Tuesday, September 25, 2007


24th September is a National Holiday known as Heritage Day. A day intended as a celebration of our diversity - and a healing of our past division. And Jenny and I rode through the middle of our country's history.

We rode from Clarens to Zastron - 350km. Which is a short distance to cover so much pain, warfare, and political conflict. This used to be a grassed savannah, populated by herds of wildebeest and other game. The ruling tribe was the BaTlokwe, under the leadership of MaNtatese, a wild woman who took no prisoners. She was feared by the KhoiSan (who retreated into the mountains)and the BaRolong and other more peaceful Tswana people. Moshoeshoe was secure in his BaSotho mountain kingdom of ThabaBoseu. But then she ran into migrating Boers from the Cape Colony, who gradually forced her into smaller areas. They staked ownership of Colcolan (a corruption of Hlohlowane "ridge of the battle"), Hobhouse (after civil rights campaigner Emily Hobhouse) Wepener (named after Commandant Louw Wepener), and Zastron (the wife of President Brand)

We stopped at each dorpie, found the town square, and the familiar roads: Voortrekker Rd, Piet Retief Rd, and a Church Street replete with a huge Dutch Reformed church. The towns are small, neglected, and dusty. The sadness of this blood-soaked land is giving way to tired villages that exist for reasons of history: each is the distance an oxwagon could travel in a day.

When we reached Zastron we had ridden enough so stopped at Die Oude Werf B&B. Supper in the Maluti Hotel in little red booths, and rode back to the B&B under a star bedecked sky.

Pray for our land - that our diversity enriches our present.

1 comment:

Murray & Gina UK said...

What an absoultely AWESOME way to celebrate your 25 years! I am so jealous! Enjoy our country, Rock... keep your two wheeled ossawa going and cheer as you see the mountain!