but spectacular appearance early in Spring, after good Winter rains have fallen. These plants are luxuriant in colouring and are probably unsurpassed anywhere in the World. It is believed that the first Giraffe seen by Whites in South Africa were a pair observed by Pieter van Meerhoff in1661 at Meerhoffskasteel, about 10 km West of Nuwerus. The hamlet of Nuwerus, lies at the intersection of the N7 and Route 363 between Garies and Vanrhynsdorp, just South of the equally small Bitterfontein. It is described by those who live there as a little, country Town within an area known as: 'the Hardeveld'. This is forms a portion of the Succulent Karoo Biome that has a wealth of endemic plants! This area has a subtle beauty which is not immediately obvious, and requires a stilling and patience to experience!
For many years access to South-West Africa across the Orange River was by means of; Pontoons at Goodhouse and Vioolsdrif, but a modern high-level double-lane Bridge called the: 'D. F. Malan Bridge'. Namaqualand is the home of a large number of Coloured people, many of whom accommodate five reserves: 'Concordia, Komag-gas, Leliefontein, Richtersveld and Steinkopf.'
In spite of its aridity the region is well suited to sheep, especially non-woolled types, such as the Karakul, and goats. This is due to the wealth of succulent plants, many of which are very nutritious and are able to survive for long periods without rain. In the early days Namaqualand was the home of the nomadic Trek Boer, who moved from place to place wherever good grazing was to be found! Farming has now become more established, with the District carrying nearly half a million sheep! Agriculture is successful only where irrigation is available; but as there is practically no local surface run-off, the only source of water is the Orange River. The topography is not favourable and there is only one fairly large irrigation scheme, that at Vioolsdrif, while a number of pumping installations are privately owned. Lucerne, Wheat, Citrus and other fruits grow very well and in a few places, such as Pella and Henkries, (Dates are successfully cultivated here). Where there is enough Winter rainfall wheat is grown, and up to 66 000 bags are harvested in good years. Along the coast, at Hondeklip Bay and Port Nolloth, Rock Lobster fishing, is important!
When the settlement was founded at the Cape, the officials there soon learnt of the existence of Copper, somewhere to the North. On an expedition in search of the metal in 1685, Simon van der Stel discovered the 'Copper Mountain' at Springbok, (but transport and other difficulties prevented exploitation). In about 1852, Sir James Alexander made an unsuccessful attempt to work the deposits at Kodas and Numees, close to the Orange River. Tremendous speculative activity followed when the mines at Springbok were opened. This lasted only about ten years when richer deposits were discovered at Okiep, about 8 km, and at Nababeep, about 20 km North of Springbok, these were both developed. However transport presented great difficulties and in 1876, the copper-mining interests, built a 2-ft-gauge railway line to Port Nolloth was bult with a distance of 175 km. Traction was initially by mules. This line was lifted in 1944. In 1925 the railway from Cape Town was extended to Bitterfontein,180 km South of Springbok, and most transport is now done by motor trucks to the rail-head. Important villages on the main road between Bitterfontein and Springbok are Caries and Kamieskroon. On the property of the O'kiep Copper Company there are the remains of excavations made by Simon van der Stel's, expedition. These are some prehistoric rock engravings, which have been fenced in and proclaimed a historical Monument!
In 1926 alluvial diamonds were discovered along the coast from the mouth of the Orange River Southwards. The focal point of this industry is at Alexander Bay, in the Richtersveld, the most arid part of the district, where the rainfall is only 50 mm a year. So rich are the deposits that in 1928, gems to the value of nearly two-Million were recovered! Other workings are at Kleinsee (at the mouth of the Buffalo River) and at Wolf berg. In addition to Copper and Diamonds, a number of valuable minerals such as: Sillimanite, Beryl, Spodumene, Feldspar, Mica and Tungsten are mined in this District!
a little composition: Author Unknown
"I sit here quietly thinking about what it means to _me to be South African, a visitor to South Africa, or even African. So it seems easier to rather explain the effect that this unique land has on me...
The perfume of rain on African soil. The scent of woodfires drifting across the Highveld on winter evenings. There's a very distinctive aroma just as one starts coming into George / Knysna / Plett (I've never figured out which herb it is), in much the same way the smell of Wild Sage defines the area around Santawani in Botswana. The odour of thatch in a game lodge. The bouquet of dust and the various plants when one gets into the bush, sometimes a whiff of something dead. The tang of the ocean at the seaside. The smell of ‘moer’ coffee over an early morning fire, or the delicious aroma of roasting meat over flames – whether you call it a braai or' shisa nyama' (but definitely NOT a barbeque, a barbie, or a ghastly NZ sausage sizzle!)
There is also something about the light here. “Santorini Blue”... I don’t know if that’s an actual colour, but it seems to describe the hue of the highveld sky on a winter’s day to perfection. We live in “big sky” country – whether blue, or orange in sunset, or dark grey and rent by lightening, or velvet black and filled with stars that seem close enough to touch – the sky is ever present. As is the moon. I am always aware of the moon, from a sickle moon to the full fecund globe that is full moon. Silver light gilding thorn trees, juxtaposed against dark shadows on the savannah, is not a sight one easily forgets.
The caw of the ubiquitous, raucous Hadedah in suburbia, the burbling call of a rainbird (Burchell’s Coucal) when a thunderstorm is on its way, the beautiful Diederick’s Cuckoo announcing the arrival of spring, the screech of a Barn Owl, or the evocative call of the Fish Eagle. Jackals calling as the sun goes down, a lion’s roar quite literally making the air reverberate, or the chilling whoops of the hyenas. The cacophony of barking geckos that start up as the sun goes down over Deception Pan, or a veritable orchestra of frogs around a pan in the summer months. Cicadas shrilling on days so hot that the air shimmers, or a nightjar calling in the dead of night in the bushveld.
Days of withering heat often followed by the lightest cool breeze, just as the sun is setting. A gentle little wind, which plays with your hair like an absent-minded lover, reminding you that the cool of the night will soon be with you. Walking in the bush very early in the morning, the sun’s rays catch the dew on spiders’ webs, reminding you that life, both seen and unseen, is all around you. Trout fishing as the sun peeps over the horizon in Dullstroom, so cold that the water droplets freeze on your line…
The colours of this land are not subtle either. The blood red of the coral tree, the green metallic glint of sunbirds, the striped black and white hide of the zebra, or sapphire blue of a kingfisher. The miles and miles of yellow and orange daisies in Namaqualand in September, or pink and white swathes of cosmos along the roads in April. The lilac and turquoise of the roller, the tawny hide of a lion or the emerald green of a little dung beetle that makes its appearance in the summer months. From the golden dunes of the Namib to an unimaginable number of greens in the Knysna Forest. All vivid and arresting.
Talk to me of Morrungulo or Tsodilo Hills, the great Drakensberg, Platteland dorps and the great Karoo. The warmth of Sodwana Bay or the icy kelp forests of the Atlantic Ocean. Of wine farms and fynbos in the Cape, to meerkats and diamonds in the north. Show me our people, in so many hues, with brightly coloured traditional costumes – and even brighter smiles.
All of this creates a frisson of excitement, passion each and every day, a vivid, immediate sense of being alive that I have found nowhere else….
These are my people. This is my land.
Because I am, at the very core of my being, a child of Africa! ❤️"
(WHAT AN AMAZING DESCRIPTION OF OUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY... IRRESPECTIVE OF WHERE YOU ARE IN THE WORLD NOW! 😍 )