CHAPTER 3 THE KARRETJIE PEOPLE IN CONTEXT
My point of departure in the study of the lives of the Karretjie children is twofold: First, the phenomenon and existence of the Karretjie People are the result of a particular set of circumstances related to historical events and the social, economic and cultural conditions present in their given setting, and which are distinctive to that context; second, the experiences and views of the adult Karretjie People, in addition to those of the children, as well as the sedentary community inform my analyses and perceptions of the Karretjie children.
Accounts of hunters, travellers and missionaries suggest that the San and later the KhoeKhoen were the first occupants of the Karoo (a KhoeKhoen word implying an arid area or desert) and the district of Colesberg (cf. Cumming 1850; Stow 1966; Van der Merwe 1937; Gutsche 1968). A mission station for the San was established at Toverberg (where the present town of Colesberg is situated) in 1814 mainly because of the large number of San present and due to the fact that it was the residence of Na’na’kow, leader of the San in the area between the Seacow River and Van der Walts River, i.e. approximating the present district of Colesberg.
Data and oral accounts suggest that most of the Karretjie People of the Karoo district of Colesberg are descendants of these early hunter-gatherers (San) and nomadic pastoralists (KhoeKhoen) (see footnote 2). Many members of the present farming community still relate tales about the San and KhoeKhoen in the district, as told by their parents and grandparents.
Work done by archaeologist, Sampson, confirms the early presence of San and KhoeKhoen communities in this district dating to ± 2 645 years ago. A survey of surface sites in the previously Zeekoe (Zeekoei/Seekoei) River Valley and excavations of rock shelters on farms such as Riversmead, Zaaiplaas and Glen Elliot in the Colesberg district reveal San presence in the area and also the nature of interaction between San and KhoeKhoen communities and white farmers (cf. Sampson 1967, 1968, 1985, 1986).
It was only in the 1770’s that the first white farmers arrived from the south to districts in the Karoo beyond the Sneeuberg and consequently interaction between these pioneer farmers and the San and KhoeKhoen often led to periods of conflict, but mostly competition for resources. This was twofold: first, farming communities hunted game which the San regarded as their main resource and they retaliated by slaughtering the domesticated animals of the farmers and eventually they themselves became the target; second, the KhoeKhoen and the farmers competed for the same grazing land for their herds.
From the 1860’s onwards the local newspaper, the Colesberg Advertiser reported on the activities of and interaction between the San, KhoeKhoen and the local farming community Despite periods of conflict there were also periods of relative harmony. The establishment of the Toverberg mission station during 1814, which was based near the present Colesberg fountain, was a major contributory factor. Within five years most of the San had left the station primarily because they were accused of slaughtering local farmers’ livestock. Eventually the lifestyle of both the San and the KhoeKhoen were turned into a more semi-sedentary one.
Many of these communities were introduced to the agrarian economy of the Karoo and were kept as so-called ‘tame Bushmen’ on farms where the men learned functional skills such as shearing and later fencing. Some continued their mobility, first on foot, then with the aid of pack animals and finally with donkey carts. Like their ancestors, most of the Karretjie People in the district of Colesberg have a background of having resided permanently or semi-permanently on a farm. The itinerant lifestyle that the Karretjie People retain to a greater or lesser degree, by means of a donkey cart, allows them to maximise and take advantage of shearing opportunities over an expansive region but also safeguards their independence in a declining agricultural economy.
District and Town of Colesberg: A Profile
Colesberg is situated in the eastern part of the Northern Cape Province in the Republic of South Africa, approximately halfway between Pretoria, the country’s capital and Cape Town on the N1 national road. It is located 30 km from the Xhariep River (Orange River) and is regarded as the working capital of the recently designated Umsobomvu Municipality (cf. Atkinson et.al. 2003:3). The Northern Cape, with Kimberley as its capital, is geographically the largest province in the country, covering 363 389 km2, or 29,7% of the total surface of the country.
The Northern Cape is divided into four topographical areas, namely the central interior plain, the southern interior plain, the interior pre-Karoo surface terrain and the Orange River valley. The district of Colesberg falls within the southern interior plain and within the Bo-Karoo subregion which includes “lowlands with hills which stretch across the south-eastern section of the region” (Development Bank of Southern Africa 1998:13).
Colesberg falls in a semi-desert, summer-rainfall region with an average rainfall of less than 200 millimetres per annum and is situated 3000 to 4000 feet above sea-level. The summer rains begin in October but temperatures only increase during November with temperatures sometimes above 40°C recorded until February.
Rain during the summer months is sporadic and temperatures decrease towards April and recorded as low as -16°C during winter. The winter months are thus cold and dry with extremely cold nights. Severe cold nights are caused by prevailing winds from the west (Development Bank of southern Africa 1998:14).
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
The Key Participants in the Study
Outline of the Dissertation
CHAPTER 2 THE PROBLEM IN CONTEXT: OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY, THEORETICAL CONTEXTUALISATION AND METHODOLOGY
2.1 Objectives of the Study and Problem Orientation
2.2 Theoretical Contextualisation and the Themes of the Study
CHAPTER 3 THE KARRETJIE PEOPLE IN CONTEXT
3.1 Historical Progression
3.2 District and Town of Colesberg: A Profile
3.3 Lifestyle of the Itinerant Karretjie People
CHAPTER 4 GROWING UP WITH SPATIAL MOBILITY AND RESIDENTIAL INSTABILITY
4.1 Everyday Life at the Outspan and on Farms
4.2 Spatial Mobility and the Children’s Geographical Settings
4.3 The Children’s Perceptions and Views of Mobility,Life at an Outspan, on Farms and in Karretjie Homes
CHAPTER 5 DOMESTIC FLUIDITY, UNSTABLE UNITS AND THE CHILDREN’S SOCIAL SETTINGS
5.1 The Children’s Domestic Histories
CHAPTER 6 CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION
6.1 A Brief Outline of Education in South Africa
6.2 Itinerancy and Schooling
6.3 Farm School Education
6.4 The Children’s Attendance and Experiences of School
6.5 Parental and Teachers’ Attitudes Towards Formal Education
6.6 Mobile Education for Karretjie Communities
CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION
7.1 Contemporary Developments
7.2 Summary of the Findings
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
CHILDHOOD: AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL STUDY OF ITINERANCY AND DOMESTIC FLUIDITY AMONGST THE KARRETJIE PEOPLE OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN KAROO