Day nineteen - Philippolis,
21st October 2007

What an extraordinary day.. no really!! Here I am locked up in a Philippolis Jail that was used in the early 1900s and is now used as a B&B. I am in one of the cells once used by inmates and costing me just ZAR200 - about Au$35 (which includes shower, fridge, toilets, tea and coffee etc...) and the opportunity to get scared out of my pants as Richard Proctor-Sims from Oom Japies se Huis has just informed me that this place in haunted. Guess what! I am the only inmate - it is getting dark and a thunderstorm has just passed over...

Image right: Scott standing in the 200 year-old ruins of a Griqua house.

Let's get back to this day.

Up at 7am and happy to be out of Bloemfontein which I found to be rather depressing. I was winding my way down to Philippolis when a sign caught my eyes - De Oude Kraal.. (The old kraal - website at this link). Intrigued I followed the sign and found myself on a dusty road just north of the Tigerpoort River. I had gone a few k's when I thought to myself "What the hell am I doing?" - and then I saw it. Like an oasis in the desert.

De Oude Kraal Country Estate (seen right) has been in the same family for well over 100 years and the Lombards have transformed their 2,500 hectare property into a natural museum and beautifully maintained house and garden. I am staying here next time I come... same price as Bayswater at Bloem but the value is chasms apart! De Oude Kraal was originally known as Wilhelmshohe and was part of the farm Bruidegomspruit which belonged to the Griqua. Legend has it that Adam Kok III gave the farm to Johannes Witvoet as a wedding present - thus the name which means Bridegroom's Creek.

In 1885 a missionary by the name of Salzmann bought the farm from Witvoet for six thousand pounds.

Mr Lombard has an extensive tie collection which now line the walls around the bar and his good wife soon took me aside when she heard of my interest in the Griqua. She showed me the original land title (images below) to her family farm - purchased in the 1800s from the daughter of Abraham Kok, Adam Kok IIIs brother. While doing this guests came and checked out all expressing immense satisfaction....

But more was to come! Basil - the farm manager, after catching a Peacock, took me out on the farm to an original kraal built by the Griquas in the 1820s - and nearby were the foundations of their dwellings! (Images below).

Basil then took me to one of only three large eight-sided forts built by the British during the Boer War. I was able to climb the fort and peer in... it is an amazing relic in near perfect condition.

After two happily distracted hours, at about 11am, I drove on to Philippolis.

I checked into the Old Philippolis Jail (where I am still waiting for the ghosts to appear) and then set out to explore this fascinating piece of Griqua history at Philippolis. While trying to find the Griqua location of Bergmanshoogte I found myself in a very native location but never felt threatened.

UPDATE: In April 2010 this old historic building was offered for sale for about Au$300,000.

One of the locals told me how to find the new Griqua settlement of Bergmanshoogte, a legacy of Apartheid, just a few kilometres out of Philippolis. Soon I was sitting down with Ms Wedican the female chief of the Griqua here - who knows Alan le Fleur very well. I presented her community with six copies of "Children of the Mist" and was then taken to meet the community's oldest inhabitant Wilim Adam who turned 102 on the 10th October. It so happened all his offspring had organised this afternoon as their get together celebration so I was in the unique position to capture several generations of authentic Griqua lineage! (Images below). Willim was the man in the SATV 1960s documentary on the Griqua who relates the humorous story of the person speeding on his bike and coming into contact with a cow... the heat of his bike bar-b-quing the meat!
You can see the video clip with Wilim at this link! (Beware 8.5mByte download)

It was now late afternoon and I drove to the cemetery where the contrast between the traditional unmarked cairn of stones by the Griqua and the elaborate headstone of the Afrikaners lay side by side...

At 5pm I drove down to Oom Japie se Huis and met with Richard Proctor-Sims who took a box of 24 books for his book shop before taking me through the Nederlandse Gereformeerde Kerk - which had once been the Griqua church and still is a sore as the Griqua's never were paid for this asset after they were turfed out of this small town by the Boers in the late 1850s. I have to tell you Richard is an interesting character and if travelling through Philippolis stop off at his shop just metres from the large Church.

The church has one of the finest organs in the world - and any organ player can use it... by simply asking! The Church's Bible is the most fascinating artifact. It was donated to the Church by a Boer woman, R I Grobbelaar, in 1887 and was then stolen by a British Officer on the 10th August 1901 (during the Boer war). The British actually occupied this church as barracks for nearly a year. The book turned up in an antiquarian book store and the store owner, realising its importance, asked Queen Elizabeth for direction. The Queen requested that the book be returned to Philippolis and so it was EXACTLY 100 years, to the day, after it was stolen.

The day was completed with this lucky double rainbow....

More on Philippolis at this link

 

On the N1 south of Bloem

The Tigerspoort River

Mr Lombard and his ties

The original farm

title deed

De Oude Kraal..

an exquisite location.

Mud map of the farm

Main homestead

That's what I call
"Dining in elegance"

Basil with the

elusive Peacock

Blesbok

Old Griqua huts

The old

Griqua kraal (c1800)

Sitting on the kraal wall

The kraal

More Griqua huts

The sharpening stone

The fort built by the

British during the Boer war

On the road to Philippolis

The Griqua boundary

the Riet River.

The N1 to Cape Town
through Griqua lands

Trompsberg - just 60k from
Philippolis

The road to Philippolis

60k and not one car!

The Old Jail

The old Philippolis jail

my home for the night

Main street in Philippolis

Adam Kok IIIs house

Just Philippolis today

The Philippolis NG Kerk - site of

the old Griqua Church

The Church's plaque

In the native location

- great kids!

Bergmanshoogte

The local "pub"

Griqua

Handing books to Ms Wedican

102 years old Wilim Adam's
offspring

Classic San-Griqua

102 year old Wilim Adam

MORE of his offspring!

Ms Wedican with Wilim

Griqua graves umarked
v Afrikaner monuments

The local kids

The NGK organ

Staged shot in the pulpit

Return to Scott Balson's 2007 book tour