View Full Version : South African Myths & Legends

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 09:21 AM
I will start the thread with the tale of Wolraad Woltemade, this tale hold a special place in me as it was my favourite during childhood. Born in Hessen-Schaumberg Germany he came to South Africa in 1752. This man is the true embodyment of Germanic strength and bravery and deserve it's place as one of the most famous in our history:

It is no wonder that our Cape is called the Cape of Storms, for the waters of Table Bay are lashed every year by winter gales. For hundreds of years sailing ships have been torn apart here and their wreckage scattered on the waves. So bad is the weather that governors of old forbade ships to anchor in Table Bay from May to August. They were ordered to rather seek the calmer waters of Simonstown. But captains were not always good at taking orders. They often defied governors when it came to matters of the sea. Such a one was the captain of De Jonge Thomas, who risked casting anchor here. He was convinced that they could ride out the Northwesterly wind. But the wind rose to a gale and soon a terrible storm broke upon them out of the sea. All night, mountains of waves crashed over the ship, and tore the anchor ropes loose, one by one. Just after midnight the desperate captain gave the order to fire the cannons. Only one anchor rope still held. The ship was surely doomed. The burgers of Cape Town, safe in their beds, heard the distant booms of distress above the screaming of the wind. One of those who lay listening was a dairy farmer, Wolraad Woltemade.

In the pitch darkness there was nothing they could do to help the men at sea. Just before dawn the last anchor rope snapped, and De Jonge Thomas was driven by breakers onto a sandbank near the Salt River mouth. It was June 1, 1773. Many lives were lost as the ship started to break up, but a good count of survivors were left hanging on to the hull for dear life. Some sailors attempted to swim ashore, but most of those perished in the icy cold waters. Only the strongest swimmers of those who struck out for the shore made it against the current from the river mouth. A crowd stood huddled on the beach in the pale dawn. Some came to watch, others to offer help to any sailor who might be washed ashore alive, and then there was some rougher folk intending to loot and pillage any cargo that was thrown up by the waves. Governor van Plettenberg sent thirty guards to maintain order, assist in the salvaging of the cargo, offer help to sailors, and of course to stop the looters from making of with any spoils. Corporal Christian Ludwig Woltemade was one of these soldiers. He was the youngest son of Wolraad.

At the break of the day, Wolraad set out on horseback into the howling wind and lashing rain, to take provisions to his son. Who am I to sit here at home by the fire while others have to endure the fury of this storm? He got up, packed some warm food in a bag, grabbed his coat and hat, and saddled his great horse. He then rode out into the storm. At the shore he saw a pitiful sight, for the ship had her back broken in the tug and thrust of the wild breakers. Even above the crashing surf he could clearly hear the cries of men as they threw themselves from the splintering deck into the sea. Very few were helped alive from the waves. Woltemade only paused at the crest of the dune for a short moment. He raised his hand to his forehead and looked hard from the foaming beach to the sandbank. Then, saying not a single word, he threw down the bag of food, dug his heels into his horse's sides and cantered down the sand slope into the boiling sea. Bystanders watched on in silence as the great horse plunged into the waves and began to swim towards De Jonge Thomas. Was Woltemade mad? He surely will not return alive. Everyone on the beach watched with bated breath as the 65 year old dairy farmer's figure rose and fell with the waves. There he is, can you see him, in the surges just below the heaving decks! Wolraad turned the horse and called for two men to jump into the sea, and grab onto the horse's mane and tail. They only hesitated a moment, and then made the leap, whereupon Wolraad urged the horse forward and dragged them to shore. As they drew in, men ran into the foam, helping the stumbling sailors ashore. Without a word, Wolraad Woltemade turned his gallant horse back into the sea. Four men he brought ashore this way, then six, eight, ten, twelve… as he staggered shorewards with the thirteenth and fourteenth Woltemade paused for a moment. He laid his head on his horse's neck and felt the quivering exhaustion in its body. The strained breathing of his brave companion told him that it was near the end of its strength. He himself was by now totally done in too. He ran his hand over the long wet nose, felt the soft nostrils and saw how red the eyes were, whipped by salt water for a couple of hours now. Could we go once more? Only once ? he muttered softly.

Then the sound of splitting timbers could be heard across the water. Wolraad turned and saw the deck breaking up. Men screamed as they were sucked into the troth. Without thinking Wolraad turned his horse and spurred it back into the sea. Once more they struggled in the heaving water below the ship. But this time, instead of two, more than ten grabbed onto the horse, onto mane and tail, saddle, girth and stirrups. Wolraad tried to stop them in vain… "Wait. Let go or we shall all go down! Wait. I'll come back again!" His words was lost in the wind. In their panic they did not hear a word. They clung to each other, to Wolraad and to the horse. A shudder ran through the exhausted horse, it tried to raise it's head above the water, to breathe fresh air, but then went down. Wolraad, his great-hearted horse and the men all disappeared beneath the waves.

The Dutch East India Company provided amply for his widow and children, and named a ship "Held Woltemade" after him. The Union of South Africa King's Medal for Bravery, instituted in 1939, bore a depiction of Woltemade's heroic act on its observe. In 1970 the Woltemade Decoration for Bravery was instituted as the highest civilian decoration for bravery in South Africa. This was replaced in 1988 by the Woltemade Cross for Bravery. The Woltemade Cross was discontinued in 2002, as part of the move towards establishing a new South African honours system, following the advent of majority rule. Sadly, the story of this heroic deed was also removed from all school history books.

The beach where this tale took place.

Source: http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=62223b3f-d13b-4555-bb8a-75402af3ebc1

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 09:40 AM
The Dutch East India Company provided amply for his widow and children, and named a ship "Held Woltemade" after him. The Union of South Africa King's Medal for Bravery, instituted in 1939, bore a depiction of Woltemade's heroic act on its observe. In 1970 the Woltemade Decoration for Bravery was instituted as the highest civilian decoration for bravery in South Africa. This was replaced in 1988 by the Woltemade Cross for Bravery. The Woltemade Cross was discontinued in 2002, as part of the move towards establishing a new South African honours system, following the advent of majority rule. Sadly, the story of this heroic deed was also removed from all school history books.

The new South Africa can't have any Dutch/Afrikaner heroes! No, that would never do. Bloody pathetic!

Anyway, thanks Mtroboer, it is a great story.

Gerhardt Maritz
Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 09:47 AM
It is up to people like us to ascertain that these stories never dissappear.
Thanks for that.

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 10:07 AM
This is a short story I found on the net regarding Racheltjie de Beer. The real name of her brother is not known and the writer substituted it with Pietie. The family was part of "The Great Trek" and this played off somewhere between the Orange Freestate and the Republic of Transvaal. Although this version was written as a short story it holds true to the original and is very simialir to the ones I heard when I was little. Enjoy!

They did not travel far that August day in 1843. The sun was weak, the air bitterly cold and though pushed, the oxen were slow, resting and feeding more than they trekked. The creaking of the wagons could be heard above the wailing of the strong north wind as the span struggled to pull their heavy load along the rough trail. Toward late afternoon a messenger on horseback rode in to meet the wagons. The young farmer's son brought welcome news. The trek boers were invited to set up camp for the night on his father's farm.

Before sunset the boers formed a laager camp. The wagons were unhitched and lashed together in a protective circle. With fires lit, the women busied themselves preparing the evening meal while the men pitched tents and drove the cattle into the laager for the night. After counting the small herd it was discovered that a new bull calf was missing. The children had named him Frikkie and adopted him as a favoured pet. Children of the trek boers owned very little in the way of worldly goods and had few pets. Frikkie was very precious to them.

"We must all go in search of Frikkie before it gets too dark. It will break our children's hearts if we leave him out in the cold to die," the commandant said. A search party, which included the women and children, was soon organised. Twelve-year-old, Rachel De Beer held her brother's hand tight as they set off with a group into the veld.

"Is Frikkie going to die if we don't find him tonight?" Pietie sobbed.

"Wipe your eyes," she told him. "How can you search when you cannot even see where you are going?"

With six-year-old Pietie's small strides holding them back, Rachel and her brother soon became separated from the others. The weather was turning bad. The wind blew stronger and it began to rain. Rachel decided to turn back to the camp, but found she could not remember from which direction they set out. This was low bushveld land and it seemed to stretch for miles around them. Voortrekker children lived a harsh lifestyle. The trek boer of South Africa were like nomads, constantly on the move in search of new land to farm. Their children had an intimate knowledge of nature and the veld and Rachel knew that it would soon be dark. She also knew they were hopelessly lost. As night fell, it began to snow.

"Are we lost, Racheltjie?" The calf now forgotten in his new fear, Pietie started crying again. "I am so cold. Let's go back to the wagons."

"Hush, Pietie, just keep moving." Rachel was afraid they would freeze to death if they stopped walking, but she also realised that Pietie would not be able to go on for much longer, and she did not have the strength to carry him. She could hardly see through the blizzard. A few yards further, they stumbled into an old ant-hole. Rachel sat her brother down on the ground next to the ant-hole while she searched for a stone. Presently she began to dig into the side of the ant-hole. When she thought the hole was big enough for Pietie to wriggle into, Rachel stopped digging. Her hands were raw and bleeding and she struggled to undo the many buttons at the front of her ankle-length dress.

"I want you to crawl in there," she spoke into Pietie's ear as she wrapped her dress around him. "I am going to make you warm and then you will be fine. Soon Mammie and Pappie will come and find us. It won't be long now." Rachel helped her brother into the hollow she dug, removed the last of her clothing and packed it on top of him. Finally she lay her small naked body against the entrance of the hole in a futher attempt to shield her brother from the cold.

That is how they found Rachel De Beer the following morning. When they lifted her lifeless body away from the ant-hole a near-frozen Pietie crawled out. The storm had blown over and the sun had come through. It promised to be a warm day.

Source: http://www.ruff.co.za/shortstories/display/4662_Her_Brothers_Keeper.htm

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 11:06 AM
As the story goes Jan van Hunks, a Dutch pirate in the early 18th century, retired from his eventful life at sea to live on the slopes of Devil's Peak, South Africa. To escape from his wife's sharp tongue he often walked up the mountain where he settled down to smoke his pipe. One day a mysterious stranger approached him and asked the retired pirate to borrow some tobacco. After a bit of bragging, a smoking contest ensued, with the winner's prize a ship full of gold. After several days, Van Hunks finally defeated the stranger, who unfortunately turned out to be the devil. Suddenly, thunder rolled, the clouds closed in and Van Hunks disappeared, leaving behind only a scorched patch of ground. Legend has it that the cloud of tobacco smoke they left became the "table-cloth" - the famous white cloud that spills over Table Mountain when the south-easter blows in summer. When that happens, it is said that Van Hunks and the Devil are at it again.

Source: http://www.search-southafrica.com/interesting-facts/myths-and-legends/van-hunks-and-the-devil.html

Jan van Hunks "smoking" his pipe

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 11:33 AM
The first Flying Dutchman Legend was written in 1795, when Irish pickpocket George Barrington wrote his "Voyage to Botany Bay". According to his report, sailors told a story of a Dutch ship that got lost at sea during a horrendous storm. The same ship later wrecked other ships in bouts of ghastly fog. This was the result of captain Bernard Fokke's behaviour: he was known for the "devilish" speed on his trips from Holland to Java. Some said that Fokke was aided by the Devil...

Another version of the legend starts in 1641 when a Dutch ship sank off the coast of the Cape of Good Hope. The trip to the Far East had been successful and the ship was on its way back home to Holland, so captain Van der Decken was pleased... and failed to notice the dark clouds looming. Only when he heard the lookout scream in terror, he did realise they sailed straight into a heavy storm. Van der Decken and his crew battled for hours to get out of the storm, but then they heard a sickening crunch: the ship had hit a rock and began to sink. As the ship plunged downwards and the captain knew death was approaching, he screamed out a curse: "I will round this Cape even if I have to keep sailing until Doomsday!"

So, whenever a storm brews off the Cape of Good Hope, don't look into the eye of it, because you will see the Flying Dutchman... And whoever sights the ship will die a terrible death.Most people agree the "history" of the Flying Dutchman is merely a legend, and still the ship has been sighted on various occasions in the Cape of Good Hope by reliable witnesses. Misfortune, greed, and fidelity collide in this storm-battered tale of one man's quest for life-saving love. Wagner retells the legend of the fearsome Flying Dutchman, cursed to sail the seas until he finds a woman who will love him until death, in his famous opera...


Lighthouse keepers reported seeing her and here is a selected list of famous sightings:

In 1823, captain Owen of the HMS Leven recorded two sightings in the log. In 1835 the sailors of a British vessel saw a ship approach them in the middle of a storm. It appeared there would be a collision, but the ship suddenly vanished.

On 11 July 1881, the Royal Navy ship Bacchante was rounding the tip of Africa, when the crew was confronted with the sight of The Flying Dutchman. The midshipman, who later became King George V, recorded that the lookout and the officer of the watch had seen the ship and used these words to describe it: "A strange red light as of a phantom ship all aglow, in the midst of which light the mast, spars and sails of a brig 200 yards distant stood out in strong relief." Soon after the sighting, he accidentally fell from a mast and died.

In 1879, the crew of the SS Pretoria saw the Flying Dutchman and in 1911 a whaling ship almost collided with her before she vanished. In 1923, some members of the British Navy sighted the haunted ship and gave documentation to the Society for Psychical Research. In 1939 the Flying Dutchman was seen by people ashore and German admiral Karl Doenitz maintained his U Boat crews logged various sightings. In 1941 people at Glencairn Beach saw the phantom ship vanish before she crashed into the rocks. In 1942 four witnesses saw the ship enter Table Bay and in 1959 the Magelhaen nearly collided with the phantom ship.

Source: http://www.essortment.com/all/dutchmanflying_rrqy.htm

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 11:47 AM

One of the longest endurance rides in recorded history was made during the winter month of May in 1842 in Natal, South Africa. Dick King, a young Englishman, hunter, and wagoner, rode an endurance ride to begin all endurance rides - 600 miles, 10 days, 1 horse.

King did not ride for money, he did not ride for a bucks, he did not ride for the fun of it, and he did not ride to see the country. He rode for help - alone for 400 of the 600 miles. He swam more than 100 rivers which were invested with crocodiles; rode over the great and beautiful Drakensburg Mountains; through the territory of the murdering, plundering Zulus; across unexplored country; and along timber trails through the bush where the elephants, leopards and baboons played. He rode carrying a pistol, blanket, biscuits, and biltong. The Englishman didn't win a buckle or money, but did earn a niche in the history of South Africa and a magnificent equestrian statue commemorating his ride, which now stands in the centre of Durban, South Africa, on the bay shore. The figure is large and his ride was one of the greatest on record.

In 1842 some Boers had trekked up and over the Drakensburg Mountains and were grazing their cattle in the area which is now Durban and was at that time considered by the British to be their own territory. The Boers didn't agree with the British and continued to roam the area until the Cape government sent up Captain Smith and a small contingent of men to enforce the demands. Captain Smith's force could not hold the fort and was about to be overrun when they called for help. The call, however, had to carry 600 miles, for that was the distance to the nearest centre that could send relief. The centre, in Grahamstown, had to be contacted immediately, and Dick King was chosen to make the ride.

On that night, May 25, 1843, Dick King was asleep on the ship Mazeppa, which was in the roadstead at Durban. About midnight, Joseph Cato and his brother awakened King and told him of the precarious situation confronting the British and the need for relief if Captain Smith was to hold the fort. King, who could speak various native dialects and knew the route after driving wagons over it several times, agreed to start immediately with his native servant NaGenjo. Cato secured two horses, a white and a bay; and, loading Dick and his servant in a rowboat, rowed them across the bay towing the two swimming horses. Years later, NaGenjo recalled the start of the ride:

"Dick handed me a pistol for use in case of attack. He, too, carried one. King wore a large beard, had on a coat, shirt, and long trousers, spurs, a somewhat broad-brimmed sand-coloured hat, pistol on side, hold-all strapped to saddle in front, and held in his hand a double rein, and carried no whip. We came to the Mgaze River, not many yards from where it enters the sea. Dick dismounted, took off everything except his shirt, and handed the things to me to carry on my head. As we plunged into the water, which was high on account of the tide, it seemed in the dark as if we were crossing a river in flood. Dick, regardless of crocodiles, swam in his shirt, leading both his and my horse. Being unable to swim, I remained mounted clutching to my horse's mane. King was a man absolutely brave and fearless. He feared neither lions on land nor crocodiles in water." NaGenjo rode 200 miles with King, on a saddle without stirrups and "my legs had well night been jerked from their sockets. Both literally dangled on either side of the horse. I had lost all power over them. Dick, seeing I was likely to become an encumbrance, returned me to the camp at Mgaze and he pushed on."

But what kind of a horse was Somerset, Dick King's charger? With no conditioning whatsoever, he was being asked to travel over 600 miles. He had not had weeks of conditioning, or a month, or a year - which some people feel is necessary for our modern 100-mile endurance rides. According to the records, Somerset went the full 600 miles in ten days, with no conditioning whatsoever. Somerset was originally owned by a retired English officer who described the horse as being "steady as a rock and a good hunter." This officer traded Somerset for a small piece of land to a party of trekking Boers led by Jan Hofmeyr, who was headed for the Drakensburgs and Natal. The story runs that "Somerset stood fifteen hands, was a bay (there are differences of opinion here) with black points, skin of gold, kind of satin (sounds like a palomino) sleek, whether groomed or ungroomed. His forequarters were shaded with dark stripes like the marks of a zebra, and a band of black on the back extended from shoulder to croup (sounds like a dun or buckskin).

"He had never been shod, but had hoofs of steel, his withers sloped, and his back was short. He was close-coupled and well ribbed-up. His head was small, like an Arab's; ears short, supported by a long arched neck; eyes full of fire, but mild; knees wide and flat. Chest broad, girth deep, with rounded flanks, hocks well under, forelegs straight. (Endurance riders take note: this is a prefect profile for a long-distance endurance horse.) The golden bay had received the best education in the military riding school and was as docile as any pet."

According to the story, "When the British re-occupied Natal, Hofmeyr loaned Somerset to a Boer friend. The English at Durban noticed the horse at several meetings of British and Boers, and remarked what a fine animal he was. So far did admiration go that a 'Grjqua' from the Cape made up his mind to steal Somerset and one dark night he entered a Boer laager at the Congella, moved about as if he were one of the 'Wachter Rujters' and quietly untied the reins and brought Somerset into the British camp. Well, that is the kind of horse Somerset turned out to be. There are more than 100 rivers between Durban and Grahamstown; there were many tribes of savages on the route and some of these tribes were known for their murdering and plundering ways. King evidently escaped the Boers at Umkomaas, but was attacked by a native tribe below the Umzjmcucu River. He was, however, able to escape them and, swimming the rivers, rode steadily on, pausing only occasionally at missionary stations on the route.

Riding alone after the first 200 miles, King covered the remaining 400 in seven days. It took ten days in all, two days of which King was too sick to travel. He averaged 75 miles a day in actual riding time. Dick King didn't win a buckle, but the garrison at Durban was saved, and the government rewarded Dick for this most remarkable endurance ride with the princely sum of 15 pounds sterling!

Source: http://www.lrgaf.org/journeys/dick-king.htm

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 12:05 PM
Japie Greyling was born in 1890 on the farm Smaldeel in the district Hoopstad, Orange Free State, South Africa. During the Anglo Boer War (1899-1902) the British in cahoots with the Rothschild Jews invaded the Boer Republics in order to get control of the vast gold and precious mineral resources. Lord Kitchener was commander of the combined British, Canadian, Australian and Nieu Zealand combined Imperial forces that all came to make war against the two Boer republics with a total population of two hundred thousand Boer people including women and children. The Boers resisted and initially claimed victory after victory against the overwhelming Imperial odds. Then Lord Kitchener who was a very close and trusted friend of Rothschild issued orders to the Imperial British Forces to apply a policy of scourged earth. In applying this policy all Boer farmhouses were burnt down and crops and cattle destroyed. Boer women and children were chased like cattle to the hell camps of Queen Victoria where 27 000 of them died of famine and disease.

Japie was 10years old at the time of the incident. His father and two older brothers were on commando with the Boer forces. One night his father's commando slept overnight on the farm. As there was a strong British contingent pursuing them they left early the following morning. When the British troops under command of captain J E B Sealy arrived on the farm they found signs that the Boers were there the previous night. Captain Sealy confronted the boy questioning him on how many Boers there were and where they were heading. Japie refused to betray his father's commando. Captain Sealy was determined to get the information and ordered a firing squad to execute the boy. The firing squad cocked their rifles and aimed at the defenceless ten-year-old boy. But Japie looked them straight into the I refusing to give them the required information. Then captain Sealy told his men to stop. Many years after the war the British officer still spoke about the courage of Japie Greyling who while facing a death squad still refused to betray his people.

Source: http://boerekryger.co.za/artikels_files/BOER-HEROES-OF-GERMAN-DESCEND.html

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 01:23 PM
Long ago, in a lovely valley between the Cape and the dry old Karroo, lived a beautiful girl. Her name was Eliza and everyone called her lovely Eliza for she was, without doubt, the prettiest girl for miles around. Which is why all the young men of those parts came along to Buffelskraal, her father's farm, to pay their respects. Now, Eliza had one fault. It was a bad fault - one that made her parents sad and drove the young men to despair. Eliza was proud. Not just a little conceited, giving herself airs and graces, but so proud that she was quite impossible. She would look down her pretty nose at any young man who came to court her and say, with a little sigh: "Dear me, and what have you got to show for yourself? I wouldn't look at a man who isn't brave enough to climb the krans of Buffelskraal and bring me a bakkiesblom, the red disa that grows only at the very top!"


And the young men would look up at the towering krans with its sheer cliffs and their hearts would turn cold. It would be death to try and scale the krans. Not even Eliza Meiring was worth that. And Eliza would watch them ride away and say, with her nose in the air: "One day a real man will come along and bring me a disa from the krans. None of these others are worth my heart. I shall wait." And wait she did. Till her parents begged her to forget her pride and marry a nice young fellow from nearby. "No one," they said, "will ever dare do what you ask. And who are you to make such harsh demands anyway?"

"Huh!" said Eliza. "No man I've met is worthy of my love. The man I marry will have to be a hero."

One fine day, long after her parents had given up hope, a young man rode singing to Buffelskraal and his name was Frans. He was young and strong, handsome and clever and, though from a good family, he was no idle boaster and no stranger to hard work. His laughter was infectious and his eyes kind and all those he met became his friends. Eliza had hardly set eyes on him when her heart missed a beat and she knew that this was the young man she'd been waiting for. It was not long before Frans asked her to marry him. In her heart Eliza said yes, for she loved him and she knew that he was worthy of her love. But her pride made her say: "If you want me as your wife, Frans, you must climb the high krans behind Buffelskraal and bring me a bakkiesblom from the very top. Then all the world will know that I'm marrying a hero - only the best is good enough for Eliza Meiring!" Without a moment's hesitation Frans replied, "If that's the way to make you my bride, the I'll climb the krans and pick that disa!"

They were no idle words. Up and up climbed Frans and as he climbed you could hear his happy voice echo among the crags. He sang a song of love and courage and it rang bright and clear from the great krans, where high, high above the valley Frans stood perched on a ledge of rock, reaching for the disa lily. Far below Eliza stood and heard him sing and knew in her heart that Frans indeed loved her more than she deserved...

But, as he reached to pluck the lily, the rock under his feet crumbled and he fell. Down, down the cliffs with the disa in his hand, into the abyss below.

When she understood that she had sent Frans to his death, Eliza went mad with grief and remorse. In the end her parents had to lock her away in an upstairs room for fear that she would do herself harm. Here in the dark room lived lovely Eliza Meiring alone and mad, and here she carved her initials, EM, in the teak windowsill. Later she added the year - 1768. Then one night, as a full moon sent a white beam through her window, she broke out of the room and ran away into the darkness. Up the steep rocks she climbed to where the blood red disas grew on the summit. There she perched on the rocky ledge and when it crumbled beneath her feet she fell to her death with the name of Frans on her lips.

But they say that not even death released Eliza from her terrible remorse. On moonlit nights when snow and mist lie on the mountains - so the old people of the valley will tell you - Eliza goes searching for Frans. It is then that many people bolt their doors to keep her out. You can hardly see her for she is only a pale ghost and you scarcely hear her voice which is a soft as the night wind. But she is there. She died more than two hundred years ago. Today they remember her as a witch, or hex, for her pride cost her life and the life of the man she loved. And the lovely valley where she lived, between the green Cape and the dry Karroo, is called the Hex River Valley.

Source: http://juststories.atspace.com/stories/witchof.htm

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 07:02 PM
Afrikaner folklore describes the German expatriate Heinrich Sch÷rbeck (Hendrik Spoorbek) as a renowned wizard, with the magical ability to prevent and put out fires, cure psychological illness, mystically command animals, foresee the future, and more. Rumour has it he was an Odinist, which would, to my knowledge, make him the oldest known Germanic pagan in SA.

He disembarked at the Cape in 1811 and lived in SA until his death in 1845. Reportedly he was more than 80 years old when he died, which would mean he only arrived here in his 40s or 50s. I am more than a little curious as to his life's story before he arrived here as a sailor. His profession is mentioned as "stonecutter", so he could hardly have been sailing all his life. For someone this renowned in Afrikaner folklore, would there really be no record of the first decades of his life in Germany?

The person:

Spoorbek was an untidy, kindhearted, eccentric hermit with wild curly hair, a long beard, dressed in black clothes in rags, had a verminous appearance, and rode a white horse. Besides being a stonecutter and miller, Spoorbek was a great traveler who did various jobs for the settlers, including healing the sick and protecting people and their property with his magical powers.

And some interesting legendary deeds, the first also depicting him as a warrior:

Spoorbek took part in the 1834 defense of Kerkplaats [...] in the Olifantshoek area against the Xhosa during the 6th Xhosa War (1834–1836). All the houses in town were destroyed and the settlers made their last stand in the schoolhouse. When the Xhosa horde surrounded the schoolhouse and tried to burn it down, Spoorbek assured the townsfolk: "Wees gerus, die skoolhuis sal nie brand" (Be calm, the schoolhouse will not burn). The Xhosa warriors repeatedly thrust flaming pieces of wood into the thatch roof of the schoolhouse, but it did not catch fire. After hours of shooting, the settlers managed to drive the Xhosa’s away. All the other buildings, including the church, were burned down. Only the schoolhouse was unharmed and stands to this day.

Here's one ability which would be quite helpful nowadays:

Spoorbek never locked the door of his cottage. He would be talking to a neighbor, when suddenly he would get a dreamy look in his eyes and say: "Ik moet huis toe, iemand beroof mij huis" (“I must go home, someone is trying to rob my house”). When they went to his house they would found the thief paralyzed in the act of stealing.

One day, Spoorbek visited Mooimeisiesfontein - the farm of Piet Retief near Riebeek. A man stole a bag of flour from a wagon that was parked outside the house. As the man went out the gate he suddenly found that he was unable to move. Spoorbek casually walked up to the man and arrested the flour thief.

One legendary report of his foresight:

One night Spoorbek was called out to the farm Langvlakte near Alexandria where a Mrs. Potgieter was seriously ill and everybody expected the worst. Her sister in law was nursing her. When Spoorbek walked in the room he remarked: "Dit is wonderlik - die dooies kijk agter die lewendes" (“It is marvelous – the dead look after the living”). The meaning of his words became clear when soon afterward Mrs. Potgieter recovered and her sister in law died.

By this time many Skadites might be aware of the Battle of Blood River (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Blood_River), which supplies the context for this recount:

Many travelers went to Spoorbek and asked him to prepare protection charms for them. Spoorbek was on good terms with the Voortrekker leaders Karel Landman, Piet Uys and Gert Rainier, who left the Cape Colony with ox wagons in search for a better life in the mainland. When Gert Rainier left the colony in 1837, he carried one of Spoorbek’s protective packets round his neck. Spoorbek told him that as long as he did not open it, the charm would protect him against “assegai” (African spears). Rainier's horse was killed underneath him during the Battle of Blood River, but he escaped unharmed. In old age, Rainier opened the charm at the request of his daughters. The packet only contained four pieces of white paper.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hendrik_Spoorbek

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 11:12 PM
These are great stories. I've enjoyed reading them.

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010, 09:26 AM
Thank you Rodger, it is great to hear that foreign members enjoyed them as well. I will certainly add more as I find the time.

Gerhardt Maritz
Wednesday, December 15th, 2010, 10:10 AM

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010, 12:08 PM
This story is a more recent addition, and firmly nestled it's own place in Afrikaans folklore:

The story starts on the evening of 12th April 1968 when a recently engaged couple, Maria Roux and G.M. Pretorius were travelling from Graaf Reinet to Riversdal. They however never made their destination , Pretorius lost control of the vehicle just outside Uniondale and they were involved in a horrible accident. Pretorius was injured and when the wreck was found by a local farmer the next morning Maria was dead.

A few years later, in 1976 motorists started seeing a woman in white alongside the road where the accident took place. Some motorists picked her up, minutes later they would hear a shrill laugh , the sound of a door closing and an icy chill would be felt inside the car. This became known as the ghost of Maria Roux. It is also said that the local police department kept some sugar water available to calm tourists who came in to report seeing a ghost.

The story further goes that Pretorius got married a year after the tragic accident and that is why Maria became restless, the fact that her fiancÚ had found love in the arms of another woman. Pretorius himself died in a car accident in 1984.

Source: http://funkymunky.co.za/sa_legends.html

There was even a poprock song made about it by Anton Goosen:


Wednesday, December 15th, 2010, 01:49 PM
The wagon would chase across the fields in the early morning silence with an incredible speed across unseen roads. Major Ellis recounts the following events in an old book. He was driving in the past coach from Ceres towards Beaufort-West. he was sitting up front with the coach driver when the wheel broke. They had to pull off the road in order to check what happened when they heard a wagon racing towards them. Ellis thought it was on the road heading straight towards them, but Anthony de Beer, the coach driver said No, the sound doesn't come up from the road. Apparently the noise the wagon made was amazing. As the wagon stormed past them Anthony shouted, "Where the devil are you going?" A loud voice answered, "To hell," and this was followed by a chorus of horrid laughter. As the wagon raced past a gust of icy wind followed them, as can be expected during an encounter with the spirit world. They caught a glimpse of the driver, he had a deadly white face with deadly piercing eyes and a white bandana tied around the lower part of his face. Laughter followed this as well. A few seconds after the wagon passed, the noise disappeared and a scary calm descended over the landscape.

Anthony and Ellis ran back towards the coach, but saw two men sitting next to a fire and approached them, the men turned to look at them with deadly white visages and disappeared. The fire which was burning moments earlier was dead and no trace of a recent fire was visible. Anthony was very depressed, because they knew the story of the ghost wagon.....the legend says that if the wagon races towards you, but no one does anything and it crashes into you, everyone is doomed; but if one person shouts out to the wagon (as Anthony did) he saves everyone's lives at the cost of his own.... Anthony's body was found a week later at the bottom of a cliff with his coach and horses.......

I can certainly see why this part of the Great Karoo could be host to a number of ghostly sightings.