Carpet of Flowers (Namaqualand)
How I miss the carpet of flowers that used to greet me when I was a young boy living in Namaqualand. During Spring those flowers always decorated the countryside where I lived in Nababeep. It was like heaven with all the colours imaginable.
How fortunate I was to grow up in that mining town. Far away from the city. Isolated. Yet I wouldn't have had it any other way. Okay, I had to learn a new language, Afrikaans, because the majority of the folks there spoke it. In the beginning, my friends had to put up with my English until I picked up a few Afrikaans words. Fortunately, they were patient with me and helped me master their unusual language.
After we moved closer to the mine so that my father could walk to his workshop I made friends with Dirkie Coetzee who became my best friend. We did many things together. Sometimes we just listened to his favourite Jim Reeves records and other times we read fiction books about "Die Swart Luiperd." My favourite hero was Tarzan.
He had a vineyard on one side of the yard and the grapes were nice and sweet. Next to the garage was a massive tree with a rope which we often used to swing on. He had a small fox terrier dog that always played with us too. Dirkie's father was the police sergeant responsible for law and order in the town. Sometimes we traveled into the veld and enjoyed a braai with his family. His father usually brought his rifles along so that each one of us could get a chance to shoot at targets.
On those occasions, we would be seated on the back of a bakkie whilst riding through the countryside between endless expanses of Namaqua daisies that stretched as far as the eye could see. At that young age, I probably took the flowers for granted. Kids! Now I would like to see them again, but I'm far away from Namaqualand living in the big city. Apparently, they had very little rain this season and the flowers are not so plentiful or absent. Good thing we still have memories.
With the mine being closed everything has changed. From what I saw on the TV a few months ago Nababeep has gone backward. There's so much one could do to attract tourists to the town. For one thing, they have the most exquisite precious stones in the area. one could start a business with that. Why not create a market with all sorts of crafts created by the locals like they have in Pilgrim's Rest? A museum would also be a tourist attraction. Then they have the famous Nama dancing! Since they depend on attracting tourists they could use ideas like these to make it worth their while to visit the town. That way they can create jobs.
But I no longer live in the area. I'm far away and have my fond memories of the town where I grew up. I just know that the people of the area have a unique culture that they can share with the rest of the world. Some famous comedians and writers hail from the region. I don't remember their names.
It's a pity that when the mines close down the citizens hang onto the past and don't become innovative and create something new to turn the situation around for the better. So Namaqualand remains a tourist attraction for amazing flowers during springtime but that seems to be all people know it for.
My memories of playing in the fields of Namaqua daisies is all that remains. Will I go back and visit again? Who knows.