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Engraved Landscape


Lange M.E., Müller Jansen L., Fisher R.C., Tomaselli K.G. and Morris, D. Lange M.E., Müller Jansen L., FisherLandscape R.C., Tomaselli K.G. and Morris, D. Engraved

Biesje Poort: Many Voices

Engraved Landscape Biesje Poort:first Many First edition, printVoices 2013

First edition, first print 2013 Tormentoso Posbus 1357 PO Box 2244 Gordonsbaai Jeffreys Bay Tormentoso 7151 6331 PosbusSOUTH 1357 AFRICA PO Box 2244 Gordonsbaai Jeffreys Bay 7151 6331 Design: Carinè Müller SOUTH AFRICA Production Coordinators: Carinè Müller & Liana Müller Jansen Print Production Coordinator: Nico Botes Design: Carinè Müller Copy Editor & Proofreader: Alexa Anthonie ProductionCover Coordinators: Carinè Jansen Müller &&Liana Müller Jansen Design: Petrus Carinè Müller Print Production CoverCoordinator: Illustrations: Nico PetrusBotes Jansen & Liana Müller Jansen Copy Editor & Proofreader: Lizet AlexaVerwoerd Anthonie & Carinè Müller Transcriptions: Cover Design: Petrus Translators: Carinè Jansen Müller & Carinè Müller Cover Illustrations: (Afrikaans Petrus Jansen & Liana Müller Jansen to English) Transcriptions: Lizet PedroVerwoerd Dausab & Carinè Müller Translators: (Nama Carinè Müller to English and English to Nama) (Afrikaans to English) Roger C. Fisher Pedro Dausab (Afrikaans to English) (Nama to English and English to Nama) Mary Lange Roger C. Fisher (Afrikaans to English) (Afrikaans to English) Mary Lange Printed and bound by (Afrikaans to English) Multiprint Pretoria Printed and bound by Multiprint Pretoria ISBN 978-0-620-57982-7 ISBN 978-0-620-57982-7 (Print) Copyright 2013(Electronic) ISBN 978-0-620-85372-9 Text © Individual contributors (written or oral) ISBN 978-0-620-57982-7 Photographs © Petrus Jansen Copyright contributors 2013 Photos and images by individual where indicated © Individual contributors or of oral) Publication ©Text National Heritage Council & (written University KwaZulu-Natal Photographs © Petrus Jansen Photos and images individual contributors where All chapters in this bookby have been sent for double blindindicated peer review. Publication © National Heritage Council & University of KwaZulu-Natal All rights reserved. Allpublication chapters inmay this be book have been for double blindpermission peer writing from No part of this reproduced orsent transmitted without the publisher, text contributors (written or oral), photographers and artists. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without permission in writing from the publisher, text contributors (written or oral), photographers and artists.

This book is dedicated to all silent voices of times past ever present at Biesje Poort

Contents Foreword


Setting the scene: what’s in a landscape? Keyan G. Tomaselli


Reflections on Biesje Poort 2011 Belinda N. Org Chapter 1: Past voices on the Biesje Poort rock engravings: “where, what, when and who? Mary E. Lange Field discussions: philosophy Discussion on the fragility of site, and subjectivity in recording the details and landscape context of individual engravings David Morris, Roger Fisher, Liana Müller Jansen, Mary Lange Nama translation Pedro Dausab

xviii 1

12 17

Chapter 2: Reading the Biesje Poort landscape Liana Müller Jansen


Ons erfgrond in die vaal verlatenheid Euodia (Engels) Badenhorst


The land of our inheritance in the drab forsakenness Roger C. Fisher (translator)


Ko’ laat ons bidde Euodia (Engels) Badenhorst


So, let us pray Roger C. Fisher (translator)


Chapter 3: Engaging absence of storyline, vagueness and ambiguity: towards an archaeology of rock art at Biesje Poort David Morris


Field discussions: animal names ‡Khomani peoples, language, names of places and animals Izak Kruiper, Jan Oeliset Org, Lydia Kruiper, Lizet Verwoerd, Liana Müller Jansen


Chapter 4: The giraffe: engraved meanings Roger C. Fisher


Field discussions: indigenous knowledge How to prepare the Tsamma porridge (pap)/ Hoe om Tsamma pap voor te berei Lydia Lys Kruiper, Roger Fisher, Mary Lange


Field discussions: indigenous knowledge Living heritage and suggestions of the use of ochre and fat in engravings Izak Kruiper, Mary Lange, Liana Müller Jansen, David Morris


Field discussions: indigenous knowledge Ostrich eggshell engraving and rock engraving Jan Oeliset Org, Izak Kruiper, Liana Müller Jansen



Field discussions: indigenous knowledge Present manufacturing of ostrich eggshell beads and use of eggs Izak Kruiper, Klein Dawid Kruiper, Liana Müller Jansen


Chapter 5: Blurring the lines: Rethinking Indigeneity research at Biesje Poort Lauren Dyll-Myklebust


Participants: Koot Msawula David Morris


Field discussions: site recording Kalahari participants discuss the engraving recording experience Klein Dawid (//ankie) Kruiper, Izak Kruipe, Lydia (Lys) Kruiper, Miliswa Magongo, Shanade Barnabas


Field discussions: reflections Friday morning wrap-up discussions with the whole group at Khamkirri: Klein Dawid’s views of the future Klein Dawid, Belinda Org, David Morris, Liana Müller Jansen


Chapter 6: Participatory communication: a tool for social and heritage development Miliswa Magongo


Reflections on Biesje Poort 2013 Belinda N. Org


Chapter 7: Biesje Poort as a rock art resource: conservation and tourism Shanade Barnabas


Field discussions: funding challenges Probleme met fondse. Persoonlike en ‡Khomani-San gemeenskap projekte/ Funding challenges. Personal and ‡Khomani-San community projects Izak Kruiper, Lizet Verwoerd


Field discussions: conservation Oeliset’s call for conservation of heritage sites Jan Oeliset Org, Liana Müller Jansen, David Morris, Lizet Verwoerd


Chapter 8: An engagement with the land: translating the intangible into the spatial Tessa Toerien and Lizet Verwoerd


Totsiens aan Biesiepoort Euodia (Engels) Badenhorst


Farewell to Biesje Poort Roger C. Fisher (translator)






Contributor profiles




Foreword National Heritage Council of South Africa The National Heritage Council of South Africa (NHC) is charged with: • the coordination of activities of public institutions involved in heritage management in an integrated manner to ensure optimum use of State resources; • monitoring and coordination of the transformation of the heritage sector, with special emphasis on the development of living heritage; • consultation and liaison with relevant stakeholders on heritage matters; • the general support, nurture and development of access to institutions and programmes that promote and bring equity to heritage management; • the promotion of awareness of the history of our people, including the history of enslavement in SA; • the integration of living heritage with the functions and activities of the Council and all other heritage authorities and institutions at national, provincial and local level; • lobbying in order to secure funding for heritage management and to create a greater public awarenes of the importance of our nation’s heritage; • the performance of such duties in respect of its objectives as the Minister may assign to it. The NHC has, as one of its key mandates, the apportioning of funds to support the heritage research sector. This is done through the identification of strategic national programmes and setting of targets for such programmes in determining the necessary support. The NHC, through their policy framework, encourages the active involvement of local people in initiatives for the development of heritage. It also strives to create an environment that enables all South Africans to have access to heritage resources, and whereby all people are treated with dignity and respect. The NHC has deemed the Biesje Poort Research Project worthy of funding in that it meets several of the aforementioned objectives. The Biesje Poort rock art recording project has brought together a diverse group from various parts of the country and of different cultural and educational backgrounds to work together. The initial grant was for the research and recording of the Biesje Poort site, located in the remote Southern Kgalagadi, in the Z F Mgcawu District of the Northern Cape Province. Members of Council, (Ms Stella Ndhlazi and Mr Tembelani Maso), were privileged to meet the research team on site on a sweltering hot day, labouring under the sun. They were impressed by the dedication and diligence of the individual members. The second phase of the funding application, this book which you hold in your hands, is a culmination of the achievement of the research project. We believe the recording constituting this project is a model of what can be achieved given the many possibilities arising from the diversity of South African heritage. Here is an example of our many unique sites, often in remote areas; here is the passing on of skills and sharing of expertise with local people; and here are recorded the voices of local people, farmers and nearby communities, alongside those of academics from a range of disciplines representing research, learning, recording and archiving institutions. The engravings and the heritage of this place are part of our national estate, namely, heritage resources of South Africa which are of cultural significance or other special value for the present community and for future generations. We thank the researchers for their application, management of the project, and their endurance in meeting tight schedules; and we applaud their achievements. May you, the reader, enjoy the journey along paths to our engraved rock art heritage at Biesje Poort, and listen for the many voices of this remote place, which are documented and recorded in this book. FIRST-HAND DIALOGUE AND LANGUAGE IS INCLUDED THROUGHOUT THE BOOK AS DOCUMENTED BY TRANSCRIPTIONS OF RECORDINGS DURING THE FIELD TRIPS.



Setting the scene:

what’s in a landscape? KEYAN G. TOMASELLI


1 Tomaselli & McLennan-Dodd 2005; McLennan-Dodd & Tomaselli 2005; Tomaselli 2006

Rethinking Indigeneity has been my prime research project for over 20 years, involving the development of methods and theories to explain the nature of research and filmed encounters where indigenous groups are concerned. Over 200 graduate students have participated in the project since 1995. This project enabled the specific Biesje Poort case study which put into practice the methods that we have been developing via The Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), University of KwaZulu-Natal, where I am director. My related interest is film studies and

my students and I have produced many videos on the topic of the research encounter while also analysing films such as The Gods Must be Crazy series and how both its actors and audiences respond to them.1 The downpours and wind trammeled us by night, and the sun toasted us by day. Roads were washed away. Huge pools verged on our campsite and separated us from the site ablutions. At night we desperately clung onto our tents on the edge of the rapidly rising Orange River, getting washed out in the process. The muddy Khamkirri campsite that had been closed


Setting the scene: what’s in a landscape?

for repairs after the huge Orange River floods of early 2012 had nevertheless been temporarily re-opened for our 4x4s. Our vehicles slipped and slid to the campsite where we sloshed through water for a week. This experience backgrounded our encounters with our research site across a range of distant ridges forty kilometers into the remote interior – in itself a place that was extremely hot, waterless, and disorientating. Punctures, damage to vehicles and the daunting daily travel took their toll on our patience and our budget. Our Kalahari colleagues were however much more sanguine than were we university educated individuals. For them, the weather was God speaking, the realm of the sacred, while we worried about the mundane and the profane, insurance, safety, and schedule. Anthropologists who discuss this kind of ‘arrival trope’ are often held up to ridicule by their cynical secular peers. Such writers tend to privilege clean, logical and clear theory over everything else. Theory


works well for academics because it explains in abstract ways, relationships, patterns and processes. Theory, however, is often alienating for those who are subject of the theorists’ gaze. These are the ordinary folks who are subjected to often merciless academic scrutiny but who, more often than not, then find themselves written out of the final book, article or thesis. All that remains is the explanation of social or cultural processes written in obscure and abstract academic language. For our Kalahari hosts, this kind of discourse is alienating, troubling and even considered as a form of intellectual theft. Additionally, the enduring blind spots in Western science are of cosmology, the spiritual and religious world, and of the ancestral realm. For our hosts, those whom we employed to participate as co-interpreters of our joint research survey/journey, this lack is puzzling. To dismiss this sacred dimension where causation is attributed to other realms invisible to Western science

Setting the scene: what’s in a landscape?

2 Laurens van der Post wrote many books of his experiences in the Kalahari and in the process he developed a series of myths about his fundamental role in the cosmos. These have been critiqued by Jones 2001 and by Wilmsen 1995 (See also Van Der Post 1958, 1986, 1961). 3 Myburgh 2013; People of the Great Sandface, 1992 4 Glyn 2013 5 The Great Dance: a Hunter’s Story, 2000; My Hunter’s Heart; ClellandStokes 2007 6 Jung 1968 7 Myburgh 1989; a very good example of the man vs. nature genre in The Hunters, 1957; Ruby 1993; People of the Great Sandface, 1992; Gordon 1990; Tomaselli, Gabriel, Masilela & Williams 1992; Wilmsen 1992 8 Tomaselli 1993 9 Fabian 1985

is to dismiss their ontology, their ways of being, thinking and doing. That would be offensive to them. They will tell us that this is also disrespectful of the spirits and the ancestors. We are not playing a post-Jungian, Van Der Postian2 game here; neither do we take a ‘turn’ into the collective unconscious in the vein of Paul Myburgh’s intensely introspective and self-psychological exploration that creates the desolate cultural isolate anew.3 Rather, we are responding to what we actually experienced in the field as did Patricia Glyn’s compelling and nitty gritty journalistic encounter with some of the same ‡Khomani individuals.4 Our own work, however, addresses issues in terms of methodology and research issues. What we experienced at Biesje Poort is mostly explainable, but sometimes not (see Belinda Org’s [neè Kruiper] writings in this volume). We do not produce objective, measurable and concrete ‘findings’ as does conventional science. We instead write narratives that link the sacred with the profane, ideas with data and thoughts with theories. By working in a participatory and inclusive way with our Kalahari collaborators we have also changed the Subject-Object relationship between the two constituencies (Them and Us) and within ourselves also. We do this differently to the way that the Foster brothers, for example, go about their film making,5 as is indicated by David Morris in this volume. We are different also to Myburgh’s existential storytelling in which his monologue about himself takes on the form of a kind of documentary orator. Though he locates and/ or immerses his imagination within the Bushman cultural soup, in a stereographic kind of way, his enigmatic writing style also locates him simultaneously as a fly on the wall. In other words, his body was within the community that he constituted but his narrative is told from without. The result is a rather disorienting read as he has separated Subject and Object in the act of observation. Film directors and writers like Van Der Post, Myburgh and the Fosters endow themselves with poetic license, historical license and narrative licence. They are not required by their methodologies, their publishers or their peers to provide supporting evidence for their claims. Nor is it necessary for them to cite or even acknowledge prior research on the topic, or to even acknowledge, let alone engage, critiques of their own writings, explanations or films. Such authors are self referential, and tend to draw explicitly or implicitly on archetypal frameworks such as provided by psychologist Carl Jung,6 and/ or documentary film makers like

Robert Flaherty who developed the ‘man vs. nature’ genre.7 This kind of visible and alternatively hidden intertextuality appeals to readers who are looking for redemption of one sort or another. They aim to recover an Edenic past prior to the Fall.8 They may be looking for shadows of original man in themselves by writing and filming about groups now known as First People. But, as anthropologist Johannes Fabian argues of his analysis of early Anthropology, the other – whether within or without – is not known, even findable, but made.9 These are tendencies that our project also had to negotiate. Academics are explicitly embedded in prior and current research relations, methodologies that can be described and replicated, and long-standing evolving theories that emerge out of specific disciplines. These can be modified, rejected, and re-conceptualised. That’s what we are doing in this book. Our objective is not to simply provide a finished romanticised narrative or scientific explanation, but to take our readers on our bumpy and often messy and muddy conceptual journey in looking for likely explanations. We cannot provide final answers. We do not presume to offer sanitised explanations or clean theory, self-referential and shadowed Jungian tropes, or post-Freudian psychoanalysis. Rather, we reveal our many small steps, missteps and missed steps in an attempt to approach that which a community of scholars might consider to be a reasonable explanation of our object of study. This Object-Subject relationship deals with the idea of experience and how it is apprehended by interpreters (whether us-the-academics or our Kalahari collaborators, or the previous and current owners of Biesje Poort). Science, in its positivist manifestation, separates observers (Subject) from what is observed (Object, the real world that is assumed to exist independent of human observation). In other words, conventional scientific methodology insists that we the researchers are separate from that which, or from those whom, we are studying: objects, things, and subjects. Even ongoing social processes are assumed by many scientists to exist in and of themselves. In this framework, the subject-object relationship concerns how subjects (observers) relate to objects (the things/ people being studied). Experience/ experiential comes into play when we examine the nature of the encounter between the observers (us) and the observed (in our case, the engravings), to which we have added a new dimension. That third dimension includes a recognition of how we encounter each other encountering the


Setting the scene: what’s in a landscape?

engravings, in a dynamic landscape that consists of more than just its time-weathered geomorphological surface. The encounter with landscapes, with engravings and with ourselves, is the subject of our work in Biesje Poort. The Biesje Poort landscape, and how it came to be, can be known through the application of science. This, and the gaps and uncertainties involved, is the focus of Morris’ paper. Morris is critical of many assumptions made by earlier archaeologists, and indeed, of the connections made by the Foster brothers on their relationship between the ancient Kalahari artists and contemporary Kalahari groups. As creative and or as accurate as anyone’s work may be at the time of its publication, our work – whether academic or otherwise – always has consequences. That’s why good academics always consider themselves to be operating within conceptual trajectories that engage critically with prior research. In this project, we drew on a variety of disciplines and joined them in seeking out new ways of making sense in a negotiation with four ‡Khomani individuals. How do we, the observers/ actors/ interpreters come to know what we know, and how do we explain the differences of interpretation between us? We all come from different disciplines (architecture, landscape architecture, cultural and media studies, archaeology, drama, literature etc.). We all subscribe to different ontologies and cultures, different languages through which we frame our descriptions of what we see, know and do, and thus we each have different ways of making sense of our respective worlds. Our cosmologies are different, resulting in different mind-body relations: the Kalahari participants trust their bodies, the spirits, the weather, their instincts, the realm of the lived/ experienced. This is a non-eschatological account of the power of God who is the prime guarantor of an individual’s capacity for rational and moral thought and action (see Belinda Org’s writings in this volume). In contrast, the secular university educated are skeptical of these modalities. When we enter into them we are sometimes rudely reminded of this transgression by our materialist peers who, in autistic vein, eliminate anything that is unexplainable from their work.10 Conventional approaches rely on the objective realm of the evidentiary, the scientific, that which can be measured and/ or logically proven. This is the Cartesian way, one that evokes the role of reason in making sense. Our project however aimed to fuse these realms, to open up an indeterminate space, and to examine, perhaps,


what cannot be known while admitting this lack. Dualism argues for the strict separation between mind and matter. In contrast, monism holds that mind and matter are unified. Our approach is constructionist, drawing on both dualism and monism. That is, for this project, knowledge is produced through negotiation, analysis, description, measurement, discussion, fusion, and agreement. We accept that not everything can be known. We also accept that whatever cannot be known is known to be unknown. The world even for the West does not exist only in the visibly measurable. There is much that is scientifically unexplainable, what philosopher Immanuel Kant calls the noumenal.11 During a lifetime of doing research amongst and with Africans across the country, many of our team, like so many others such as Paul Stoller and Jean Rouch12 have encountered such unexplainable noumenal events. We have written about these and documented some instances – but few admit such noumenal phenomena, as this, again, opens researchers to often scathing peer criticism. No matter, our task is to explain the unexplainable and, like Rouch’s concept and practice of cinematic surreality, we have developed different ways of writing and imaging to at least describe such phenomena.13 During the day we worked with members of the ‡Khomani, our Kalahari co-interpreters of the rock engravings, who shared with us their thoughts, feelings and stories while the young Klein David Kruiper entered GPS coordinates. Few think that the descendants of the First People have opinions on such early art. Our paradigm differs. Paradigms are fought out between scholars but a single interpretive dominance needs to be fractured. The Gods, the ancestors, the spirits were speaking to us, insisted the ‡Khomani, via the engravings, thunder, lightening and the storms. This kind of existential experientialism is threaded throughout this volume. We break with received conventional scientific ways of making sense. In their place we mesh a variety of approaches. We do not offer a single explanation, we do not presume to know how rock artists living thousands of years ago thought or what they intended. We speculate on who they were, and whether or not they were linked to contemporary groups. Much rock art analysis infers their authorised intentions from the perspective of one paradigm or another, shamanism being until recently the dominant one,14 feminism having later broken with this approach.15 Instead, we try to make sense of what we found from the perspective of the present – we do

10 For those who do include the unknowable in their analyses see Stoller 1992; Conquergood 1986; Young 1995. 11 Kant 1999 12 Fulchignoni 1989 13 Tomaselli 1996; Saetre 2003; I Am, You Are?, 2002 14 Lewis-Williams 2000 15 Solomon 1995

Setting the scene: what’s in a landscape?

16 Autoethnography is a kind of dramatic narrative that examines Self–Other relations. See Tomaselli, Dyll & Francis 2008.

not impose allochronic time on what we are studying. [By this is meant that we of the living present do not construct as object a people living in the past from what we are studying in the here and now.] History is important. We do not discount it, but this anthology aims to make sense via different lenses that do include the historical and pre-historical records. Our authors talk about the nature of their encounters with the engravings, the landscape, and how the research-

ers moved and congregated through Biesje Poort. The researchers take the reader on their auto-ethnographic16 journeys, discussing how they made sense of the engravings, of previous archaeological notations, by talking about what we do, what we think, and by admitting our own thoughts, confusions and serendipitous connections. We discussed how we overcame the conceptual borders that separate anthropology from archaeology,


Setting the scene: what’s in a landscape?

cultural studies, and landscape architecture, amongst others, to examine the bigger picture. We did not only study texts but we studied the landscapes in which they were distributed; we studied each other’s encounters and we analysed subject-object relationships. In other words, we confronted the classical philosophical Cartesian duality, the mind-body problem. Instead of separating ourselves from what we were studying (engravings) as flies on the wall, we admit that we were actually flies in the soup (ourselves as researchers and sentient beings). In this way we tried to make sense of how we make sense. Slopping around in the soup is much more difficult than watching the object of study – the soup/ landscape/ engravings/ encounter – from the endistanced safety of the high wall as an observational platform. Many of the chapters that follow are intensely personal in nature, some are more conventionally academic, but in each the subjectivity of the researchers/ interpreters is more or less acknowledged. This is important in the newly developing field of critical indigenous methodologies.17 These approaches fracture what is taken for granted, they open doors to new ways of seeing, doing and analysing. They bring us closer to the worlds that science has sought to objectify or even deny. Conventional science tries to hold onto the fly-on-the-wall’s objective gaze, pretending that the observer/ researcher/ scientist is absent (from the soup) in this relation. Our objects of study are humanistically reconfigured as experiencing subjects. They are participating co-interpreters, of what is conventionally framed by science as objects that can be isolated from their contexts, cut up as specimens, and discretely categorized and displayed in museums that deny that the dead are actually living in other dimensions. Rather, we are interested in connections, holisms and the experientiality of what we encounter. This offers a whole new way of looking at things, relations and beings.18 Our ‡Khomani colleagues, with whom we have been working for over twelve years, despaired at the professional researchers slaving away under the extreme heat of the relentless summer sun. Surely it was better to sit under a shady tree or rock at midday? We explained that National Heritage Council (NHC) auditors required evidence of output; they were coming from Pretoria on our last day to check that the site existed, and to ensure that we were actually working at it. What would be the tangible and measurable ‘outcome’ they would want to know for their


annual report. The round trip of 350 kilometres from the airport to the site done in a single day saw the NHC staff arrive in their inappropriate city clothes, city shoes and without hats. Their first stop after the airport was the Upington PEP stores for the purchase of appro-

17 Holman Jones, Adams & Ellis 2013 18 Mboti 2012

Setting the scene: what’s in a landscape?

priate attire, and then onto the research site by 4x4, and then a two kilometer walk into the mountains. We explained to our Kalahari participants that our budget and academic leave requirements would not stretch to extra days on site while we waited for the sun to cool, for the water snake to talk to us, or for the time for working to feel ‘right’. Despite the fact that we were doing what in politically-correct terms is named the study of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), institutional auditing requirements are actually oblivious to how the indigenous make sense. Resting at mid-day in the shade is a very sensible indigenous practice. The notion of IKS has been elevated to something special, almost mystical, in these post-apartheid culturally and educationally regenerated times, by research foundations, UKZN (University of KwaZulu-Natal) funding policies and heritage councils. But they do not easily lend themselves to time-sheets, leave requirements and spreadsheet economies. The very idea of IK is depreciated by a modernist system of budgeting that cannot afford it, a system of monitoring and evaluation that cannot accommodate it, and financial years that do not understand it. Much debate between the researchers and the Kalahari co-interpreters occurred about how structuration impedes indigenous ways of how to get things done, when to do the work, and the why of doing the study at all. These ontological debates often stretched into the night. Why are we all imprisoned so? So we changed our working hours despite the labour law to get the job done early morning to escape the afternoon roasting.

What we were doing is post-modern archaeology. This archaeology started with Mary, Charlize Tomaselli and Belinda’s Kruiper’s work at Ngwatle, Botswana, and published in Writing in the San/d, developed in other publications since.19 Here, they mapped our campsite and analysed its geography in relation to our host community and its historical traces. The idea was to understand our relationship with our hosts and their relationship with us. The text (camp site, archaeological traces, engravings, rock art) is not therefore at Biesje Poort studied by us for its own sake, but additionally from the interpretations stemming from readings by our ‡Khomani interlocutors and wider team as a whole. In a monistic kind of way, how do we all muck in together, live together, in making sense together. What I have learned from our studies of indigeneity is that nothing is normative, nothing can be taken for granted, and that science is always up for grabs. Many of the chapters published here take us into not only the site itself but also the discourse and ontology – even cosmology – of the landscape. They open up new lenses on what we are doing and also provide new layers of subject/ self – object/ other significance by redrawing all the relations in a holistic manner. This is not just archaeology, not just landscape architecture, not just rock art studies, not just anthropology, not just history and not just cultural studies. The Biesje Poort project is all these and more. The more is not easily delimited, because to delimit it would be to confine it.

19 Lange, Kruiper & Tomaselli 2003; Lange 2007, 2011


In moments, rock and man combined hearts. In time, hearts combined could bring about lasting peace In peace we may begin to understand Our time and place on God’s very holy land. We cannot own it We cannot know it We can only thank our creator And foremost bring honour to the oldest I am not saying first, I am stating oldest Nimini or land or universe The language differs.




BELINDA N. ORG (previously published in SubText Autumn 2011, CCMS, UKZN) Photo credits: Left: David Morris, Below: Petrus Jansen

I remember entering the womb of time, as I, with delight, sat watching people trace rock art in the hot sun. The atmosphere had an essence of children eating strawberries after being taught it is delicate to the tastebuds. My mind soon wandered, and it became the past and the present. I was everywhere at once. I felt the cool lurking wind of the water snake. I once was told it is the snake that carries the crown and protects the sacred sites of those who lived before. I started walking; saw Keyan ahead, also Mary and Roger. There was a point when I lost sight of them as I was busy following a pink grasshopper. This creature soon had me completely absorbed in watching his doings, what flowers or plants were around; the type of sand. I stood still for a while when I felt the cool wind face me from the front. I remembered to listen and feel. I heard the gentle hissing sound and knew I was entering the snake’s domain. I personally have no stories of the water snake, other than the fact that a wisdom keeper of the Bushmen told me I am the medicine of the serpent. The one who carries the crown. I thought about this in the moment and then knew I had to step back, leave the snake be and allow the cool wind to guide me further. I stood for a few seconds, greeted the ancestors and walked back, not once turning my back. By the time I turned I was in the heat and realities of Biesje Poort and everyone working so hard: “What am I doing?” The next minute my friend, the pink grasshopper, was all around, flying to and from south to north. I watched, felt my feet itch; all senses alerted. This moment I knew I was on sacred ground, as these are the feelings I normally feel when I discover sacred sites. I saw the grasshopper drop on a red patch of ground at the entrance of some rocks. I moved in the direction, curious, and felt my feet itch more strongly as I got closer. The moment I looked down, the grasshopper flew north and there, on the red sand, I saw the pottery pieces. “Thank you God!” I said. It is about senses and feelings and then we can see direction as the crow flies. The road to the north is within all of us; it is in the mountains, in the rocks, in the clouds, in the sunrays and the winds. It is and was and will be a search for truth.


Past voices on the Biesje Poort rock engravings: ‘where, what, when and who?’ MARY LANGE



y encounter with Biesje Poort and engravings coincided with my personal connections with the Kalahari peoples and landscape over the past 30 years. During this time I experienced, recorded and later co-researched Water Snake oral narratives, geometrics and contemporary Kalahari arts and crafts. My main drive and interest is to add to the educational knowledge base while promoting intercultural contact and understanding. This I do, with the assistance of the Kalahari peoples and my family, as chairperson of the art for peace non-profit organisation ARROWSA and as a research advisor for the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), University of KwaZulu-Natal. This chapter narrates a personal encounter with the rock art at Biesje Poort, against the backdrop of observations made previously at the sites.1

Figure 1.1 Biesje Poort landscape (Jansen 2013) 1 This chapter includes extracts of previous writings published in Lange 2011. 2 This ‘new Site’ was named ‘Mary’s Place’ in 2011 by the Biesje Poort team. 3 Fresh leopard spoor was spotted at Biesje Poort by Roger Fisher and Mary Lange in 2011 and by the Biesje Poort team in 2013. 4 This influenced the choice of a multicultural team for the recording of the Biesje Poort rock engravings in 2011 and for the authorship of this book.

The air was clean, dry and thin as we moved through the short crunching grass, following in the stealthy tracks of our alert and agile guide, farmhand and herder Dawid Padmaker. We could not have anticipated the splendour of Biesje Poort’s larger sites! So we spent much time at each isolated single or small cluster of rock engravings that we came upon. The guide alerted us to signs that we would not otherwise have noticed, not being as focused as he. At the entrance to the ‘new Site’2 we saw fresh animal footprints in the soil next to a rock on which animal spoor was engraved. We were warned that leopards still stalked the valley.3 This sense of danger added to the already edgy watchfulness experienced at the site. Searching eyes moved from the undulating rock floor to the shrubs on the surrounding hills. The permanent rock spoor engravings highlighted the fragility and ephemeralness of the impressions in the soil. The

accurate depiction by the observant engravers was emphasised by the detail of the fresh feline footprints alongside. En route to the ‘new Site’ I saw a pretty, small horned snake and bent to take a closer look. Michael Fisher (my brother), a naturalist, recognised the snake as a horned viper and, irritated by my ignorance, warned me to stay well clear of the snake. Synchronicity would have it that we were later to see the image of a snake beautifully pecked out of the surface of the rock at one of the smaller rock engraving sites south of and parallel to the ‘new Site’/ ‘Mary’s Place’. That was in 1999. We visited the site again in the year 2000. I have a firm belief in the value of cultural heritage and the arts – particularly rock engravings and paintings – as a resource for reconciliation in South Africa.4 With this as the context for our visit, three members of the Cultural Centre in Roodewal,


Chaper 1: Past voices on the Biesje Poort rock engravings

Figure 1.2 Engraved giraffe and spoor at Biesje Poort (Michael Fisher 2001)

Worcester, accompanied me, along with Michael Fisher, Mr Pieter Goussard (the Upington Museum acting curator),5 and Frik Lange (my husband, an architect). Two of the performers were of KhoeSan descent and marvelled at the engravings associated with their ancestors. We did not have a guide on the 2000 trip but we tried to find the ‘new Site’ on our own. Michael’s and my memories did not serve us well: we realised that we were not in the correct place when we found sites with artefacts such as pottery and plenty of quartz stone tools and ostrich eggshell fragments (see Morris chapter 3), which we photographed. McGregor Museum archaeologist Peter Beaumont6 had told me previously of this site (Figure 1.3), while another archaeologist, Isabelle Parsons, was soon to be engaged in continuing research here – on the Doornfontein Industry thought to be associated with herders. She had already worked on other herder sites in the area; at the farm Blaauwbosch in the Upington7 area.8 I was struck by the beauty of some of the quartz artefacts with their delicate shining facets. The archaeological remains of the herder site were situated near rocks. Between the rocks there appeared to be water seepage into the sand. A swarm of bees9 buzzed around the moisture exposed where an animal had dug. Mr Goussard found what looked like petri-


fied bone. On returning to Upington and conducting some research, Michael thought it was most likely an elephant’s tooth.10 Only after Michael had climbed a nearby koppie [hill], where he had a view of the weathered eastern engraving site, the ‘Old Site’ previously documented by Gerhard and Dora Fock,11 we accepted that we were not in the right place and that the ‘new Site’ was still at least a kilometre further on. As in most research, a different path may lead to unexpected finds and a deeper knowledge. Michael, as is his manner, went on ahead at a great pace but did not have a camera and, as it later turned out, came across some sites we may not have seen on our previous or present visit. These unrecorded images included a number of giraffe placed in close proximity. The rocks on which the engravings occur are very weathered and often it is only when one is right beside an engraving that it stands out visibly from the rock. As the sun was quite high, we observed a glitter and shine in the engraved rocks that we had not appreciated on the previous visit.

5 Mr Goussard assisted me greatly when I first started looking for rock art in the Upington area specifically by providing written sources e.g. old Gemsbok newspapers. 6 Beaumont 1999 7 Upington is a town north of the Orange River in the Green Kalahari. 8 Parsons 2001 9 Izak Kruiper described the Kalahari method of making honey beer on the 2013 Biesje Poort field trip. 10 The Biesje Poort engravings include elephant images. 11 1989

Figure 1.3 Herder site at Biesje Poort (Jansen 2013)

Chaper 1: Past Voices on the Biesje Poort Rock Engravings

Photographs were taken of the various small sites but, as was often the case on site visits in pre-digital days, we ran out of film. Engravings on the ‘new Site’ were photographed individually and some in groups to indicate their relative positioning. Included was the engraving of a giraffe with a composite (ostrich/ scorpion/ therianthrope) image (Figure 1.4). The physical aspect of research imposes its limits and we did not get to visit the main westerly site because of the extreme heat. On our sweaty way back to the vehicle parked at the western side of the ‘kloof’ (T’jammiekloof), Frik came across a small mine. Bits of white and green quartz lying amongst the rubble pile at the sides of the hole hinted at what was mined (Figure 1.5) (see Müller Jansen chapter 2).

Cairns – significance in piles of stones?

12 1995 13 1930

After our first visit to Biesje Poort, when farm assistant Dawid Padmaker guided me to the various engravings, I had written of my experience to the archaeologist Peter Beaumont who had worked at sites in the vicinity. I had enquired particularly about a number of

Figure 1.4 Composite engraved images at ‘new Site’/ ‘Mary’s Place’ (Michael Fisher 2006)

stone cairns Padmaker had shown to me. I was struck by the extraordinary way that Dawid Padmaker moved amongst the rocks, searching for engravings while never becoming disorientated. As guide, he was friendly and open, allowing me to record his reading of the place and the art. He shared some of the clues as to how he knew where to find the engravings in the rocky valley. An enormous cairn-like hill lay west of the valley and was a prominent landmark, visible from the various sites visited. On that first visit we had also found a man-made cairn on the western side (see Fisher chapter 4). It looked very similar to a triangular pile of stones attributed to ‘Heitsi Eibib’ recorded by Andrew Smith.12 Isaac Schapera13 wrote of Heitsi Eibib, ‘Great Tree’ or ‘The one who has the appearance of a tree’, as an ancestor of the KhoeSan people. Schapera quotes Vedder who speculated that the cairns were originally placed as territorial beacons by hunter-gatherers, but were later taken by incoming herder groups to be ancestor graves, particularly the grave of the mythical Heitsi Eibib (Figure 1.6).

Figure 1.5 Copper mine at Biesje Poort (Roger Fisher 2011)


Chaper 1: Past voices on the Biesje Poort rock engravings

He died in many places, was buried, and always came to life again…His ‘graves’ are found all over the country…generally in narrow mountain passes on both sides of the road. Natives passing these graves, which consist of great heaps of stones piled up high, throw pieces of their clothing, or skins, or dung of the zebra, or twigs of shrubs and branches of trees, as well as stones, on the heap. This they do, says Hahn, to be successful on their way; and they generally, if hunting, mutter the following prayer:

with the natural cairn in the west. Padmaker’s conviction that the site was linked with hunters derived from its location, the migratory route of animals and people, the engraved animals, the engraved spoor and the engraved star shapes, which he said depicted the hunter’s morning star (Figure 1.7).15 His reading of the engravings was practice-based, linked to his direct daily frame of reference related to present-day wildlife of the area, including the herder’s task of reading the signs of predators and noting the stars at night. I was particularly intrigued by his interpretation of the site as,

“Heitsi Eibib, Thou, our Grandfather, Let me be lucky, Give me game, Let me find honey and roots, That I may bless thee again, Art thou not our Great-grandfather? Thou Heitsi Eibib!” Hahn identifies Heitsi Eibib with both Tsui//Goab [the personification of the natural forces giving rain] and the Moon. All three, he says, come from the east, so that their faces may look towards sunrise…They all promise immortality to men, and fight with the bad beings; they kill the enemies of their people. All three can alter their shape; they can disappear and reappear.

Figure 1.6 Heitsi Eibib (Schapera 1930: 384, 385)

From a more pragmatic point of view, Michael Fisher noted that the cairn would make a good hunting hideout, especially as it faced the exit route of animals coming down the valley. I subsequently found a photograph in Vedder’s book captioned ‘Shelter at waterhole in which Tjimba-Herero hunters conceal themselves from game coming to drink’.14 The base was very similar to the cairn we had seen and was combined with a hut. A large tree helped to support the structure. There was also a photograph of a ‘Grave in Okahandja of Kahimema, Headman of the Mbanderu Hereros’, that has cairn characteristics. Vedder further discusses similarities in the viewpoints of the Herero and Khoekhoen, specifically in their beliefs regarding graves and ancestors. Padmaker told me that the animals moved from east to west in spring. He reasoned that the rock engravings traced this migratory path, under the perceived movement of the sun, from the east in line


Figure 1.7 Biesje Poort engraving interpreted by Padmaker as depicting a hunting narrative (Michael Fisher 2001)

14 Vedder 1928: 198 15 See Müller Jansen chapter 2 for further interpretations of the star engravings at Biesje Poort.

Chaper 1: Past Voices on the Biesje Poort Rock Engravings

also, a place where people would come together, an aggregation site.16 Only those who have been and seen, felt and created their own meaning in the context of the environment where the rock engravings occur will agree that the how, why and what that the engravings intended to communicate, and may now communicate, is probably beyond what we can fathom by rational means alone.

Biesje Poort engraved images

Gerhard Fock, former archaeologist of the McGregor Museum, and his wife Dora, recorded engravings here at a site which they called ‘Biesje Poort West’. But their record and accompanying narrative links to one of the easterly sites, high in the hills, near the spring, and Biesje Poort West Translated from Fock & Fock 1989 (No. 197). This place is situated approximately 35 km north of the Orange River. On a hill composed of gneiss, just below the highest point, there is a spring which, during the rainy season, forms a small waterfall and, in the vicinity, one finds a number of engravings on gently sloping rock. Below the waterfall a rivulet forms a pond that is deep enough to retain water all year round. This is the only standing water in a very large area. The engravings here are badly weathered and the rock surfaces are exfoliating. These engravings were created at various times over a long period and many of them are so heavily patinated that they are very difficult to photograph or even copy. Most of the engravings that show up clearly are the younger ones, with lighter shade… The rock surface has exfoliated so badly that the depiction of a giraffe in one instance has only the head and the neck remaining.The engravings occur close to one another and consist mainly of human figures, patterns and animals.

closest to the main road. They do not mention the large westerly site in the valley where the composite image in Figure 1.4 is found. Their designation of ‘West’ for Biesje Poort undoubtedly refers to the fact that the rock engravings are found on the western side of the road that splits the farm into eastern and western sections. The Focks’ work was essentially descriptive and quantitative in approach17 and at Biesje Poort, as at other sites, their published record consists of a table listing rock art content in terms of identified engravings and their relative percentage of occurrence – together with a brief narrative account of the site. Their Biesje Poort findings, appeared in German in the 1989 volume 3 of the series Felsbilder in Südafrika. I had it translated into English by Egon Wortman of Westville, Durban in 2001, included here (Figure 1.8). Mammal










































Human Footprint






























Kori Bustard

16 See Lange, et al. 2003. 17 Fock & Fock 1989





Figure 1.8 Biesje Poort West translated by Egon Wortman (Durban, 2001)


Chaper 1: Past voices on the Biesje Poort rock engravings

The Focks attempted to establish a classification of styles and techniques in order to understand historical change and context in the art. Inevitably this involved a level of aesthetic judgment; a subjective assessment of artistic merit. For example, later pecked engravings are considered ‘cruder’ than the “often exceptional rendering of body detail by way of variations in pecking intensity” in the ‘classical’ phase.18 Variability in engraving technique documented in the Northern Cape and Karoo includes what have been referred to as finelines (or hairlines), scraped and pecked.19 A relationship between engraving technique and content, spatial distribution, age, and associated archaeological culture was posited by Beaumont et al. – some details of which are affirmed in later writing on distinct San and Khoekhoe rock art traditions.20 K.W. Butzer,21 summarising the Focks’ findings, draws attention to the probability that some phases overlapped in certain areas.22 In 2006 I summarised these techniques and their relevant associations in a table (Figure 1.9).


Spatial distribution and example of site

Biesje Poort is shown as being associated with the Doornfontein Industry because, although Beaumont et al. do not mention the Biesje Poort site in their discussion, they do refer to Biesje Poort in a table listing entitled ‘C-14 readings for Doornfontein sites in or bordering Bushmanland’.

When were the engravings made at Biesje Poort?

David Morris, writing about Driekopseiland outside Kimberley, has reviewed methods developed for dating rock engravings but concludes that as yet these are of limited efficacy, and a chronology for rock art of the region remains coarse and largely uncertain. I shall however, in the following, discuss the dating of the Biesje Poort engravings, following Butzer, by collating what has previously been published specifically on this site as regards animals depicted, related vegetation and environmental change. Under ‘sites’ in the ‘Orange River Valley’ Butzer makes brief mention of Biesjie Poort (Figure 1.10).

Approx. age

Dominant content

Associated archaeological culture


More widespread than scraped engravings but concentrated in western side of interior plateau where suitable rock surfaces are available e.g. Upper Karoo

12000 to 2000 Before Present (BP)

Tranquil naturalistic art; humans mostly male; domination of large equines then eland, kudu, rhino, ostrich and gemsbok; no marked presence of mythical or trance related images

Hunter-Gatherers Late Stone Age,


Predominantly Bushmanland e.g. Jagtpan 7 and Springbokoog 11

Some predate 2100 BP to approx 116 BP

Stick figures, a few mythical creatures, domination of eland, stylised horses

Hunter-Gatherers, Late Stone Age, Late Swartkop Industry


As finelines but less confined by rock surface e.g. Wildebeest Kuil, Danielskuil, Biesje Poort.

approx 1800 BP to approx 100 BP

Two phases, often at same site: Early ‘Classical’ – Mainly naturalistic with detailed humans and domination of eland Later ‘cruder’ include colonial images e.g., wagons. Marked presence of schematic patterns, geometrics; infrequent inclusion of domestic animals

Hunter-Gatherers. Herders Late Stone Age with ceramics, Doornfontein Industry

Figure 1.9 Rock engraving techniques of South Africa table (Beaumont et al. 1995: 248-250)


18 Beaumont et al. 1995: 250 19 Fock & Fock 1989; Morris 1988; Beaumont & Vogel 1989; Beaumont et al. 1995 20 e.g. Van Rijssen 1994; Smith & Ouzman 2004 21 Butzer 1989: 147 22 Scherz 1970

Chaper 1: Past Voices on the Biesje Poort Rock Engravings

The study area includes a 470 km-long, intermediate stretch of this 2250 km river, adjacent to the Vaal confluence. The channel has cut down as much as 75 mm into Dwyka sediments and andesite, and the valley walls tend to be steep above a narrow floodplain. The environment is arid to semi-arid rainfall increasing from southwest to northeast. Agriculture is only possible with the help of irrigation, and the vegetation is of Karoo type and used mainly for sheep grazing. In historical times the Orange River has formed an ethnic as well as an ecological boundary. To the south there are few representations of giraffe, for example, since this is a warmth-dependent animal. Engravings south of the Orange tend to be shallow in their execution, and appear to be younger than those north of the river, where other techniques were mainly used. The southernmost site done in a ‘northern style’ is Kareekloof [...] whereas the engravings at Biesjespoort (no 197), north of Kakamas, give hints of the styles used in South West Africa (see Scherz 1970).

Figure 1.10 Butzer briefly mentions Biesje Poort (1989: 147)

The high frequency of giraffe (see Fisher chapter 4) and footprints are features at Biesje Poort that echo sites in Namibia, with ‘entoptics’23 at Kamanjab and human and animal spoor at Twyfelfontein in Damaraland, Namibia24 also matching some of the imagery here. This may be consistent with a proposed migration of

23 Geometric shapes in rock engravings and paintings are interpreted from a shamanistic perspective as the shapes seen in the first phase of trance, namely entoptics. 24 Dowson 1992 25 2004 26 1989: 151 27 e.g., springbok are rare in the engravings despite the large numbers of herds known to have existed – as recorded in the area by Dunn on 21 August 1872; and the high incidence of eland in proportion to their actual presence in the area.

Butzer’s (1989: 151) vegetation description and approximate dating according to environmental change Open country, whether grassland or grass savannah, with interspersed bush and scattered deciduous trees or scrub, commonly thorny 2200 BP to after 800 BP

Khoekhoen pastoralists, who also introduced domestic animals and pottery, through the centre of South Africa from the north and then to the west coast, as argued by Ben Smith and Sven Ouzman25. They specifically link some of these engravings to the migratory routes of the Khoekhoen, emphasising a connection between ‘nonentoptic’ geometric rock art and herders. The Focks’ tabulation of animals depicted at the various sites may be used for broadly establishing when the engravings were made relative to palaeoenvironmental change. As Butzer suggests, their research had revealed a “satisfactory degree of ecological ‘credibility’ in the rock art animal assemblages”26 despite cultural influences on the choice of animals depicted.27 At Biesje Poort, as at other sites in the Vaal-Orange basin, animals make up the largest percentage of engraved images and a notable percentage of these animal depictions “can be identified to at least the generic level”. Fewer bush or semi aquatic animals are represented in the identifiable animal engravings in the more open Orange River setting, Butzer suggests, than in, for example, the more densely vegetated area of the lower Vaal valley. In the following Table (Figure 1.11), following Butzer’s approach, it can be seen that the animals engraved at Biesje Poort, as listed by the Focks, straddle two vegetation areas but with the common characteristic of open country/ scrub land. Researchers today would question Butzer’s suggestion that the amount of meat available on an animal may have played a part in its

Butzer’s (1989: 151) list of associated animals

Fock & Fock’s (1989) list of identifiable younger pecked engraved animals at Biesje Poort

giraffe, ostrich, oryx, hartebeest, springbok, zebra, quagga, warthog, black and blue wildebeest, aardvark, hunting dog, cheetah

giraffe (8.79%); ostrich (8.79%); gemsbok/oryx (3.84%); hartebeest (3.29%); springbok (0.55%); zebra (0.55%); Total: 25,81%

Bush or thickets, and the margins of wooded areas or aquatic habitats 3000 BP to 2200 BP

roan and sable, white and black rhinoceros, hippo, elephant, impala, waterbuck, kudu, buffalo, leopard, as well as flamingos and herons

antelope/roan and sable (7.69%); rhinoceros (3.29%); eland (3.29%) hippopotamus (1.09%); kudu (1.09%); elephant (0.55%) Total 17.00%

Figure 1.11 Vegetation, dating and animals related to Biesje Poort engravings


Chaper 1: Past voices on the Biesje Poort rock engravings

frequency of occurrence in the art, with the larger animals being more frequently depicted than the smaller ones.28 Much more in keeping with current thinking is his suggestion that “the high symbolic and ritual value” of the eland29 influenced the frequency of depiction of an animal out of proportion to its representation in a specific area. Butzer does not list the eland separately, subsuming it under ‘antelope’. The ‘new Site’ includes amongst its engraved images an eland, giraffe, composite and unidentifiable images. These images will be examined as a sample for dating; they can be attributed approximate dating not only through their weathering, positioning and subject matter but also by applying Butzer’s division of the engraving styles relative to past environmental conditions (Figure 1.12). 3000 BP (or earlier) to 2500 BP ‘classical’, intermediate, and possibly also ‘older’ engravings; climate moist and streams aggrading 2500 to 2200 BP intermediate engravings continue, especially on stream floors; climate dry, streams down cutting, eolian activity 2200 to 1200 BP younger engravings, possibly overlapping with intermediate; earliest domesticated animals; climate relatively moist, streams aggrading. 1200 to 800 BP younger engravings, wild ‘explosion’ of geometrics; climate dry, streams downcutting, eolian activity. After 800 BP youngest engravings, possibly overlapping at first, environmental conditions intermediate or mixed Figure 1.12 ‘A chronology of environmental change’ (Butzer 1989: 156)

It is argued that the engraved eland at the ‘new Site’ is older than the associated composite ostrich/ scorpion, unidentifiable and giraffe engraved images for the following reasons: The eland is more weathered and patinated to nearly the same colour as the surrounding rock surface.The composite ostrich/ scorpion has been pecked over the eland, indicating it was engraved later.The eland is more finely pecked than the roughly


pecked associated images, especially the less figurative images.The eland is an animal associated with wetter climates, which fits in with the moister climate related to earlier/ intermediate finer pecked engravings, whereas the rougher pecked giraffe and ostrich/ scorpion are animals associated with bush and grasslands, matching a later drier climate (Figure 1.11).The geometric infill of the ostrich/ scorpion also fits in with the designation of geometrics and designs as younger engravings seemingly dating within the last approximately 2000 years (Figure 1.12).These approximate time periods fit with the scheme articulated by Beaumont et al. (Figure 1.9).

Who engraved the Biesje Poort images?

In light of the approximate dates for the rock engravings at Biesje Poort above, I turned, in my 2006 work, to historical, linguistic, archaeological and present-day oral history and ethnography to try to identify who the makers of the engravings may have been. Historical records on the people of the Biesje Poort area The early Swedish traveller Hendrik Wikar,30 Dutch explorer Robert Gordon31 and missionary Robert Moffat32 journeyed through this region in the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries, mapping the names of various indigenous groups of people who were living at the time along and north of the !Garib [Gariep or Great River],33 between Augrabies and Upington (Figure 1.13). The groups indicated on the maps in the approximate vicinity of Biesje Poort include San/ Bushman hunter-gatherers: NoeEis, EiEis and the KeinEis. Khoekhoen herders included Klaare Kraal and Kaukow people. The largest group of “Khoi inhabitants of the Middle Orange River were the Einiqua.”34 Historian Nigel Penn’s research35 clarifies that closer to Upington, the San/ Bushman included the Hoekeikoa and the Noueikoa; however, the San in the area of present day Upington were the ‘Kounei Na’and the mixed Tswana/ Khoekhoen tribe, the Gyzikoa [Twin kraal people]. The Gyzikoa seemed in “appearance and nature… to be a mixture of Tswana and Khoi with the latter influence predominant, though a mixture of Korana and BaTlhaping were also considered to be Einiqua. The Einiqua were a group that fell between the two primary dialects namely Nama to the west and !Kora to the east; their various subdivisions displaying similarities to other Namaqua or Korana, on their location.” The Korana, ”a catch-all term, which in the nine-

28 Parkington et al. 2008:15 note that: “Self-evidently, we believe, the engravings are about the minds rather than the stomachs of the artists.” 29 For discussion of the representation and symbolism of the eland in rock paintings and engravings see the works of Patricia Vinnicombe and David Lewis-Williams. 30 October 1778; April 1779 31 October–November 1779 32 1842 33 Gordon renamed it the Orange River. 34 Penn 1995: 38 35 1995: 38-47

Chaper 1: Past Voices on the Biesje Poort Rock Engravings

Figure 1.13 Maps drawn by early travellers, Wikar 1778/9, Gordon 1779 and Moffat 1856 indicating the groups of KhoeSan people living in the Middle Orange area (Lange 2011 after Cornelissen circa 1975)

36 Jackson 1879 in Cornelissen, circa 1975: 23 37 Prins & Hall 1994 38 Morris 2002 39 Penn 1995: 45 40 Cornelissen circa 1975

teenth century, was used to describe a great hotchpotch of diverse and fragmented peoples,” Gordon considered to be one people. Penn concurs, since both groups were pastoralists and belonged to the Orange River Khoe language group. Some of the Khoe and mixed Khoe had San groups as “clients or allies”. The Einiqua are recorded as having had amicable relationships with the San, whereas the history of the Great Korana and San is marked by hostility and “violent contestation.” The Einiqua are thought to possibly be the ‘Little Korana’ that formed through absorption of weaker Einiqua groups when the Great Korana moved into their territory. The Little Korana, like the Einiqua, are recorded as having been on friendlier terms with the San. Jackson wrote in 1879 that during the Korana wars many Bushman were in the service of Koranas: It is a custom of all powerful tribes on the Northern Border to hold as many Bushmen as they are able to collect as lands-

men or slaves and to employ them for hunting purposes. In time of war the Bushmen are employed against the enemies of the tribe to which they are attached.36

This historical reference to such close links between the San/ Bushman and herders or pastoralists is significant to debates about the authorship of rock paintings37 and rock engravings.38 From 1786 disruption along the Orange River caused by a burgeoning colonial presence resulted in the disappearance of Einiqua identity, and the Khoe ‘people of the river’ merged into a more amorphous Korana.39 A map that marks the Nama groups’ distribution along the Orange River during the Second Korana wars of 1879 locates the Koranas north of the Orange River between the Molopo River and Kheis (Figure 1.14). Cornelissen writes of a man in Upington named Isak who, in 1971, referred to himself as a ‘Kora’, which Cornelissen considered a reference to Korana identity rather than his personal name.40 What is noticeable


Chaper 1: Past voices on the Biesje Poort rock engravings

from Penn’s descriptions of the various historical Khoe groups living in the Upington area is their fluid identities and that there was little to distinguish one group from another, especially as historical evidence suggests that groups such as the Korana: …were inextricably intertwined – racially, culturally, socially, politically and economically – with groups of Tswana. In addition to this process of intermingling with Bantu-speaking groups, the Korana had an earlier (and more obscure) history of complex and diverse group formation which makes it virtually impossible to state with any certainty where they originated or which groups comprised the core of their conglomerations.41

The Korana incorporated not only the economic practices of the Bantu-speaking groups, but also adopted the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers when harsh climatic circumstances made it necessary for survival.42 The inclusion of San/ Bushman into the Korana groups plus their adoption of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle must have added further confusion to certain identification of cultural groups by early recorders of the area. In the 1870s two Korana captains, namely Klaas Lukas and Cupido Pofadder, were given the land north of the Orange River between Augrabies Falls and Griqualand West in recognition of their assistance in helping the colonial forces, and the area was designated ‘Koranaland’. This treaty was not recognised by other groups, and exacerbated by the poverty caused by the drought conditions.43 My guide at Biesje Poort, Dawid Padmaker, told me that his predecessor at the farm, an old man named Pofadder, who had lived on the farm his entire life, had shown Padmaker the sites. Dawid Padmaker said that Pofadder had told him the engravings were made by Bushman; Padmaker was himself likewise convinced. Pofadder’s knowledge of the farm extended to the source of the spring; as with the wildlife on the farm, he too used the water from the spring so as not to use the farmer’s water. He also told Padmaker that the cairn west of the rock art sites and other cairns to be found on the farm were the graves of Bushman. I never saw Dawid Padmaker again but was told that he moved from the farm to work for a Mr Engelbrecht in Upington. I delivered my writings on Biesje Poort to Mr Engelbrecht Senior in Upington and gave him an extra copy for Dawid Padmaker. Linguistic evidence of early inhabitants of the Biesje Poort area Linguist Anthony Traill recorded that the Bushman


Figure 1.14 Distribution of Khoi (Nama) groups north of the Orange River during the Korana wars 1879 (Lange 2011 after Cornelissen, circa 1975, unpublished)

who lived north of the Orange River in the Upington and surrounding area were the //ng, whom, he writes, were wiped out by the Korana.44 This theory ties in with oral histories of conflict between the Bushman and the Korana recorded at Spitskop and in historian Penn’s research. A map showing the distribution of the Khoisan tribes in Schapera’s writings of 1930 indicates the //ng !ke as an ‘extinct tribe’ north of the Orange River.

Archaeological records

As mentioned earlier, archaeologists Peter Beaumont and Isabelle Parsons have identified one of the site clusters near the spring at Biesje Poort as representing the Doornfontein Industry which Beaumont et al. associate with herders (see Morris chapter 3). This ascription differs from the Later Stone Age Swartkop Industry associated with rock engravings to the south in the Karoo.such as at Springbokoog.45 A publication by Bill van Rijssen and subsequent research, notably by Smith and Ouzman, argue for distinct rock art traditions, namely San hunter-gatherer rock art and a tradition associated with Khoekhoen pastoralists characterised by geometric imagery.46 Dawid Padmaker, on guiding us around the Biesje Poort engraving sites, said he believed that two different groups of people had made the older and newer engravings.47 A number of ‘crude’ images, distinguishable by myself and Fisher, were interpreted by Padmaker as material culture with which he was familiar such as a ‘kiri’ [stick], a ‘kalbas’48 [calabash], ‘kaross’ [skin] and ’n pot met ’n roerding in’ [a pot

41 42 43 44 45 46 47


49 50 51

Penn 1995: 23 Beaumont et al. 1995 Smith 1995: 305 Traill 1970 Beaumont et al. 1995: 244 Van Rijssen 1994: 174; Smith & Ouzman 2004 This belief was reiterated by the Kalahari participants who partook in the recording of engravings in 2011 and 2013. Isak Kruiper also interpreted an engraving at Biesje Poort as a ‘kalbas’ in 2013. He further mentioned the use of a ‘kalbas’ as a water scoop. Fock & Fock 1989; Butzer 1989 Butzer 1989: 139 A similar occurrence was experienced with the Kalahari participants in 2011 when recording Biesje Poort engravings.

Chaper 1: Past Voices on the Biesje Poort Rock Engravings

Figure 1.15 ‘Box-type’ engraved images at Biesje Poort (Jansen 2013)

52 53 54 55 56

2002, 2012 2005 2008 2010 2006

and mixing utensil]. These images would fall under the Focks’ and Butzer’s description of the youngest ‘crude’ style possibly made with ‘metal tools’.49 Of interest is that Dawid Padmaker’s identification of animals and material culture in the engravings was

specific to his experience and what he had been told by his predecessor, Pofadder. He confidently offered interpretations for the youngest images that I was unable to read without assistance. He also offered identification of younger engraved images as animals with which he had come into contact in recent times on the farm and in the Kgalagadi Frontier area. An example of this was a number of jackals, made in the ‘box-type’ technique (Figure 1.15) from the younger pecked period50 yet he could not identify some of the older or intermediate engraved animals, which were obvious to me, but are now extinct in the area, such as the rhinoceros.51 This resulted in Padmaker and Fisher sometimes disagreeing on the identification of an animal. Based on historical, archaeological, linguistic research and recent ethnography relating to Biesje Poort, what is evident from the rock engravings is that the place had the power to draw different groups of people to it over approximately the past two thousand years. What is also made evident by previous research is that it is extremely difficult to ascribe authorship of the engra-vings to specific cultural groups (see Morris chapter 3). Biesje Poort continues to fascinate and engage me with every visit. The voices from past research enrich me even if some are considered outdated. My mind enjoys trawling through the written words as much as my feet enjoy the Biesje Poort terrain. The more recent research and publications of Morris,52 Deacon and Foster,53 Parkington et al.,54 Rusch and Parkington55 and Eastwood and Eastwood,56 and the chapters of this book,emphasise the particularity of each rock engraving site and the importance of the inclusion of more than just the traditional descriptive concerns of earlier generations of research. Not merely the types of images that were engraved and how many were engraved needs to be taken into consideration when recording a site. The placement of the engravings in terms of their geographic position in the landscape and their meaning, as far as this can be determined, adds pertinent layers to the understanding of the engravings. People’s beliefs and reactions to the site, and changes that have taken place in environment and intercultural exchange since the creation of the engravings up until today need to be taken into consideration when attempting to unravel the complexities and questions raised by the Biesje Poort rock engravings.


Fragility of the site

David: Notice how these bits that were breaking off, are now completely gone? So one’s got to be very conscious of how we ourselves, recording these sites, are actually helping to destroy them. So it’s quite scary. Roger: It’s ironic. David: So we have to be extremely careful.



Recording individual engravings and subjectivity

David: Okay, where do I want to start? Alright, what I want to start with saying is how subjective this is. How do you say that in Afrikaans? Mary: Elke mens het hulle eie opinie oor die ding…subjektief. David: Ja, jou eie opinie oor die klip, ons kan nou hierdie, dis baie ‘obvious’ ’n kameelperd daar. Maar as ons nou nader gaan, is die lyn nie so fyn nie. En jy kan sien dit gaan... Mary: It’s obviously a giraffe, but when we have a closer look, the lines [are] actually not so exact or fine. David: For instance, and also one finds that at different times of the day, one could see the thing differently, more clearly. Mary: Dit hang af van hoe die son op hom skyn, dan sien ’n mens hom op ’n ander manier. David: For instance, I’m seeing here – there are some little dots that were left, maybe not intentionally. Mary: Hy sien nou dat daar stukke daarbinne gelos is, dalk nie met opset gedoen nie, maar dalk was dit vir die kameelperd. David: There’s also that little feature there. That depression in the rock that has been left. Mary: En daar is ook daardie groefie in die rots wat hulle daar gelos het. Roger: None of us have recorded that hey? David: Yes, that should have been recorded. Now we’ve got two copies of this particular engraving. Mary: David het twee verskillende mense, hierdie ene, laat afteken net om iets te bewys. David: Some of these were a composite effort, in other words, this [one] particularly – I think both of them were done by more than one person. Mary: Van hulle was deur meer as een persoon [gemaak], wat saam gewerk het. David: With a red pen, we indicated some of the natural features on the rock. And maybe we should have included that little strike there. Roger: Can’t you still add it? Would it be wrong?

David: We could still add it. So that was the one copy. And then later in the afternoon the light got better and then the blue copy was made. And it’s quite interesting to compare the two. You can actually see the one or two quite significant differences. There are two instances where the leg length differs. Mary: Dié been is langer as die ander een. David: So it shows how very, very careful one has to be. Now this particular engraving is quite an easy one, because it’s what we call – the technical term for it is a ‘silhouette’, where the whole thing has been pecked out. Whereas, in the case of the engravings over there – as in the elephant engravings – it’s a bit more complex, because what they have done is to engrave in lines. Mary: So hierdie een is maklik om te sien, want die silhoeët is soos die skaduwee amper. Waar die olifante is het hulle nou weer die lyne, en binnelyne, ook deel van daardie kunswerke gemaak. Dis nie net die buitelyne nie. Maar hierdie ene is nou heeltemal binne uitgekap ook, of amper. En in daai ene is daar gedeeltes wat gelos is, soos die kop. David: En dis hoekom dit belangrik is om op die kopie te skryf wie het dit gedoen. And it’s also important to realise that the time of day it is done can have a bearing on what is actually visible. And [if] one is doing a very detailed recording one should actually come back to verify [that] the copies are accurate. So in a sense, one could


say, when one starts doing a copy, one writes one’s name there – one’s pretending to be putting oneself in the place of the original artist. One isn’t in fact – it’s a new creation, it might not be [a] faithful copy of the work. Mary: As jy nou daardie teken, is jou naam daarop, is dit eintlik ’n nuwe kunswerk. En eintlik nie soos die oorspronklike [kunstenaar] dit sal wou hê nie. Roger: En as dit iets ingewikkeld is dan moet ’n mens deur die dag oor die verskillende tye werk dat jy alles kan raaksien, want in verskillende tye van die dag sien mens iets anders. Dat as jy hom wil natrek of afteken dat jy al daai klein detail kan teken en ook kans gee om alles te gewaar en te kan neerlê. Maar dit sal nogsteeds jou weergawe wees van daai ding, dit is nie daai ding, maar dis jou tekening van daai ding.

Landscape context

David: Now a further thing is that, when we are recording these, [to realise] that all we have is a tiny bit of – a piece of paper [for recording] – or that we take a photograph of that engraving – and even though we may put in a lot of detail – that we realise that the whole thing is framed by a larger rock – imbued by the landscape. And one can’t actually ever capture the full context. And the meaning of the thing might actually have been to do with, in that particular image, perhaps its bigger context. So now we

are actually trying on this project to include that wider picture, and this is where Liana comes in – if you would like to say a few words. Liana: Wel, ek dink ek gaan vanaand vir julle op die rekenaar wys wat ek en //ankie [Klein Dawid] nou met GPS gedokumenteer het. Dan sal ek vir julle wys – die kaarte wys. Maar ek kan ook net verduidelik van wat ek gister gedoen het. Gister het ek van elke terrein waar ons was ’n panorama foto geneem om ’n groter prentjie van elke terrein te dokumenteer. Maar dis nie net ’n prentjie van die artefak of die prentjie van die plek nie, maar van die groter konteks. So ons het die kaart, wat met die satelliet wys waar ons was en dan het ons die satelliet foto wat die groter prentjie wys waar die koppies is, en dan nog, het ons daardie ding wat Roger vashou, wat op die oomblik besig is om op te neem, neem ons op wat die mense sê – so kry ons die inligting stukkie-stukkie bymekaar. En as ons nou weggaan kan ons alles mooi bymekaar gaan sit. Roger: Maar, ja, dis altyd van ons eie tyd. Daar’s ’n baie interessante uitstalling in die Kaapse museum op die oomblik van Pippa Skotnes van ander mense wat in ander tye dieselfde oefening gedoen het en hoe hulle goed gesien het. En ons kan dit nie help nie. Ons tegnieke maak ’n verskil in die manier hoe ons dit sien. In ons manier van vandag is anders as die mense wat kom met hulle waterverf sit en die ding baie mooi kunstig namaak, maar soos wat David sê met hulle ‘trigonometry’ teleskoop en driepoot en hulle merk dit pragtig. Al daai goed is eintlik kunswerke vir ons. Ons se tegnologie, slim

tegnologie, maar miskien is dit dooier as daai mense met hulle prragtige kuns wat ’n ander betekenis ook het, wat bydra, wat iets van hulle self, vir ons om na so iets te kyk kan ons sê, ons weet nie hoe oud dit is nie. Maar kom ons sê dis twee duisend jaar oud, maar ons is hier vandag soos wat ons die wêreld verstaan, en ons wil hierdie ding verstaan in vandag se wêreld soos wat ons dinge verstaan. Is ek reg? Liana: Maar nogsteeds is ons almal mense. Nogsteeds het ons ons eie verbeelding. Where we are coming from... Roger: Ja, wat ons almal bymekaar hou is ons eie menslikheid. What does the Bible say? We see the past through veiled gauze? En dis donkerder, en dis ons almal. David: I would like to just get back to the previous discussion this morning. On many sites, like Wildebeest Kuil, the engravings are on individual rocks, and many of these have been taken to museums. En dis na ’n museum gevat en dan – the issue wat ek nou het – as we have said of these particular engravings, in this environment – all of those individual engravings, on individual rocks, had meaning in their original place. And as soon as they are removed from their place, they lose something of their history [their context and meaning].



Nama Translation (by Pedro Dausab):

David: Kaise ǂōrisa re Mûtsda ||nā ||hāǂuide? TARAS: ||nā ǂkhoarona David: Mûre matin nē kararona khôa||na-e hâ ǃkhaesa, hoarakase |khai. Oda ge sada nï ǂân matida nē ǃkhaega da ra xoamai îha ra hui sa nē ǃkhaega hîkākā sa gore kaise a ǃaoǃaosa Roger: ǂGanǃhosa David: |Nîn ge ka-hâ Roger: I-||kha-a ||arikam ǂoab go ||ina ǃgombe ǃkhaesa tamaska-i o oa huga |khai David: ||Arida go sī-hâ-i ǃhaeb a go |khai-i Roger: |nai? David: Tsî da ge ni ǂoaǂamse ǂan okay. Mapa ta gona tsoatsoa ǂgao? Tsoatsoa ǂgoata gonas ge mī sa matigose a |khā|khāsensa. Matis nēsa Afrikaans ǃnâ ra mî-e TARAS: Mā khoe-I hoa-ī ||î-i di ǂâibasensa ū-hâ (subjektief) David: Sa ǂaibasens nē |uis xa, sada ge nēsisa nēs ge kaise |hā-aisa (obvious) ǃnaiba. Xawe ||nāba da ga si-o, ob ge ||garaba ||nā di kose |ui tamahâ. Tsîts ni mû. (ǂuiǃkhûnis): Gora ||î-i ge amase a ǃnai, xawetsa ga î|gūse kō, ogu ge nē ||garaga ||nāti ǂōrisa tamaska-i-o |ui tamahâ David: Ai||gause tit age ne ba, ǂkhari saoro-e ra mû. |nîsi ǂane-ge-amasgas ose. (ǂuiǃkhûnis) ||îb ge ra mû ||nābas ge ǃârona xu-e hâ, |îsi ǂâne-ge-amagas ose, xawe ge |îsi ǃnaib ǃaroma. David: ||Nā ba i-ge nē ǂkhari xūro-e hâ. ǃGoab ||nā |uib ī-ha ||nāba ge xū-e ǃnâ (ǂuiǃkhûnig) tsîb ge ||nāba ||nā soaroba |uis îhan ge xūs ǃnâ ha. Roger: |Gui-I sada di-i ge ||nāsa xoa mai tamahâ? David: Ama i-ge, ||î i ge xoamai-e ||khage ī. Odage |gamkha ||nā ||khā ǂuib xa ū-hâ (ǂNuiǃkhûnis) Davib ge |gam ǃkharaga ǃnâ n-e ge |nō||nā kai ida xū-e ū-hâ David: |în ge ||gau||gau ge-i. |î mîdi ǃnâ. Tita gera ǂai hoa |gamra ge ǂgui khoen xa ge dī-e (ǂNuiǃkhûnis) ||în ge |guise ǃna-ha khoen xa ge dī-e David: |Aba pen : |kha da ge |uis ai ||în di ǂûsi xūna go ||khau ǂui. |îsi da ge holga nau ǂkhari xūro i tsîna ga ǂgā-hâ Roger: |Nîsits di i tite? Tsu-i-ni? David: Dī ||kha da a. Nēb ge |gui |guiti iba tsî ega ǃui-a ǃnâb ga ǃgâi o oda nau ǂhoa |guiti ība di. Tsî kaisa ||khoaxasa nē |gamkha |gui|guise Kore mû ||khats a |gui tamats ka-io |gam ǃgom|gausa ǃkharaga ǃnâsiba Roger: |Guiba ||are |khab ai … David : |Gam ǃnara ge hâ |hu ǃkharasasibe kaxūsib ǃnâ (ǂNûiǃkhûnis) |Gui |hub ge kaxu naub xa David: Nē ge ra ||khau matikose ǂōǂōsasa. Nē ||khaǂuis ge kaise a shubu ǃkhaesa, nesa da ge ra ǂgai sillouette di, nē horaga xū-i –go u-ǂûi-e-sa Nau ||hāǂuis ǃnâb ge ǂkhoaba ǂkhariros ǃgom, nē ||hāǂuis ||kharab dī-e-hâ ǃkhaes ǃaroma ǂNûiǃkhûnis nēb ge suba mûsa, xui-ao sillouette a somikhem ī-xūi-o ǂKhoagu di ||garage ga tsî ǃnāb ||garage tsîn ge-a ||nā du||khasib di ǃâ se ge di-e. ǃAuga khan Tamas ka-io ||anbexa. Tsî nan-i Xa-i ge |în ǃâna ge xū-e, damas khemi David: ||Nā amaga i-ge a ǂhâǂhâsa nē |gui|guib ai-i-ni xoa-e-sa tai I ge disa? Tsî I ge ǂhâǂhâsa ||aeb tsēs dib ni xoa e sa ǃaroma a ǂânsa tae i-ge mû ||kha-i-sa Tsî I ge ǂâbasa di toab go khao ǃnâb ni oa |khisa |gui|guiga |gui|guise ǂhanu gu a ǃKhaesa. Mi ||khats ge a. |Gui|guibab ga di-o xoa mai sa |onsa. Sab ge ra mâisen nē ǂguro artis a ǃkhaesa. Sats ge ||î tama, xawe |asa kurus ge, gore ǂgom ǂgomsa |gui|guib taweb ge nē sîseni diba. Roger: Tsî ǃgom |gansa i-ga i-o o-i ge khae tsēb di ǃkharaga ǃnâ ||aegu ai ni sîsen, îb hoa xūna mû hô ǃnā, |khara ǃnâgu tsēs di ||aeb dig u ǃnâb ge |nî xūna ra mû. Tsît ga nēxūna ǂkhae ||na ǂgao ob ge ǂkhari xūro i tsîna ra mû. Tsît ga nēxūna ǂkhae ||na ǂgao ob ge ǂkhari xūro i tsîna ra mû tsî ra ||gui. Oni ||î-î tsîna sa ||nā xū-i ǃaroma, ||nā i-ge ||nā xū tama, ||nā xū-i ge a ||nā xū, xawe ||nā i ge sa |nō||nā ||nā xū-i di. TARAS: Ots ga nē xū-i ||kha go, ob ge |gariba ra mû, … mapa i-||nāxū-e hâ. David: Nan xūn-ge nē xūna dara xoa||gau îhâ da ge ǂkhari ǂkhamiroba ū-hâ īsaba da ǃkhō||nâba ǂgui xūna da ra xoa||gui da ge a ǂân hoaraga xū-i ge kai |guis xa ūǂgae a hâ. Tsîb ge dā tsē hoaraga xū-e ū-ǂga tite. (ǂnuiǃkhunis) sab ge ||nā hooraga luru-e hō-||ao, ||nā xū i …. David: Tsî mî ǃās nē xū-i dis ge kaie ǃhūb dis ǃnâ ||gōe ǂgânâ (ǂNûiǃkhunis) David: Ota ge ra di tsâ hoaraga xūna ǃkhō ǂgāsa, tsî nēs ge lianas ta ǂgâxasa. Ob ga mîrona pa mî ǂgao. Liana: ...



Sida di ||aeb di huga ||Nāba I ge kaise ||nanhesa ||gauhesa xūna ||ǂhui ǃgab di museums ǃnâ nēsi hâ Pippa Skotnes |nî khoen nau ||aegu ai ||nādi ǃaisensa ra di tsî xūna gere mûsa. Tsî da ge sida hui ||oa. Sida di |gaugu ge |gorosa |gauga ra mû kai da. Sida di |gaugu nē ||aeb dib ge |kharase ra ||gau nan khoen ||în die ||gamǂerfi ||kha kaise esa se xūna ra di, xawe David ta mî khemi ||în di “trigonometry” teleskop tsî driepoot tsî ||în ge kais era exa se ||gaumai. ||Nā xūn hoan ge sida a di-e ||khausi. Sida ge a tegnologie, ka-di tegnologib, xawe tsîsi ||ōhâ ||nā khoen ||în di exa di-e sasib nau ǂâbasens tsî hâs, ||în |gauba sens tsîna. Tsî daga sida ||nā xūna kō oda ge ni mī. |Uda a matiko kurixa i-a ǃkhaesa. Xawe ada |gam |oa disi kurixa a ti mī, xawe sida ge nē tsî sida ra ǃhūt aiba ||nau ǃā se tsî nē xū-e da ra ||nauǃā ǂgaose. Ta ge a ǂhāsu. Liana: Xawe da ge hoada a khoe. Noxopa da ge sida di mûxasiba ū-hâ. … Mapa xū dora |khi ǃaesa … Roger: Ja, sida ra noxopa |guiba ū-hâs ge sida di khoexa-siba. Tae es Bybelse Elib Misa ra mî, ī-ge xūna da ge |hā mû |khā ra mû. Tsî a ǃkhae hoada ǃaroma. David: Ota gera oa ||gao nē ||goaga kam ǃgoas ||gā. ǂGui ǃkhaedi, Wildebees (ǃGarokomas) furrow. (||Khaǂuidi ge a) Khaeǂuidi ge a ||îaitsamen |guite, ǃnasa di ge museum te xūra |khi. ||Nāba di ge |mî |guite ge hâ i xoamaidi ge |guidi i-i te. ||îdi ge museums ||gā ge ū-e ... Ti ta ū-hâ xū-i ge sada go nēsi ǃhoa nē ǃgō-aisa ||hāǂuida nē ǂnamibeb ǃnâ (ai). Ma |gui ||hāǂuis ||nā |guidi ais ge ǂaibasensa ū-besi ora ||îs ǂâibasemsa kā. David: Tsî ||nā ǃkhaes ǃaroma da ge ||nā xoamaite ǂhabaha David: Tite ge ||nā |ondi ||nā ǃate da ge mate xara ǃhoa ǂgao ||nā ban ge kaise |oro ǃnadi ai ǃkhaen |onte hâ hugagam |onte. Kakamas |gūse ǃāb nau ǃani ǃkhaeba hâ renosterbos di ra ǂgai-e ba. Nē ǃās ge 1779 ai ge warden ti |onhâ aob xa gesari-e ||Nauturaxaseb ge ǂguro ge xoa ǃnaib xa Roger: Oda ge ni mî Westersdi Wetenskap ǃnâs ge David: Nēs ge ǂguro ǃnās ǂkhani-i ǃnâs ta xoa mai e-sa TARAS: Nēs ge hî-î … ǃnaib ge nēdi ī ||în ge huga nēdi ī xū-e ge ||nau tama hâ-i David: Ob ge ||nā ǃnânuba ge ǂgai, nouwatanr. ||îb ge ne |onsa ge mā … nēs ge |ons ||îb ge māhe sa, ||nausb ge ge ||Gaba ||aegu te ti gowaǂuis … cqhowatinis. Tae e qhowatinis? Liana: |U ta a tae I ||nā ǃkhaesa TARAS: Tae e ǃnaie? Liana: Ja, ||îb ge ǂā tsî ge ǂûbi David: |Nî sib ge renosterkop (R. Danas) (translation 17-20) PK: Ai nē e a taexū … Gowab ge, Nama, Ai Stama Gowab ge. Nami |khās ge nēsi tsî nēsi nēti ||goe … ||Kha||kha tama ge I ge ǃônkhao. Xawets ga hō tama i. ǂānts ga |onsa o. ||îb ge inî |on e ū- hâ tama hâ, … mûtsa, tsîba nama I tawa. Roger: ||îb ge ge ǂanbi tama hâ-i. Ja, ||îb ge |onsa ū-hâ. Roger: ||Îb ge ǃâ tama ûi |gâu-b |ūbi ge īb xa David: |Nîsi i ge noxoba (hōǂui tama hâ) mû ta ge Nama mîdiǂkhanis ǃnâ. Thanos tamas ka-io danas ge “kop”, tsî qhawa (ǃhawas) ge renoster David: Tita tama ge hâ-i. ǂguro (ǃhuis) xoas |ons dis ge nabathanie tamas ka-io qhaba. Tsî a ǃgūse Qhnabathane. Tsî ||nā ǂguro midi ǂkhanis ǃnâs ge olnaba sa renoster TARAS: |Oro Nama mîs ge TARAS: ǃNabas ge Roger: ǃNabas, xawe ǃnabasan ge khoba xū ra kuru (Clicking) Roger: ǃKhaos (seekoei) TARAS: |Urun ge ||gami ||ga ge ǃgû TARAS 2: O ||gami |gurun ge, ǃgûra ǂgoab ||khā Roger: ǂGoab ||khā David: O, tita goro mî ǂgaos ge … Izak: Qhabas (Nama talking) TARAS: ||Gaus |guise goro hî mîb go ǃkhaesa Roger: Xoaǃgāigāba da ǃnaiba David: ||Nā ǃgō-aisa ǃkhaes ais ge ||nā ǃkhaeba “Renosterkop” tira ǂgai-e, ǃuri-khoeb ǂnioǃkhunis |oro Nama mîs xa. Xawe ǂgui nau ǃnādi ǃnâ da ge nē ǃgae-||aete ge ǂoaǃnâ. |Orose ǃgarogu ǃnâ. |Nîsin |nî ǃgarob sîsen aona ǃādi |ona ǂān ||kha. (ǂNûiǃkhunis) Nes ge |gui ai||gausa mapadara noxoba ǃkhaedi |ona hōsa. Xawe da ge |ū ǃnasa ǃkhaegu di |onte







s an academic and practitioner in the discipline of Landscape Architecture, I am primarily engaged with studying landscapes and the various ways of seeing, reading and engaging with them. Postgraduate studies in anthropology enabled me to gain skills to understand various cultures and their relationship with landscapes. I have subsequently been actively involved within the heritage field, completing heritage audits, management plans and designs for Cultural Landscapes across Southern Africa and internationally. The Biesje Poort project gave me the opportunity to test and apply methodologies implicit in both disciplines, and also become aware of the efficacy of multi- and interdisciplinary fieldwork in interpreting signs within landscapes.


Landscapes without people cannot exist. The environment, however, can – geological processes continue for aeons, providing the substrate for soils, resultant vegetation and the associated myriad of life continuing a never-ending ecological dance on the earth. The same can be said of nature. But not so for landscape, since the definition of the word ‘landscape’ includes people, human beings in relation to the environment, at its core. Within this relationship, the essence of each component comprises the total relation of each to the other.1 Another way of understanding the idea of “landscape” is that it is a presence, or that which in its being is an assembly of time and space. These relations are evident to those that find themselves within this time and space.2 So not only does landscape exist in the mind (the inner landscape), but also in the physical matter (the environment). 1 2 3

Ingold 2000: 191 Heidegger cited in Árnason et al. 2012: 3 Steward & Strathern 2004: 8

…the inner landscape merges the perceived experience of the place with the imagined symbolic meaning of the place to the individual. Landscape, in a meaningful sense thus encompasses environment plus relationships that emerge from or exist in a place.3

It is within this very relationship between the environment and the people inhabiting, passing through, engaging with it, that meanings are deposited – conceptual representations or cultural meanings embedded in the landscape. And subsequently the landscape itself becomes the transmitter of these meanings, if one knows how and where to look. So it has been and still is with the Biesje Poort landscape. Centuries ago, a group of people traversed the land, possibly settling on the rugged rocky outcrops affording expansive views over the entire surrounding area. Most importantly, the rugged koppies harboured fresh water, a precious commodity in a mostly parched and barren environment. We can only speculate about the amount of time these early people spent in the landscape. Subtle and eroded clues are engraved on numerous exposed rock faces in strategic positions around the rocky outcrops. The signs contain clues that lead researchers to believe that the early people followed game that possibly proliferated on the higher, seasonally water-rich escarpment – giraffe, rhinoceros, ostrich, gemsbok, blesbok. Some signs also suggest that the people kept livestock, with images of what may be cattle and other domestic animals in certain locations. But then there are the other, more puzzling images – stars, circles, and geometric and concentric shapes perhaps echoing a deeper, more complex relationship with the land. During this research project, a question that predominantly informed my investigation was this: how would one gain access to the original meanings contained within the engravings? How could one begin to interpret signs that were produced by a people from a culture and time so vastly different from my own? Would there be only a single meaning, or rather many meanings, resulting in the signs and the landscape becoming polysemic in essence, reflecting the various relationships different people had with it over the years? Another question that informed my approach was how one could be more sensitive to the way researchers have mapped their own meanings onto the landscape. To be more specific, how does one avoid preconceptions


Chapter 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

Figure 2.1 The Biesje Poort Landscape (Jansen 2013)

of meaning or biased interpretation of meanings contained in the landscape? The overall Biesje Poort research process allowed me to observe various different methods aimed at trying to interpret, or at least document the rock engravings. The archaeological work by David Morris of the McGregor Museum built on the work of half a century of previous academic engagement with Biesje Poort.4 Personal interviews with and background readings provided by Euodia (Engels) Badenhorst, one of the descendants of the family who owned the farm across the last century, lent an emotive resonance to an understanding of a variety of meanings contained within and through the Biesje Poort landscape. It also provided me with a rough history of the landscape to contextualise some of the artefact discoveries. Mary Lange’s investigation of intangible narratives connected to the landscape elucidated another dimension of interpretation and in part also referred to the previous archaeological studies of the site. Then there were the Kalahari participants that accompanied the team on the first and second field trip. Their initial intuitive responses to interpreting some of the rock engravings drew from an enculturated and lived experience in relation to the land and was often much more practical than the rest of the


teams’ more academically imbued interpretations. It was however through walking the site with some of the Kalahari participants that I discovered a possible answer to my question of interpretation and accessing meaning.

Learning to read

Knowledge is to know and understand something by developing the ability to situate information in the context of perceptual engagement with the environment. We, during our lives, develop a capacity to ‘know’ (situating information in relation to perception) through having things shown to us, undergoing an ‘education of attention’ or a sensory education. Knowledge, or access to meaning, is gained by moving about in the landscape, exploring it, directing our attention to it, alert to the signs by which it is revealed. An individual’s perceptual and interpretive skills are then gradually attuned to reading the meanings contained in and through the landscape.5 Learning to see, then, is a matter not of acquiring schemata for mentally constructing the environment but of acquiring the skills for direct perceptual engagement with its constituents, human and non-human, animate and inanimate.6

4 Fock & Fock 1989; Beaumont et al. 1995; Butzer 1989: 147; Smith & Ouzman 2004 5 Ingold 2000:21 6 Ingold 2000:55 7 Stipagrostis hochstetteriana 8 Tamarix usneoides tree 9 Rhigozum trichototum 10 Ingold 2000: 210. Morris 2002 develops this Ingoldian principle in a thesis on rock engravings in a landscape at Driekopseiland. 11 Casey 2000; Ingold 2000: 224 12 Tilley cited in Árnason et al. 2012:18 – 20 13 Adam 1998: 54 14 Ingold 2000:189 – 190

Chaper 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

Figure 2.2 Kalahari participants walking the landscape (Fisher 2011)

Understanding landscape in its entirety as a transmitter of meaning, emphasises that every feature in the landscape – the rugged rocks, the streams, the gently undulating ‘Blinkaarboesmangras’7 fields, the lonely ‘Abwikaboom’8 and the vicious ‘Driedoring’9 – are vital in the understanding of the narrative of the landscape of Biesje Poort. Every feature, then, is a potential clue, a key to meaning.10 It is, however, not only by being in the landscape that allows one to perceptually engage and gather knowledge, but specifically by moving through the landscape that the full spectrum of body sensing in conjunction with perception allows one to gather the clues to meaning.11 Thus the process of walking the landscape involves a gathering together of synaesthetic, material and social sensory experience as they unfold in the sequence and duration of the walk. This is the process where the experience of the particular results in renewed considerations of the general and the gradual construction of an holistic interpretation through comparing and contrasting and reflecting on the sequential experiences.12 Through walking the land and using one’s perception to pick up the clues or keys to meaning, the landscape tells – or rather, is – a story.13 The real test of one’s ability to walk, and consequently read the landscape is whether an individual can tell its story, guiding the attention of listeners or readers into it and narrating its meaning. A person who can ‘tell’ is one who is perceptually attuned to picking up clues in a specific type of landscape that others, not having undergone sensory education to develop their skills of perception, might miss. The teller, in sharing his or her knowledge, guides the attention of his audience along the same paths as his/ her own.14 During the course of the research project, I was honoured to engage with two very different, but similarly eloquent storytellers.

Kalahari participants

Figure 2.3 Kalahari participants still walking the land (Jansen 2013)

During the Biesje Poort research project, this concept of narrating the clues contained in the landscape highlighted the significant role of the Kalahari participants. They were able quickly to assimilate knowledge of this landscape and become perceptually attuned to its subtle nuances and clues due to years of being taught and practising how to ‘see’ as part of their culture. During the first field trip, even though the co-researchers were asked to help interpret and trace the engravings for documentation, Jan Oeliset Org, Lydia


Chapter 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

and Izak Kruiper would often deviate from our intended direction of walking when moving to another site. They would walk around, over or under landscape features, often talking, gesturing and discussing. In the beginning I attributed it to being just their way of engaging with the landscape. During the second field trip it became clear that their extensive walking of the site was much more than just walking, it was an act of reading the clues in the landscape, building up an internal map of the landscape features and the location and relation of engravings within it. The success of this process became clear on the first day of the second field trip in 2013. Louis Engels, the son of Euodia (Engels) Badenhorst,15 drew a rudimentary map of a large engraving site at the top of ‘Die Skeur’ on a paper plate.16 Louis verbally explained that we had to climb to the top of the Skeur, continue to a Witgatboom17 whilst looking out for a dead Kokerboom.18 From there we had to continue and the engravings would not be far. With the paper plate map in hand, we traversed the land, found the dead Kokerboom and noticed that we were heading up a hill. Jan Oeliset Org and Izak Kruiper more than once said that we have to turn south, away from the Kokerboom and not head up the hill – we will not find engravings there. David Morris and myself, self-appointed leaders of this expedition, blindly continued up. Lo and behold, no engravings, but an expansive view over the Biesje Poort landscape. While walking up the hill, I knew the Kalahari participants had to be right; they understood the land. In anthropology, the concept of ‘sentient ecology’ explains an environmental knowledge certain people have that is based in feeling and that consists of the skills, sensitivities and orientations developed through long experience of conducting one’s life in a particular environment.19 This sentient ecology also includes an internal mapping of the landscape, where individuals use their bodies to register the sensory input from multiple points of observation and to process these through accumulated knowledge via an internal image, a map.20 During the first fieldwork session and contact with the landscape, the Kalahari participants schooled themselves in the clues and keys of the landscape of where engravings might be, but also what they could mean. The resultant internal map they generated of the landscape is based entirely on perception, but specifically a bodily perception as generated through the act of walking the land. This reading of the landscape


Figure 2.4 The paper plate map (scan of original drawing by Louis Engels 2013)

is enculturated – their elders have taught them how to read the landscape for certain signs, as indicated in the transcript of one of the sessions during the first and second field trips below (Figure 2.6 and 2.7): My grootjies het vir my baie geleer, so die ervaring wat ek van hulle af het, beoefen ek nog elke dag. Sodat dit nie verlore gaan nie. So die kultuur moet sterk bly so ons moet baie met die kinders die kultuur wys so die bekendstelling van die natuur en ook die omgewing. So as jy binne die omgewing is, moet jy kan weet dat jy is in die natuur en jy is in die omgewing, so wat moet jy nou doen? Jy moet luister, fyn kyk en hoor want die voeltjie praat, hy waarsku jou, die wind waai, so jy moet kan oop jou neusgaaie, dat jy kan ruik, dit is so hier in die natuur. Want as jy daar in die natuur is, sal jy sit en hoor dat die grassies praat, daar’s ’n krap binne my, dit is hoe die gras groei, hoe die gras lewe kry. So waar’s jou lewe nou, so jy moet nou weet, so moet ek inpas, sodat ek die leë

15 The second storyteller, see next section 16 On our way up to Biesje Poort on the second field trip, we had a rendezvous with Louis on his way back to Saldanha after a camping holiday on the farm. As he had grown up walking the farm, he promised to share the locations of a few lesser known engravings via GPS locations. His GPS subsequently broke, resulting in the more rudimentary (but more interesting!) mapping of the site. 17 Shepherd’s tree (Boscia albitrunca), known colloquially as ‘Witgat’

Chaper 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

Figure 2.5 The dead Kokerboom landmark (Jansen 2013) grasse op die ou einde van die dag kan beskerm. Nie net kan uithaal en dan doodmaak.21

18 Quiver tree, Aloe dichotoma 19 Anderson cited in Ingold 2000: 23 20 Gould & White 1974; Rubin 1988: 375 21 Kruiper, Communication, Biesje Poort Field Trip, 4 April 2013

Translation (by Carinè Müller): My elders taught me many things, so the experience I have gained from them I still practise every day. I can’t get lost. So the culture must stay strong, we must share the culture with our children, the introduction of nature and the environment. If you are in the environment, you must know that you are in nature and you are in the environment, so what

must you then do? You must listen, look carefully and hear because the little bird is talking, he is warning you, the wind is blowing, keep open your nostril so that you can smell, this is how it is in nature. Because when you are in nature, you will sit and listen and hear how the grass speaks, there is something scratching inside of me, this is how the grass grows, how the grass gets life. So where is your life now, you must now know, this is how I must fit in, in order that I can protect the grasses at the end of the day. Not just pull out and kill.


Chapter 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

Liana Müller Jansen: Het hulle die landskap gelees? En geweet dit is die rigting wat hulle moet vat? Izak Kruiper: Dit het so ingekom, dis nou van die ou kinders wat lees, die wat nou die ou woorde, soos ons wat nou daar geloop bore (gebore), die weet ter wille van die waarvan ons gekom, dis tans waar ons vandag nog altyd. Ons gaan nie in die suide in nie, maar ons gaan in die noorde in. Dis waar ons loop eindig, in die noorde. Belinda Kruiper: Toevallig toe die skoot bykom in die gesprek aan die einde was ek sonopkoms. Sê hulle hulle sal altyd in die son en nie in die donker sit. Kyk na die son, lig na die hemele dat jy die goed kan vind. Izak Kruiper: ’n Gewone jagter, soos ek nou wat hier nou sit, as ek ’n jagter is. As ek vanmôre opstaan. Dit vat my ’n bietjie langer, en die son kom in ooste op dan. Liana Müller Jansen: En waar die skaduwee is van die koppies is alles belangrik. Hoe hoog dit is. Izak Kruiper: Want jy sien jy kom nou by ’n plek wat die skaduwee vat lang om, dan kom hy nie vir jou nou so duidelik uit soos hy vir jou uitkom op die lig nie. Sodra daar bietjie meer lig is, sien jy meer dinge, en as jy jou rug draai en die lig is beter. Jy sal nie sien duidelik alles nie, maar sodra jy teen die lig opgaan sal jy alles sien wat jy voel van hier binne in ... Liana Müller Jansen: Maar ek wil weer terugkom by die kraak en die vier rotse wat so noord wys. So dis ook deel van die ding dat mens moet loop in die rigting ... Izak Kruiper: Hy wys nie net spesiaal net noordkop nie, dis mos nou hoe hy lê as jy mens is. Maar kyk nou mooi na jou aarde hoe hy lê. Hy wys nou noord, suid, wes, oos. Soos hy nou daar lê. Daar is ’n klip met sy punt weg gee noorde toe, daar is ’n klip met sy punt weg gee ooste toe, dis in die berge, teen sy. Nou as jy daai gedeelte kan doen met die kaartwerk, dan kom die ... Dis daai middel punt. Mary Lange: Die hoe die groot klippe nou daai kant toe lê, is dit nie wat hulle nou wys nie? Belinda Kruiper: Jy staan by die rotse en die rivier een. En in daai tyd toe hulle met die hoogtepunt gevang het. Izak Kruiper: Dis net hoe dit werk met ’n dokter, ’n bossie dokter. Wat dollos gooi. As hy sy dolosse bymekaar vat en hy gooi hulle weg, daai dolosse sal hom wys waarnatoe nou. Want daar is special een wat nou wys, daai ene spring watterkant toe. Ek staan op en ek loop daai ene se rigting in. Izak Kruiper: Ons kan niks sonder die Here doen nie. As ons trek gesprek, gedagte, watookal. Dis net die Here se. Ek kan misbruik maak van my gesprek. Daar in is nie diere dood nie. Want die Here het vir ons alles gegee baie meer dinge. Mary Lange: Okay, Baie interessant. Liana Müller Jansen: So eintlik kan ons lees waar nog rotskuns kan wees. David Morris: Yes, that’s how we found this. Mary Lange: Izak, we didn’t know that ...


Liana Müller Jansen: Did they read the landscape? And knew this is the direction they should take? Izak Kruiper: It came in like this, it’s the old children that read, the ones that read the old words, like us that were born there then, we know where we come from, it’s where we are now and have always been. We’re not going to the south, we’re going to the north. That is where our journey ends, in the north. Belinda Kruiper: Coincidentally when we were talking, at the end the sun was rising. They say they will always sit in the sun and not in the darkness. Look at the sun, to the heavens so you will find the things. Izak Kruiper: (Interpretation Mary Lange): If I sit here as a hunter and I get up tomorrow morning, and I go the right side of the koppie it would take me a little bit longer, but then see the sunlight, because otherwise you are walking in the shadow. You try to walk so you got the light shining on). Liana Müller Jansen: And where the shadow are of the koppies everything is important. How high it is. Izak Kruiper: Because you see, you get to a place where the shadow [draws long] then it doesn’t appear as clearly as it would have in the light. As soon as it is a bit lighter, then you see more things, and when you turn your back the light is better. You won’t see everything clearly, but as soon as you go up against the light you will see everything that you feel from deep inside here… Liana Müller Jansen: But I want to get back to the crack and the four rocks that point north like this. So that is also part of the thing that one must walk in the direction … Izak Kruiper: It doesn’t just show especially just north, which is how it lies when you are human. But look carefully at your earth how he lies. He now shows north, south, west, east. Like he lies there now. There is a rock with its point to the north, there is a rock pointing to the east, it’s in the mountains, against it. Now if you can do that part with the map work, then comes the … It’s that middle point. Mary Lange: How the rocks are lying to the north there, is that not what you’re showing now? Belinda Kruiper: You stand at the rocks and the river. And in that time when they caught with the high point. Izak Kruiper: (Interpreter Mary Lange): In the same way he reads the rocks, as the medicine man throws his bones and reads the landscape and how to interpret it. Izak Kruiper: (Interpreter Mary Lange) He says God is the most important, then when we speak it’s with God’s breath. If you don’t use that properly then … Mary Lange: Okay, Very interesting. Liana Müller Jansen: (Interpreter Mary Lange): You can actually read where there is more rock art in the land. If you learn how to read the landscape. David Morris: Yes, that’s how we found this. Mary Lange: Izak, we didn’t know that ...

Figure 2.6a Kruiper 2011, 30 March

Chaper 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

Jan Org: Daarso is dit skurf, hier is dit, ek het hom gesien die dag hoe die rots lyk, toe kon ek sien hoe hy op die hele rots sal lê. Belinda Org: So hy’s in sy rante soos hoe hulle gesit het. Jan Org: Nou maar kyk Belinda, jy moet mooi kyk, soos daai berg, hoe lê hy daar, kyk na daai kolletjie wat jy daar sien by hom, en dan kyk jy nou hier. Jou hele kroon by die, wat wys hy aan, dis net vir rotskuns. Belinda Org: Die hele hiërargie dui hy aan, dis die hele rotskuns gallery hierdie, maar dis op die buite wyke wat vertel wat hier gebeur het. Hier het almal kom drink ook. Maar die koning as hy die dag in die rondte is, sal die bokkies na die buite water in die poele gegaan het. Liana Jansen: Maar hierdie koppie trek my al van die heel begin. Jan Org: Reg in die noorde toe. Liana Jansen: So sy punt wys noorde toe? Jan Org: Ja Liana Jansen: Nou wat is sy betekenis dan? Hoekom is hy so spesiaal? Jan Org: Kyk sy ding is, hier is ons nou by die rotskuns wat aanwys, wat ons voorgrootjies, nou dit wys ons aan die een is nou terug. Belinda Org: Dis die roete wat sou langs die water beweeg huis toe. Liana Jansen: Want die klippe lê almal die kant toe.

Jan Org: It is rough there, here it is, that day I saw what the rock looks like, I could then see how it would lie upon the entire rock. Belinda Org: So it’s in the [rante] where they were sitting. Jan Org: But look Belinda, you must look carefully, like that mountain, how it lies there, look at that little dot that you see in it, and then you look here. Your entire crown at this, what does it point to, what does it show, it’s just for rock art. Belinda Org: It shows the entire hierarchy, this is the entire rock art gallery, but it’s the outskirts that tells what has happened here. Everyone came to drink here too, but the king – when he is around, the small antelope would have gone to the outside waterpools. Liana Jansen: But this small hill has interested me from the start. Jan Org: Right up to the north. Liana Jansen: So it points north? Jan Org: Yes Liana Jansen: What does it mean then – why is it so special? Jan Org: Look, here we are now at the rock art that shows, what our ancestors, it shows us the one is back here. Belinda Org: It’s the route that would have been taken adjacent to the water all the way home. Liana Jansen: Because the rocks all face this way.

Figure 2.7 Org 2013, 4 April

The Beukes family and Euodia

22 Engels nd: 74 23 Engels-Badenhorst 2004 24 Camel thorn (Acacia erioloba)

The original engravers were not the only people to have established a relationship with the Biesje Poort landscape. As time progressed, more people traversed the land on their way to the north (Kalahari or Namibia) or south to the fertile Orange River valley. The poort and its surrounding koppies have always been a vital source of fresh water along a number of routes. Not only did Khoekhoe herders and San hunters access this water, but also early ‘transport ryers’, trekboere, farmers, military groups (Anglo Boer War and 1914 rebellion) and travellers.22 In 1896, Gerhardus Johannes Beukes bought the farm from a Mr Terblanche, who had obtained the farm from the Cape Government in 1884.23 The Beukes family became one with the Biesje Poort landscape. Father Gerhardus and son Lukas Daniel Beukes built houses, erected fences, built dams and dug ‘putte’ (wells). Their strong relationship with the land is still evident in the names given to the various landscape features (toponymy): ‘Voëlnesberg’, ‘Die Skeur’, ‘T’jammiekloof’, etc. The love for this

piece of earth was transferred from father to sons and daughters, and the vicarious meanings embedded in the landscape were deeply engraved into the lives of the first Beukes descendants. During the first field trip, I visited the original farmhouse and the then inhabitant, Louis Esterhuize (family of the current owner Koos Meyer), handed me a thick file. The cover read ‘Biesjespoort – spesiaal vir Marisa en Roux Vermeulen en hul nageslag wie my liefde vir hierdie erfgrond met my deel, Euodia Engels-Badenhorst, Desember 2004’. The file contained poetry, written history, photographs and maps compiled by the youngest daughter of Lukas Beukes, Euodia Engels (now Badenhorst). One morning, while the rest of the research team left for further documentation, I sat under a Kameeldoring24 tree and immersed myself in the deep love for this piece of land as expressed by Euodia. The detailed contents opened up an entirely new chapter in the language of the landscape by narrating the story of the Beukes family and their relationship to Biesje Poort.


Chapter 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

Figure 2.8 Louis Engels (Euodia’s husband) hunting dassies (Engels 1988)

The discovery of the file inspired me to try and find its author. A couple of phone calls and emails later, I obtained the phone number of Euodia and immediately phoned. For two entire mornings in her Wellington home’s lounge, the dear Euodia (Engels) Badenhorst talked about her love for the farm, the landscape and reminisced about her relationship to Biesiespoort.25 I showed her images of both field trips and the photographs evoked memories and anecdotes, but more specifically, illustrated a very profound knowledge of the landscape even though she had not visited the farm in more than 10 years due to illness. Her deeply ingrained yearning for the farm is eloquently communicated in various forms, especially in her poetry.26 What struck me most, however, was the strength of the vicarious memories and values she transferred not only to her family (Louis and now also his daughter), but also to strangers (me). Vicarious memory is memory that an individual highly values and is emotionally committed to, of things not personally experienced; it was constructed from the related experiences of direct relatives, elders or teachers. Vicarious memory could thus be ascribed to a ‘pattern of remembering’ or a ‘memory repertoire’ characteristic of a particular group, which, according to Jacob Climo, constitute “essential components in the persistence of both individual and collective identity.”27 The following quote illustrates vicarious memory at work, where I experienced the


Figure 2.9 Euodia Badenhorst (Beukes-Engels) (Engels 1990)

same strong emotional resonance with the landscape when I visited Biesje Poort again in 2013 after meeting with Euodia: O liefie, ek wens ek kon jou saamvat huis toe, om net op daardie stoep te sit en teen daai swart berg met die melkbosse te kyk. Weet jy, ek weet nou nog waar die berghaas sy nes maak, ek weet onder watter melkbos die T’jammie groei (’n saprofiet wat op die wortels groei, stink reuk). Ek weet waar daar rooi bergtulpe groei. Dis my plek! Ek weet waar die klapperbos groei en weet waar die kankerbos groei.28 Translation (by Carinè Müller): Oh my love, I wish I could take you home with me, just to sit on the stoep and look at that black mountain with the melkbosse. You know, I still know where the berghaas makes his nest, I know under which Melkbos the T’jammie grows (a saphrophyte that grows on the roots, stink smell). I know where red bergtulpe grows. It’s my place! I know where the klapperbos grows and where the kankerbos grows.

Figure 2.10 Euodia as a young girl on the farm (Theron 1951)

Chaper 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

Euodia walking the land, learning to see

Earlier I discussed the process of walking the land and how, as in the case of the Kalahari participants, in order to read and understand the subtle clues contained in the landscape, they had had to learn to see, or undergo an education of attention.29 What fascinated me about Euodia’s narrative is that this same process occurred on the farm while she was growing up. As a child she not only participated in family outings to various parts of the farm, but also often accompanied her grandfather and father on their daily activities. The two men both had a strong connection and understanding of the land, knowing how to read its language to ensure farming success, at times barely surviving in this harsh environment. They both also valued and respected the rock engravings and transferred their knowledge of them to their families, specifically Euodia. She writes/ reveals:

25 “Op die Kaart en Transport-akte staan die plaasnaam wel as Biesje Poort. In die volksmond het dit heel gou tot Biesiepoort verander” Engels nd: 72 26 Euodia Badenhorst self-published two books on Biesje Poort, one of which ‘Kokervrug uit Boesanland’ describes the history of the farm and how the Beukes family lost it in the 1990s to three different owners up to the present owner Koos Meyer. The book also describes how the family engaged with the landscape and contains numerous poems. She also published the book ‘Riemvasmaak’ on the story of the farm and its inhabitants being relocated there in the 1990s. 27 Climo 2002: 19 28 Engels-Badenhorst 2013, 9 May 29 Gibson 1979:254 in Ingold 2002:22 30 Engels nd:98 31 land tenants 32 the original farmhouse to the east of the current house

Maar die lekkerste lekker was as ons as familie die dag onder by Die Skeur na nuwe Boesmantekeninge gaan soek. Eintlik was dit gravure van al die soorte grootwild wat eeue gelede daar moes geleef het. Op plat klipbanke (dit lyk of die Skepper die klippe met sy eie hande spesiaal so gelyk en plat gevryf het sodat dit as tekenpapier gebruik kon word!) is olifante, renosters, koedoes, volstruise, ystervarke, leeus, kameelperde, luiperde, erdvarke en nog talle ander kleiner boksoorte met klipwerktuie deur die KhoiSan-mense uitgekap. Van hierdie klipwerktuie spoel nog jaar na jaar groot reëns op die walle van die laagtes onderkant Die Skeur uit. Talle volstruiseierkrale, mooi rond geskuur en aan velriempies – nou reeds hard en bros – lê ook oral by die vuurmaakplekke van KhoiSan-mense rond. Ons en ons kinders gaan soek nou nog steeds daarna maar my pa verkies dat ons dit daar in hul natuurlike staat los sodat ons nageslagte ook vreugde daaruit kan put. Tydens skooluitstappies het my oupa en later my pa, spesiale toestemming aan Meneer gegee om een voorbeeld van ’n nuwe ontdekking terug skool toe te bring om by die versameling te voeg. Hierdie versameling is baie goed opgepas en nadat die skooltjie moes sluit weens te min kinders, is dit aan die hoërskool op Upington gegee.30 Translation (by Carinè Müller): But the most fun was when our family went down to the Skeur to look for all the Boesman artworks. It was in fact engravings of the types of big game that must have lived there ages ago. Elephants, rhinos, kudu, ostriches, porcupines, lions, giraffe, leopards, ant-eaters and all kinds of other antelope were engraved with rock art tools by the Khoi-San people on the flat rock banks (it looks like our Creator purposely wiped those rocks flat with his own hands so that it could

be used as drawing paper!). Some of these stone tools still wash up on the banks below the Skeur year after year. Many ostrich egg beads, rubbed smooth and still on leather riempies – hard and brittle by now – also lie scattered around the fireplaces of the Khoisan people. We still go to look for it, but my father prefers it if we leave them in their natural state, so our descendants can also experience the joy of it. My grandfather and later my father gave special permission to the teacher during school field trips to take one example of a new discovery back to the school to add to the collection. This collection is very well looked after. After the little school had to close down because there weren’t enough children, it was given to the high school in Upington.

Another profound example of the education of attention/ perception is the ‘Skooltjie op die bult’ (school on the hill) that was established by Euodia’s parents in the 1930s. Her mother was adamant that her seven children should obtain a decent education, but the closest school was in Upington. The Department of Education required that any local school should have a minimum of 22 pupils. Lukas Beukes therefore allowed a number of ‘bywoners’31 to build small dwellings on the farm. The seven Beukes and additional bywoner children attended the school on the hill32 under the tutelage of Mr Izak van der Westhuizen. This visionary man incorporated quarterly nature study expeditions, where all the children were given a specific task of documenting a pre-selected and explained landscape element on the basis of an unsupervised walk on the farm. Each child was given a sheet of paper on which they had to add the date of the expedition, where they were going and what they were observing. Their pages had to be covered in observations and drawings by a certain time, whereafter the children had to return to school to report what they had found. Een groot heerlikheid wat ek van die plaasskool onthou was ons natuurstudie uitstappies, een keer per kwartaal. Meneer het ons geleer om die boek van die natuur te lees. Ons is geleer om te onderskei tussen die spore van ’n dikkop, ’n brandkorhaan, ’n kiewiet, ’n groot berg bosduif en ’n gewone bosduif, ’n gompou, ’n kransduif, ’n versamelvoël, ’n nt’annetjiegoup, mossies, veldpatryse wat bedags kom water drink en nagpatryse wat dan bedrywig is. Ons is geleer om te luister na die geroep van die Piet-my-vrou, die “karra-karra” van die brandkorhaan, die geluid van die dassies in die bergskeure. Ons moes oplet na die sonlig wat weerkaats op die byvlerkies op pad na hul neste in die bergskeure of ervarkgate. Daar was so oneindig baie om te leer as jy net wil.33


Chapter 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

Dis baie belangrik om te verstaan dat die meneer die natuurstudie uitstappies so duidelik beplan het: wat gaan ons vandag soek. Ek noem nou maar, sê nou maar spore van die die voëls wat op die plaas geloop het. Dan sal meneer vir ons die gompoue wys, patryse, en hoe hul spore lyk – kyk na die tone, kyk na die dit en die dat – en elke een loop dan op sy eie in die wye wêreld in en teken dan nou maar op jou manier in jou oefenboek met jou potlood. Die datum is bo-aan geskrywe voor al die kinders uitgegaan het. So moes die kinders dan ook maar die son skat, ons het nie horlosies gehad nie, hoe laat jy die spesifieke ding waarvoor jy gesoek het gekry het, of dit nou in die geval die voël se spoor was teen ’n duin. Ons moes ook byskryf hoe lyk dit óm die spoor – hoe nat was die sand, wanneer het dit laas gereën. Laat die middag het ons dan huis toe gegaan met dit wat ons opgetel of in ons boeke opgeteken het – ’n ystervarkpen, vere van die voëls, alles. Die volgende dag het almal ’n kans gekry om dit wat jy gevind het aan die res van die klas te kom voordra. Wat gevind is, is dan alles in ’n boek opgeteken.34 Translation (by Carinè Müller): One wonderful thing that I remember of the farm school was our nature study field trips, once every term. Our teacher taught us how to read the book of nature... We were taught how to distinguish between the tracks of a ‘dikkop’, a ‘brandkorhaan’, a ‘kiewiet’ (plover), a big ‘bergbosduif’ (pigeon) and a common ‘bosduif’, a ‘gompou’ (bustard), a ‘kransduif’, a ‘versamelvoël’, a ‘nt’annetjiegoup’, ‘mossies’ (sparrows), ‘veldpatryse’ (partridge) that came to drink water during the day and the nagpatryse that is busy at night. We were taught to listen to the call of the ‘Piet-my-vrou’, the “karra-karra” of the ‘brandkorhaan’, the sound of the dassies in the mountain crevices. We had to note the sunlight on the wings of bees on their way to their hives in the crevices or aardvark holes. There was so much to learn if one only wanted to! It’s important to note that the schoolmaster planned everything in advance, what we were to search for on any specific day. Let’s say, the tracks of the birds on the farm. Schoolmaster would show us the ‘gompoue’, ‘patryse’ and what their tracks look like – how to look at the tracks – their toes, to look at this and that – each of us walking our own way and making our own notes in our books with our pencils. The date was written at the top before the children went out. So the children also had to look at the sun – we didn’t have watches – to document when we found a particular track. We also had to describe what we found around the track – if the sand was wet – when last it rained. Late in the afernoon we would go home with what we found and the notes in our books – a porcupine quill, feathers of the birds, everything. The next day everyone got a chance to


show what they found and talk about it in front of the class. Everything was then documented in a book.

It is quite evident in the above transcripts that the excursions fine-tuned Euodia’s perception of the environment and that her childhood on the farm built a memory repertoire of names, words, places and stories that imbued the environment with meaning. Her inner landscape mirrored the outer landscape of Biesje Poort. Furthermore, as a young wife, Euodia continued to visit the farm at regular intervals with her husband, Louis Engels, and shared this language of the landscape with him. Ek het op Biesiepoort gebly tot en met standerd 3, toe die skool moes sluit, weens ’n lae leerlingtal. Dit was in die laat ‘40er jare. Ek was van std 4 af op Upington in die skool, waar ek in ‘52 matriek gemaak het. Ek ken hierdie wêreld! Daar sou nie ’n boom of ’n bos gewys het wat hierdie vrou nie geken het nie. Want kyk, dis al wat ek doen: ek loop, ek kyk, die stamme, die wortels, eet van die bessies. My pa het ons baie vroeg geleer wat is gif en wat is nie. Ag dit is net… nou ken ek hulle nie meer nie. Daar is baie bome wat groot geword het en wat ek miskien nie meer ken nie.35 Translation (by Carinè Müller): I stayed at Biesjepoort until standard 3, when the school had to close down due to low numbers of pupils. That was late in the 1940s. I was at school in Upington since standard 4, where I matriculated in ’52. I know this area! There wouldn’t have been a bush or a tree that thís woman wouldn’t have known. Because you see, that’s all I do: I walk, I look look at the trunks, the roots, eat some of the berries. My dad taught us from an early age what is poisonous and what isn’t. Oh it’s just…now I don’t know them any more. There are many trees that have grown so big and that I perhaps won’t know any more.

Euodia, as a mother, transferred her knowledge of the landscape to her children by expertly narrating the story of the landscape and teaching them all to see, not only passing on the vicarious memories and values of the landscape, but also knowledge of how to read it for clues to meaning, to be initiated into to symbols; the code, of reading the landscape in terms of where the engravings could be. During our quick rendezvous en route to Biesje Poort, Louis Engels (see paper plate map above) related to me how I should look out for engravings: “After a while you will know, if there is a scraping on a rock surface, an indentation where the

33 Engels nd: 95-96 34 Engels-Badenhorst 2013, 9 May 35 Engels-Badenhorst 2013, 28 Feb

Chaper 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

tools were sharpened, you knew you had to look for a flat rock sheet and engravings will be there. They are usually horizontal, but sometimes they are vertical in special circumstances.”36 Again, referring back to the map, this personal knowledge and perception of the landscape enabled him to draw a map for our benefit, but contained ciphers that we were not schooled in yet. We still had to learn this language in order to use the map properly.

Signs, multiple interpretations or readings of the landscape

36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43

Engels 2013, 2 April Saussure cited in Ingold 2000: 21 Ingold 2000: 21 Tomaselli 1996: 37 Peirce cited in Short 2007: 164 Peirce cited in Short 2007: 29 Dockney 2011: 45 Bignell 2002: 16 in Dockney 2011: 45 44 Tomaselli 1996: 38 45 Bignell 2002: 16 in Dockney 2011: 45

The early engravers, herders, hunters, inhabitants, travellers, and the Beukes family left signs of their relationship with the landscape – images carved on rock, artefacts (pieces of pottery and stone tools of various ages), ruins of buildings, roads, fences, patroondoppies (cartridge cases) from hunting of dassies. Patches of pioneer vegetation are evidence of previous cultivation or intense grazing. An old mine, the well (puts) and machine parts at the head of the poort indicate some mining activity prior to farming? These layers of signs, tangible or intangible, are there to be discovered, read and interpreted by subsequent generations. The first archaeologists to have the engravings pointed out to them referred to the rock art, artefacts and graves. Follow-up work, including that by Peter Beaumont and David Morris of the McGregor Museum, and more recently Mary Lange, has emphasised different aspects. This book arises from a subsequent Biesje Poort multi-disciplinary research project. These different layers of signs allude to there already existing a number of relationships between various groups of people and the environment, thus constituting a multivocal and polysemic landscape. As discussed previously, information should be seen in relation to its location in the landscape for it to be interpreted in a more holistic fashion. And so it is with the rock engravings themselves – broadly speaking the rock engravings are a representation of spatial relationships between the original artists’ ideas or information and the actual object being represented. Therefore, accessing the possible meanings contained within the signs (or engravings) is to understand the information in relation to the landscape that contains it (as discussed in concept of ‘knowledge’ previously). However, in order to understand this relationship more fully, we have to investigate signs, semiotics and the role of the interpreter.

Signs and semiotics

The French linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure,37 argued that a sign is the union of the signifier (in this case, the rock engravings) and the signified (the mental image of and including the real world object, that is, animal or other element). The relationship between the two is established through the “mapping of one system of differences on the plane of ideas onto another system of differences on the plane of physical substance.”38 Knowledge differs from mere information in that it involves the perceiver, or whom CS Peirce39 calls an interpreter. De Saussure’s semiology examines texts only; it does not include the interpreter, in this case the researcher and/ or the research team. According to the Phaneroscopic Table compiled by Keyan Tomaselli, from the work of CS Peirce, a sign comprises the representamen, the interpretant and the object. A representamen is the signifier and “stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity.”40 An interpretant is the mental image or “mental equivalent of the representation”41 produced by the representamen. The object is the physical matter referred to by the representamen. Objects qualify the existence of representamens.42 In Peirce’s semiotics, unlike in De Saussure’s, the text cannot exist in and of itself – as with landscapes there is always an interpreter doing cognitive work, from within his or her own conceptual framework. Tomaselli extended Peirce’s approach to include the nature of the encounter, intelligibility and how we make sense of the sign. The Phaneroscopic Table also explains the process of observation and interpretation of signs as moving down orders of significance. The initial (Firstness) level of signification comprises the immediate encounter with no semiosis (the landscape exists in-and-of-itself). At the level of Secondness, the sign enters the cultural framework of the interpreter, where the sign is interpreted through denotation (Secondness). Denotation refers to what the sign literally represents. However, unique cultural frameworks give the sign further meaning through connotations that arise from interpreters’ social experience.43 Through the process of connotation, a variety of divergent readings emerge amongst individuals.44 Subsequently, at the level of Thirdness, the sign becomes part of the mythic and interpretive frameworks of the individual and society. Myths according to Jonathan Bignell are “ways of thinking about people, products, places or ideas which are structured to send particular messages to the reader


Chapter 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

or viewer of the text.”45 Thus, often, the associated meanings of signs exist through cultural convention rather the true meaning of what the sign literally represented, as conceptualised by the creator. At the beginning of this chapter, I posed the question as to how one could avoid meanings that are mapped onto the landscape (Firstness, existing in and of itself) which originate from the minds of the researchers (Secondness)? In other words, how does one avoid preconceptions or biased interpretation of meanings contained in the landscape? These could include interpretations and meanings originating from prior knowledge, whether academic research, or exposure to a similar site. The source of this interpretative strategy is an initial separation between human persons, as meaning-makers, and the physical environment. When the two are brought into juxtaposition, a ‘culturalisation of space’ occurs, such that “social relations are mapped onto spatial relations.”46 This is where Thirdness comes into play as it connects relationships between encounter and experience. Hereafter, this semiotic framework will be the implicit basis for analysis. As discussed previously, a central characteristic of the term ‘landscape’ is that it is first a schema, a representation, a way of seeing the external world, and, based on one’s point of view, such schemata vary significantly. Landscapes are thus the inevitable result of cultural interpretation and the accumulation of representational sediments over time; they are thereby made distinct from nature as they are constructed, or layered. Simon Schama studied this concept in depth: “we consequently perceive, understand, and create the landscape around us through social and cultural filters and specific time, place, material and historical conditions.”47 The concept of landscape denotes a mental construct and the role of the image, or perception, in change.48 Thus, the image of a landscape, that which is determined by the cultural or social background of the viewer, determines the way it is perceived, observed or treated. However, the landscape exists not only in the mind, but also in the physical matter, or the environment. As stated previously, landscape is the relationship between people and the environment (Secondness), and it is within this relationship that meanings are embedded (Thirdness). The previous examples of the poignancy of sensory education or sentient ecology in relation to reading landscapes illustrates that it could be possible to educate or fine-tune those cultural filters for reading a


specific landscape in a more holistic way. Through the processes of walking the land, sensory education (sentient ecology) and vicarious memory, the relationships between the representamen, interpretant and object could be strengthened so that the meanings contained in the engravings could be better understood. Furthermore, through this process, the Peirceian semiotic levels of significance could be negotiated to result in construction of a myth that is closer to the original or true intent of engravers. For the purpose of this publication, the engravings became a research subject with six very diverse groups of people from different disciplines and backgrounds49 trying to make sense of them, or at least to document them and build capacity in the process. Observing the process was an ideal way to observe how previous knowledge and experience would act as an ideological filter for reading the landscape. Two case studies within the research project clearly illustrate this concept and how different and sometimes very similar interpretations could occur during research or the reading of a landscape.

Figure 2.11 BP 10 / Colonial Site / T’jammiekloof (Müller Jansen 2011)

BP 10 // Colonial Site // Army Kloof // T’jammiekloof

In 2011, the research team happened upon a flat clearing to the west of the valley containing numerous engravings. This site is in close proximity to the cairn of stones referred to as the ‘bushman grave’. It is bounded by a rocky hill to the north and west and is characterised by a deep red sandy soil with little or no vegetative cover. A number of pre-colonial and colonial artefacts were found on the site.50 A number of colourful group discussions on possible interpretations of the site, led me to decode the site as a ‘colonial contact site’ due to many of the artefacts dating from the British Colonial period (1795–1899) and possibly the Anglo Boer War (1899–1902). I subsequently mapped the site as ‘Colonial Site BP10’ on the GPS.51 The military associations I attributed to the site were reinforced with the discovery of a number of ‘patroondoppies’ (rifle cartridge cases) found across the site. This narrative explained the history of the landscape and I was thus ‘taught to see’ this site and its related artefacts as a colonial site with possible military history. Meanings were thus mapped onto the landscape. During my initial interview with Euodia (Engels) Badenhorst, she referred to a place that sounded something like ‘ammiekloof’:

46 47 48 49

Ingold 2000: 55 Schama 1995: 12 Ermischer 2004: 380 The McGregor Museum (Archaeology), ARROW SA (Culture), UKZN team (Media and Communication), UP (Architecture) & UCT team (Landscape Architecture) and the ‡Khomani San Bushman team 50 See chapter 3 by David Morris 51 Global Positioning System, a hand held device using satellites to locate one’s geographical location on earth. This information is often transferred to a GIS (see below).

Chaper 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

By die T’jammiekloof is groen klippe wat uit die kopermyn aldaar gekom het. Dit was ook die put wat my pa gegrawe het waar die Runderpes beeste in 1899 toegegooi is, want dit was al manier om die siekte te bekamp.52 Translation (by Carinè Müller): There are green rocks at the T’jammiekloof that came from the coppermines. It was also the well that my dad dug where the cattle with ‘Runderpes’ (Rinderpest) was buried in, it was the only way to curb this disease.

52 Engels-Badenhorst 2013, 28 February

Due to my previous education in the possible language of the landscape during the 2011 field trip, I immediately assumed that she meant ‘army kloof’ and mapped it as such in my mind. Louis Engels also referred to ‘ammiekloof’ when he discussed the paper plate map in 2013. Again, I immediately assumed he meant ‘army kloof’. I continued to share this information

Figure 2.12 (a, b & c) Artefacts found at site BP 10 (Jansen 2013)


Chapter 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

to the rest of the research team during the second field trip, and on the basis of the knowledge gained during 2011, many of the team again accepted this interpretation and toponymy. During our second interview in May 2013, Euodia questioned my referral to ‘army kloof’, not knowing what I was talking about. I showed her the site on a map and a few photographs; including some images of the artefacts we found relating it to its ‘colonial’ history. We discovered that she originally actually meant ‘T’jammiekloof’ referring to the ‘T’jammie’ trees (Camel thorn trees53) that grow prolifically in the kloof. In response to the artefacts, she was not convinced by the military interpretation and gave an explanation that raised other possibilities for interpreting the site54: Wag, wat jy nou nie weet nie is die arm blankes was arm, baie arm, in die vroeë 1800s. In die tyd van my oupa-hulle was die grond waarop Biesiepoort gelee is uitgegee as weidingsgrond, nee wag, was daardie gronde uitgegee as, kroongrond. Een half kroon per morg… In die tyd van my pa, het al die bywoners wie se kinders van sub A in die skooltjie was, op die plaas gebly en naweke na die erwe langs die rivier teruggekeer en dan daar gaan werk. As mens nou van ons huis se kant af Skeur toe geloop het, dan tel ons nou nog van ons bywoners se goed op. Volgens my was daar nooit troepe wat ooit op die plaas gekamp het nie. Manie Maritz in 1914 Rebellie – so het my pa ons vertel – die Duitsers en die Boere het teen mekaar geveg. Die Engelse het toe nou van die dam se kant, twee diep uitgesleepte grond damme, daar het die – wie het met die Lee Metford’s geskiet? – een van die bondels het daar


gewag en soos die mense verbygery het, het hulle hulle daar afgesny. My pa sê nou nog die duwweltjies wat ons vandag nog op die plaas kry met die geel blommetjies, het met die voer ingekom wat die Engelse vir hulle perde ingebring het. Maar voor 1896 was daar al mense op die plaas. Daardie patroondoppies en belt en knopies kan mos maar die oorgeêrfde besittings van die bywoners wees? Wat weggegooi of verloor het en net daar gelos is? Daardie is my pa en my kinders se patroondoppies! Hulle het soveel dassies geskiet. En iets wat jy ook nooit moet vergeet nie is dat jy baie blou medisynebotteltjies daar gaan optel. Dis kasteroliebotteltjies. Translation (by Carinè Müller): Wait, what you don’t know is how poor the poor whites actually were in the early 1800s. Very, very poor. In the time my grandparents were at Biesiepoort, the land was lent out as grazing land, no wait, it was gave out as kroongond (crown land – for the state). One crown per morg... In the time of my father, all the bywoners whose children were in sub A in the school, lived on the farm and returned to the plots next to the river during the weekends to work there. As you walk from our house to the Skeur, we still pick up some of their things. According to me there were never troops that ever camped on the farm. My father told us about Manie Maritz in the 1914 Rebellion – the Germans and the Boers faught against each other. The English from the dam’s side, two deep dams – who shot with the Lee Metford’s? – here one of these groups waited and as the people passed, cut them off. My dad still says that the ‘duwweltjies’ (thorns) with the yellow flowers we still get on the farm came in with the feed that the English used for their horses.

Figure 2.13 T’jammiekloof (Müller Jansen 2011)

53 54 55 56

Acacia erioloba Engels-Badenhorst 2013, 9 May Morris 2011:17 Biesje Poort Site Visit April 2013

Chaper 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

But before 1896 there were people on the farm. Those patroondoppies (cartridge cases) and belt and buttons could be the inherited posessions of the bywoners? That were thrown away, discarded or that were just left there? Those are my father’s and my children’s cartidge cases! They shot plenty of dassies there too. And something that you must never forget, is that you can find plenty of blue medicine bottles there. They’re castor oil bottles.

In an article published in the 2011 edition of the CCMS’s SubText, David Morris shared the same sentiment: “The different possible readings arising from BP 10 highlight the ambiguity that is often inherent in artefacts. The final circumstances under which an item ends up in a site may differ somewhat from its more usual connotations and the better interpretation may often be the less obvious one. While speculating, our debates made us aware of the multivocality of things and of places and the assumptions and preconceptions we bring to our acts of characterisation and narration.”55

Star engraving // BP 46

During the second field trip, we came across the first of a number of star-shaped engravings. It was particularly large and engraved on a west-facing rock face. It differs from other star-shaped engravings in that some of the radiating lines contain more perpendicular lines. When quizzed about the possible meaning of this engraving, Jan Oeliset Org immediately referred to its association with the Evening Star, referring to its cosmological location in relation to the site, as illustrated in the following transcript56: Lizet Verwoerd: Die aandster. Jan Org: Waar die son ondergaan is daar altyd ’n groot ster. Petrus Jansen: So jy wys die rigting aan. Liana Müller Jansen: So hy’t daai kant gekyk en hy’t soos die spieel hierdie kant geteken. Want die aandster is die helderste. David Morris: het die aandster ’n Nama naam? Jan Org: (Qhui Qwe)

Figure 2.14 Resting under a Camel Thorn during the 2011 field trip (Fisher 2011)

Nama translation (by Pedro Dausab): Lizet Verwoerd: !Ui|namiros Jan Org : Sores ta ‡gâbas ge huga |gui kai |namirosa hâ - ||gau Petrus Jansen: Sats gera |khaba Liana Müller Jansen: ||Na|khab ai ko- tsî ra spiels !nâs khemi |na||na. !Ui|namiros a kaise !gasa (!Nâsa) amaga David Morris: !Ui|namirosa nama |onsas u-hâ Jan Org: !Ui|namiros


Chapter 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

English translation (by Carinè Müller): Lizet Verwoerd: The evening star. Jan Org: Where the sun sets, there is always a big star. Petrus Jansen: This is how you indicate the direction. Liana Müller Jansen: So he looked that way, and drew this side as if in a mirror. Because the evening star is the brightest David Morris: Does the evening star have a Nama name? Jan Org: (Qhui Qwe)

When Euodia (Engels) Badenhorst noticed a photograph of this particular engraving, she immediately affirmed this interpretation, but added a further possible explanation, also alluded to by the Kalahari participants:57 Ek het altyd gereken dit is waterpunte in my dommigheid, ek wat die plek nou ken. Dit was ’n aanduiding van die plekke waar die gorras, water wegsteekplekke was. ’n Gorra is ’n watergat waar die water deurgesyfer het. Waar ons put se water nou na die oppervlakte toe gekom het, so gaan jy nou grawe en grawe en syfer die water vinnig daardeur. Die Boesmans het dan hulle volstruiseierdoppe daar volgemaak en toegestop en dan weer iewers begrawe. Dis die indruk wat ek nou gekry het. Ek het darem nou hierdie ding nou bedink en bekyk en gewonder. Ek dink die punte van die strepe dui aan waar moontlik die wegsteek plekke van die volstruiseierdoppe was. Translation (by Carinè Müller): I (who know this place) always thought in my ignorance that they are waterholes. It was an indication of the places where the gorras, water hiding places were. A ‘Gorra’ is a waterhole where the water seeps through. Where our well’s water now came to the surface, so you will dig and dig and the water would quickly seep through. The Bushmen filled their ostrich eggs with water there, plugged them and buried them again somewhere. That is the impression that I got now. I have thought about this thing and considered it and wondered about it. I think the points on the stripes indicate where these hiding places of the ostrich eggs were.

Euodia walked the site often and clearly understood that there must be places that retained moisture in the dry season. Many of the erstwhile farm workers were of San descent and part of Euodia’s memory repertoire/ landscape clues must have been obtained from spending time with them in the landscape, learning from their interactions with the environment and transferred cultural knowledge. Her waterpoint-map interpretation of the star was also confirmed by a passing comment by Jan Oeliset Org during a walkabout in the landscape.58


Jan Org: Kyk nou, soos die tyd wat ek weet het ons nog gesien het toe my ma en my pa nog geleef. As my pa nou miskien gaan jag, oor sy bladsak wat hy gedra het, is daar miskien ses, agt eiers in van die volstruis. Nou daai eiers is vol water. En ons het vandag net ’n loop drip gehad. Daai water kom mos nie terug op ’n sekere plek wat ons nou weet is

Figure 2.15 Oeliset Org and the Star Engraving (Jansen 2013)

Chaper 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

’n blom nie, op enige plek. Dan het jy nie nodig om so vreeslike water te dra nie, die water is vol. Nou daardie boom, jy sien, is ’n baken vir my, dan grou jy daai eiers daarin, met water en al. Dan het jy maar vir twee of drie jaar weg, dan kom jy weer terug dan is daai water so suiwer so koud. Jy sal sê hy kom dan uit ’n vries uit dan is dit dan net die sand wat hom so hou. Translation (by Carinè Müller): Look, from when I can remember when my father and mother were still alive, when my dad went hunting, he carried six to eight ostrich eggs of in his sling bag. Those eggs were filled with water. Today we only had a loop-drip [a trickle of of water]. That water doesn’t come back to a certain place that we know a flower or any place are located. Then you don’t have to carry so much water – the water is sufficient. Now that tree, you see, is a beacon for me, you dig up the eggs there, with the water in it. Then two or three years later you return and the water is pure and cold. You would say it came out of a fridge, but it is just the sand that keeps it like that.

57 Engels-Badenhorst 2013, 9 May 58 Org 2013, 4 April

This example, in contrast to the BP 10/ Colonial/ T’jammiekloof case study, clearly illustrates the efficacy of the processes of walking the landscape, bodily perception, sensory education (sentient ecology) and the process of educating one’s senses to read clues in the landscape, to strengthen the relationships between the representamen, interpretant and object and facilitate moving down the Peirceian semiotic levels of significance so that the meanings contained in the engravings might be better understood, nearer to the true intent of original engravers.

Walking/ drawing the landscape and mapping

During the research process for the book, we had the privilege to be accompanied by those who have had previous ‘schooling’ in reading the landscape. But regardless, most of the members of the team had to be taught how to see in the process of engaging with the site.

Figure 2.16 Klein David Kruiper and Jan Oeliset Org documenting the engravings (Jansen 2013)


Chapter 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

During the first field trip, a fair amount of time was spent documenting the spatial location of specific engraving sites by capturing their geo-locations via GPS. We were developing a very rudimentary GIS59 that was not bringing us any closer to understanding the story contained in the landscape and the rock engravings. Tracing the engravings onto a piece of plastic film, adding the date, aspect and name of the tracer, was another specifically archaeological method employed in the documentation process. This laborious and complex process, where various hands physically followed the blurred edges of engravings, evoked rich conversations about possible meanings and interpretations, bringing us much closer to understanding. It is however clear that we were not yet fully conversant in the language of the landscape, based on the activities during our first field trip – our methods for documenting the land were lacking. This was evi-

dent in our not being able to successfully navigate our way to Louis’s engraving site based on his rudimentary map containing landscape clues we were not yet schooled in. However, as discussed previously, the Kalahari participants had already built up an internal map and repertoire of landscape clues and keys, and even though we did not at first want to heed their advice, did in the end manage to guide us to the correct location by engaging their skills. The second field trip had a completely different focus and our methods of trying to understand the landscape and the engravings within it, changed. We engaged in several walking expeditions, spatially connecting the various engraving sites and their location within the larger landscape. The group subsequently split in two, with one group (including myself) going on further walking trips with Jan and Belinda Org, the other documenting site BP 46 by tracing and GPS log-

Figure 2.17 Lizet Verwoerd drawing the landscape (Jansen 2013)


59 Geographical Information System (GIS); a system that can be manipulated and organised to result in a multi-faceted map of information that is spatially based

Chaper 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

ging. I was accompanied by two of my Masters students in Landscape Architecture from the University of Cape Town. These students have been educated to read the landscape through not only understanding the various environmental layers (geology, hydrology, soils, vegetation, climate, etc.), but also employing drawing and mapping as part of analysis and landscape investigation. They therefore placed a strong emphasis on drawing the landscape during the fieldwork sessions. The second field trip questioned the conventional definition of mapping, as expressed by the words of one of the students, Tessa Toerien, below:

Figure 2.18 Map of Biesje Poort landscape (Verwoerd 2013)

The experience of drawing the map by walking my steps on the ground was something interesting to me. Each step around the perimeter of the site was creating a GPS line, one that could ultimately be used on the future maps of our making, or simply exist within a digital realm of data capture for future treasure hunters and protectors of the site; providing a location for the engravings that we found. There is the idea that these engravings were done with a link to the spirit (the ‘gees’) of the place – that in engraving the image on the rock, there was a vertical, cosmological, landscape of expression taking place. Communication was occurring through time and space with the making of the engravings. In some way, it felt that by pressing a button on the GPS to log the location of these artefacts in the physical landscape, by sending the data to a far-away satellite above, and thereby drawing a point, or a line on a physical or digital map of the future, I was communicating with something outside of myself. Something intangible, more than physical – though located and logged in time and place for the digital eternity60.

The act of drawing can be seen as a knowledge building activity. In an earlier discussion we referred to the concept of ‘we go in order to know’. In the same way, drawing the landscape becomes eidetic and generative activity, one where the drawing acts as a creating agent or ideational catalyst.61 Drawings thus reveal the consciousness of a place, revealing relationships that may not be obvious to a viewer at first. They are learning tools that aid in the understanding of underlying spatial relationships, patterns, proportions, and systems.62 According to James Corner, mapping contains dual characteristics – the first is an analogue representation of ground conditions and the second is the abstraction of these conditions (codification, selection or projection). This dual function of mapping presents quantitative and qualitative ‘markings’ of the site. This leads to maps being eidetic, referring to detailed and vivid recall of visual images contained within the landscape.63 The act of mapping (and drawing) is then a way of actually producing a landscape.64 By drawing and mapping, a landscape is produced that allows one to see and to begin to understand the form – or morphology – of the physical landscape being mapped. In particular, the very act of mapping (of producing a landscape representation) allows one to “consider landscape as both a material and representational creation.”65 The above images are two maps drawn on site by


Chapter 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

Figure 2.19 Map of Biesje Poort landscape (Müller Jansen 2013)

one of the students, Lizet Verwoerd, and myself. It is clear that these are not conventional maps, but are rather an expression of maps in the sense described above – they contain information about the landscape that was obtained through perceptual engagement with it and thus a representation and creation of it. The process of mapping and drawing the landscape and engravings can be regarded as an additional activity, together with walking the landscape, bodily perception, sensory education (sentient ecology) as part of the process of educating one’s senses to read clues in the landscape to gain access to meaning. Drawing and mapmaking can also be regarded as another way of telling a story, narrating one’s perception of the landscape and the engraving within it to allow others to gain access to this knowledge.


Conclusion: engravings as maps?

During the second field trip, I became conscious of how walking and drawing (mapping) the landscape gradually taught me to become perceptually aware of the various clues contained within the landscape. My methodology connected (through my encounters) the three levels of signification identified by Peirce. By engaging with the Kalahari participants and Euodia (Engels) Badenhorst, this process was further strengthened, as their ‘sensory education’ and knowledge of the landscape was gradually transferred to me. This understanding of the landscape was expressed through the generation of images, maps that mirrored my inner landscape. Ann Whiston Spirn states that landscape has all the features of language, containing the equivalent of

60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67

Toerien 2013, April Corner cited in Swaffield 2002 Sullivan cited in Treib 2008 Corner cited in Amoroso 2010: 94-112 Lilley 2000 Mitchell 2002 Whiston Spirn 1998:15 Durkheim 1976 [1915]: 433–4

Chaper 2: Reading the Biesje Poort Landscape

words and parts of speech.66 The title of this chapter, ‘Reading the Biesje Poort landscape’ refers to just this, the words of the landscape are the clues to the meaning of its story. The actual reading is not only through the eye, but through the experiential body walking over, through and on the landscape features, discovering the clues, and teaching our eyes to recognise the clues as words. Furthermore, to draw or to map the landscape became the interface between bodily perception and understanding. These activities, or methods if you will, are tools in telling the story of the landscape. This brings me to a possible interpretation of the purpose and meaning of the rock engravings. If people are to share their experiences they must talk about them, and to do that these experiences must be represented by means of concepts, which in turn may be expressed in words whose meanings are established within a community of speakers by verbal convention.67 Representations (drawings, maps) serve as a kind of bridge for sharing individual consciousness, otherwise inaccessible to other people, and allowing for mutual understanding. As a research team, we produced drawings, maps and tracings that communicated the inner landscape perception and subsequent telling of the landscape narrative, to a wider audience. Could the engravings not have had the same purpose? Could the engravings not have been a much older sharing of landscape perception, experiences, and knowledge by representation, or in other words, maps (as discussed by Lange 2011)? Furthermore, could they perhaps have been a way of learning to see (answering the

question of why there are so many seemingly unfinished drawings)? As stated in the introduction, landscapes are in their essence the relationship between people and the environment. Centuries of human engagement with Biesje Poort have imbued the landscape with a multitude of meanings. Signs, or representations of these meanings have been left for others to discover and read in conjunction, to understand the landscape as a whole. This chapter attempts to demonstrate various strategies for engagement in order to read the landscape – the psycho-motorial (physio-spacial), the affective (emotional-aesthetic [poetry, writing]) and the visio-analytical (intellectual) – each with its own validity but leading to a particular reading – though not necessarily excluding the validity of the other. We were privileged in being able to engage and share each, affirm our resonance and elide meanings into a single richer understanding than each might be in isolation. We were privileged by having access to these multiple readings in order to enrich and assist our own, as well as being able to learn other skills for other readings, once we have been exposed to these. What our engagement with this landscape has specifically demonstrated is that sharing – both through the acts of physical exertion, language (speech and written) and drawing enriches that of the ‘other’ – individual perception, observation and interpretation leads to a more holistic understanding of the subject. The story of the Biesje Poort landscape is there for all to read and it is indeed a fascinating story.



Die saadsak in sy hand was byna leeg – die goeie saad reeds kwistig in goeie aarde uitgesaai – Toe Hy, die Skepperheer, met deernis in sy hart en ’n sagtheid in sy veraf blik, teen skemeraand op Stukkenddam se duin gaan staan het – Sy oë speurend oor die droë verlatenheid wat uitgestrek vêr voor Hom lê: Die Voëlnesberg, die Rooikoppe, die Bruinrantjies, Spitskop, Uitsleepvlei, en oor die Dam se laagtes, al langs Sabiputs se persblou berge in die verte, by Bitterputs verby, tot by die silhoeët van Rautenbach se kop, wasig in die nagloed van die son. Die bykans vaal gesigloosheid tot aan die einders laat selfs sý Skeppershart kortstondig deernisvol vermurf: Hoe moet ’n erfgrond vir jare se geslagte uit dié onherbergsaamheid geskep word? Toe Hy hom omdraai, hang die sekelmaan laag in die weste. Sy skynsel naelstring vrugbaar Bolandgrond en bar Noordweste-aarde as onvervreembare geheel, verkondig luid ’n diep verbintenis met mekaar. In die skemering skud Hy die byna leë saadsak met deernis oor die kaaltes uit: duiwelsklou en klapperbos verdring mekaar om eerste raakgesien te word! Teen vaalgrys driedoringbosse in die laagtes rank duifiedoring geil en hoog wyl bitter gousblomknoppe skouers skuur met kort – en langbeenboesmangras wat koninklik hoogmoedig afkyk op ghobba, ghaab en kanniedood! Oor al dié kwistigheid skep Hy, as kroon, die hardepit kameeldoringboom bruidsmooi in songeel – klossieblom getooi. Met sy voete in die sagte roesrooi duinsand ingewoel dop Hy sy sakke een-een om sodat alles wat daarin is voor Hom op die grond kan val. Sy voorvinger krap-krap die saadjies uitmekaar uit. sodat Hy alles deeglik kan bekyk voor Hy besluit: “Dis veels te min om hiermee terug hemel toe te gaan. Ek moet vir elke een die beste plek gaan soek waar soort by soort kan staan.” Oplaas sien Hy vyf biesiepolle lê. “Dís net wat Ek vir hierdie grond moet hê.” Hy koester elkeen warm teen sy hart. Dan, met ’n sagte glimlag, plant sy Skeppershand dit deernisvol in Biesje Poort se roesrooisand!


The seed bag in his hand was almost spent The good seed already sown fecund in the good earth When He, The Lord Creator with pity in his heart and gentle in a far-off gaze by dusk by the dunes at Stukkend Dam Stood still – His eyes gazing intently at the desolation stretching far before Him: The Voëlnesberg, the Rooikoppe, the Bruinrantjies, Spitskop, Uitsleepvlei, and beyond the Dam low reaches, all along Sabiputs far mauve-blue mountains in the distance past Bitterputs beyond, Till the silhouette of Rautenbach’s head, hazy in the shimmer of the sun.


The almost bleached featurelessness stretched into distance moves even the Creator’s Heart to brief pity How to make for generations, a legacy from this inhospitable ground? So He turned about, hung sickle moon low in the west His glimmering birth-chord the fecund Boland ground and barren north-west earth as cherishable whole annunciates loud a deep bond with the other. At dusk He strews the almost emptied seed-husk scattered in compassion: devil’s claw and lantern-bush each jostling with the other to be noticed first! against the drab grey wild pomegranates in the hollows the dove-thorn twines vigorously high while bitter gazania buds scratch shoulders with short- and long legged Bushman-grass rising regally, looking imperiously down upon ghobba, gaap and kanniedood Above all this luxuriance, He, to crown, creates the hard-kernelled camel-thorn bride-bedecked and of sun-yellow beauty With feet burrowed into the soft rust-red sand he turns out his pockets, one by one so that all that are therein might fall before Him on the ground His fore-finger scratch-scratches the seedlings each from other so that He might thoroughly inspect before He decides “It’s far too little with which to return to heaven. I must find for each the best place where like might by its like remain.” At last He sees five rush hummocks lie “Its just what I for this ground must have.” He cherishes each close to His heart. Then, with a soft smile, by His Creative-hand with care plants it in Biesje Poort’s rust-red land!


KO’ LAAT ONS BIDDE EUODIA (ENGELS) BADENHORST ’n Biesiepoortse skaapboer, kniel deemoedig langs sy koperkatel neer – sy knië laag gebuig, eerbiedig op ’n springbokvel sy paar vereelte hande stewig inmekaar gevou sou sy Maker hom miskien van Bo af sit beskou… “Ai, Milde Gewer van h’t goeie, vergewe dat ek al weer vra veral as ek nou altemit[t]ers pla – maar ek het nou só gedink: Miskien het U vergeet, of dit nie raak gesien nie so, vertel ek dit maar weer vir U: Die swaar blou were van passede week is by my grond verby en ek het droëbek stane toekyk hoe lat dit in die bergkamp, wat Pieter Stoffberg nogal by my huur, loop stane uitsak. G’n druppel het by mý geval nie. Nou vra ek lat aankomde week se bloupenswyfiewolke hulle se lywe in my Duinekamp sal oopmaak lat daai hele vlak se bruinrooi waters mettie Gannaleegte afkom en Stukkenddam se boonste gatdam boordens volmaak, ja, seblieftog tot oorlopenstoe. Maar, assie swaarweer altemitters van Kakamas se kant af met ou Sasgoed-se-rantjie langens opkom moet U seblieftog dinge sélf daar loop staan en reguleer want ek issie seker offie nuwe gatdam daai rant se alle waterse glyk-glyk sal kan keer’ie! Lattie Voëlnesberg ennie Springbokkamp se waters in een stroom mettie sandsloot vannie dam se holte afkom en Uitsleepvlei behoorlik volstoot, want dan, weet ek, h,t ek water vir my uier-ooie en groenveld assit lamtyd raak. Nog net ’n laaste vragie Milde Gewer – ek weet ek is nou onverdiend en ek is rerag nie jaloers nie… maar sny tog mettie swaarste were by die Khoisan-graf verby an stop net vorie tweere nek – anners loop die oorskietwater ok weer deur ou Piet se hek!”


SO, LET US PRAY ROGER C. FISHER (TRANSLATOR) A sheep-farmer of Biesje Poort kneels in humility by his copper bedstead his knees bent low, on a springbok skin in reverence his pair of calloused hands clasped in one might his Maker, perhaps, gaze from above… “Ah, Plentiful Giver of all goodness forgive that I yet ask again especially if I am persistent in my nuisance but I’ve now thought this: Perhaps Thou hast forgotten, or not seen so, I tell Thee yet again: The laden blues of the past week have passed me yet again and I stood and gazed parched-mouth as how in the berg camp of Pieter Stoffberg, who, if you please!, is my tenant where it poured. No drop fell for me. So now I ask may next weeks blue-bellied she-clouds open their bodies to the Dune camps let the whole plain’s brown-red waters flow down the Ganna hollows and fill the top pit dams to their bottoms Yes, please, till overflowing. But when, inevitably, the storms blow in from Kakamas with old Sasgoed-se-rantjie at its rise then, please, Thou must take personal control as I’m not sure if the new dug dam will hold the water to all sides. Let the waters of the Voëlnesberg and the Springbokkamp run from the sand rivulets of the dug dam’s hollows and fill Uitsleepvlei to its brim, for then I’ll know that I’ve water for my milk-ewes and green veld for the lambing season. Just a last request, Gentle Giver – now know that it’s undeserved and, really I’m void of jealousy … but please let the heaviest downpours pass by the Khoisan-grave and not stop before the second break otherwise the surplus waters run through old Piet’s gate!”



Engaging absence of storyline, vagueness and ambiguity:

towards an archaeology of rock art at Biesje Poort




s archaeologist at the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, my work addresses a spectrum of concerns including conservation and public archaeology, such as at the Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre, with a particular research focus on rock engravings and archaeological landscapes in the Northern Cape. My first fieldwork at Biesje Poort was with Peter Beaumont in the 1980s. More recently, my masters and doctoral studies sought to understand the rock engravings and their contexts at Driekopseiland and other rock art sites in the region. I was a co-author, with John Parkington and Neil Rusch, of the book Karoo rock engravings (2008), and, along with Ben Smith and Knut Helskog, was a co-editor of the volume Working with rock art: recording, presenting and understanding rock art using indigenous knowledge (2012).

Introduction to the Biesje Poort project

1 From CCMS, The University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Pretoria, the University of Cape Town, McGregor Museum, Kimberley; and from the Kalahari: Witdraai, Northern Cape and Struizendam, Botswana 2 Lange 2011 3 Weiss 2012: 225

Biesje Poort, a landscape of hills dividing the Orange (Gariep) River Basin near Kakamas from the plains of the southern Kalahari fringe near Lutzputz, was, as this book testifies, the venue for joint fieldwork by researchers, students, and participants from the Kalahari.1 Our collaborative focus has been around a number of rock engraving clusters on expansive rock exposures embedded in the hills. The fieldwork sought to enhance an existing record by Mary Lange, who has previously written on the engravings,2 with the points of departure of our trans-disciplinary group ranging from indigenous knowledge, to archaeology, to landscape architecture. The emergent histories and understandings, recognising the pertinence of much more than just the images on rock, turned out to be discontinuous, often ambiguous and indeed at times incommensurate. These qualities make the different perspectives hard to bring within a single narrative – they are,

as our title suggests, ‘many-voiced’ – although the urge and tendency in practice is usually to make these histories, readings or versions “available through a common set of assumptions,” as Lindsay Weiss has put it.3 By engaging them on their own terms, Weiss shows, rock art sites actually provide an important resource and opportunity for challenging some of the traditional narrative forms in heritage discourse. That discourse broadly defines many of the current concerns around Biesje Poort and it is these in part that I wish to tease out. The archaeology of rock art at Biesje Poort seeks to understand the engravings and their contexts, but it is as well to acknowledge and engage the gaps in understanding – the absences of storyline, the degrees of ambiguity and vagueness, and the uncertainties as to linkages between key perspectives arising through different voices or narratives or ways of construing evidence. It is important to be sensitive to the contemporary imperatives that spur some of the alternative narratives.

Heritage and the challenge of unresolved questions

Just as the heritage sector quests to define its resources, and a spectrum of stakeholders (ranging from tourists and tour operators to communities) seek to use or draw upon them for a range of purposes (recreational, commercial, academic, political), so the sites themselves (the places, the engravings, the artefacts occurring there, and the diverse interpretations that are possible) throw up challenges, defying the kinds of synthesis and closure that many stakeholder constituencies tend to assert. At the April 2013 launch of the Palaeosciences Centre of Excellence at the University of the Witwatersrand, Francis Thackeray made an important point that is relevant here. Citing the fossil specimens found at Malapa, known to science as Australopithecis sediba,


Chaper 3: Engaging absence of storyline, vagueness and ambiguity

he referred to a Johannesburg student having won the competition to name the key individual amongst the fossils (the holotype), her winning suggestion being ‘Karabo’ – which means, in Setswana, ‘the answer’.4 The answer – a reassuring certainty – is what many constituencies seek in our heritage sites and objects as they are mustered or constructed as histories for sundry present-day uses (tourism, community identity quests, and so on). The point that Thackeray went on to make with regard to Karabo is that the fossils, far from presenting any definitive ‘answer,’ in fact pose myriad questions. And so, too, the case with the rock art and its contexts at Biesje Poort. One question that has ramifications across the full spectrum of concerns about the rock art here is that which asks: “who were the engravers?” As will be clear, it would have much to say to contemporary issues around identity. Research perspectives on this (just one of the many questions that are of interest) are as yet far from being resolved. Some of the earlier pronouncements based on associated archaeological artefacts, taken to denote a herder rather than a hunter-gatherer context, had suggested a probability of the engravers having been Khoekhoe pastoralists rather than San or Bushmen.5 But this conclusion, based to some degree on stereotype, would need to be qualified in light of subsequent work which looks more closely at the variability both in rock art more generally,6 and, specifically at Biesje Poort, in the artefact assemblages and evidence for subsistence. Isabelle Parson’s7 study based on Biesje Poort Later Stone Age assemblages arrives at a more provisional and nuanced conclusion as to some of the linkages involved. Beyond the level of academic debate, the heritage context at Biesje Poort is redolent of the tensions that arise in situations where answers are brought to bear, often, as Milan Kudera8 observes, before the questions have even been asked. And the anticipated questions may not be the most pertinent. Many of the current heritage issues at Biesje Poort, for instance, prioritise the ‘who?’ question – presuming a narrow choice of options, or even that the matter is already settled – whereas the answer/s may turn out to be rather complex, the associated histories somewhat dynamic. One of the defining contexts in the present is that Biesje Poort lies within the axis referred to as a |Xam‡Khomani Heartland which has been on South Africa’s World Heritage Tentative List since 2004.9 Moreover, a National Khoe and San Heritage Route currently under


consideration by the Department of Arts and Culture in discussion with the National Khoisan Council10 includes Southern Kalahari and Karoo nodes in which Biesje Poort potentially could feature as a key site. Indeed it has already been used as a heritage tourism site, with one of the Kalahari participants from Witdraai having taken part in a promotional film featuring the engravings. Against this background, recognising the potential for tourism here, one of the aims of the fieldwork of 2011-2013 was to commence a process of alerting heritage authorities to the significance of Biesje Poort and to establish some of the parameters for a Conservation Management Plan.11 An important aspect of this work was a preliminary feasibility assessment for developing the area for public access. In light of recent evaluations of tourism to rock art sites in South Africa, in which important questions about the challenges and sustainability of public rock art projects were raised,12 we wondered how self-representation by community-based tour guides, and community beneficiation could possibly be realised. Experience elsewhere in South Africa indicates that any commercial expectations would need to be carefully managed, since rock art, it turns out, appeals to but a niche tourism market.13 Indeed, it needs to be asked, should tourism be the primary future ‘use’ for the rock art at Biesje Poort?

Kalahari participants

A key aspect of this project has been the involvement of participants from the Kalahari, some of them artists and crafters, and all having an association with the ‡Khomani Bushman community. They have been co-workers in the processes of recording the engravings and in offering interpretations. Some of the students from CCMS made this participatory aspect of the project the focal point of their particular involvement.14 Training of our colleagues from the Kalahari in rock art and heritage resource recording and GPS plotting was one of the project’s objectives (Figure 3.1). The follow-up work in 2011, not at Biesje Poort, but at Witdraai,15 was aimed at documenting local places and stories using the skills acquired through participation in the rock art project further south. Their involvement in the Biesje Poort project had developed out of their work with the CCMS over a number of years through which they had developed an express interest in heritage. There was a prior link with Biesje Poort, as indicated, through involvement in tourism promotion here, and an affinity with the place and the engra-

4 New Hominid Skeleton Named Karabo, 2010. 5 Comments on the site are included in Rudner & Rudner 1968; Fock & Fock 1989 (including an essay in English by Butzer); and Beaumont, Smith & Vogel 1995. 6 e.g. Morris 2012a 7 Parsons 2007 8 Kundera (2003:18), writing of the spirit of complexity, refers to “the din of easy, quick answers that come faster than the question and block it off.” 9 UNESCO 2010. 10 Odendaal 2013. 11 This turns out to be critical from a conservation point of view given the finding that the engravings are in some cases, physically, extremely fragile, on crumbling rock surfaces (see Barnabas chapter 7). 12 Duval & Smith 2012; Morris 2012b; Barnabas chapter 7. 13 Morris, Ndebele, & Wilson 2009. Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre, e.g., is heavily subsidised through the McGregor Museum. 14 See Magongo, Chapter 6 15 At the request of the Kalahari participants. 16 An important criticism of landscape readings that are based on intuitive or empathetic experience, on ‘immersion’, to discern the landscape experience of past actors, is provided in Smith & Blundell’s (2004) paper, Dangerous ground.

Chaper 3: Engaging absence of storyline, vagueness and ambiguity

Figure 3.1 Klein Dawid (//ankie) Kruiper logging the location of an engraving using GPS (David Morris 2011)

17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Yet, the somewhat Cartesian application of ethnographicallyderived worldviews as the alternative to phenomenological approaches may be subjected itself to critique – Morris 2012a: 165-7; see also the discussion on representation at the conclusion of this chapter. My Hunter’s Heart 2011 Mxotwa 2013 Kwon Hoo 2013 Humphreys 1998 See discussion in Morris 2008, Morris 2012b. Stow 1905:397; Morris 2008. e.g. Van Jaarsveld 1969. ‘Karretjie People’, or ‘Donkey Cart People’, are itinerant sheep-shearers of the Great Karoo who travel the Karoo in search of shearing, fencing or other work opportunities De Jongh 2012.

vings came to be expressed by the Kalahari participants in the course of our work. There was even the anticipation, by some of the project team, that some form of ‘insider’ perspective vis-à-vis the art might be gained as the Kalahari participants engaged with the engravings and the landscape.16 Certain fundamental assumptions are at play when one speaks in terms of such affinities and insider understandings – and these need to be unpacked. Beyond this particular project and the Kalahari participants’ involvement, ‡Khomani elders have sought to reconnect with a precolonial past which they believe these kinds of sites represent – links that were severed by the colonial experience, especially land loss. This is made explicit in the documentary My Hunter’s Heart.17 In this centenary year of the 1913 Natives’ Land Act, this matter is of no small importance. Indeed, it acquires somewhat greater current significance following President Zuma’s promise in February 2013 to reopen the lodgment of land claims to those who had not lodged claims by 31 December 1998; and specifically to create exceptions to the 19 June 1913 cut-off date to accommodate claims by the descendants of the Khoe and San, “including claims on heri-

tage sites, and historic landmarks”18 A lively consultative meeting between Government and Khoe and San representatives took place in Kimberley in April 2013, at which, in all probability, the full implications of these promises barely began to be realised.19 The recent television screening of the Foster brothers’ documentary called My Hunter’s Heart highlighted the ‡Khomani land claim and their journey, as the blurb puts it, to “recapture knowledge and save heritage.” It depicted the elders visiting rock art sites somewhat distant from their reclaimed Kalahari farms: sites such as Driekopseiland and, in the Karoo, Varskans and Springbokoog. It is by no means clear in historical terms whether the ‡Khomani would have had any direct connections even with the rock art of Biesje Poort, let alone links with engravings further away in the Karoo. Yet the connections are being asserted, and ever more concertedly. The politics and legal ramifications around indigeneity and intellectual property rights encourages thinking in terms of an evolving matrix of classificatory attributes including language and cultural traits,20 to define who is or is not Khoe or San or a representative of some more specific level of identity within the KhoeSan constellation.21 Increasingly, it would appear, an affinity or link with rock art counts in the identity stakes. Back in the late nineteenth century George Stow referred to rock engravings near Kimberley as being the ‘title deeds’ of former Bushman occupation.22 Relevant to this notion is a persistent myth, also originating from Stow, and propagated latterly through twentiethcentury school history texts,23 that the Bushmen retreated into the desert from the south as the reach of the colony swept inland. This might provide the rationale for ‡Khomani elders to cast a proprietary eye over sites such as those in the Karoo. But the more likely scenario (although movement of people cannot be discounted completely) is that at least many of those /Xam people of the Karoo who survived smallpox and genocide were incorporated into colonial society locally as an underclass. Descendants today of the makers of Karoo rock art, it follows, would not be people allegedly once forced into the desert, but, predominantly, the Afrikaans-speaking so-called coloured people of the Karoo, many of them still on farms – or living as peripatetic seasonal workers and often jobless karretjie people.24 The connections must exist and one cannot dismiss out of hand the possibility that even quite specific


Chaper 3: Engaging absence of storyline, vagueness and ambiguity

linkages may be echoed in the present-day proximity of some people to rock art in their particular landscapes. But what emerges more widely is an elaboration of invented tradition and the ‘strategic essentialism’ that Steve Robins noted in the Kalahari context.25 Possession of KhoeSan speech, or genealogical proximity to those who have or had it, no doubt would strengthen any asserted claim in another domain of heritage, for example, rock art. What may result in the case of rock art would be alternative ‘indigenous’ narratives26 that are often a great deal more explicit than the considered and constrained suggestions that would be entertained by anyone looking more carefully at the surviving evidence.

Reading traces of the past in a landscape

I have referred to the somewhat bold earlier pronouncements on the archaeological associations of artefact assemblages and engravings at Biesje Poort, and the subsequent qualification of these views with more nuanced and provisional assessments. The view that the Later Stone Age occupants of the places were most likely not San/ Bushman but Khoekhoe now gives way to acknowledgement of greater complexity (just as complexity must be acknowledged in contemporary settings where some ‡Khomani, who may have been erstwhile U/i-speakers, have since been speakers of Nama generally, and now predominantly of Afrikaans – and with some individuals tracing mixed ancestry which includes Damara forebears). The kind of pottery usually linked, perhaps stereotypically, with Khoekhoe pastoralists is found on the sites, but as yet there is little evidence of domesticates – although proxy evidence for sheep in the form of vitrified dung is found at a related site in the nearby Riemvasmaak.27 For now it is considered that the occupants of some of the Biesje Poort sites were perhaps hunters with sheep, with lifeways perhaps divergent from those of the /Xam in the Karoo or hunter gatherers of the Kalahari – but to what degree they diverged remains, as Parsons suggests, a matter for on-going enquiry.28 Quite how these artefact scatters then relate to the nearby rock art is also far from certain – any link remains, on present evidence, hypothetical – not least because there is still no reliable means to date the engravings and establish their contemporaneity with the artefacts. The current project has gone further than any previous work at Biesje Poort in recording the rock art photographically and by way of tracings, and loca-


ting the engravings spatially and relative to landscape features, taking down a number of commentaries including inputs by the Kalahari participants. Previous observations are touched on by Mary Lange in her opening chapter. Gerhard and Dora Fock, associated with the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, were possibly the first archaeologists to visit the Biesje Poort engravings when they recorded one of the exposures (that is now defined as BP 47) on 18 December 1967.29 Jalmar and Ione Rudner may have preceded them there: they include a brief description of Biesje Poort in an account of Rock-art of the Thirstland Areas, published in 1968.30 From their characterisation it appears that they, too, had visited BP 47. The Rudners further report on a substantial spread of ceramic Later Stone Age artefacts on the sandy plain against the hills below BP 47, and they cite ‘local Hottentots’ as declaring that in graves in the Poort lay the remains of two Hottentot (Korana?) ‘kapteins’ who had been buried “not less than seventy years” previously. The next account of rock art here followed in November 1973 when geologists of the O’okiep Copper Company, Danie Venter and Peter Walker, stumbled upon clusters of engravings at what is now logged as BP 17. They had ventured into the hills to investigate a fire set by workers to frighten off a leopard. A detailed account of the find was prepared by Alwyn Cornelissen for the Die Gemsbok newspaper.31 A further illustrated article on this find was that by Van Der Grijp in a May 1974 issue of South African Digest.32 The Focks published their data on Biesje Poort West in 1989 (see Lange chapter 1). Peter Beaumont and I visited the site in the mid-1980s and followed up our initial visit with an investigation of the nearby ceramic Later Stone Age/ Doornfontein site in the 1990s,33 leading to the further analysis by Isabelle Parsons a decade later.34 During our fieldwork in 2011 we gained a profound sense of how the rock art of Biesje Poort is enfolded in a landscape replete with other traces of a long and dynamic intertwining of cultural and natural histories.35 One site was a palimpsest with artefacts of varying age providing much food for discussion about the meanings and ambiguities of the variety of material culture remains that may occur in any given locale. What were the implications of these at this particular spot? The place is a flat sandy area abutting the Biesje Poort hills, near to T’jammiekloof.36 The artefacts strewn across its surface are a disassembly of at least two or more histories, a succession of erasures, of over-print-

25 Robins 2001 citing Spivak 26 e.g. !Xun and Khwe Elders 2009 (told in !Xun and in Khwedam with English subtitles) 27 Parsons 2007 28 Parsons 2007 29 Biesje Poort West file, McGregor Museum, Kimberley 30 Rudner & Rudner 1968 31 Cornelissen 1973 32 Van Der Grijp 1974 33 Beaumont et al. 1995 34 Parsons 2007 35 Morris 2011 36 See Müller Jansen chapter 2

Chaper 3: Engaging absence of storyline, vagueness and ambiguity

ing; on the face of it, chaotic. There are also a few flaked stone tools, several brass cartridge cases (darkly patinated), an upper grindstone, a single postage-stampsized clay potsherd, a glass marble (of the type from a circa 100-year-old mineral water bottle), a variety of metal items, brown with age, including short bits of wire, steel loops (resembling either part of a broken padlock or cut chain links), nails (both flat and round – any wooden objects they once fastened long since having disintegrated), and a belt buckle with snakemotif clasp. Nearby are rock engravings of elephant, giraffe, antelope and strange complex designs. In an intermediate space, stone artefacts include flakes and a lower grindstone. It too is a palimpsest: alongside Later Stone Age traces, perhaps of the order of 500 years old, was a classic Middle Stone Age triangular stone point, possibly 125000 years old. In warmer, wetter conditions at that time, during the generally cold Pleistocene, there was a marked increase in the abundance of Middle Stone Age activity in the region. Lively discussion ensued as members of our group, from their different perspectives, sought to make

Figure 3.2 Making sense of a place – reading the traces at BP 10 (David Morris 2011)

sense of these traces and to construct storylines to ‘read’ what we were encountering (Figure 3.2). Broadly, it was possible to distinguish objects of colonial and precolonial age, not discounting some potential overlap. But just as it was impossible to be certain which of the precolonial artefacts were precisely contemporaneous on this flat erosion surface, and whether any could be linked with nearby engravings, so too it was hard to say whether or not all the more recent artefacts could be read in terms of a single set of circumstances or event. The ‡Khomani who were, politically and by virtue of a certain nostalgia, predisposed to explain their removal from the kinds of precolonial landscapes into which we had been dipping, were convinced that, if not a massacre, then some kind of battle had taken place here. The ‘Bushman grave’, the cartridge cases, the military buckle clasp, the tunic button found upslope, the abandoned stone tools and grindstone, and the other items variously


Chaper 3: Engaging absence of storyline, vagueness and ambiguity

woven as components of a single dramatic episode at the edge of these hills, could make for a remarkably coherent and poignant story.37 But, one suspects, the real story or stories would be less spectacular and altogether more complex. The evidence is riddled with gaps. There are only fragments of storyline to go on – and these are individually debatable. What if the button, or the buckle, once parts of a military uniform, arrived on-site on the shoulders or around the waist of a farmhand? Old bits of uniform or other clothing, beyond their prime, are known to be handed down to clothe labourers and may end their days (dropping into a future archaeological context) in quite unanticipated circumstances. Evidence for shooting may refer to such quotidian farm activities as predator control – or, as literature from Biesje Poort farm attests, shooting dassies.38 Bits of wire and some of the other items may point to the site having been a temporary work area for the erection of farm fencing. Micro-histories emerge from the interrogation of these and other left-over objects on-site, momentarily illuminated.39 Indirectly they may point to macro processes and larger historical events, ultimately including those of conquest and the workings of sub-continental and world industrial and economic regimes (we spoke of manufacturing and commerce in relation to the two kinds of steel nails that were noticed, while the possibility that we had part of a broken padlock stimulated discussion on the history and local advent of concepts of private property relative to communal ownership). Contexts beyond the immediately local place were similarly noted with respect to the raw materials on which precolonial stone tools were made. Some we had seen were exotic to Biesje Poort, produced on stones procured along the banks of the Gariep, a full day’s walk away (or traded in via intermediate groups). Social, material and historical entanglements,40 over long, if variable sweeps of time and space, were much in evidence. The different possible readings arising from this one site at Biesje Poort highlight the ambiguity that is often inherent in artefacts – and places. The final circumstances under which an item ends up in an archaeological setting may differ somewhat from its more usual connotations and the better interpretation may often be the less obvious one. While speculating, our debates made us aware of the multivocality of things and of places, and the assumptions and preconceptions, and even relations of power that we bring to our acts of characterisation and narration.


From sites to zones of entanglement

Mapping site distributions and stratigraphic sequences is a basic modus operandi in archaeology for plotting change through horizontal (spatial) and vertical (temporal) dimensions. As a heuristic device, the Cartesian geometries involved can distort our view. The idea of a ‘site’, for instance, all too easily implies that the archaeological record is confined to small, ‘spot’ occurrences separated by empty tracts – as they usually appear in maps.41 Because of past human behavior patterns that often do cluster spatially, or because of unequal preservation of the record, the traces may often indeed be localised in ‘sites’. But the division of abundant spreads of, say, engravings into ‘sites’, very much the case as Biesje Poort, becomes an entirely arbitrary enterprise in which misrepresentation can arise. Rather, the engravings and ‘sites’ here are nested or enfolded in dynamic landscapes, and are better conceived as being, as Tim Ingold suggests, part of the working out of the involved activity of their makers.42 By contrast, cadastral logic in the modern setting (reaching an epitome in the context of heritage management practices) favours the neatly circumscribed site, static, fenced-off, legally segregated and defined in terms of ‘use’ and as ‘protected’ management unit. Such parceling out of small portions of landscape and segments of history, often along with their respective stakeholder communities, unwittingly reifies ethnicities while fragmenting the continuous patterns of past activity into the discontinuous pods of activity that constitute the heritage landscape.43 Each such ‘site’ becomes what Ingold refers to as a kind of reconfigured place “within which all life, growth and activity are contained.”44 Denis Byrne’s critique of the continued hegemony of the ‘site’ concept envisages a total cultural landscape that radiates outwards to and beyond the horizon, with ‘off-site’ scatters of artefacts or rock art spreading in variable densities over kilometres rather than metres.45 “Life will not be contained,” contends Ingold, “but rather threads its way through the world along the myriad lines of its relations.”46 He opposes the idea of ‘network’ with a concept developed from Lefebvre, namely ‘meshwork’. A ‘network’ presupposes the prior separation of elements, whereas, argues Ingold, “things ‘are’ their relations”.47 they live along multiple pathways in the course of their involvement in the world, as entanglements one with another. Lefebvre’s conception is defined as “the reticular patterns left by animals, both wild and domestic, and by people (in and around

37 Some sense of the evolving account, and the confusion over the nearby ‘Army Kloof’/ ’Tjammiekloof’, is conveyed by Müller Jansen chapter 2 38 As related in chapter 2 39 Foucault (2000:161) refers to chance illuminations when writing of “lives destined to pass beneath any discourse” but caught for a moment, as by a beam of light, and thereby “able to leave traces – brief, incisive, often enigmatic...” 40 Ingold 2011; Hodder 2012 41 Chippendale & Nash 2004 42 Ingold 2000 43 Byrne 2003 44 Ingold 2007a: 96 – his emphasis. 45 Byrne 2003:188 46 Ingold 2011:83 47 Ingold 2011:70

Chaper 3: Engaging absence of storyline, vagueness and ambiguity

48 49 50 51 52

53 54 55 56 57 58

Lefebvre cited by Ingold 2007a: 80 Ingold 2007a: 81 Ingold 2011: 70-71 Ingold 2011: 168 Ingold 2005; Preface in 2011 edition of Ingold 2000. The author moves beyond an earlier focus on “dwelling perspective” with its connotations of “snug, well-wrapped localism”, lacking in political dimension. Wolf 1999 Humphreys 2009 Ingold 2011:96, 126 Ingold 2007b:533 Bailey 2007 Bailey 2007: 203-208

the houses of ... a small town, as in the town’s immediate environs),”48 where these various movements “weave an environment that is more ‘archi-textural’ than architectural.” It is in the entanglement of lines of life, not in the connecting up of points, that the mesh is constituted.49 In this view, ‘environment’ falls away as a separate entity beyond or surrounding the lives of individual organisms (including persons) and instead becomes a ‘domain of entanglement’,50 with particular ‘places’ or ‘sites’ being formations that arise within the process of movement.51 They come into being in relation to the perpetual comings and goings of people, as a nexus of the activities in which people engage: they become, as Ingold puts it, “a particular enfoldment of the lives of persons.” Conversely, he adds, places and journeys between them are implicated in the lives of individuals as “every person would come into being as an enfoldment of the experience” that places and journeys afford. Furthermore, there is a political impulse in place-making, Ingold argues,52 with people’s activities revolving, to different degrees, on dwelling in relative peace and prosperity, securing protection or power against theft,

Figure 3.3 Palimpsest on a rock art panel: older and younger engravings and disintegrating surface (David Morris 2013)

sorcery, aggression, fire, storm, disease and dangerous wild animals. Involved would be the workings of cosmologies and structural power,53 and expressions of, for instance, territorial behavior54 – domains in which rock art probably would have had a role.


Ingold adds the insight that we inhabit weather worlds,55 which in the arid areas of the Northern Cape includes eroding landforms that feed fields of dunes and sediments gravitating towards the Gariep. Because of weather, says Ingold, the land is continually growing over – which is why archaeologists have to dig to find the traces of the past.56 When traces mount up – or are swept away by erosion – what results is palimpsests that, as inherent features of the world we inhabit, constitute some of the gaps and fragments we contend with – in our daily lives and, particularly, as scholars who would delve into the past. Geoff Bailey rejects the view that regards palimpsests negatively as the transformation of traces for which some correction is needed in order to read the past. They are “not some degraded or distorted version of a message that needs to be restored to its original state before it can be interpreted. To a large extent,” he insists, “they ‘are’ the message.”57 Panels containing rock art are also palimpsests, featuring older and younger images, sometimes overlapping – and sometimes in processes of destruction from erosion or trampling by animals or people (Figure 3.3). Different forms of palimpsest occur: true palimpsests in which successive layers of activity obliterate preceding ones, completely or nearly so; cumulative palimpsests (common in open sites of the Northern Cape) in which successive layers build up or are winnowed down, such that deposition episodes mingle and become ‘mixed’; spatial palimpsests in which the traces of spatially discrete events are difficult to correlate chronologically, or where spatially clustered materials disaggregate through time; temporal palimpsests in which objects of differing age are deposited in a single event, as in a burial, or a shipwreck; and finally, palimpsests of meaning revealed in the life histories or cultural biographies of objects or places which, as they endure, may be put to continuous or changing uses or acquire different meanings. These can be reflected by different interpretations and representations, through shifting contexts or associations in time which blend, potentially, across many generations of human life.58


Chaper 3: Engaging absence of storyline, vagueness and ambiguity

It is hard to think of any situation or place either in the archaeological past or in the contemporary world which is not, one way or another, a palimpsest. Any given object, moreover, might be characterised in terms of ‘moments in time’ – a stone artefact, for example, relative to the moment of raw material acquisition, of manufacture, use and eventual discard. Yet further moments include those of recovery by an archaeologist, curation or display in a museum, use in a publication, and the place it may come to occupy in scholarly discourse.59 Such moments extend, in the present, to the politics of identity and entitlement.


Part of an archaeological representation of Biesje Poort could take the form of a map, the rock engravings – along with distributions of artefact scatters and shelters and grinding grooves, relative to other features such as expanses of rock panels, watercourses and seeps, gorras,60 graves, and so on – dotted across it, and a chart hazarding a hypothesis as to age for different engravings based on technique or degree of weathering or archaeological association (in the absence, as yet, of reliable dating methods). To this, archaeologists would seek to add insights on the meaning of the traces, often grounded in ethnographic analogy, with much progress having been made in the elaboration of interpretive frameworks in South Africa since the 1970s. This chapter has sought to indicate some of the gaps, uncertainties and ambiguities in the material record and in terms of absences of storyline – as much as the eruption of often incommensurate accounts arising from encounters with the site, or parts of it, from different perspectives in the present. It has sought to illustrate something of the likely complexity of this zone of entanglement, as Ingold would put it, and of the palimpsests that, as Bailey says, are the message. Many voices come to us out of the Biesje Poort hills, which we weave, adding our own twists. The uppermost layer in the Biesje Poort palimpsest consists of our own arguments and interpretations. At the level of representation and interpretation, Rane Willerslev has contributed an important critique of the concept of ‘worldview’, which he suggests is an unhelpful, even fundamentally misleading, way of characterising the nature of cultural knowledge.61 It implies the existence of a universal, underlying substrate or code, a stable corpus of conceptual knowledge upon which people draw, whereas his observations,


Figure 3.4 Interpreting rock art: Koot Msawula tracing an engraving and Izak Kruiper providing commentary on another, while Liana Müller Jansen, Lydia (Lys) Kruiper and Klein Dawid Kruiper respond (David Morris 2011)

consistent with Ingold’s account, suggests that people generated representations of their beliefs, for instance, in the course of their everyday practical lives in local performative contexts. Our ‘world versions’, as Nelson Goodman puts it, “are made rather than found.”62 Anthropologists, Willerslev asserts, and not the people studied, have constructed the ideal cosmologies, cognitive templates and worldviews as a kind of cultural grammar somehow implanted in people’s heads.63 Vince Miller has referred to qualities of vagueness and of ambiguity which tend to get written out of our accounts in acts of representation.64 He adds that it is in the movement from vagueness to precision where power relations are enacted, and the open-endedness of social life gets to be constrained or closed down. The fragmented, fragile traces at Biesje Poort frustrate construction of any definitive synthesis. But the inherent multivocality becomes, as Lindsay Weiss suggests for situations such as this, an opportunity for the alternative narratives to be brought into the open. Pre-eminent among these are the interpretations of the engravings given by the Kalahari participants

59 60 61 62 63

See Roger Fisher chapter 4 See Müller Jansen chapter 2 Willerslev 2007:156. Goodman cited by Elgin 2000: 9 See Tomášková 2013 for a critique of the universalising shamanic explanation for rock art in South Africa and elsewhere. She argues for an engagement with evidence of diversity, and for recognising indeterminacy in the categories we use, which are themselves subject to complex histories. 64 Miller 2006: 464

Chaper 3: Engaging absence of storyline, vagueness and ambiguity

(Figure 3.4). These, it is to be noted are often at odds with the ‘informed’ kind of a take that rock art scholars might tend to advance.65 The Kalahari experience is of a twenty-first century context (which potentially will have its own new trajectories, hinted at above). However ‘authentic’ or linguistically immersed, it is, after all, separated geographically and historically from the practice of rock art.66 In the 1980s Ed Wilmsen interviewed a group of Zu/’hoasi men to record their understandings around copies of rock paintings, and similarly elicited from each quite idiosyncratic perspectives on the art.67 A century before that, Andrew Bank has shown, each of the /Xam informants had a distinct

voice and that in their comments on copies of rock paintings, he suggests, “their understanding of these pictures was often far from clear.”68 As Michael Wessels has pointed out, citing Gayatri Spivak – and in light of Rane Willerslev’s remarks, above, on ‘worldview’ – we should not expect the individual voice to be the “authentic ethnic fully representative of his or her tradition.”69 These individual voices nevertheless speak to histories that converge on or stretch out from places like Biesje Poort and they do become part of the multivocality challenging our constructions of place and storyline in the present.

65 Noting also that rock art scholars do not speak with one voice, although aspiring to epistemological consistency in their work; also often being explicitly sensitive and open to indigenous insights. 66 Lewis-Williams & Challis 2011:11-12 67 Wilmsen 1986 68 Bank 2006: 338-339 69 Spivak cited by Wessels 2010:43



Field discussions: animal names ‡KHOMANI PEOPLES, LANGUAGE, NAMES OF PLACES AND ANIMALS PARTICIPANTS: LIZET VERWOERD LIANA MÜLLER JANSEN IZAK KRUIPER JAN OELISET ORG LYDIA KRUIPER Lizet: Hoeveel van die ‡Khomani–San is daar? Is dit net die Kruiper Familie? Izak: In totaal is ons een duisend drie honderd, die hele gemeenskap, dis die breë gemeenskap. Lizet: Watse vanne kry jy in die gemeenskap? Izak: In die gemeenskap kry jy die Vaalboois, die Witboois, die Kopers, die Swartse, die Kruipers, en ook die bloed broers. En dis die Kruipers. ‡Khomani-San is verskillende stam. Hulle is klomp wat bymekaar gekom het om een te word as ‡Khomani-San. Want Kruipers is oorspronklik ’n groep uit die noorde uit, daar uit Prinswater uit, uit Namibia uit. Droë wêreld. Lizet: Hoe noem mens julle taal? Izak: Die ou N/uu taal. Maar wat ons praat is die Nama, dis baie gekoppel aan Afrikaans. So as jy nou Botswana toe gaan, dan kry jy Naro, die Naro is gekoppel met Tswana. Lizet: Want Tswana het baie rrr klanke? Izak: Nou dan kom jy en dan hoor jy bietjie Naro, bietjie N|n!ke so hy’s baie gekoppel met Tswana. Dan gaan jy Namibia toe en dan kry jy nou Damara, dis nou gekoppel met die Himba en met die Herero en die Nama. Lizet: So dis soos ’n Fanagalo. Maar ek dink alle tale is maar so. Soos Afrikaans is maar so mengel van... Izak: Ja, ander tale het ingekom, hy is maar ook ’n mengsel van, as ek by die Hollanders praat dan verstaan ek baie goed. By die ‘German’, dan moet ek nou weer baie mooi luister dat ek nou weer kan verstaan. Dan verstaan ek die ‘German’ so bietjie, want ek moet mos inpas. Dan moet ek my bes probeer.

Biesje Poort: Site Visit April 2013

Transcribed by Lizet Verwoerd Afrikaans and English Translator: Carinè Müller Nama translator: Pedro Dausab Afrikaans indicated in italics Lizet: How many of the ‡Khomani-San are there? Is it just the Kruiper family? Izak: In total we are about one thousand three hundered, the entire community, it is the broader community. Lizet: What surnames do you find in the community? Izak: In the community you get the Vaalboois, the Witboois, the Kopers, the Swartse, the Kruipers and also the blood brothers. And that is the Kruipers. ‡Khoman-San is a different tribe. They are a group that came together to become one as the ‡Khomani-San. Because Kruipers is originally a group from the north, there from Prinswater, from Namibia, [a] dry world. Lizet: What do you call your language? Izak: The old N/uu [a dialect of N|n!ke] language. But what we speak is Nama. It is well-linked to Afrikaans. So if you go to Botswana now, then you get Naro, and Naro is linked to Tswana. Lizet: Because Tswana has many rrr-sounds? Izak: Now then you come and you hear a bit of Naro, a little N|n!ke so it is very well linked to Tswana. Then you go to Namibia and then you get your Damara, that is linked to Himba and with the Herero and the Nama. Lizet: So it is like Fanagalo. But I think all languages are like that. Like Afrikaans is a mixture of... Izak: Yes, other languages came in, it is also a mixture of – if I talk to the Dutch then I understand very well. With the German, I have to listen very carefully so that I can understand. Then I understand the German a little bit, because I have to fit in. Then I have to try my best.


Nama names for animals Jan Oeliset: Hāb Liana: |Gaeb ba tae? Jan Oeliset: !naib Tsî nē ï, !garo !naib Liana: Tsî i ga khoe-e mide ‡nûi!khuni, ora tae-e mî? Jan Oeliset: !Arob-is veld, !aro !naib ge !nai Liana: Tare e ‡khariro e ||khawa? Jan Oeliset: !Ariros (die steenbokkie) Tsî nēb ge hāba, ||îb ge hāb di ra mî-e Liana: Matis !naba ba ra ‡gai-e? Jan Oeliset: ‡Ans a Afrikaans gera ao ma da, sada gowab gero aomada Liana: ||Nā amaga da geni !khōmai tsî xoamai |uru da ti te ga, mati da ni nē-e ‡gai nē ‡gui !kharaga !nâ |gurun |kha Jan Oeliset: !Naib kharas !naib di kharas !naib di ‡gae‡namis. 44|as…


Jan Oeliset: Hāb [horse] Liana: So what is the Oryx (gemsbok)? Jan Oeliset: !naib And this one, !garo !naib veld camel. Liana: If one would translate the words, what does it say? Jan Oeliset: !Arob - is veld, !aro !naib is camel Liana: What is this small one again? Jan Oeliset: !Ariros the steenbokkie And this is the horse, he is said hāb Liana: What do you call the rhino? Jan Oeliset: …you know we use the Afrikaans now, that language we now use. Liana: That is why we must remember and write down so that we do not forget. What do we call this one with all the different animals here? Jan: !Naib kharas it’s the oryx cow. It’s the oryx’s cow. It’s number 44.

Nama discussion and interpretation on rock engraving of a bird or pregnant figure. Izak: Nēba, kō nēba go hâ ‡mâ … mû ma|î ra !hūb ao Liana: ||Gao !haese … o tae-e di du ra ‡âi? Izak: !Gâi sets ga kō-o, ots ni mû … |khapikab ||gā ra |ui tsî |amsai danaro-e ū-hâ. Xawe nēban ge |gam khoena hâ ||nāba |gui-e tsî nauba |guie. Tsî ||îra ge |hao tama hâ. ||Nā i ge !nakab ||nā hâ. Tsîts ka !gâise kō-o o îge (“hompe”) ‡gui tsî !huisa ||gau. Liana: !Nāb khemi? Izak: î !Nāb î-hâ !khûiba. Tsî ge a î-kha ‡khurugu ge||nā tsî danas ge |gawika hâ Liana: ‡Khuruga? Izak: Î, tsî “pyp”, mû |ha nēra ‡oaxa ‡khurugu |khā. Tsî ams tsîn |khā. Liana: Tsî lys sats tsîn ge ||nāti ge mî? ||Îb lys ge ||nāti ge mî? Izak: Tsîts ga |nîsi nau|khab ai kō, ots nî mî, kaise !gâisets ga kō o, ots nî mî ani-i-ge. Î||khā a, |khenas, āni, |nîsi ‡gui anin. Liana: Î-tita tsîn da ||nāti mî, hoa|gam ||khā-a tsî nē !naga xū-i? Izak: Hierdie so, kyk hy’t hier gekom stop ... Sien jy na waar gooi die stof. Liana: Nou wys gou... Nou wat dink julle is dit? Izak: As jy nou mooi kyk, dan sal jy nou sien... Boontoe gaan hy mos so dun en dan aan die einde het hy ’n koppetjie daar. Maar nou hiers twee ander mense was so en daar’s een en daar is een. En hulle twee kom nie bymekaar daar nie. Nou dié is ondertoe. En as jy nou mooi kyk is daar nou ’n baarmoeder en ’n bron wys. Liana: Soos die maag? Izak: Ja die maag wat verwagtend is. En dit kan wees die are is daai en die kop bo. Liana: Are? Izak: Ja, en die pype, jy sien wat hier uitkom met die are. En dan die mond self. Liana: En Lys jy’t ook so gesê? Dis eintlik Lys was so gesê het né? Izak: En as jy miskien die anderkant om kyk, dan sal jy sê, as jy baie mooi moet studier, sal jy sê dis ’n voël tipe. So dit kan maklik wees ’n tarentaal, ’n pou, of dit kan wees; ’n pronk pou wees of ’n gom pou wees met ’n kuif. Of ’n sekretaris wees met ’n kuif. Liana: Ja ek stem saam, dit kan beide wees.



Biesje Poort: Site Visit March 2011

Transcriber: Lizet Verwoerd Afrikaans and English Translator: Liana Müller Jansen Afrikaans indicated in italics Izak: Sien daai bene kom nou so af. Hoe vêr kom hy af, omtrent tot hier. So, hy maak een, twee, drie. So dit was ’n vorm van ’n kameelperd gewees. Liana: So dis ook nog een? Izak: Ja Liana: So julle dink hierdie was dalk kinders? Izak: Soos ek nou gesê het, ’n kind wil probeer mos ook. As grote nou iets hier sit. Sê nou ma is hierso, pa en ma sit hier, klein broertjie is meer kunstig. Of pa sit en vertel ’n ou storie en hierdie broer luister daai broer luister en dan vertel daai ene broer vir daai ander broer daar lê hy nou en dink hy’t ’n droom gehad. En dan dink hy nou, wat moet ek doen, wat sal ek dan moet los, maar dan hoor hy ook die storie wat Pa hier het en hy lê nie vêr van pa en ma af nie en die oom en anti af nie en nou sit hy met die werk saam. Nou ’n kind wat nou kom sien hoe die ander maak. Sê mos, “wat maak jy nou, o kom ek ‘try’ ook”. Hy begin reg en dan los hy net so, hy begin en dan los hy. Liana: En daardie een, watter dier sal daardie wees? Izak: Daai enetjie, uh, sien jy nou hy’t hierdie enetjie nou kort gemaak, maar sy stert is lank, en sy ore lyk so en sy koppetjie is half so langerig. So as jy nou mooi kyk, kan jy nou se dan amper is ’n erdvark. Liana: ’n Erdvark, ja so sy neus moet net bietjie langer. Izak: Ja, sy neus moes net ’n bietjie langer gewees het om nou so gewees het. Liana: Wat dink jy Lys? Lydia: Ek sê dit lyk amper soos een. Liana: Soos ’n erdvark? Lydia: Ja Liana: Die erdvarke kom hierso voor? Izak: Ja, hulle kom hier voor. Liana: Baie van hulle? Hoe gebruik hulle die erdvark? Izak: (giggel) Weet jy hoe gebruik hulle die erdvark? Die erdvark gebruik hulle vir sy vel is baie sterk. Nou van sy vel maak hulle rieme, en hulle gebruik hulle vir … en dan selfs ook vir om iets te vang. Kom hulle maak ’n net om ’n kameelperd te vang, en dan is ’n erdvark se rieme lekker sterk om ’n kameelperd te vang. Nou dis hoekom jy sien daai ronde ring, dis nie die son nie, dis nie die maan nie... Liana: Dis reg. (verbaas) Izak: Dié is waar. Kyk die kameelperd is hoog. Hy loop mos nou daar. Die tyd wanneer hy sy kop laat sak, dan ruk hy in die ring in. Liana: Izak, ek sou dit nooit geweet het as jy dit nie gese het nie. Kan jy dit nou glo. So dis die erdvark se leer wat die lus maak wat die ... Izak: ...wat die kameelperd vang. Liana: So dit alles vertel ’n storie. Izak: Dit als vertel ’n storie.

Izak: See those legs go down. How far do they go down? More or less to here. So, he makes one, two, three. So it was a giraffe shape. Liana: So it’s another one? Izak: Yes. Liana: So you think this might have been children? Izak: Like I said, a child also wants to try. If an adult puts something here. Let’s say mother is here, father and mother sits here and little brother is more artistic. Or father sits and tells a story and this brother listens and tells the story to his other brother and this one then had a dream. He then thinks, what shall I do, what must I leave? But then he also hears the father’s story and he’s not lying far from father and mother and uncle and aunt. He joins in the work. Now this child sees what the others are doing. He says: “What are you now doing? Oh, let me also try.” He starts alright and then he leaves it, starts again and leaves it. Liana: And this one, what animal will this be? Izak: That one, uh, you see he made this one short, but its tail is long and it’s ears look like this and it’s head is more or less long. So if you look closely, you will see that it might be an aardvark/ anteater (pangolin). Liana: An aardvark/ anteater, yes, it’s nose just needed to be a little longer. Izak: Yes, its nose just needed to be a little longer to be one. Liana: What do you think Lys (Lydia)? Lydia: I say it almost looks the same. Liana: Like an aardvark? Lydia: Yes. Liana: Does one find aardvark in this area? Izak: Yes, they do occur here. Liana: A lot of them? How does one use an aardvark? Izak: (giggle) Do you know how they use an aardvark? The aardvark is used for it’s hide as it’s very strong. One can make thongs from the hide and one can also make … and even for catching something. Say they make a net to catch a giraffe, the aardvark’s thongs are very strong for catching a giraffe. That’s why you see that round thing, it’s not the sun, it’s not the moon... Liana: You’re right! (surprised) Izak. It is true. See, the giraffe is tall. As he is walking, he might let his head drop and then he is caught in the ring. Liana: Izak, I would never have known this if you have not told me. Can you believe it? So it’s the aardvark’s leather that makes the noose to … Izak: …catch the giraffe. Liana: So it’s all telling a story. Izak: It all tells a story.




The giraffe: engraved meanings ROGER C. FISHER



am by profession an architect but have also spent twenty-five years as a teacher of architecture. I have been particularly engaged in teaching first year students the techniques and skills of representation, and later, fourth year students, theoretical concerns in visual thinking and architectural imagination. I have also developed the curriculum for teaching on the environmental history of the South African built environment and cultural landscape. Through family, friends and circumstance I have had an ongoing encounter with the Kalahari people, place and cultures. I am now retired from teaching but am still actively engaged with postgraduate research and act as heritage practitioner. What follows is a synthesis of my thinking, admittedly informed by many writings, not all necessarily recorded.

Iconic places We come to the rocks to learn. We come to the rocks to recall. We come to the rocks to forget. When we gaze upon the rock engravings of Biesje Poort we wonder: Who are the authors? What is their legacy? and relationship to ourselves?

The intellectual setting 1 Dawkins 1976 2 Fisher 1992 3 1821

Humankind has two distinguishing traits – the ability to record and the propensity to predict. The record is our reflections on the past, prediction its projections into the future. While the record is no guarantee that the past is

accurately reflected, so too, prediction is no assurance that the future, as imagined, will come to pass. In most species the record of knowledge of the past is hardwired into their genetic code. The process is linear. Whatever information is lost to the genetic pool is forever lost to the species. Through the system of culture we have been liberated from the despotism of our biology. Recording is a cultural construct. The record is soft-wired through memetic encoding. The advantage is that the cultural constructs become a-chronic, that is non-linear, and malleable in time. That which is captured in the record can thus be recaptured at any time, interrogated, interpreted, and meaning derived or ascribed, even when the intended meaning may have been lost.1 So our biological selves are what our genes make us and subject to natural law. What is lost to the gene pool we can never be. Without humankind’s biological nature the system of culture cannot exist, but humankind’s culture is a system apart from our biology. Consequently our genetic inheritance might determine our eye colour but our eye colour does not predict our beliefs, hopes or fears. However, as creatures with culture, we can be all our collective memes are. What we have been before we can be again. What we have known before we might know again. And whatever we might master in future becomes the legacy to another past of its heirs.2 As an architect I have a particular interest in the relationship of the cultural record to the physical locality, then specifically the iconography of the artefactual residue of culture and its resonance with the genius loci, or spirit of place, of the specific locality. As a neophyte architect we were given the line “We are all Greeks” – as introduction to our study of the history of architecture. The wonders of the internet tell me now it was Shelley being cited: “We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts have their root in Greece.”3 It served not only as a conceit, but


Chaper 4: The giraffe: engraved meanings

also as foil and apology as to why our course started where it did – in the palace of Knossos of Mycenae, the proto-Greek culture. In the Western-based curriculum the Greek classics were seen to lay the basis for all that followed. It made sense. But no longer. Today I would say: “We are all ‘First People’”. Hence, I, of European descent, claim my portion of our hunter-gatherer legacy. I will explore this tenet in terms of architecture. When I am at a site once inhabited or traversed by ancient peoples I have cause to reflect on why I feel empathetic – as if some long umbilical chord ties me through time to their presence. They do not strike me as foreign, far less foreign in fact than some of my own encountered on a bus or train, or in the supermarket queue (Figure 4.1).

Firstly, the siting. I have had the experience of walking sites with clients in search of a suitable spot for their home I was to design. When, as a young practitioner, I read a copy of Man and his symbols under editorship and with contributions by Carl Jung,4 then, believing myself a hardnosed rationalist, I was a skeptical reader. That night I had a dream: Two tribes were at war, one of Iron Age culture, the other Stone Age. The Stone Age tribe won. I had no experience of archaeology at that point in my life. I was soon thereafter on a site with clients, searching for a suitable spot for placing the future homestead – the site was vast and any place might do, but we found a spot – elevated with distant views and a grove of acacias. It seemed ideal. I bent down to place a marker and saw a stone ‘implement’, my first – in a flash my dream came back and left me in a bewildered state. My colleagues who design game lodges tell me that inevitably, when seeking out a location for placing a camp, there will be signs of Stone Age habitation. My deduction is that, like nesting swallows, we have our preferences. I have since visited many rock painting and engraving sites, on these occasions deliberately in search of what remains of that past. Possibly it is prejudiced thinking, possibly a predisposition to impose my own preconceptions and disciplinary bias on the place, but these places always strike me as ‘architectural’ having features that become important markers, landmarks, creating visual connections and alignments.

Architecture as marker

Figure 4.1 Fisher at Biesje Poort (Magongo 2011)


If architecture is considered more than its conventional definition of the art and science of building, and rather as the expression of ideas in built form, then architecture was initially the preserve of the dead (Figure 4.2). It took its origins in stones placed at a spot or on graves. Possibly the initial impulse was utilitarian, to prevent the exhumation of the corpse of the departed, particularly if the deceased was an honoured member of the clan, either by scavenging animals or grave robbers. We can deduce from the association of Anubis, the jackal-headed deity and consort of the dead in ancient Egyptian mythology, with the sense that jackals raided the corpses of the recently buried. Today we

4 1978

Chaper 4: The giraffe: engraved meanings

Figure 4.2 Grave at Biesje Poort farm graveyard (Müller Jansen 2011)

know that the jackal is in fact an African wolf, and probably also ancestor to the earliest domesticated dogs. Funerary architecture long predates functional buildings. Tombs served only to celebrate life in death, the pyramids of Giza being the largest of these. Even temples housed few people, generally only high priests and their direct retinue. The piled stone cairns at Biesje Poort are of this order of architecture (see Lange chapter 1). They might be markers of graves of deceased clan leaders,5 they might be tribute conglomerates of individual stones brought and deposited by visitors or travellers,6 or they might be merely utilitarian, decoy hides for hunters after game.7 Whichever, they are, by my thinking, part of the architectural expressions of the site (Figure 4.3).

Figure 4.3 Photograph of Biesje Poort cairn site (Müller Jansen 2011)

The deft hand and the making of mind

5 6 7 8 9

Vedder 1928 Stow 1905 Vedder 1928 Barras 2013 1964

We, and our ancestors, seem to have been in the business of tool-making for some two million years.8 As these ancestors came ever closer along the evolutionary path, so there is more and more careful thought for the crafting of the implements, up to a point where it would often appear that the craftsmanship is pursued for its own sake, and not for the mere utilitarian purpose intended (Figure 4.4).

Figure 4.4 Stone artefact found at Biesje Poort (Fisher 2011)

Thus, in the famous line of Marshall McLuhan9 “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” The move from the utilitarian to the aesthetic for its own pleasure is part of the path of our cultural evolu-


Chaper 4: The giraffe: engraved meanings

tion. And on this path also evolved the architectural imagination: where the gazing at inanimate matter and imagining what it might form, and how that form might find purpose, and in fulfilling that purpose give us pleasure, is fundamental to the practice of architecture. If it were not, we’d still inhabit caves or be satisfied with living in tents. The mind that can imagine the multifaceted flint in the unhewn rock becomes the mind that sees the pyramids piled from megalithic blocks, temples rise from plain stone, and the gothic cathedrals soar seemingly against the laws of gravity, until we reach the heights of the gleaming steel-and-glass of the Petronas Towers and the Burj Khalifa. However, the evolution of this cultural trait has been ever more demanding of physical resources, so that what once might have seemed a cultural advancement has now become part of cultural excesses, making demands on limited resources to satisfy our en-cultured aesthetic imperative.

The seeing hand

Our aesthetic sensibilities are therefore a particular cultural refinement of a survival strategy. We, as a species, are blessed with polychromatic and stereo-vision. The survival value of these visual mechanisms is, we deduce, to find and distinguish friend from foe, recognise fearsome creature from food-on-the-hoof and be able to spot and kill our next meal at a distance. We see not once, but many times. We in fact have many ways of seeing. It is our brain that elides all these differing visual stimuli into one image. And then this is all done in a memory bank.10 A new object is seen with difficulty for what it is. Our ways of depicting what we see rely on only a small and limited number of our ways of seeing. For instance, there are no lines at the edges of objects in nature. What we use in perception is the edge of critical difference to distinguish an object or ‘figure’ from its context or ‘ground’.11 Stereometry is captured graphically through either the continuity or the interruption of line. We perceive an interrupted line as being placed behind a continuous line, that is where two parts of an object are both ‘figure’, the nearer can be represented in continuous line and understood as closer. The line drawing seems to be of the earliest of humankind’s artistic endeavours. And it is still the most useful and powerful of scientific devices enabling us to communicate the most complex of ideas in abbreviated fashion, from ideograms to layout and assembly drawings for


space-crafts and microchips. To see and understand these depictions requires, however, an understanding of the conventions, and particularly those of depicting, of the cultures that produce them. Depicting is a cultural and contextual construct (Figure 4.5). Sticks and stones are the stuff of human culture. Through the Indo-European root ‘stig’, meaning ‘stick’, of the word ‘style’ we are linked to the proto-human crouched idly at the fire he has just mastered. The stick with which he coaxed life from the kindling he would idly draw through the sand and leave his first ephemeral mark.12 In the scheme of things this mark became associated with mystical powers. The pygmies draw the image of their prey in the sand, which they then obliterate at the first light of day. Then they hunt, having enchanted the endeavour by the ritual.13 Once the prey is caught and hunger sated the exploration of the sand drawing as art fills the leisure of their success, so providing opportunity to engage in ‘art’.14 Through engraving and writing – petroglyphs, pictogrammes, hieroglyphs and electroglyphs and digiglyphs (to coin terms for our current digital technologies) – we identify the nature of our culture. Perhaps it is opportune here to pause and reflect that what comes to us from the past is a mere fragment of the rich diversity of cultural expression. We do not hear the rhythmic pounding of the implements as they scarify the rock, we do not see the sparks fly, we are not privy to the clicks and twangs of chatter, the fire, the dance, the gestures (Figure 4.5), gesticulations, the associated attire, implements, masks, vessels, the painted or marked skin of those assembled.

Figure 4.5 Giraffe hand signal from Early Man by Howell 1970

The interpretative hierarchy

The symbolic contents of artworks are termed its ‘iconography’, and the interpretation thereof its ‘iconology’. It may be sensible to start with a definition since it then allows one to immediately assess any differences of opinion, and if so, whether it is fundamental or merely on matters of detail. We speak here of iconology. The American Heritage Dictionary defines iconology as “the branch of art history dealing with the description, analysis and interpretation of icons or iconic representations.” Clearly we need to understand what an icon is. Collins defines it as “a symbol resembling or analogous to the thing it represents (C16 from Latin, from Greek eikõn image, from eikenai to be like).”

10 11 12 13 14

McCrone 1990 Beukes 1992 Fisher 1992 Frobenius 1933:163 Guidoni 1978

Chaper 4: The giraffe: engraved meanings

In the Western scientific endeavour it was a Dane Christian Thomson (1788–1865) who, by the kind of creative accident that often leads to profound discovery, categorised the collection of artefacts in his charge in terms of materials employed rather than utilitarian function. This arrangement of artefacts led to an understanding of the archaeological stratification of cultural evolution.15 Much as the stratification of fossil-bearing material indicates the place of the organism in the evolutionary chain, the placing of artefacts within the stratification of time is indicative of their cultural associations. A hierarchy can be distinguished for determining and interpreting the temporal strata of cultures. The type and style of the artefact need to be ascertained and ascribed to place and time. Panofsky16 presents a cognitive hierarchy of interpretation for investigating artworks as artefacts. Within the interpretative hierarchy each act of interpretation is directed at a specific aspect of the artefact and therefore accessed through its own system of analysis. The application of this interpretative hierarchy, while deriving particularly from the interpretation of Renaissance art, could be broadened to the full spectrum of artefacts across the disciplines. Hence the art historian, too, is ultimately obliged to interpret artefacts by means of iconology. In previous centuries the schema (or cultural thoughts) of iconographic representation was well known, but today, for us, often obscure or lost.

A triadic model of the interrelationship between the artefact and the mind of the interpreter might prove useful.17 Popper and Eccles18 propose a Three World model: World 1 is the world of ‘natural’ objects and is cumulative since artefacts also become part of World 1. It is the world of all that which ‘is’, even the products of ‘natural’ or ‘biological’ man. It could be considered as the world of ‘meme’ carriers in terms of Dawkins’s19 concept of ‘meme’ as the smallest transferable cultural schema. In this world may be found the objects of pre-iconographic analysis, that is the descriptive interpretation of natural material and artefacts. World 3 is the objective realm of abstract ideas, the world brought about by the cultural activity of humankind. It could be called the meme pool. It is also cumulative since culture is in a dynamic state of growth and change. This realm is the concern of iconographic interpretation since it requires the discernment of abstract ideas that are preserved, for instance, in writing, ideograms, allegorical representations, and art objects. The expertise brought to bear on this realm derives from the disciplines of the humanities, that is psychology, sociology and cultural science. World 2 is the inner realm of mental being and is the preserve of the individual. It is unique and transient and is directly associated with the life, experience and existence of the individual. The researcher, as individual, brings personal expertise derived from the wealth




Physical objects and states

States of consciousness

Knowledge in the objective sense

1. Inorganic Matter and energy of cosmos

Subjective knowledge

Cultural heritage coded on material substrates philosophical theological scientific historical literary artistic technological

Experience of 2. Biology Structure and actions of all living beings, human brains

15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Boorstin 1983 1967 Popper & Eccles 1977 Popper & Eccles 1977 1976 1967 These ideas were first explored in Fisher 1993.

3. Artefacts Material substrates of human creativity tools machines books artworks

perception thinking emotions intentions memories dreams creative imagination

theoretical systems scientific problems critical argument

Figure 4.6 Popper’s & Eccles’ Three Worlds, 198121


Chaper 4: The giraffe: engraved meanings

of his experience, to the interpretation of artefacts, and from them discerns meaning. This task of iconological interpretation is speculative, focusing on the symbolic content accessed through a familiarity and empathy with the nature of the human mind that produced the artefact. World 2 could be considered as the world of memetic encoding. Iconological study is ultimately a creative act. From the intersection of Panofsky’s20 processes of analysis of the artefact with Eccles’s and Popper’s Worlds, the following relationships can be established. The mind of the researcher (World 2) engages the artefact (World 1) and, through an identification process (World 2), discerns the iconography (World 3) of the artefact (World 1). Through interpretation he/ she derives meaning (World 2) in order to produce from known material (World 1) an iconology (World 3), which, if recorded, becomes an additional artefact (World 1). World 1 is thus the repository of artefacts produced by the culturally active, including the writings of researchers. This demonstrates the interactivity of the commentator and the evolving cultural complexity of his world (Figure 4.6). The above exposition leads to the conjecture that cultural researchers, as interceptors, decoders and interpreters of artefacts, function recursively by providing feedback to the cultural pool. They are among those who re-interpret and re-incorporate past understandings into current culture. Thus artefacts, so viewed, are dynamic and systemically re-activated in the socio-cultural realm. The researcher, rather than being an objective bystander, is an active participant in the cultural system. Present culture therefore extends back to the dimmest past of an emergent human intellect. Culture, as a complex system, is freed from the immediate present and from the limitation of requiring direct experience of events. It is through the artefact and interpretation that culture is disseminated and through the persistence of the artefact that culture displays temporal depth and continuity. The distinction between the record clerk and the cultural researcher lies in the difference between the acts of cataloguing and interpreting. The interpretative role of the researcher within a cultural system, far from being an academic nicety, becomes a necessity in the evolving complexity of the socio-cultural system. If culture can be seen as uppermost in the hierarchy of systems of evolution, and the artefact as an agency of communication within the cultural system, then the


Figure 4.7 Lydia and Mary trace a giraffe cluster at Biesje Poort (Fisher 2011)

ecological role of the artefact must be admitted. Just as the atom, the molecule and the cell have systemic agency, so too the artefact is an agent within the cultural system. Does the aforementioned help in our understanding of Biesje Poort? (Figure 4.7).

Chaper 4: The giraffe: engraved meanings

GIRAFFE – an exemplar Mind your tongue! “It is a giraffe!”

Well that is what I would normally say on seeing a rock engraving of one of these animals, particularly for the first time. But when on an archaeological expedition and with an archaeologist present one must tread warily. “I see a giraffe!” That is better, but still nor right. “I see the depiction of a giraffe!” Even better. “I see a depiction of what I believe to be a giraffe!” Better still. “I see a depiction of what appears to be a representation of a giraffe!” To be able to say these things we must, of course have encountered a giraffe before, either in real life or through some form of identified depiction. We take most of what we can name for granted but the giraffe was one of those creatures initially part of western European mythological beastiaries, rumoured but not ever seen, much like the unicorn

What’s in a name?

22 Spinage 1968 23 Blunt 1971 24 1642-1727

All vocabulary is a living archaeology, the etymology (that is origins) of words buried within its current orthography (the way it is written). The word ‘giraffe’ is no exception. Its etymology derives through the Italian giraffa from Arabic, depending on which source you choose, xirafah, or zarafah meaning “he who walks swiftly”. Some philologists see this as being a purely Arabic word, stemming from the root zrf meaning ‘assembly’, for example Sibawai wrote in 790 CE “It is named with the name of an assembly because it is in the form of an assembly of animals.” The idea that the giraffe derives from “an assembly of animals” comes from the belief that the giraffe arose from the mating of a leopard with a camel mare. The creature in time faded into mythology even though

Julius Caeser in 42 BCE introduced a pair and paraded them in Rome. The myth of their miscegenated origin was captured in their hybrid name ‘Camelopards’. The derivative in Afrikaans survives: kameelperd. However, The most likely origin of the name is in all probability African. Cosmas Indicopleustes, a Christian monk of Alexandria had travelled widely in Ethiopia and in 525 CE was at Axum where he befriended Elesboas, the King of Axum where he saw the king’s pet giraffes. And it is probably the Ethiopians who gave the creature its name – zarat, meaning ‘slender’. Spinage, who in 1968 dedicated an entire book to the beast, and on whose text much of this is based, offered in Appendix 6 some fifty-four synonyms for its name in Western literature.22

The giraffe in Western science

Much in the same way as our giraffe are inscribed in stone by who we believe are early ancestors, so also is Ossa Caroli a Linne inscribed in a stone slab above a representative specimen of our own species Homo sapiens.23 He was born on 23 May 1707 in Råshult, Sweden “at one o’clock in the morning, between the month of growing and the month of flowering, when the cuckoo was announcing the imminence of summer, when the trees were in leaf but before the season of blossom,” as Carolus Linnaeus – alias Carl Linné – himself later recorded. Why all the Latin and his Latinised name? Well, had it not been that Linnaeus was born just over three hundred years ago there might not have been a natural order, or at least not an orderly system for classifying the natural order. The binomial system – that is the giving of two names to signify an individual – is not unique. We all have it. Before Linnaeus devised his binomial system the living world was described in lengthy Latin texts alluding to all sorts of characteristics. Like Isaac Newton,24 Linnaeus believed that the natural order was governed by God-given laws, and he believed two of these were pre-ordained, the genus, or a broad grouping of living organisms with shared characteristics, and species, the unique characteristics that a member of that genus displays. These were the natural characteristics expressive of God’s plan as manifest in His Creation – God created, Linnaeus ordered. Over and above this were artificial classifications – we use them whenever we resort to field guides. How big is that bird? What is the colour of that animal? Is that a buck or a goat?


Chaper 4: The giraffe: engraved meanings

For the description of these unique natural characteristics Linnaeus developed the protologue, or manner in which living things are described, and for this he devised a unique style of Latin, avoiding verbs as far as possible. He had followed John Ray’s25 classification for the giraffe and, following a ‘natural’ order of classification’ placed it with the deer in his first edition of his Systema Naturae, hence his binomial apellation Cervus camelopardalis. A German, Jacob Theodore Klein, revised this and placed the beast with the antelope, gazelles and sheep under the genus Tragus, renaming it. A French zoologist, Mathurin Jacques Brisson decided the creature unique enough to be worthy of its own genus, and created Giraffa, and thus it stands today, its only representative, and both its names from a distant past intact. What was missing was a specimen. For science the giraffe had to be rediscovered, and that was here in South Africa, and more specifically in the very region where the Biesje Poort petroglyphs or engraved rock depictions occur. The first record by Europeans of giraffe in southern Africa was in 1663 CE. The last of six expeditions undertaken by employees of the Dutch East India Company between 1660–1664 CE was that of Pieter van Meerhoff who records that they saw two near the river of Vigiti Magna. This was a mythological river and it is debatable which river it in fact was. According to local Koekhoen folklore giraffe were to be found even on the eastern side of Queenstown Province to the east of the Cape. Whether it is giraffe that are depicted in eastern Cape rock art is even now debated, and even if it is that animal, had they been seen locally or was their image transported by those who knew and had seen them elsewhere? The first European to shoot a giraffe was Captain Hendrik Hop, recorded by Carel Frederik Brink who kept the journal. On an entry for Monday 5 October 1761 he recorded that they camped at Warmbaths, north of the Orange River, where a female was killed and its calf captured. This unfortunately died on Saturday 10 October. The first scientific paper to be written was by the Dutch zoologist, Arnaut Vosmaer published a year later in 1787, based on skeleton and skins collected in the same region by that unhappy but brilliant officer, Colonel Robert Jacob.26 (Figure 4.8)

The seeing hand

Pecked rock engravings, as we find at Biesje Poort, offer a particular challenge, both for the author making the depiction and for the reader and interpreter. Unlike the brush stroke or the stylus, which can limit the width and hence edge of that being represented, the pecked line has a breadth and hence the representation relies more on the discovery of the image and gestalt recognition. This becomes apparent when one is trying to trace the image, for as one works close to the image and finds the edges of the engraved lines, the image tends to disappear and the determining of the precise edge of the image becomes tricky. Also where lines fade or incorporate natural geological features it sometimes becomes problematic to tell these apart (Figure 4.9). Certain features of the creatures depicted help in identification, such as

Figure 4.8 Engraved depiction of a giraffe-like creature on ‘Elephant Hide’ site at Biesje Poort (Fisher 2011)

Figure 4.9 Giraffe being traced onto polythene at Biesje Poort (Fisher 2011)


Chaper 4: The giraffe: engraved meanings

Figure 4.10 Final tracing on polythene of giraffe engraved on ‘Elephant Hide’ site at Biesje Poort (Fisher 2011)

25 1629-1705 26 Entry 4.2 Giraffe [with map], Skead et al. 2011: 288-293 27 Skead et al. 2007: 346, 347

a spiked protuberance on the nose which readily suggests ‘rhinoceros’ or a reticulated patterning of the body and long neck which readily suggests ‘giraffe’. Some outlines can only be recognised as ‘feline’ but without anything more definite like ‘cat’, ‘lion’ or ‘leopard’. The giraffe represented here, I would suggest, had been seen by the authors and were not portable images of their representation, because the animals had been found in the region centuries hence, although recently extinct, and in their representation the authors observe characteristic traits of the beast, unlike many others represented in European bestiaries or even Chinese accounts, where the patterning of the hide in particular takes on many strange variations. Skead cites the archaeologist, Roger Summers’ proposal that some animals represented groups of peoples. He further writes that “painters [and engravers] moved over quite wide areas and travelled seasonally” so they might have represented some animals quite a way from where they were seen’.27 (Figure 4.10). We can here, I believe, satisfy

Figure 4.11 Tracing as prepared for archiving at the McGregor Museum

ourselves that the giraffe seen were represented, and those representations are of things seen. (Figure 4.11) But why were they depicted?

The meaning of the giraffe

Does the giraffe or its depictions in rock engravings have any meaning? Let us first deal with some pre-iconographic facts, some recent and hence unknown to the Bushman/ San, others, probably for them, well known. The giraffe has seven neck vertebra, just as any other mammal. If the giraffe were hunted and butchered by the Bushman/ San or even just having encountered a skeleton of a dead giraffe, they would have known that. Oddly, this came as a surprise to the scientific community in Europe, they presupposing that, much like the vertebra in a tail, there would be as many as were necessary to make up the length. Another anatomical feature of the neck is the valves in the carotid arteries, a unique feature in order


Chaper 4: The giraffe: engraved meanings

to prevent the backward flow of blood under gravitational pull.28 Again, Bushman/ San might have noticed this feature in butchering the beast, and might have attached some symbolic significance to the fact. This is, of course speculative on my part, and hence an inappropriate observation for pre-iconographic recording! While on the subject of the length of the giraffe’s neck, it has played a pivotal role in the arguing of acquired versus inherited traits in evolutionary debate; in essence French naturalist, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck29 versus Charles Darwin.30 While Darwinian theory has scientific ascendency, there are now aspects of Lamarckian theory that have credence in the emergent science of epigenetics; that as an aside. Another anatomical feature not well understood by, and often incorrectly depicted, in European representations before receiving specimen material, were the ossicones or two hairy bone protuberances on the forehead, a typifying anatomical feature of the creature. The tails of giraffe were “prized in African kingdoms as whisks” and symbols of social status.31 Iconographic information is much of what has been presented here – associative meaning, styles of depiction, context of place – geographic, historical, cultural. In fact much of what is recorded and presented in the literature related to artefactual residue is pre-iconographic and iconographic. We have literature dedicated to rock art interpretations of the representation of giraffe. An unmatched symbol of beauty and power, the giraffe is used by shamans as the source of supernatural potency in order to enter a trance state…The giraffe is also strongly linked to ideas about the weather. The animal is associated with rain in San thought: according to the !Kung, the forms of certain clouds resemble giraffes; the patterns of certain cloud formations invoke the markings on their hides... Giraffe are frequently depicted with their young, a convention that may allude not only to the supernatural potency of the animal, but also to its femaleness and protectiveness as a mother – its kick powerful enough to kill a lion.32 When I met /Gao ≠Toma, /Qui Gau and ≠Toma Da’am at Twyfelfontein, they told me that in their home territory, Tshumkwe, giraffe were considered the most powerful animals and that most shamans there had giraffe medicine… Bushman still dance and sing ‘giraffe medicine’…Today ‘giraffe medicine’ is considered one of the strongest…Shamans harnessing ‘giraffe medicine’ while in trance, and at


the same time experiencing entoptic grids, are likely to construe these grids as giraffe.33

What is most heatedly debated is iconological interpretation. Here I can only offer some speculative meaning and that derived from an empathetic reading rather than any recourse to artefacts, although memories of texts by others lurk and linger. The engraving of the creatures we believe to be giraffe are in the geographical location of the Gariep. The Gariep and its associated tributaries are much like the civilisation of the Mediterranean, the body of water being the cultural connector, the river and the lands it traverses the territory for lived expression of a cultural life. As with the eland, so the giraffe would have sympathetic associative powers – it is large, it gazes from the sky; its hide is reticulated, that is, net-patterned; its meat is plentiful for feasting; its humerus and femur ideal for bone arrow link shafts34; its sinews long and useful in the making of bow strings and nets,35 the use of which in turn guarantee the hunt or the snaring of game or the gathering of proviant: clutches of ostrich eggs or tsammas.36 So we might infer that the reticulated hide sympathetically reflects a cultural function – the making of nets. But also there is resonance in the long neck and patterning with that of the therianthropic and squamous [scaly] water snake with its head of a “giraffe, buck or horned”37 creature.38


The only way we can understand the past is through empathetic projection into the minds of our forebears. While our material culture has changed dramatically, we recognise the common humanity of our distant ancestors and their practices, and through empathetic introspection are able to draw some degree of understandings as to what they did and why they did it. As has been said earlier in this essay, drawing or delineating is a cultural activity, and understanding what is represented is a cultural construct. Bushman/ San and Khoisan art – even that word has loaded meaning and is contentious – has in the recent years received much coverage. Our understanding has been greatly enriched and broadened in the past two decades, thanks mainly to the interpretative work of David Lewis-Williams. To what degree can his frame of reference be applied to petroglyphs in general, and these of Biesje Poort in particular? Why was the giraffe chosen as one of the limited number of animals depicted?

28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38

Skinner & Chimimba 2005 1744-1829 1809-1882 African Wildlife Foundation n.d. Eastwood & Eastwood 2006: 97, 100 Dowson 1992: 77, 92 Lee 1979 Fourie 1928 Smith et al. 2000 Lee & Woodhouse 1970 Megan Biesele (1993) recorded three stories from the Kalahari Ju/’hoan wherein the python and young need to be saved from a pool. In the one version the Giraffe uses its neck to pull out the python and young from the pool and in the other two stories the giraffe used his leg. The giraffe is linked to liminal gender spaces, fertility, creation and restoring order – similar themes found in stories of the mythical water snake (see Lange et al, 2011).

Chaper 4: The giraffe: engraved meanings

Did it have special significance in ritual, by association, as a totemic animal showing clan alliances, as a mythically transformed emanation of some deity, as a representative creature of some admired or feared trait or circumstance? Unfortunately here we are met with a deep and profound muteness. The peoples for whom they held direct meaning have gone, their descendants passed through many cultural episodes, many of them destructive or disruptive, so that the voices of the past are lost to the present. For from these distant pasts there are no words. We are stumped by silence and intrigued by the presence of these enigmatic depictions. All that is left for us is to see the giraffe (Figure 4.12).

Figure 4.12 Single giraffe engraving Biesje Poort (Fisher 2011)


Field discussions: indigenous knowledge HOW TO PREPARE THE TSAMMA PORRIDGE (PAP)/ HOE OM TSAMMA-PAP VOOR TE BEREI1 This discussion was part of a demonstration led by Lydia Lys Kruiper that took place in the late morning of 30 March 2011 at the hot southern slope of Site 12 or Elephant Hide site. It was prompted by the discovery of a smoothed, shallow grinding hollow, on the huge rock outcrop. Lydia spoke in Afrikaans as she interacted with the grinding stone area. It was digitally recorded and interpreted by Roger Fisher, and the record used with permission.

PARTICIPANTS: LYDIA LYS KRUIPER ROGER FISHER Roger: Lydia: Roger: Lydia: Roger: Lydia: Roger: Lydia: Roger: Lydia: Roger: Lydia: Roger: Lydia:

Wat gebruik hulle vir die pap? Tsamma Tsamma? O, die pitte self van die tsammas. Word hulle eers drooggemaak? Drooggemaak, ja... In die son. Maak ons dan ’n skoon plek en dan krap ons net ’n warm pot... Maar daar’s mos nie water nie. Sandjie self. Hulle eet hom al. O, so jy sê hulle gebruik dit as ’n wasmiddel ook. Maar hulle maak ’n pap wat mense kan eet. So die pitte word eers in warm sand uitgedroog naby ’n vuur. Ja daar word ’n vuur gemaak. Daar’s mos grond en dan krap jy ook daardie warm grond en dan krap jy dit toe waar dit nou gaar is. Uitgehaal. Maar is dit die hele pit met die kern ook? Nee... Dan word hy nou so geslaan slaan slaan dan word hy nou oopgemaak. Dan kom die hele pitte op een pit. Dan vat jy daai binnekors wat binne is, dan kook jy dit vir die tsamma pap en dan hou jy dit eenkant. Okei, dan sal jy dan op so klip dan die pitte maal. Okei en dan daai tipe klip wat ons daar anderkant gesien het, of net ’n gewone klip? Die selfde tipe klip soos daardie een, soos hierso wat ook al gebreek het. Ja, daardie hand klip wat ons gister gesien het? Ja daai enetjie, daai ronde enetjie. En hy sal goed werk vir daai. Okei. Daai, en as die kole - alles is mos nou daar, en dan het jy so vierkantige plaatjie het jy hom nou uitsit, nou moet jy hom gooi hier op die plaat. So dan val die pitte nou eenkant nou uit. Eintlik nie die pitte nie, die kole val eenkant nou uit, dan is dit mos nou hier en daar die fynetjies wat jy dan moet uithaal. Maar nou die Tsamma pit, knaal jou ook nie werk nie. Dié stamp, en jy moet weet as jy stamp, daai pitte as jy stamp, moet jy weet hoe steek jy jou hand hier in, nie om jy jou hand vasstamp. Want dis vinnig wat dit moet gaan.

English Synopsis (by Mary Lange):

The skin of the tsamma melon can be used to wash oneself, using them with the husks of the pips as a scrubber. The kernels of the pips are ground into a meal and used for porridge by mixing in the juice of the tsamma melon. The upper grind stone that was found at the other site and the lower grindstone here in the rocks can be used to grind tsamma melon kernels. The pips of the tsamma melon are used, and if they have not dried naturally then a fire is made in the sand and the pips packed into the hot sand so as to toast them. The toasted pips are beaten with a stick in the hand so as to shell them. The kernels are then ground to make a paste. It is a lot of work. They still make tsamma pap [porridge] but now they add mielie [maize] meal. 1


Biesje Poort Site Visit March 2011

Transcribed by Lizet Verwoerd, May 2013 Afrikaans indicated in italics

Previously published in CCMS SubText Autumn 2011

LIVING HERITAGE AND SUGGESTIONS OF THE USE OF OCHRE AND FAT IN ENGRAVINGS. In the following discussion Izak suggests fat is melted and mixed with ochre pigment, so the rocks were rubbed with fat before they were engraved and ochre pigments rubbed into the engraving, much as with other decorative art forms they practice such as breying of hides. He also suggests that the fat might have helped protect the engravings from water ingress, thereby preventing their deterioration through exfoliation. He also says that the colours of the ochre pigment might be brown, red, yellow, white or black, as, for example, to define the giraffe engraving, similarly as they do with colours on ostrich eggshell incising. (Roger C. Fisher)


Biesje Poort Site Visit March 2011 Transcribed by Carinè Müller Afrikaans indicated in italics

Izak: Mary: Izak: Mary: Liana: Mary: Izak: Mary: Izak:

So wat gedoen gedoen op vet, vet brand in, en hy verweer nie so maklik nie, hy hou lank. So jy dink hulle het dalk die vet dan ingevryf. Ingevryf, want dit kan wees dat die... kyk as ek hom nou niks aansit nie, kan die klip mettertyd dan... en daar waar die vet nie bykom nie, bars die klip nou. Dis baie interessant. Magties, ek het nog nooit daaraan gedink nie. dalk gehoor dat hulle miskien saam met die vet. Maak hulle die ‘ochre’ met die vet, soos wat hulle op die vel sit. Ook dan met die vet maak, en dan kan jy nou teen ’n klip, jou rots nou die kuns maak. Soos wat jy vir my gewys het. Nou soos jy daar die kunswerk op die klip doen, hou jy die vuur daar, met die vet en dan sal daai oker daar vir jare nou sit. Met sy donker bruin daar sit, want die vet het ingetrek in die klip in... soos ek sê, soos die kuns daar is... vanmiddag soos ons kom was hy baie duidelik gewees, mooi en gelyk. Nou die son draai nou. Nou as die son hierdie kant draai, dan skyn hy nou baie mooi waar die son gaan, sien jou nou al donker. Maar nou wat gebeur so daar is kan jy nou vet ingesmeer het, en gebrand het, want kyk die vet trek nou in die klip in. Nou soos die vet daar intrek in die klip in, loop hy dan af, nou die water kan hom nie so maklik blus nie, heeltemal uitmekaar uit breek nie. Soos wat die water nou afkom, breek hy al hierdie stukke uit, so hy het tog sy pad aan, hy’s nou so droog hier aan, en die water kom nou hier uit, nou die water kom al en oor hom, nou die water kom bars nie waar die vet is nie. Mary: Have you heard of that idea maybe? He’s saying that when they made them... the artists. That he thinks that they would have rubbed fat into them, to seal them. David: There’s also some suspicion that some of them had ochre rubbed on them. Liana: Dis nou waaroor ons nou praat.



David: Liana: David: Liana: Mary: Izak:

Ja want kyk, as ek ander dinge maak. As ek rooi oker klip gehad het, en ek meng hom met vet en ek doen kuns daar. Om nie wil hê hy moet... ek kan hom son se kant of reën se kant kan ek hom maak, ma dan sal ek vuur vat en ek brand hom, so die vet trek in die klip in end daai oker verwas nie, hy was nie af nie. Dan is hy saam die vet in die klip in, so dit kan maar daar staan daar. Ag vir jare, maar altyd sal jy hom sien as jy die rooi stukkie is nog hier. Hy sal mettertyd, lank tyd, ek weet nie hoeveel jare nie. Sal hy verdwyn waar hy staan die son teen die reën teen die wind, maar as ek nou beskerming maak sal hy altyd helder staan daar. Dis hoe vet altyd maak. There’s a theory in Norway that the engravings were filled with ochre. (interprets) Daar’s ’n legende in Norweë, dis ’n land Noord, waar hulle ook ingraferings maak met oker. Some of the sites, for tourism purposes, have been painted red with paint. (interprets) Vir die toeriste het hulle dit rooi geverf met verf bo-oor die oker, maar dis nie goed nie. It’s just an interesting concept, that if ochre was put on that it would have been mixed with fat. Want kyk, jy kry verskillende van die oker, want jy kry die gele, en jy kry die rooie, en jy kry die witte en so donkerswarte ook. Jy kan nou ook elke dag maak met die oker, met die donkerbruin verf, het jy nou die oker, en die geel verf het jy dan ook neem, dan jy nou nou net soos jy die ‘giraffe’ daar lyk kan jy so vir hom daar uitbeeld, en hy kom so uit, maar nou, ons doen so meeste ons maak maar die ‘giraffe’ as ons hom uitgrafeer, dan sit ons maar die oker in. Dan doen ons maar ook die selfde uitgrafeerwerk soos op ’n eier, ons kan dit op ’n klip doen, ons gebruik net weer om hom helderder te maak, gebruik ons die rooi oker om die kleur vir hom te gee.

Engraved ostrich eggshell by Corné Witbooi 2011 (Lange 2013)




Jan Oeliset: Liana: Izak:

Liana: Izak: Jan Oeliset:

Izak: Liana: Izak: Liana: Jan Oeliset: Liana: Jan Oeliset:


As ons nou kyk, het ons verskillende diere en simbole. As ons nou dink, julle versier mos volstruisdoppe ook nê? Nou is hierdie soortgelyk aan die beelde wat julle op die volstruisdoppe sal sit of is dit anders? Dis een en dieselfde ding. Nou hoe is dit dieselfde? Dit hang af hoe jy jou eier vat en hoe voel jy vir jou eier. As daar gees in jou eier is. Jy gaan ‘giraffe’ opsit, jy gaan eland opsit jy gaan volstruis homself opsit, jy gaan ’n Boesman opsit wat jag, jy sal ’n skerpioen opsit en jy sal ’n ‘beetle’ opsit...So dis die goed wat jy sal opsit, hang af hoe die gees jou lei. So sê jy, dat hierdie klip het meer gees gehad en dis hoekom hy so baie? Dis hoekom daar so baie op hom geteken is. En jy kan sien op die hang lê klip ook. Kom kyk jy nou by die ander plekke nou, die ‘place’ was nou nie so goed wat op die berg gedoen het nie, maar hier, dis meer gelyker gewees … Ja ek sien daar staan ’n olifant. Ek sien ja. Want hier is so baie. Ja, daar is ’n eland, daar is ’n ‘giraffe’, daar is ’n ster. So deel van hierdie gees dink jy dit is ook te doen dat hy oos kyk? Dis sonop. Dis die kant vir jou lig. So die eerste lig kom hierso. Jy kan nou self dink. Sulke skerwe watter kant kyk, son onder. Alles wat oos kyk, slaap in die nag, die eerste as jy wakker skrik, die eerste kyk jy sonop, dis jou lig. Jy soek eers jou lig, jy soek nie donkerte nie. So dis hoekom, hierdie is meer ingewikkeld as hierdie. Hoekom, hierdie was nou so gewees, en hierdie was nou baie gelyker as wat hy is. Hy was omtrent nou so gewees as wat hy nou hier is. Maar kyk hoeveel stukke is nou hier uit. Ons kon baie meer hier gekry het as wat hier nou is, want kyk nou. As ’n mens op ’n papiertjie loop ‘draw’ het, as hy nou ordentlike papier het, mensetjie en bulletjies, dan sal jy sien, hy ‘draw’ altyd meer goed daar as wat jy op ’n kleiner papier goed ‘draw’. Want hy kan nie als inkry nie. So hierdie was net ’n baie goeie oppervlak om op te werk.

Transcription by Lizet Verwoerd Translation by Carinè Müller Afrikaans indicated in italics


Jan Oeliset: Liana: Izak:

Liana: Izak: Jan Oeliset: Izak: Liana: Izak: Liana: Jan Oeliset: Liana: Jan Oeliset:


As we can see, we have different animals and symbols. If we think about it, you decorate ostrich eggs too, right? Now are these similar to the images that you put on the ostrich eggs or are they different? It is one and the same thing. How is it the same? It depends how you hold your egg and how you feel about your egg? If there is spirit in your egg, you are going to put the giraffe on your egg, you are going to put the eland on, you going to put the ostrich itself on, you are going to put a Bushman that hunts, you will put a scorpion on and a beetle... So that’s the things that you will put on, depends on how the spirit guides you. So are you saying, that this rock had more spirit and that’s why it has so many? That is why there are so many drawings on it. And you can also see on the hanging flat rock. Come look now at the other places too, those on the mountain was not good, but here, it was more even... Yes, I see there is an elephant. I see, yes. Because here are so many. Yes, there is an eland, there is a giraffe, and there is a star. So do you think that part of this spirit is also because it is facing east? It is sunrise. It is the side for your light. So the first light comes here. You can think for yourself. Shards like these which side it faces, sundown. Everything that faces east sleeps in the night. When you awake, the first thing you see is sunrise, and it is your light. You first look for your light, you do not look for darkness. So that is why, it is more complicated than this. Why this was like this and this was much more even than it is [now]. But see how many pieces are gone from here now. We could have found much more than what there is now, because look now. If he goes and draws on a little paper, if he has real good paper, [then he might draw] manikins and bullocks, then you will see, he always draws more things than he would have on a smaller paper. Because he cannot fit everything in. So this was just a very good surface upon which to work.


PRESENT MANUFACTURING OF OSTRICH EGGSHELL BEADS AND USE OF EGGS In the following discussion Izak tells of the ongoing tradition of the making of ostrich eggshell beads, how they have learnt from their elders, and pass on the tradition to the children. He explains that the ostrich eggs are scarce in the park since they are eaten by hyena, jackal, and even the ostriches themselves, for calcium. They now get shells from the farmers who have domesticated ostriches. He explains that the thick eggs are preferred to the thin-shelled eggs, and that these serve many purposes, for example, ground into powder for children who have fits. He has left one filled with water at Biejse Poort, buried from a filming episode in 2004, and only he knows where it is. The discussion then moves on to other cultural practices prompted by the use of ostrich bones for knives, the use of jackal pelts (the farmers have left the carcasses of those they have shot hanging on the fences) for clothing or blankets and the use of antelope femur bones for the use of pipes. At this point it is told that Klein Dawid’s father is a teacher in the veld school for the training of the children in traditional skills such as tracking, and also an artist of note. Klein Dawid has, as his sister’s child Corné, inherited his father’s artistic skills and does burnt line depictions on bone pipes, such as lions with manes, much sought after by family members. He says that if the spirit guides he wishes to follow in the footsteps of his father. (Roger C. Fisher)


Sê vir my, julle werk mos met die volstruisdoppe? Maak julle enigsens ook kraletjies? Ja, ons maak ook kraletjies met die volstruisdop. Regtig, hoe maak julle hulle? Jy sien hierdie een is ook met die rooi oker gewerk...aan die anderkant. Dis mooi gesien. Nou die kraletjies, breek ons ook rond, dan gebruik ons nou die boortjie, want ons het nie die tipe klip nie, om dan ’n gaatjie in te rol. En sit hom dan op ’n riempie en skuur hom dan, dat hy klein en rond kan kom, dan vorm ons die ‘necklace’ of die armband. Liana: Nou wie het vir julle dit geleer? Izak: Dit kom nou al jare aan. So bly ons en wys vir die kleintjie om te sien hoe ons nou doen.


Biesje Poort: Site Visit April 2013, Day 2 Transcribed by Lizet Verwoerd, May 2013 Afrikaans indicated in italics

Dan wys die kleintjie, hy het nou die ervaring en weet al om die goed te doen. So dit bly staan, dit leef aan. Maar nou is daar ’n manier van om baie vinnig te werk. Want ek kyk nou by SîIsen Craft [South African San Institute projek]. Want ek kyk nou hoe vat hulle die eierdop en dan slaan hulle hom op die heilsteen, maar sy glans gaan dan af. Soos wat hy hier is. Kyk die dop lê baie lank en dan gaan die glans af en sy punt is baie skerp. Nou ons doen hom nie so nie, ons skuur hom met die hand dat hy glad en rond en klein kan kom soos in die ou tyd. (Müller Jansen hoofstuk 2) Liana: Nou hoe kies julle die volstruis doppe? Of waar kry julle hulle? Izak: Kyk op die oomblik by ons nou is dit bietjie moeilik vir volstruisdoppe, want gaan jy in die park in, kry jy min volstruiseierdop, want die ‘hyena’ kry die dop byt, breek byt om die kos

Liana: Izak:

Lizet: Izak:

Lizet: Izak:

binne te eet. Die jakkals slaan hom uitmekaar uit om die kos te eet. En selfs die volstruis self, eet hy weer daai doppies vir kalsium, om sy eier sterk te maak. So jy het ’n tipe van ’n sterk dop en ’n tipe van ’n dun doppie. So jy kyk twee verskillende eierdoppe nou. So wat gebeur die dikke kan jy gebruik vir krale en die dunnetjie vir die poeier. Die poeier is dan vir babatjies wat dan nou stype kry. Somtyds kry hy die styp sodat hy agteroor trek. So dan om vir hom te help met die poeier en dan ook te help om die slym op die bors te help. So julle gebruik baie van die doppe van die park af, om krale mee te maak, maar hulle is nou gebreek. En die heel ene, waar kom hulle vandaan? Die heel ene kry ons van die ‘farmers’, wat nou boer met volstruise as lê voëls, as broei voëls. So daar’s baie gebreekte doppe, daar’s baie doppe wat dun is. Daar’s baie doppe waar die kuiken binne-in die dop versmoor of dood, dan kry ons dan daai doppe. En ook die geel eier, as die heel eier, word dan net skoongemaak en uitgegooi, want die kos is dan nou nie broeibaar nie. Dis waar ons die doppe vandaan kry. En kan julle iets met die binnegoed doen? Sodra hy vars is, is hy kos, want een volstruiseier is, ag jinne kyk, as jy nou praat van ’n twee en ’n half doesyn toe, is een volstruiseierdop. Hy’t baie kos, so hy word dan gebruik. Hy kan baie gee. Ons kan sê ons het vol geëet nou. Op die eier, kuns, self nou, ons het rotskuns wat op die eier uitgebeeld word. So ek het nou in my drome ’n eland gesien, wat draf, so ek sit hom op die eier neer. Ek het ’n Boesman gesien wat jag, so ek sit hom op die eier neer. So dis in die rondte soos die gees jou wys wat jy moet doen op die klip, op die eier. So die eier kan baie dinge word... Ja, die eier kan baie dinge word. Hy kan ’n houer word, wat jy sê dis jou ‘water container’, jy gooi water in, jy begrawe hom daar en jy maak hom toe, laat hy staan, vir ’n jaar, twee of drie jaar. Hierso by Khamkirri staan ’n watereier van my wat ek in 2003 of 2004 in daai tyd, het ek hom daai kant gegrou daar. Ons het ’n film geskiet daar. Toe grou ek hom daar

in met die water, hy staan nog. Niemand weet waar staan hy, ek weet waar staan hy. Liana: Nou vertel vir my, julle werk met die eiers, nou wat maak julle nog. Jy vertel vir my, jy leer die kinders om te luister, jy leer die kinders om te kyk, en deel van julle tradisie is om die eiers te maak, maar wat maak julle nog? Izak: Jy weet om die eier te doen, jy kan baie met die eier doen. Jy kan met die eier soos wat hy oopgemaak is en wat hy heel is. Ons luister na verskillende voëltjies en na verskillende volstruis self ook, en ook om iemand wat ver is te roep. Hoe roep jy? Jy vat daai volstruiseier en jy blaas hom. En jy roep daai persoon, hy sal hoor. Of jy waarsku hom, iets is oppad, hy moet weet. Dis die klank wat jy verstaan, jy moet weet watter klanke gemaak word vir gevaar en vir rëen of vir ‘kom hier’. Liana: En ander tradisies wat van jou oupa en jou ouma afkom. Goed wat mens maak as deel van julle kultuur, watter tipe dinge is daar? Izak: Man, jy kry baie verskillende goed binne in die kultuur wat van die oupagrootjies afkom. So jy het ’n loopstok, jy’t ’n bladsak. Ons het nou gesien toe ons nou kom, die jakkalse wat teen die draad hang. Nou daai jakkals, dis my baadjie, dis my kombers, dis my matras. So jy’t die loopstok, jy’t die pyl en boog, jy’t die assegaai, en dan nou jou kierie ook, en jou bladsak. Wat het jy daar in? Nou soos jy loop, kry ek die doppie, sal ek hom nie los nie, ek sal hom optel en insit, want ek kry hom nodig voorkant. Kom ek by daai rondeklippie, sal ek hom optel en insit, want ek kry hom nodig vir voorkant. Daar’s ’n oker klip wat ek nou het, maar ek het nie ’n maalklip nie. Baie belangrik jou bladsak, so dis waar jy jou goed insit, dat jy jou voorkant kan sal nodig kry. Liana: Maar dié goed, jy maak dit nie vir die toerisme nie? Jy maak dit vir jouself en vir jou kinders? Izak: Ja, dis vir myself en vir my kinders. So as ek uitgaan soos wat ek nou hier is, my bladsak is, loopstok is, my pyl en boog is, my assegaai is, alles die goed is daar en daar is iets in hom, wat ek weer sal nodig kry as ek by hom uitkom. Jou vuurmaak stokkies is daar.


Ek kan ’n bogietjie maak, vuurmaak, of en kan hom rol, hulle is in my bladsak. Liana: So vir die toerisme, dis hoofsaaklik die eiers. Izak: Vir die toeriste is hoofsaaklik die eier, want hy kan hom maar die eier vat en kyk wat kan hy doen. Moontlik ’n ‘bulb’ insit of hang hom in die huis, of sit hom net daar neer. Maar die kuns is daar. So die kuns wat daarop is, is gesê dis ’n boodskap vir my, dis my droom wat ek hierop gesit. So kom soms so dat jy nie net die kuns op die volstruiseierdop uitgrafeer nie, maar jy kan hom brand ook. As jy hom brand, hou hy baie lank, hy bars nie maklik nie, want dis ’n harde dop die. So dis net op daai stukkie met die glans wat jy brand. Dit kan makeer niks nie. Liana: Nou ek wil weet, sê nou maar daar was glad nie toeriste nie, dis net julle. Sal julle nogsteeds die volstruisdoppe gemaak het? Izak: Nogsteeds, sal ek die volstruiseierdoppe gemaak het en gebruik het. Nou hoe ek dit sou gegebruik het, ek kry kos in die volstruiseierdop af en die kraeletjies wat ek maak van die dop is om vir my te beskerm van die bors wat so sleg is. Soms keer is my bors nou nie goed nie, dan beskerm die doppie vir my. Want ek is al te groot om die poeier te eet, dan is dit die doppie wat my beskerm. Liana: En die kuns? Izak: En die kuns, sal ek altyd daar, as ek nie by die rots uitkom nie, sal ek dit by die dopeier neersit, want dit is die boodskap wat ek los. Liana: Want dit is baie belangrik dat daai boodskap geteken word. Izak: Dis baie belangrik. Dankie dis hy daai! Liana: En die kinders doen hulle dit ook? Leer jy hulle? Izak: Dis dan ’n kunstenaar wat hier staan (wys na //ankie) Liana: //ankie het jy ook hierdie geleer? Klein Dawid: Ja, ek het dit eerste gesien by my ooms, toe hulle besig was, toe kyk ek. Nou en dan as hy so vir hulle raak brand, soms as die draad te warm is, sit hom op die been, dan gly hy nou. As hy yskoud is, dan sit hom op die been, dan gly dan. Dan is hy nog nie heeltemal koud nie, dan brand hy. Dan vra ek vir hulle. Dan sê hulle, nee, my kind dis nie maklik nie. En so het ek geleer en myself raak gebrand. Verkeerd om gevat. Liana: So mens leer maar hoe mens aangaan, hoe is die manier om dit te doen, sodat dit nie brand nie. Izak: Dis baie moeilik, want soos ek hier staan het daar ’n warm draad net hierin gegaan heel deur my vel en daar uitgekom. Toe draai hy en toe gaan hy weer so in en kom hy hier uit, toe staan hy so, so hoe moet ek maak? Dis ek staan hier met die kuns. Ek moet hom uithaal daar. Daai draad ek het hom gebuig en vir hom uitgetrek en ek het verder gesê, “vuur, jy het vir my so gemaak en jy maak my gesond.” Ek het hom op die vuur gehou en die vuur het hom gesond gebrand. Liana: Maar wat het julle met die draad presies gedoen? Izak: Ja kyk, die draad kom agterna kom die draad in. Soos ons geweet saam met die settelaars in. So voor die draad sou jy daai stokkie vat en daai klipskerp messie vat en jy gaan daai stok enige patroontjie uitkerwe met die klipskerp messie. En dan gaan jy hom op die vuur hou, en dan gaan daai patrone pikswart brand en jy gaan die ander stuk van die bas afhaal, dan is hy spierwit en dan is die patrone pikswart. Dis mos hoe die grootjies dit gedoen het. Liana: En die stok, waarvoor gebruik mens dit? Izak: Die stok word gebruik vir ’n pyl en boog, of vir ’n kierie, of ’n groustok vir medisyne grou. Liana: So dis deel van die mooimaak. Izak: Dis deel van die mooimaak. Lizet: En wat van die rook pyp? Maak mens pype van hulle? Izak: Die rookpyp sal dan ook van ’n bos afkom. Die bos se stukkie sal gegebruik word en die Witgatboom.


Lizet: Watse tipe bos is hierdie? Izak: Hierdie soos hulle hom nou noem is die ‘Klasas’. So die Witgatboom het sulke koppies, en daai koppies het dan nou heel mooi rond uitgehol en dan sy stukkie word dan uitgevat en word mooi deurgebrand met ’n gaatjie en dan hier ’n gaatjie gebrand en dan gaan die stokkie daar, en daar is die pypie. Lizet: So julle sal nie volstruisbeen of so iets gebruik nie? Izak: Die volstruisbeen is die mes. Want om die volstruisbeen baie hard is, kan jy hom slyp op die klip. Mooi slyp op die klip en dan maak jy jou mes en dan kan jy met jou been mes dan nou werk, jy kan sny met hom. David: Gebruik jy enige bene om ’n pyp te maak? Izak: Enige been om ’n pyp te maak, springbokbeen, gemsbokbeen, se kalf se been. Die springbok se middelbeen, die onderste been en die bobeen. So dis al drie bene wat jy gebruik vir ’n pyp. So as jy nie by die Witgatboom uitkom nie, om ’n pypie te kry nie, dan gebruik jy dan daai bene om ’n pypie te maak. En dan vat jy hierdie gras, dan rol jy hom fyn dat hy soos ’n filter is, dan sit jy ’n stukkie van die grassie daarin, en jy kan hom maar rook. Liana: Wat is jou gunsteling ding om te maak //ankie? Klein Dawid: Ja my gunsteling is beentjies kry en beentjies te brand. Liana: Bene te brand, en dan, wat maak jy daarmee? Klein Dawid: Sommige gee ek vir my familie ...vriende vra om leeu uit te brand... Liana: Brand jy vir hulle bene. Klein Dawid: Ja, baie van hulle vra vir my om vir hulle iets uit te brand, soos hulle gunsteling dier. Kom hulle en vra vir my en dan brand ek en dan gee ek hom. Liana: So jy brand hom skoon. Klein Dawid: Kyk die been, vat ons hom daarvan af, maak hom skoon, en brand ons hom op die been, boor ons hom ’n gaatjie deur. Daaraf kry hy sy stuk riempie in. Liana: So jy brand beentjies om die nek. Wie het vir jou geleer om dit te doen? Klein Dawid: Oom Izak goed. En die ander ooms. Ons het so grootgeword en so self geleer. Lizet: En wat’s jou gunsteling dier? Kein Dawid: Ek het altyd gehou van leeus, al is hy so gevaarlik. Liana: Daar’s ’n baie mooi leeu rotsgrafier hierso. Hy’t sy maanhare en alles en ons het hom nog nie gekry nie. So ons hoop vandag kry jy hom. Omdat dit jou gunsteling dier was. So as jy nou hierdie talent het om met die bene te werk. So het elkeen ’n spesifieke talent? Izak: Ja, almal het ’n talent. My suster se laaitie sy naam is Corné, Hy’s baie goed op papierwerk, baie goeie kuns. So hy sal vir jou baie goed kan uitbring op papier, waarvan ek jou die stories sal gee. En sy pa homself, is ’n baie talentvolle man, wat vir jou sal kuns uitbring op papier en op eier en op klip. So hy’s baie lief vir rotskuns en doen sy painting op rots, en ook, soos wat hy grootgeword het deur die jare het die natuur hom baie getrek en ge‘train’ en vir hom gesê ons soek jou hier naby. So hy is nou die meester van die veldskool. Liana: Sy pa? Maggies //ankie, jy’s vername. Izak: Dis hy wat nou vir die kinders opvoeding gee. En ook gidse en spoorsnyers opvoedkunde gegee het by die veldskool. Dit was sy droom. Liana: So gaan jy oorneem by jou pa? Klein Dawid: Ek sal nog kyk hoe die jare my nog dra en hoe vaar ek nog verder. Liana: Voel jy dit is deel van wat die Here vir jou s jy moet doen? Of het jy eintlik ’n ander droom? Klein Dawid: Kyk, soos die lewe aangaan pas ek nou maar aan by die natuur. Enige gedagte wat jy kry kom van God af. Liana: So jy kyk hoe gaan dit. Klein Dawid: Ek weet nie, miskien sal ek eendag in sy voetspore staan. Liana: Sal dit vir jou goed voel? Klein Dawid: Ja, en ek is baie trots op my pa.


Blurring the lines:

Rethinking indigeneity research at Biesje Poort LAUREN DYLL-MYKLEBUST UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU-NATAL


s an academic in the cultural and communication studies field my research interests and publication topics include: social change communication, cultural tourism and stakeholder partnerships, issues of identity, critical indigenous qualitative research, and memory. I am a lecturer in the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, teaching development and social change communication from a participatory and culture-centred perspective. This allowed me the opportunity to be part of this interdisciplinary project as a research supervisor for two CCMS students. I have been a contributor to Prof. Tomaselli’s Rethinking Indigeneity project, since 2002 in which both my MA and PhD were embedded. Being in the field at Biesje Poort alerted me to many instances of how this project is an apt example of rethinking received research paradigms and methodologies, which is what I discuss here.

Figure 5.1 Snaking up the koppie (Dyll-Myklebust 2011)

This chapter foregrounds the methodological approach of the Biesje Poort project, outlining the ways in which the project can be framed within Rethinking Indigeneity research. As we snaked our way up the rocky terrain of Biesje Poort it dawned on me that the multidisciplinary and multicultural Biesje Poort KhoiSan Rock Art Recording project ‘rethinks’ conventional ethnographic and archaeological research that is typified by ‘expert researchers’ who conceptualise their projects with neatly articulated goals and questions that are to be answered. Historically, from an indigenous perspective, the domain of research and science was mobilised to the imperialist agenda. The past few decades, however, have seen a shift in perspective whereby indigenous knowledge is no longer viewed as a “barrier to progress,” but rather as instrumental in conducting contextually sensitive and useful research. The United

Nations’ (UN)-proclaimed Decade of World’s Indigenous Peoples (1994-2004) has illustrated the importance of the need for preservation of local cultures and also the need to involve indigenous and local communities within projects that may impact on their lives (such as social development, cultural tourism and public health programmes). Just as importantly, indigenous scholars have been given credit where credit is due. The UN’s goal for the Decade was “to strengthen international cooperation to solve the problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as human rights, the environment, development, education and health.” The key to achieving this goal was to be found in the UN’s theme for the International Decade – “Indigenous people: partnership in action” where there was a commitment to encouraging the development of partnerships between indigenous peoples, states and other groups, and between indigenous peoples and the


Chaper 5: Blurring the lines

UN. The aim of these partnerships was to offer ways for indigenous peoples to develop their own solutions to the problems they faced. While this policy signals the significance of including indigenous peoples at policy level and within many projects, some still argue that academia has not fulfilled this objective: “Non-indigenous scholars have yet to learn from it, to learn that it is time to dismantle, deconstruct and decolonise western epistemologies from within, to learn that research does not have to be a dirty word, to learn that research is already moral and political.”1 The ‘western epistemology’ here is premised on the assumption that the researcher is the ‘expert’ who enters a research area to observe, document and engage with the local community, viewed as informants whose knowledge of the area is helpful in elucidating answers to the research questions. So, while the knowledge held by indigenous informants has begun to be viewed as valuable, generally the people themselves are often viewed as living on the margins of society and as ‘subjects’ of research and develop-

Figure 5.2 A demonstration in the coproduction of knowledge (Jansen 2013)


ment, rather than as agents within these processes. The Biesje Poort project is part of the movement where the typical boundaries of researcher/ researched are blurred and where meaning-making is inductively drawn from the field in the co-production of knowledge with both local people and academic/ practitioners. This is a new phase in The Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) Rethinking Indigeneity project. It originated in collaboration with the University of Leeds Centre for Postcolonial Studies that was extended from Keyan Tomaselli’s previous National Research Foundation-funded projects that have been ongoing since 1995. Before I go on to explain the ways in which the Biesje Poort project is illustrative of Rethinking Indigeniety research I want to give a brief account of each of the previous phases.2 Phase 1 (starting in 1986) introduced analyses of cinematic and television representations of the Bushman and Zulu peoples. Phase 2 (starting in 1995) as ‘Semiotics of the Encounter’ began extensive empirical fieldwork in four Bushman communities, namely Namibia (Eastern Bushmanland), Botswana (the !Xoo, Ngwatle), the Northern Cape (the ‡Khomani, Witdraai) and among Zulu-speaking Bushman descendants (the Duma) in Kamberg, KwaZulu-Natal. This phase introduced analyses on cultural tourism, identity, performance and resistance. It also examined researcher/ researched relations, and provided the basis for the systematic development of autoethnographic and participatory field research methods.3 Autoethnography is both a research methodology and a genre of writing within cultural and media studies, literary studies, performative studies, social theory and anthropology (among other fields) that “displays multiple layers of consciousness, connecting the personal to the cultural.”4 Phase 3 (starting in 2003) ‘From Observation to Development: Method, Cultural Studies and Identity’ in-corporates research on development communication and social change, media production and reception, policy, livelihoods, micro-enterprises, and community radio as a development medium (introducing a new research site at the !Xun and Khwe in Platfontein, Kimberley). Phase 4 (starting in 2005) ‘The Development of !Xaus Lodge’ concretises and connects the other phases in the examination of a specific tourism development project: the genesis, establishment and performance of !Xaus Lodge, a community-owned (‡Khomani and Mier5) and privately operated (Transfrontier Parks

1 Denzin & Lincoln 2008: ix 2 CCMS joined The Centre for Postcolonial Studies in 2008 for a workshop to discuss the issue of Indigenous presence and claim: What forms does it take and how is it dealt with in the contemporary world? The title of the project was adopted with permission from our Leeds collaborators, Stuart Murray and Brendon Nicholls. For further detail on each of these phases, see Tomaselli 2012: 29-54 3 See Tomaselli (2005; 2007) 4 Ellis & Bochner, 2000:739. 5 A group of people, who refer to themselves as coloured, living in the Mier Municipality in the Northern Cape. 6 Lange 2011 7 Smith 1999 8 CCMS joined The Centre for Postcolonial Studies in 2008 for a workshop to discuss the issue of Indigenous presence and claim: What forms does it take and how is it dealt with in the contemporary world? The title of the project was adopted with permission from our Leeds collaborators, Stuart Murray and Brendon Nicholls. For further detail on each of these phases see, Tomaselli, 2012 (2012) Chapter 3 Research Phases: What Have We Been Doing? In Tomaselli, K. (ed.) Cultural Tourism and Identity: Rethinking Indigeniety. Leiden: Brill, 29-54. 9 Marcus & Fischer 1999: ix 10 Autoethnography is briefly described earlier in this chapter. An autoethnographic approach requires researchers to document and analyse action as well as to purposively engage in it (Anderson 2006: 280). They need to note down and write into their papers the experiences and contradictions faced in the field and explain them in relationship to themselves and the local people, i.e., their

Chaper 5: Blurring the lines

Lange’s6 analysis of water stories by Eiland women of the Gariep, as Phase 6 in the CCMS Rethinking Indigeneity project’s trajectory. Writing from a Maori perspective Linda Tuhiwai Smith7 proposes that the quintessential way for ‘indigenizing’ research is to engender the development of indigenous people as researchers. She explores research and indigenous projects in which this is done – where the success of these projects is dependent on a shift in research methodology. She urges researchers to disrupt the rules of the ‘research game’ towards practices that are respectful, ethical, sympathetic and useful as opposed to those that are racist, ethnocentric and exploitative. What is significant for the Biesje Poort project, as it relates to the indigenising project, is that it can involve non-indigenous researchers “with a centring of the landscapes, images, languages, themes, metaphors and stories in the indigenous world.”8 What becomes central to non-indigenous researchers embarking on indigenous methodologies with local people are the clarification and problematising of the researcher/ researched or Self/ Other relationship so as “to make accessible the normally unexamined assumptions by which we operate and through which we encounter members of other cultures.”9 One way in which to do this is to embrace an autoethnograhic approach,10 as mentioned above. Within this approach there is no longer a primary focus ‘only’ on the research informants as ‘Other’. What becomes a prerequisite for ethnography is the idea of ‘confrontation’. This ‘confrontation’ comes in the form of dialogue with data, research participants, or teams (as in the Biesje Poort project), and oneself in negotiating one’s position in order to understand a social setting, social group or social problem. As you will read in this book, many of the team adopted an autoethnographic stance across the varying disciplines. As I am part of the CCMS group of the Biesje Poort team, I wish to detail our involvement a little further. We are still concerned with subject matter identified in the other phases, that include: Figure 5.3 Biesje Poort landscape showing ostrich engraving (Dyll-Myklebust 2011)

own subjectivity and wider sociocultural processes (Tomaselli, DyllMyklebust & Van Grootheest 2013).

Destinations) lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier park. Phase 5 (starting in 2008) ‘Rethinking Indigeneity’ goes one step further: embracing an action research approach, researchers offer strategies and models for tourism social change implementation of what has been learned from Phases 1-4. Although the phases are ongoing and intersecting, Biesje Poort could be mapped, along with Mary

• • • • •

development communication social change issues of representation and reception identity politics researcher/ researched relations.

However, the methodology of the project is somewhat different than before. The first five phases have


Chaper 5: Blurring the lines

engaged with our host/ participant communities, such as the ‡Khomani in the Northern Cape, with an objective to debunk the assumption that indigeneity necessarily entails marginalised communities reverting to a ‘traditional’ self-representation or lifestyles in ‘resistance’ to influences of the globalised world. We situate our research in such a way that there is an equal partnership between the researcher and the community with whom we work. Community members are thus able to express their own understandings of the perceptions, expectations and myths that the media, researchers, lodge operators and tourists may impose. Their voices are integral to our research and they actively position themselves in a contemporary context. Often it is us, the ‘researchers’, who are asked questions by our participants that make us think about our own lives, therefore blurring the researcher/ researched dichotomy. The Biesje Poort project goes one step further in that the researcher/ researched division is almost non-existent. Yes, researchers were present with research questions in mind but it was the entire team, consisting of professors, students, archaeologists, fieldworkers, coordinators, landscape architects and Kalahari participants and organic intellectuals, who were the informants or ‘study sample’. Cultural relativity, and even personal relativity, as well as multivocality11 were the order of the day where the guiding framework was characterised by “multiple ways of seeing and making sense of the world.”12 This framework privileges the ordinary person as a theorist involved in developing ideas so as to guide an understanding of his/ her personal/ collective/ historical and social worlds. As team members in the Biesje Poort project we were urged to reach out to the sense made by others, in order to understand what insights it may bring into our own understanding of the Biesje Poort cultural landscape and rock engravings. In this way the Biesje Poort project adopted a sense-making approach as “sense-making explicitly enters the research situation in the ‘in-between’ spaces between order and chaos, structure and individual, self 1 and self 2.”13 This was operationalised in the variety of research and recording techniques by the entire team, as can be read in this book. These techniques included those of cultural mapping with a GPS recording device, tracing rock art and scientific methods of recording heritage sites, open-ended, face-to-face interviews for the recording of impressions and stories. Storytelling was given priority in the recording methodolo-


Figure 5.4 Dialogue and ‘in between spaces’ (Jansen 2013)

gy of the project. Telling stories is basic to our human nature, and hence is a useful technique in fracturing a hierarchical and dominating research methodology. Stories allow us to shape who we are and to present ourselves and our experiences to those around us. As Maenette Benham14 argues, “[f]or native/ indigenous people, narratives are evocative accounts of sovereignty and loss, as well as identity and home. They are detailed and contextual, recognising the importance of community and place.” Benham makes a valid point and the stories shared by the Kalahari participants were clearly articulated around themes of identity, home, loss and such-like. Storytelling is an important mode of sense-making for most (if not all) people – stories connect us as individuals and as a community whether or not one is local to an area. As witnessed in the multiple interpretations to the different rock engravings, each one of us tells our story from our own perspective (influenced by our personal and socio-cultural background) (see Morris chapter 3). The Biesje Poort project insists that each of these interpretations is as valid as any other. Sharing knowledge is at the heart of any participatory process and this requires valuing all team members as equals. At Biesje Poort

11 Multivocality, e.g., involves researchers recording events and conversations, documenting research as an almost schizophrenic frenzied multiple focus (Adler & Adler 1987). This is necessary because individual interpretations of an event/ phenomenon among individuals in the same group, or working on the same project are varied and can even contradict one another. Diversity of voice and perception is essential in indigenising research as it provides a multidimensional and nuanced image of the field (or the research site) and researcher/ researched relations (Tomaselli, Dyll-Myklebust & Van Grootheest 2013). 12 Kincheloe & Steinberg 2008 13 Dervin 2003: 332 14 Benham 2007

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15 Freire 1990 16 Adichie 2009

all team members were considered experts. While some team members shared knowledge from tertiary education and professional sectors, others shared their indigenous knowledge of the engraved rock depictions and material culture in fascinating stories of their own. These varying perspectives are presented in the pages of this book. The project is holistic in its outlook, where the presence of the rock art is a catalyst to many other forms of research, research questions and stories. The team’s responses to the Biesje Poort site and engravings were recorded not solely in relation to gathering data around the engraved rock depictions but also with the view to analyse how the relationship to rock art heritage/ recording/ preservation/ representation ‘replicates’ or ‘differs’ from each other. This type of research places Biesje Poort not only in relation to the markings of the past, but with relevance to the present: a living heritage. David Morris and Koot Msawula of the McGregor Museum’s on-site copies of individual engravings were eventually generated by all team members who broke away into smaller ‘work groups’ where in a very FreiFigure 5.6 Klein Dawid and Lydia tracing (Dyll-Myklebust 2011)

Figure 5.5 Mary and Izak sharing stories (Dyll-Myklebust 2011)

rean15 way the learner/ instructor division became blurred. ‘Learner’ became the ‘instructor’ as we asked each other questions like: what do I do if there is this bit of broken rock? Do I use a different coloured pen now to mark a different shape? To teach is empowering. Storytelling is central to this. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie16 advises that stories have been used to dispossess and malign, but that they also have the ability to humanise and empower. The stories shared with you in this book will hopefully illuminate on the latter. Scholarly discourse around social change typically creates a dichotomy in its application between a participation-as-a-means and participation-as-an-end approach. Another way in which the Biesje Poort project blurs divisions is that it: i) combined both participation in its activities; while ii) the outcome of these processes resulted in a state of being empowered for all team members. As you will read in the other chapters that offer evocative accounts from each team member, the field trip entailed moments of exploration, discovery and (fear!) in a number of ways – physically, academically and spiritually. I end with a quote that should form the framework for this new phase, as it valorises ‘wholeness’ rather than duality.


Chaper 5: Blurring the lines

“Using body, mind and spirit as a template in which to organise meaningful research asks us to extend beyond our objective/ empirical knowing (body) into wider spaces of reflection offered through conscious subjectivity (mind) and, finally via recognition and engagement with deeper realities (spirit). We at first thought it was about opposites, about duality, and painting our theories of gender, science, and life under this light. Black and white comparisons kept us busy for hundreds of years. It has caused untold horror and

helped create a rigid epistemology we now assume cannot evolve. We have options however, [to] step from entrenched patterns of thinking to include older ways and more experienced expressions of what intelligence ‘really’ is and how it can be expressed. Research and life are more in line with three simple categories that have been lost in theory and rhetoric: body, mind and spirit. Thus begins the discussion of a triangulation of meaning.”17

17 Aluli-Meyer 2008


Participants: Koot Msawula BY DAVID MORRIS

Koot Msawula was born at Jacobsdal in the western Free State then went to live and work in Kimberley in 1980. It was in 2003 that he first became exposed to archaeology when labour was needed on a substantial salvage excavation after the municipality had disturbed graves outside the Gladtsone Cemetery. After three months of fieldwork assistance he had gained valuable excavation skills. With other members of the team he has since remained attached to the McGregor Museum archaeology department in an informal way, and taken part in several major salvage projects. He has worked alongside researchers from the United States, Sweden and Canada, at major sites such as Wildebeest Kuil, Wonderwerk Cave and Kathu. Koot took part in the 2011 fieldwork at Biesje Poort, and remarked positively on becoming a part of the larger team: “We learnt a lot from one another, especially from the Bushmen.” “I learnt a lot from Izak Kruiper, who said he could see signs in the engravings that told him about the place.” Having been involved in some of the development of public and schools programmes at Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre, Koot hoped that something similar might one day be possible at Biesje Poort. “It’s a great history actually at Biesje Poort. The place must be kept safe and we must make sure that nothing is removed from there.” He wished to see the project continue: “We must not forget our elsders’ history which is important to our children.” Koot Msawula took part in the follow-up work at Witdraai later in 2011 and was a proud recipient of one of the certificates handed out in the presence of National Heritage Council officials at a function at Molopo Lodge. He has been involved in the processing of materials generated by the Biesje Poort project. (Based in part on a contribution to Sub text, Autumn 2011).




Biesje Poort: Site Visit March 2011

Transcribed by Lizet Verwoerd, May 2013 Afrikaans indicated in italics

Shanade: Izak:

Hoe voel julle oor daai kunswerk? Ek sal sê ek is nogal geïnteresseerd oor die rotskuns, want baie van ons rotskuns is weg wat nie gemonitor is nie. Shanade: Wag, kom ons vra hoe voel jy oor die rotskuns in Biesje Poort? Izak: Ek moet sê ek is nogal geïnspireerd met die rotskuns. Want baie van ons rotskuns is weggeneem wat ons nie gemonitor het nie. So hierdie is die eerste [waarin ons] deelneem en ook kan bewaar. Shanade: Izak says that he is inspired by this rock art, there is a lot of rock art out there, but they haven’t been able to go to those sites and see those sites. This was the first project where he was able to participate and actually go to the sites and see the sites and participate... Okay and wat nog? Izak: Jy weet dis vir my ’n eer om met studente saam te werk. Shanade: It was an honour to work with the students. Izak: Dis hy, ek het ’n baie groot gevoel vir die ondervinding van die rotskuns met die studente. Shanade: He’s got a good feeling about the finding of the rock art and work with the students. Baie dankie Izak. En jy //ankie, wat dink jy van die rotskuns van hierdie projek? Miskien ook die eerste vraag. Hoe voel jy van hierdie rotskuns? Klein Dawid (//ankie): Dit was vir my ’n baie groot voorreg en ek voel baie geïnspireerd. Shanade: He also feels very inspired. Klein Dawid: Dis my eerste keer wat ek... ek het nog net gehoor van die rotskuns wat gegrafeer is. Shanade: So he didn’t know about the rock engravings before. It was his first experience with rock engravings. Klein Dawid: Dit is my eerste keer dat ek dit sien. Shanade: The first time he saw it. Klein Dawid: Dit was vir my baie lekker, met die studente, met die projek lede. Shanade: It was a good experience with the students and the project leaders. Klein Dawid: En die grafering self, daar is plase met graferings wat lyk soos daai graferings, maar daar is ’n bietjie wat verskil. Shanade: So there are a few engravings that look familliar and there are some that look different, so it was a good experience. Klein Dawid: En self met die ‘trace’, dit was vir my ’n groot voorreg om oor te gaan waar daai mense, wat daai gedoen het, is jare al dood. Shanade: It was quite a good experience to be part of the tracing, because it was with those people that actually did the rock engravings...hundred years ago they already did those. Izak: En ek sal ook sê die tegniek wat ons gebruik het, is vir my baie interessant. Want ons het met pen en papier gewerk...en ook die GPS wat //ankie gebruik het. So dit was vir my ’n baie goeie ervaring met die tegniek van die argeologie. Shanade: The technique was very interesting, you work with pen and paper and also the GPS. So it was a good experience with the technique used by archaeology. En jy wat dink jy van die GPS en alles? Klein Dawid: Ek het so bietjie ervaring gehad met die GPS. Shanade: Voor hierdie projek? So before this project he has had some experience with the GPS. Miliswa: Tell us about that? Shanade: Wanneer was dit? Klein Dawid: Dit was 2009, op Kgalagadi plant research. Shanade: Project with the plants in the Transfrontier Park. So you went up and you did GPS work there. Milsiwa: Was this GPS the same as the one you used in 2009?


Shanade: Klein Dawid: Shanade: Klein Dawid: Shanade: Izak:

Was dit dieselfde GPS, of ’n verskillende een? So bietjie verskillend. A little bit different. So het jy vinnig geleer op hierdie verskillende een? Vinnig geleer. Ja oor ’n dag of twee, en jy het dit geweet. Liana was weg en jy het die tegniek gehad. Ek het gevra en so bietjie gekyk en ek sien hy druk nou daar en kyk hierso. Maar ek het bietjie my aandag gegee op die GPS. Maar nou dit sal vir my ’n tydtjie vat om hom nou te leer. Selfs so met ’n selfoon sal ek ’n tydtjie vat. So drie maande om hom nou te verstaan, die sel se nommers ken ek nog uit die kop uit. So by hom is dit baie vinniger. Hy dink nog vinnig, sy kop is nog oop. Maar myne is nou al ’n muisnes met al die gedagtes, so ek sal tyd nog ’n tydjie vat om te leer. So hy moet my leer, hy is my onderwyser nou. Shanade: Izak says that //ankie learns the GPS quickly, that it would take him a little bit longer, like say three months to learn. He gave the example of the cellphone that took him longer to use the cellphone. And he still doesn’t know the cellphone number off by heart and now //ankie will become his teacher. Maybe in the future he will learn how to use the GPS, //ankie needs to be the one to teach him. Dis mooi so. En enige iets anders oor die rotskuns? En enige iets anders van die hele projek? Klein Dawid: Dit was ’n evaring om te deel met die projek. Ek het bietjie geleer. Dit wat ek geleer het, dit deel ek, dis deel. Shanade: He learnt a little bit, what he learnt he shares, it is part of it. Dankie //ankie. En Lydia, wat dink jy van daai rotskuns? Lydia Lys: Ek het gesien dit is nogal ’n goeie ding. Wat ek nie sou gesien het nie, het ek gesien. Shanade: It’s a good thing... What she didn’t see before, she saw now. Lydia Lys: En ek het geleer wat ek gesien het, en dis vir my ’n voorreg wat ek gesien het... Met David wat ek gesien het by hom, het ons tog weer geleer by hom. Ek is baie bly daarvoor, vir hom wat ek weer bietjie gesien het by hom... En self die studente wat saam met ons gedeel het is vir my ’n voorreg wat hulle gedeel het met ons. Shanade: It was a privilege to work with the students and the students with them. Lydia Lys: En selfs vir //ankie met die GPS, dis vir my ’n voorreg dat //ankie deelgeneem het daaraan. Hy kan nou weer die ander kinders oplei. Selfs vir my. Ek is baie bly dat hy dit geaanvaar het, hy kan selfs mondeliks met die anderse praat wat hy gesien het en saam met David gedoen het. En die ene swaai nie weg van die ander groep af nie. Ek is baie bly daarvoor, met die groep wat ek dit meer gedoen het, ons probeer dit saam vorentoe die paadjie loop met dit. Shanade: Lys says that she is even proud that //ankie learnt the GPS, and he can now go and talk to the other children in the community and teach them and show them what it’s about and maybe show Lys what he has learnt. And she’s very happy to walk forward with the group. Lydia Lys: En selfs die rotskuns wat ek gesien het. Ek weet net hoe oom Sakkie [Izak] hulle... ek noem dit maar skildery... ek sien hoe doen hulle dit, maar dis harde werk. Maar dié hierso het ek nog nie gesien nie. Shanade: She hadn’t seen these before. Lydia Lys: Maar rêrigwaar ek is dankbaar om hiervan deel te wees. Om nog bietjie meer te kan leer wat ek nie gesien het nie, sal ek dit baie waardeer. Shanade: She would really appreciate to be part of more of this kind of thing to learn more about these things that she hasn’t seen before. Lys, het jy al die tekeninge gesien, die skilderye? Maar nie hierdie soort rotsgrafering nie. Izak: Kyk waar ons rondbeweeg het, was daar baie rots kuns, kunswerk. In Kagga Kamma is daar baie kunswerke met ‘paintings’. Nou die grafering is nie daai kant nie. So dis die eerste keer dat ons bietjie grafering kan kyk met die kuns. So ek is nogal bly. Soos wat ek kan verstaan in die Rigtersveld is daar baie ‘paintings’... So hierdie is uitgrafeer. Dis die ervaring. So dat die projek moet nie stilstaan nie. Laat hy kan groei. So ek aan daai kant weer by Wildebeeskuil kom, dan is dit weer ’n nuwe ervaring, want ek was nog nie daar gewees nie. Shanade: The project must not stand still...a new experience, because he’s never been there. He would appreciate it a lot to go there...Ek wil vir jou vra, was dit gister toe Stella and Tembelani daar was, daai enetjie met die olifant, hulle het gevra wat is daardie een? Jy en David het gepraat oor daai een voor jy vir hulle gesê het wat is op daai prentjies. Izak: Ek en David en Koot... Miliswa: What was the question? Shanade: The elephant that I was telling you about, yesterday Stella and Tembelani were asking what is this animal, and we were talking about it. Then Koot called over Izak to explain to them. Then Izak told them it was an elephant. And there were these strange tusks coming out of the head. And then they said maybe it’s horns and not an elephant. Then Isak explained the picture. Izak: Ek en David en Koot was by daai prentjie gewees, en David het my gevra en vir my gesê die een lyk soos horings. Ek sê nee as jy mooi kyk sal jy sien dis nie horings nie, dis ’n olifant, maar as jy kyk die ‘part’ wat inkom, dan kyk ons nou die verskil van die koppies. Dan kyk ons hier’s ’n koppie, hier is ene, soos die water vloei, gaan die wat af daarnatoe. Soos hy opkom kom die smalle op en kom die koppie op breë toe, dan maak hy oop. So het ons toe weer gesels daar, en ook op die plek van Biesje poort. So Biesje Poort hoekom hy die naam gekry het... Shanade: Wag nou... So what he is saying is that, David asked him what animal it is, and David said it looks like horns, it was like this, it was an animal with the nose coming down like that, and you could see, it was an ‘Olifant’. En daar was iets soos dit wat daar uitgekom. That came out. Then David asked, what is this animal? You know it looks like it has horns. Then Izak said, no it’s not horns, it’s the two hills coming together. Het jy vir hom gesê hierdie strepe is soos die water? Ja, these are like the water between the rock, tussen die koppies. Izak: Ja tussen die koppies, as dit nou af kom en jy sien ondertoe water is mos nou. As jy hier kom dit dit baie sterker as jy hierdie klip sny, dan gaan dit so af. Dis die klip stukkies. Shanade. Ek het gedink, gister toe jy vir Stella hulle gesê het, het ek gedink dis baie interessant want ek het nog nie gehoor van hierdie rotskuns, van die land in die rotskuns nie. Die diere is in die rotskuns, maar die land en die plante... ek het nie geweet dit is in die rotskuns nie.


Field discussions: reflections

FRIDAY MORNING WRAP-UP DISCUSSIONS WITH THE WHOLE GROUP AT KHAMKIRRI: KLEIN DAWID’S VIEWS FOR THE FUTURE The brief closing discussion is about what more Klein Dawid might like to learn. He says he would like to be able to tell the exact age of the rock engraving. When asked if he would like to further his education in archaeology he says that he would, but only has a standard five level education. He is told that there are other programmes whereby he can extend his skills. He reflects on working with the GPS and how he returned to tell his peers back home what all it could do. (Roger C. Fisher)

Biesje Poort: Site Visit April 2013, Day 3

PARTICIPANTS: LIANA MÜLLER JANSEN KLEIN DAWID KRUIPER BELINDA ORG DAVID MORRIS Liana: Maar //ankie is jy tevrede met die werk? Klein Dawid: Ja tevrede, die eerste is gevat so die tweedes kan nog gebruik word. Liana: As daar nog ’n vaardigheid (skill) iets wat jy kan leer by ons, wat sou dit gewees het? Klein Dawid: Ja ek sal nou graag wou bygeleer het, hoe mens presies weet hoe oud is die rotskuns. Belinda: So bietjie meer oor argeologie. Wow, //ankie David blom seker, hoe jy dit alles professioneel bepaal. Liana: So dis nie net die dokumentering nie, maar ook die verstaan wat is ouer, wat is nuwer en wat is belangriker. Belinda: Dat hy sy instinkte ook daaroor kan ontwikkel. Liana: So jy sal graag as daar by die universiteit ’n kursus is, sal jy graag dit wil doen. Klein Dawid: Ja dis my belangstelling.

Transcription by Lizet Verwoerd Afrikaans indicated in italics


Maar dis goed dat jy nou betrokke was by die, daar sal miskien beurse en goed wees. Het jy matriek klaargemaak? Klein Dawid: Nee ek het standerd vyf gegaan. Liana: Wel, mens sal nog steeds ’n kursus doen. David: Dit sal nie ’n probleem wees nie. Belinda: Al die praktiese opleiding wat jy gehad het in die Kalahari, al die veld wagter ‘training’ wat jy gehad het is genoeg, jy sal kan. David: Ja ek dink deel van hierdie program is om gemeenskapsmense betrokke te maak. Liana: Van jou vriende, want jou pa is mos deel van die veldskool. Is daar van jou vriende wat ook belangstel in hierdie projek. Klein Dawid: Ek weet nou nie, maar miskien hoor ek by hulle wanneer ek weer in die veld is. Liana: Maar vertel jy hulle van hierdie projek? En wat sê hulle daarvan? Klein Dawid: Ek het vir hulle vertel van die GPS stelsel wat bietjie anderster van ons s’n is. En toe sê hulle hulle sal nogal ge‘like’ het om kans te kry om met so ietsie ‘fancy’ te werk. Ek vertel van GPS wat ‘photo’ neem voor jy data vat.




Participatory communication:

A tool for social and heritage development MILISWA MAGONGO UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU-NATAL


hold a Master of Social Science degree majoring in Development and Health Communication from the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. I also hold a BSocSci Honours degree in Culture, Communication and Media Studies and a BA degree in English and History from the Universities of KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland respectively. As a specialist in Development Communication and Health Promotion, my interest lies in the use of and analysing participatory methodologies in projects, communication strategy design, monitoring and evaluation. Working in real life projects such as the Biesje Poort project with people from different disciplines and cultures has developed my intercultural awareness and communication skills.


1 The Biesje Poort rock art recording project referred to in this chapter was undertaken from 28 March to 1 April 2011. 2 Bessette 2004:1 3 Ibid

The National Heritage Council (NHC), through their policy framework, encourages the active involvement of local people in initiatives for the development of heritage. It also strives to create an environment that enables all South Africans to have access to heritage resources and whereby all people are treated with dignity and respect. Heritage projects such as the Biesje Poort rock art recording project have brought together a diverse group from various cultures and various parts of the country to work together. From this project it became clear that legislation alone is not enough to protect and conserve heritage resources such as rock art. This chapter proposes that participatory communication be used as a strategy in social and heritage development. Through using the Biesje Poort rock art recording project1 (hereafter referred to as ‘BP project’) as a case study, this chapter illustrates how participatory communication is accomplished within a given development project. It also helps the reader

understand how participation as a general strategy could be used in other development projects. Participatory communication entails facilitating dialogue or open communication among stakeholders working together towards a common goal. Community participation is defined as “facilitating the active involvement of different community groups along with other stakeholders.” These include development and research agents working with the community.2 This means that community participation is not simply attending community meetings. Nor is it just taking part in activities organised for them by people from outside the community. Rather, it means that community members must play an active role in the decision-making process and the planning of the development initiative.3 Though difficult to achieve at times, intersectoral coordination and collaboration between stakeholders is key in ensuring social change and heritage development. Open communication channels and working cooperatively as a group or community are key participatory features that can be used to achieve the desired results. The communication focus in the BP project was not on information dissemination by experts to non-experts. The focus was instead on horizontal communication processes. These were more focused on knowledge sharing of both Western (academic and scientific form) and indigenous knowledge (storytelling form). The different participatory communication activities spurred discussions and engagements among participants. Participation in the project may be viewed as having been both participation–as-a-means and participation-as-an-end. Participation-as-a-means was used as an instrument to achieve the envisioned goals. For instance, for the BP project to be a success all participants were expected to take part in its planning and implementation. Participation as-an-end involved decision-making and empowerment. The


Chaper 6: Participatory communication

participants acquired skills, knowledge and experience. For instance, all participants gained rock art recording skills and all participants gained knowledge of the importance of preserving rock art heritage.

How to involve the community?

Research teams and development practitioners, in order to facilitate participation, must consider the people with whom they want to communicate as partners in a development effort, and not merely as beneficiaries.4 This means establishing dialogue with community members. The practice does not involve persuading or dictating to them what you want out of their community. Community members agree on a common goal with regard to the proposed project, complete with possible steps to take when implementing the project within the set time allotted. Since individuals comprising any community are hardly ever a homogenous group, conflicts and disagreements are bound to occur or arise as each individual is given an opportunity to express their different needs and opinions. Good leadership and dialogue are important to overcome conflicts and other obstacles in the project.

Why involve communities in development projects? Knowledge sharing Knowledge sharing is one of the fundamental principles of the concept of participatory communication as it implies mutual respect for all knowledge brought in by all the stakeholders involved. Research collaborations between scientists and indigenous communities are encouraged as, through engaging in dialogue, participants from diverse cultures and disciplines are able to share knowledge and critical understanding. A partnership between scientists and nonscientists provides a stronger case for knowledge sharing and application. The potential danger of involving technical or scientific experts to work together with people who are not formally educated is that the level of education between the two groups might create a communication gap. Without a mediator, good leader or ‘champion’ to ensure a continuous flow of communication between the two groups the discussion may become too technical and intimidating for the other group, thus causing tension.5 It is imperative, therefore, to co-create knowledge by demystifying technical


Figure 6.1 BP Participants discussing the BP landscape (Morris 2011)

and complex information so that all participants understand it. Partnerships between local knowledge bearers and scientific experts can be mutually beneficial as evidenced by the BP project. One way in which participation was achieved in BP was through inclusive naming of the sites. As a result, knowledge was generated inter-subjectively. Furthermore, such an approach reduces the likelihood of a priori privilege where one form of Figure 6.2 A typical group meeting at Khamkirri Lodge knowledge is considered with team members sitting in a circular formation more complete or more (Magongo, 2011) appropriate6. In the Site Record Form7 which we used to record every site there is provision for a literal name and a local name. The 4 Ibid Kalahari crafters were given an opportunity to confer 5 Quarry and Ramirez 2009 on the sites a local name which they felt was of signif6 Mohan 2001 icance. For instance, Site 10 was recorded as BP 10 7 Magongo 2012

Chaper 6: Participatory communication

8 9 10 11

12 13 14 15

Magongo 2012 Dyll-Myklebust 2012 See Lange chapter 1 Izak Kruiper, one of the BP participants from the Kalahari (see filler in this volume) 2011 See Fisher chapter 4 2011 White 1994; Tufte & Mefalopulos 2009

(literal name) the 10 is a national site number that is assigned by the museum and ´AM ´Xaus (local name) meaning water snake. From a participatory communication perspective this is significant as it highlights knowledge creation and sharing between scientists and indigenous communities. Knowledge sharing was not only limited to the naming of sites but everyone was given an opportunity to engage with the different sites and rock engravings. In one instance the participants discussed and debated the reasoning behind the location of the rock art8. High levels of knowledge sharing in a community project increases the likelihood of all project participants feeling included and relevant. The BP participants freely shared knowledge in their areas of expertise (from technical knowledge of a GPS communication strategies to storytelling) that led to each participant feeling a sense of ownership of the project (see Belinda Org in this volume).

Intercultural awareness and tolerance

Genuinely engaging with individuals from other cultures and backgrounds enables one to appreciate more than just the superficial differences between individuals and to also learn to respect and tolerate other peoples’ ways of life. The participants’ view of the BP rock engravings

Figure 6.3 BP participants listening to David Morris as he shares archaeological knowledge (Magongo 2011)

was informed by their history, epistemology and ontology. The project therefore highlights the importance of cultural relativity in development projects whereby possible differences in the stakeholders’ history, epistemology and ontology should be taken into consideration in order to facilitate and develop programmes/ models that are contextually and culturally sensitive.9 This may explain the Kalahari crafters’ ways of decision-making. It was not influenced by the urgency of working within a set deadline. For instance, their request for less structured working hours is briefly discussed below. Another instance occurred when the Kalahari crafters were asked to interpret something and they responded that they would do so the next day. Mary10 had asked Izak11 about a specific rock engraving at which he was looking and he responded “I can’t tell you now. I’ll tell you when we come back again because the history can come out in a dream.”12 Roger13 noted that the importance of having had the Bushmen with us is that ‘it gave us a particular cultural perspective; a contemporary cultural perspective.’14

Empowerment and skills transference

As part of participatory communication’s normative outlook, empowerment is achieved through conscientisation and it is through participation that people are empowered.15 Empowerment is a process where

Figure 6.4 BP participants listening attentively to Oeliset Org as he shares indigenous knowledge (Magongo 2011)


Chaper 6: Participatory communication

Figure 6.5 BP participants tracing rock engravings (Magongo 2011)

organisations, individuals and communities obtain control over their socio-economic conditions through democratically inclined participation.16 The primary objective of the Biesje Poort recording process is linked to individual skills acquisition and self-awareness as a producer of knowledge. However, the very notion of empowerment can bring about challenges in the recording of tangible and intangible heritage. This occurs when researchers excite a community’s interest and raise expectations of improved services and greater participation. It can be a disempowering experience if nothing happens. Researchers and practitioners should be open and honest with participants and avoid creating unrealistic expectations.17 All BP participants, other than the archaeological team who brought the recording skill, gained expertise in the recording of the rock art engravings. Using polythene (paper) participants learnt how to trace and record the different rock engravings. Speaking about his experience working in the field, Izak said “I enjoyed it because I liked working at the same level with the students. I listened to the students and the students themselves would not know what to do. For instance, they would say now to use the green pen or the red pen. It brought people together. There would be laughter. I’m glad that I didn’t just walk around. I learnt something new.”18 This demonstrates that Izak not only gained recording skills but he found it empowering to share his knowledge with other participants. Looking at it from a broader context, David Morris19 related how the sharing of culture and heritage know-


Figure 6.6 Klein Dawid Kruiper and David Morris recording a site’s GPS coordinates (Magongo 2011)

Figure 6.7 BP participants tracing rock engravings (Magongo 2011)

16 17 18 19

Melkote & Steeves 2011 Titteron & Smart 2006 Kruiper, April 2011 See Morris chapter 3

Chaper 6: Participatory communication

ledge could be potentially useful in possible future tour guiding: Part of the context is this whole thing about world heritage. The South African tentative list does include the /Xam ‡Khomani heartland and this site [Biesje Poort] falls within that. I think it’s important that we consider in what ways this might form part of a formal declaration. We need to consider to what extent Biesje Poort should actually be declared at least a provincial heritage site if not a national one. I think those are important aspects. In order to move those kinds of processes forward we need people on the ground who know about it and who have vested interest in this kind of heritage.20

Sustainability of the project

20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Morris 29 March 2011 Org 2011 Kincaid & Figueroa 2009: 1322 Freire 1972 Nduhura 2004 Gumucio Dagron 2008: 81 Huesca 2008: 183 Kincaid & Figueroa 2009: 1313 Waisbord 2008 Quarry & Ramirez 2009 Nair & White 1994: 347

Being actively involved in a successful community project encourages people to believe that they have the power to solve their development problems. Sustainability is naturally built into the projects as community members claim ownership of its success. High levels of knowledge sharing in a community project increases the likelihood that all participants will feel included and relevant. As stated above, the BP participants freely shared knowledge in their areas of expertise that led to each participant feeling a sense of ownership. For instance, the Kalahari participants were aware of the relevance of their role in the BP team. Jan Oeliset Org explained: “While there are five of us from the Kalahari, the five of us can help protect the rock art together with the company that’s with us now then it can work.”21 This personal identification with the BP project shows that the participants had a sense of responsibility for the projects’ failures and success. This is the epitome of shared ownership which is defined as an increase in community members’ belief that a joint project belongs to them rather than to outsiders or a small subgroup within the community.22 Shared ownership can lead to a project’s sustainability.

Elements of successful community participation

Principles of the participatory development communication approach are grounded in Paulo Freire’s23 critical pedagogy. Although Freire’s ideas and methodologies were originally applied in Latin American society in relation to adult education, Dominique Nduhura24 suggests that the participatory strategies embedded in the pedagogy are well-suited to any society, parti-

cularly to African contexts. This is because issues such as oppression, empowerment, conscientisation, and genuine participation of all stakeholders involved are of universal concern. One of the Freirean concepts that can be linked to participatory communication is ‘dialogue’ or ‘two-way’ communication in knowledge sharing: dialogue is the key for development.25 In addition, dialogue is promoted as an ethical choice within the development context (or within participatory communication).26 This means that every participant in a development project has a right to talk or communicate. However, dialogue is not a magic potion. Diverse views on particular issues may lead to conflicts and power struggles which, if not properly managed, may bring a proposed project to a halt. In the convergence and divergence model of communication conflict might be one possible outcome of dialogue. Communication, as defined in the convergence model, does not mean consensus (but only) specifies the direction of movement when dialogue is effective.27 This means there are instances where mutual agreement is not reached by stakeholders. In brief, Freire’s model proposes a human-centred approach that values the importance of interpersonal channels of communication when making decisions at community level.28


Context remains one of the most influential aspects of community participation. Context is generally defined as, among other things, “the people we are working with, their culture, the geography and funding rules.”29 Recognising and understanding all the dimensions that make up a community’s context will help ensure a successful participatory communication project. Hence the environment for participatory development communication should be supportive, creative, consensual, and facilitative, leading to sharing of ideas through dialogue.30 When doing research or implementing development projects with uneducated people project leaders must never forget that people know what is best for them. Their role therefore is to believe that and be open to engaging with them in dialogue.

Power relations

Participatory communication places a huge emphasis on equal sharing of power which unfortunately often contrasts sharply with what we find in reality in communities. Although some scholars believe it is


Chaper 6: Participatory communication

naive to assume that modern society can function without some people submitting their will to others.31 The distribution of power and structural changes often decreases the advantage of certain groups.32 As a result conflict and power struggles are a common feature in any development project where different stakeholders with different interests are involved. Conflict is unavoidable between different stakeholders with conflicting interests in a development project: what therefore matters is how this conflict is dealt with. Conflict resolution can be achieved through mobilising the ideas of collective dialogue and good leaders referred to as ‘champions’.33 Good leaders understand the dynamics of power and how to creatively manage conflict to contribute positively to the development process.34 When it comes to dealing with power relationships, participatory communication is seen as necessary by those who argue development to be akin to a social process of transformation.35 Yet some scholars believe that participatory communication, on its own, is incapable of dealing with power relations within a development project as it is insufficient for engaging and altering such relations.36 Participation also goes hand in hand with responsibility. Therefore, it is beneficial to make distinct the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders involved and to work out participants’ material or financial contribution to the process. This contribution can take many forms: services, materials, funding, etc. However small it may be, it will help participants feel a sense of ownership over the communication activity. Without ownership, the effort will always be seen as ‘someone else’s’ initiative.37 During the Biesje Poort recording process the language barrier caused a minor altercation in one instance. English and Afrikaans were the two main languages spoken. The participants from the Kalahari could only speak Afrikaans [some spoke Nama]. As I could only speak English, whenever Afrikaans was spoken I relied on other participants to translate for me. At some point, while in the field some members felt that the simultaneous translation ‘diminished’ the record in some way and so the information/ conversation should be summarised after people had finished speaking. Others felt it was necessary for people to understand what was being discussed as people were speaking. Since it was a multicultural and participatory project all the ‘different voices’ reflected had to be recorded since they reflected the reality of


the nature of the project.38 However, through dialogue the researchers came to understand that since they were coming from different disciplines they therefore had different research approaches and methods of gathering data. Fortunately, we learnt to work together without stepping on each other’s proverbial toes.

How is the success of a community project measured? Evaluation Since the aim is to contribute to the body of knowledge in participatory communication research as well as heritage preservation research, not all the aspects of the BP project were evaluated, but only those relating to the nature of participatory communication within and resulting from the project. We can never evaluate everything that has been done from the beginning to the end. At all times we must be selective about what is essential [by identifying] from among all the possible evaluation questions, those where answers are required.39 In the BP recording project, evaluation was done during and after the recording process at the end of each day. Every night during supper the BP participants sat and reflected on the day’s activities, evaluating what we achieved and setting objectives for the next day. By collectively discussing what we knew, what we did not understand, and how we felt about particular issues and events during the recording, we collectively created and shared knowledge. The significance of the assessment of the current situation tells a community where it is now and how far it has to go to realise its vision for the future.40 For instance, one of the main issues that had to be reviewed after the first day in the field was the issue of time. The Kalahari crafters suggested that recording be scheduled to start early in the morning so that the BP team could get more done before the sun got unbearably hot. The rest of the group members agreed and so the working hours were rescheduled. Without an adequate assessment of what a community accomplishes and fails to accomplish, motivation for continual improvement will decline and members will lose confidence in their leaders. After completing the recording process the team had a final group meeting where everyone spoke about what they achieved, what they had not achieved and recommendations for a way forward. Instead of getting an external agent to evaluate the project the

31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

Lozare 1994: 228 Servaes 2006 Quarry & Ramirez 2009 Lozare 1994: 230 Nair & White 1994:347 Huesca 2008 Bessette 2004: 19 Dyll-Myklebust 2011 Bessette 2004: 50 Kincaid & Figueroa 2009: 1318

Chaper 6: Participatory communication

41 Koot Msawula one of the BP participants from the McGregor Museum (see filler in this volume). 42 Msawula 2011 43 Morris 2011 44 See Müller Jansen chapter 2 45 Müller Jansen 2011 46 See Dyll-Myklebust chapter 6 47 Msawula 2011 48 SUBtext Autumn 2011 edition on Subtext/subtext%20autumn%20 2011.pdf accessed on 12 November 2012. 49 Gumucio Dagron 2009: 462 50 Magongo 2012 51 Information taken from schedule 2 NHC BP: KhoiSan rock art recording

participants evaluated it themselves. For instance, Koot Msawula41 advised that, “the children must be exposed to what we have been involved with here as part of their education process.”42 While David Morris commended the multidisciplinary and multicultural approach of the BP project, saying that “I’d just like to say thank you to everyone: I think it’s been an amazing experience, having people coming from a whole lot of different contexts – from different parts of the country – the Northern Cape and all over – all coming together to engage with a particular environment, a particular landscape, and all the material traces in it and the intangible traces in it. And I think we have all learnt a great deal from this experience.”43 On the other hand, Liana Müller Jansen44 was optimistic about the impact the BP approach might have in academia, she stated that “[t]his is a special project and I do believe that this is going to change paradigms in the future on how we

deal with heritage. I’m grateful to be a part of this.”45 Sharing similar sentiments was Lauren Dyll-Myklebust46 who said “I really didn’t have my own research agenda coming here because I’m here as an advisor. But something that I’m interested in is trying to see how the western world uses certain methods of research and indigenous people sometimes use different methods and the books say that often these methods clash, but what I found happening here is that somehow I think this project has found a middle ground in some way. And I enjoyed watching the dynamics, seeing how that worked out.”47 More insights by the BP participants are published in the autumn edition of SUBtext,48 a quarterly magazine published by CCMS, UKZN. The evaluation of the BP project by the participants is in line with participatory communication as no one is in a better position to evaluate social change than those who are the subjects of it. Have their lives changed? How? They can tell it through their own stories and their own voices.49


In conclusion, the main aim of this chapter has been to explore and document the role of participatory communication in the BP project including its promotion of skills transference and empowerment. This chapter documents an alternative method which could be adopted by development practitioners or researchers if they want to involve the community in cultural heritage preservation. The BP study generated evidence through field observations and interviews which reveal that the BP project objectives of skills transference and empowerment were achieved.50


Figure 6.8 BP participants holding their certificates of participation with Stella Ndhlazi, NHC (Magongo 2011)

Recommendations for future researchers or development practitioners interested in implementing participatory communication projects especially in heritage projects: • Skills acquisition or transference must be at the core of participatory communication initiatives both as part of the project process and to be considered an indicator of effective participation. • Understanding the context and the people before initiating a participatory communication initiative is vital. This will ensure that the researchers or development practitioners work in collaboration with community members to address key issues. • The BP site needs both a heritage policy and heritage management plan to move it forward.51


Chaper 6: Participatory communication

• Participants must be engaged in all aspects of the project. Necessary steps must be taken to reduce barriers which may affect the level of participation among participants. For example, the language used in the research project must be understood by all participants; from documentation of informed consent forms to the language used in the field. • Dialogue must be at the heart of every participatory communication development programme. • Participatory heritage projects must make an effort to include living or intangible cultural heritage to help sustain projects. • Although done on a small scale this research study has provided insight into the possible research outcomes that could be generated by implementing a participatory communication research with multicultural and multidisciplinary participants. It is recommended that further research be undertaken on a broader scale to provide more definitive evidence of using this approach. • Since this research was conducted in a private location further research might explore the impact that implementing participatory communication research might have in a community where participants reside. Finally, participation is not a panacea or a magic wand.52 It is not easy to achieve and the adoption of participatory practices does not automatically result in a successful project. It takes much time and involvement because it entails the involvement of all stakeholders in dialogue and exchange of ideas (it is a two-way, horizontal process). Unlike the top-down approach promoted by the modernisation paradigm where beneficiaries are told what to do and not engaged in dialogue. It can also generate frustration. Sometimes it may not be possible to achieve due to factors such as lack of dialogue among participants, power relations and contextual factors. Project developers must, therefore, be aware of those limitations, knowing at the same time that sustainable development cannot happen without it.53

Figure 6.9 Izak Kruiper drawing in the sand to explain the ‘womb’ rock engraving to Mary after ‘dreaming’ about it (Fisher 2013)

project phase 2-4 (collapsed 2nd phase) report received from Mary Lange via email. 52 Bessette 2004: 12 53 Bessette 2004: 15


REFLECTIONS ON BIESJE POORT 2013 BELINDA N. ORG For some of the team this is the end of a road, and for others it’s just the beginning. Documenting history in partnership with Kalahari participants, at a level of sharing and exchanging knowledge with integrity, equality and most of all, God, is acknowledged in this break-through project. I first decided to be the vehicle driver in the transporting of the members from the Kalahari safely to Upington (this I did with one gear working, the second), and to merely enjoy being with Mary Lange and the rest of the team. In the end, I have agreed to write something about the experience... I was torn between being married and having to leave six very small children at home with not much, and the old free and easy Belinda. I had an aura of negativity only as far as what will happen to Biesje Poort, as I, more so than the rest of the Kalahari group, understood the Age of Technology. I question the fact that knowledge is everyone’s right and to be had for free, especially as I have, over years, witnessed that people may capitalise on the knowledge of others. The world, years ago, was based on God’s wish for mankind, then more apparently so than today. People shared, taught each other, and exchanged one thing in return for another, even if only by mentioning your name in a “Thank you”. These were the good old days. Today one’s name and what you know, never mind where you got the knowledge from, belongs to someone else. While I now speak out about this, I was not yet decided, whilst on the trip or site at Biesjie Poort, mainly because I then saw how incredibly valuable this interactive research is, and how the Rock Art Project had transformed all of us over the last few years. Little did I know that Prof. Tomaselli, Jan Oeliset Org, and I would be bored tracing rock images in the hot sun. David, Izak and Lydia Kruiper, and the others had fun and loved the work. I was by far more interested in watching everybody and their doings as taught by the late Prof. Vetkat Regopstaan Boesman (my artist Bushman husband).

I will say for once let us reach out and shift policy-making to incorporate the seemingly ‘stupid’ person, idle and directionless, as they walk the endless dunes and land of the vast Kalahari desert. The Kalahari team had this hope and shared what we would like to see happen as subtly and boldly as we could. We feel the project and the methodology that we are partners in developing with CCMS, ARROWSA and others, should be brought to the Kalahari on a more permanent day-to-day basis. We long spoke of the School of Life and, as usual, some things do happen. There is the hope of a college being built in Upington. We received this news on our last trip to Biesje Poort. This may be thought noble and so good, right? I agree but again, what happens in the mean time? We can all imagine how long it might take to get things up and running smoothly, especially as there are so many buildings yet to be built for the teaching and education of our children and their children. The late Vetkat Kruiper died and all he asked for, was “Please give us all fourteen a place and a chance to prove ourselves.” I hear Jan Oeliset Org asking me, when I recall Vetkat’s words, about all 14 [members of the family]. I believe we need each other. The CCMS/ARROWSA partnering with me, especially the past ten years, has been fruitful in spiritual growth and better understanding in the Kalahari way of thinking. And, if not hampered by a lack of financial support, it could be sustainable, as we were moving in this direction slowly. I know the generation the likes of Klein Dawid (//ankie), the youngest on the team from the Kalahari, will move towards all 14 as they have a slightly better grip on the west and technology than their elders. The way to move is the way to walk with heart and spirit if you wish to understand Africa. I pity the fact that once so many of Africa walked away from the land and now embrace the essence of the West. They too forget what it is like to just be.


I watch the night sky at Khamkirri where we stayed in our special camp, listening to the water mermaid. I watch as Jan asked Klein Dawid to throw a bark into the water and that night a storm kept us hanging on to our tents. I smile as I write as both Mary and I love the water snake stories. I have been told I carry the serpent medicine. My heart swells and I take a moment to bring up the faces of the research team. Roger Fisher who teaches us how to be and to appreciate landscape in his English bushman manner. Thank you. It was being with you all that gives me the freedom to say to the world out there.: “The living tangible landscape has a heartbeat and a pulse and it bleeds for love and care., JUST LIKE WILD BUSHMEN,” God has created man in His image and if we really take a closer look and look with two eyes, we will never fail to see we have heads, eyes, a nose, sexual parts that differentiate male and female. We are souls of this world and we all have the same hope – to live a good life and do what we enjoy. I know the Heritage Team, as we call ourselves, has a real interest in continuing working alongside the likes of people as we have up until now. It does allow one to be earning and be part of shaping man’s understanding of themselves in the future. The elders are the knowledge-bearers and without them to tell us how it is and was, we will forever be a void and pondering over what was. What if, imagine? Silently I think about what I am supposed to write Silently I realise, Rock Art and Archaeological sites is the man I am in love with, God our Father and loving Him is the best, simply because He creates, not us. I see the face of elder Jan Oeliset Org, I see the twinkle in Klein Dawid’s eyes. I smile as I recall Petrus and his gentle approach to the land and man, Jan with him, thinking God, you are the best and I am. Walking the valley with Liana, Petrus her husband, and Jan around the Biesje Poort area, Jan found leopard tracks and we entered what was like an art gallery of such incredible silence around, other than the sound of flowing water over rocks. We walked and spoke very little; each one aware that we were in the breeding space of the wilderness. Leopards are known to be shy until you look them in the eye. One look and you could die. I sat watching Jan speak to Petrus and how they shared God and His love amongst the rocks in the heat. We did find lovely drawings, yet the part that draws me is the landscape. How come God just knows what is perfect? I mean, this art gallery was low down, it has a unique shaped tree on one end and one could sit on what appeared to be steps and look up to the rocks or across and around, like you were in a theatre in the open. The only sound amidst the silence was the gentle running water streams. One could see and feel how herders would be watching their flock from a high point and whilst bored, draw or carve what they saw in the area. It was so cool sharing so many stories of perhaps! Jan, a very serious and gentle man, would occasionally say something that made us realise how much he felt the heart and pulse beat of the land and its sounds inside of his body. Izak, Lydia and Klein Dawid continued tracing the images in the hot sun. Whalla! Klein Dawid is so serious about learning more about archaeology. In time we will all see the end and the beginning is all one with God. Is it not so that we say “Alpha and Omega.” Biesjie Poort – one of many a dream. So many chances by which young hearts can be won over to care for and nurture life. Surely we have had enough set aside for tourist and financial gain, this time please allow our natural land to remain the same. God is watching us.



Biesje Poort as a rock art resource: conservation and tourism1 SHANADE BARNABAS UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU-NATAL


am a PhD candidate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS). My research focuses on issues pertaining to indigenous San communities in South Africa. I have worked closely with the !Xun, Khwe and ‥Khomani San communities of the Northern Cape since 2008. My current research focuses on a rock

1 This chapter is based on Lange, Magongo & Barnabas 2013 (forthcoming). In the paper I discussed the tourism potential of the Biesje Poort site and the most appropriate methods of representing the rock engravings to the broader public. The chapter thus builds on the discussion and adds a focus on rock art as a heritage resource.

engraving site outside the City of Kimberley. Participating in the Biesje Poort project extended my interest in the intricacies of heritage conservation and legislative aims. The fieldwork enriched my personal experience of rock art and made clear those immaterial and spiritual nuances of such landscapes which are often most at risk.

Figure 7.1 A rock engraving at Biesje Poort exposed to the elements (Barnabas 2011)


Chaper 7: Biesje Poort as a rock art resource

The term ‘development’ was described at the 2001 United Nations’ Conference on Trade and Development as a significant opportunity to curtail the marginalisation of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the global economy.2 While described as a possible new economic mainstay, tourism maintains a somewhat antagonistic relationship to conservation. Challenges to conservation and responsible tourism practices are often amplified in the developing world. This chapter illustrates those concerns and places the Biesje Poort case for conservation within current thinking about heritage conservation practice within a developing-world perspective. Often tourism has been viewed as the opposite of conservation. Due to high tourist numbers, pristine beaches are no longer pristine, quiet nature reserves become rowdy and towns and cities become unliveable for local residents. Tourism is also disparaged for its role in creating inflation, overdependence, a widened gap between the haves and the have-nots, and low wage earnings. However, tourism can also generate funds useful for the conservation of heritage sites in situations where there is little or no funding from Government, as is the case at Biesje Poort.3 Tourism is also accessible as an employment generator which aids the increase in regional/national income levels and stimulates entrepreneurialism, simultaneously playing a role in creating community awareness of the value of conservation. Educative and informative interpretations at sites also encourage more sensitivity to site conservation in tourists themselves. Moreover, the increased demand by tourists (which includes visitation, overuse and inappropriate use) provides an economic and political justification for conservation.4 South Africa has an extraordinary resource base for tourism; however, the country has not been able to realise its full potential. This is due to a variety of reasons, not least of which includes high crime rates and perceived levels of ongoing violence. The lack of infrastructure and poor planning are other key issues limiting tourism growth in the country. The then Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism’s White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa5 identified the absence of adequate education, training and awareness opportunities as the most significant deficiencies in the tourism industry in South Africa. Training capacity was also noted as unevenly spread across the provinces; Gauteng, North-West and the Western Cape Province were recognised as leading in this regard, while the


Northern Cape, and to a lesser degree, the Northern Province and Mpumalanga were identified as having inadequate facilities. These discrepancies were further marked by a lack of institutions of higher learning in these provinces, usually key vehicles for education and training.6 These challenges – inadequate expertise and equipment – are endemic to the developing world. Developing countries are often described as lacking the monetary and skills resources to best care for their heritage. Where there is a rich array of heritage resources, a lack of human resources and economic constraints disallow a large sum of the heritage resources to be conserved.7 Coupled with this is the lack of cooperation between government departments in the coordination and administration of projects which have an impact on heritage. Further challenges to heritage conservation, with particular reference to the developing world, include: environmental pressures, uncontrolled urban development as well as urban decay, social conflicts, warfare, poverty, lack of political will, lack of awareness of heritage value, looting, trafficking, and inadequate funding.8 Of the aforementioned the key challenges would seem to be poverty, civil unrest, and the lack of resources and/ or concern. A nation plagued with civil unrest, poverty and disease frequently has far more pressing concerns than the conservation of its heritage sites. These sites then fall into disrepair and are oftentimes looted and re-used as a space for different purposes, for example, housing or warfare. Top-down legislation where communities are sidelined from the running of the site, or where conservation practices isolate people who are meant to be the hosts of such sites often results in neglect, looting and vandalism.9 The continued use, as opposed to the preservation, of sites is another challenge. It is on record that at certain rock art sites, ‘some traditional healers scrape paintings off the rock faces to collect the paint for healing, general luck, rainmaking, and lightning prevention medicines.’10 This activity highlights another paradigm: the re-articulation of the site in conflict with meticulous preservation. While these actions endanger, deface and ultimately remove the rock art, there needs to be a controlled measure of re-articulation and re-use of such sites. In instances where communities wish to use heritage sites for ritual practices there is often debate and lengthy discussion between community leaders and the heritage authority concerned.11 It is not often that both parties are fully satisfied with the

2 Tourism and Development in the Least Developed Countries, 2001 3 Timothy & Nyaupane 2009 4 McKercher & du Cros 2002 5 The Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa, 1996 6 In July 2013 President Jacob Zuma announced the opening of two new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga province. The Northern Cape’s Sol Plaatje University, which is to open in Kimberley in 2014, would establish an academic niche area in heritage studies – including museology, archaeology, indigenous languages and architectural conservation, South Africa’s Universities Named, 2013. 7 Timothy and Nyaupane 2009 8 Eboreime 2009 9 Eboreime 2009 10 Francis 2007: 129 11 Francis 2007; Ndlovu 2005 12 Eboreime 2009; Hall 2009; Munjeri 2009

Chaper 7: Biesje Poort as a rock art resource

Figure 7.2 The Biesje Poort Landscape (Barnabas 2011)

result. Nevertheless, these difficult conversations must continue if sites are to be conserved. Some common challenges associated with rock art sites include human traffic, environmental damage, natural disasters, an uninformed use of sites, pollution, looting and vandalism. Human traffic – that is, the possibility of walking over engravings or touching paintings and engravings on the rock surface – can cause accelerated weathering of the art and surrounds. Environmental damage is a factor that is almost impossible to control and unless a site is well maintained and ardently supervised natural disasters (such as veld fires) may prove fatal. The uninformed use of sites is another major concern. Visitors have been known to throw liquids on rock paintings or trace the grooves of engravings with chalk in order to photograph a clearer image. Pollution is another concern; discarded litter mars the aesthetics of the site and expresses a disrespect for the heritage; devaluing the site as a whole and depreciating the experience for the next visitor. Looting and vandalism are further concerns. These sites often need policing, which requires man-power as well as sustained monetary resources; it is frequently the lack of the latter which hinders the former. In addition, restricted monetary resources impede the building of infrastructure for tourism on rock art and other heritage sites. The lack of financial support is often a key factor in the decline of such sites. The challenges described above articulate the ephemeral nature of rock art. Certainly, while some of these paintings and engravings have survived over thousands of years they constitute a non-renewable resource that, without active conservation, will be eventually lost. For a long time the dominant view of heritage and cultural heritage in Africa has been Eurocentric.12 Heritage management, in this regard, has disempowered local communities. The country’s property rights allow for an individual to own a piece of land on which a heritage resource exists, further separating groups from that heritage. Moreover, South Africa’s past of displacement and marginalisation has fostered a lack of concern for heritage sites in those groups that once shared a rich history with such sites. The country’s colonial and apartheid past has also played a role in shaping its heritage legislation. Together with the first democratic elections came a wave of positive social and legislative changes. Nevertheless, the politics surrounding heritage management are steeped in emotion which may be used toward either


Chaper 7: Biesje Poort as a rock art resource

positive or negative ends. The primary challenge for cultural tourism lies in integrating tourism management and cultural heritage needs in a tourism product that is both attractive to visitors and adequately protective of the site.13 Sustainable cultural tourism is often cited as the answer, but sustainability means different things to different groups of people, and has been used to advance divergent agendas. For some, the term refers to economic sustainability, where the generation of wealth may justify the heavy use of an asset. For others, sustainability is a concept used to promote conservation through opposing most if not all uses of a site. Ideally, sustainability should include both conservation and use value in the management of cultural and heritage assets. At the same time, this cannot be an equal partnership. In many cases cultural heritage management must take precedence over tourism management, especially where the cultural asset is fragile.14 The harshness of the terrain at Biesje Poort, the great travelling distance and the fragility of the landscape rule out the possibility of the site as a sustainable tourist venue. However, since tourists do visit the site albeit infrequently, measures need to be put in place for its protection and informed use. This may be as simple as briefing visitors upon their arrival at the site about the best practices while there, and in addition, providing an overseer whose job it would be to make sure that visitors do no harm to the site, intentionally or otherwise. Educational resources may also be set up in museums in the surrounding areas or at the Augrabies Falls National Park, a nearby nature reserve and tourist site. In this way information about the rock art and the site’s history could be made accessible to a larger number of people who may not have the means to visit the site itself. This would also translate into educating the public on a site about which they may otherwise not have known. A mobile educational exhibit could be used to inform and educate surrounding local communities about the heritage resource at their doorstep. This may be achieved through the use of a caravan containing exhibition items and other material. In this way information about the site may be proliferated without causing damage to the site itself. It is beneficial to embrace negotiated representations where site management, working together with local communities, should articulate interpretations of heritage sites that are respectful of the traditions and cultures of local peoples and their ancestors, while also appealing to visitors. There exists a


Figure 7.3 Participants of the project heading to the hills of Biesje Poort (Barnabas 2011)

further responsibility to depict in a sensitive manner what are often difficult and painful stories of the past. Whose responsibility is this? Heritage authorities, communities, governments and others involved in projects of heritage interpretation and representation should all be held accountable in such a task; and it is the public who should hold them to the highest standards to achieve social cohesion and national unity. A common trend in heritage legislation across most countries is the claim that heritage resources belong not only to the specific communities from which they emanate but to the nation as a whole. Being among the most recent heritage legislations in Africa, South Africa’s National Heritage Resources Act, No. 25 of 1999 (NHRA), is most progressive, having been informed by contemporary developments and debates in heritage management worldwide.15 Acknowledgements, in this regard, of cultural landscapes and spiritual elements of heritage have helped to broaden the concept of cultural heritage in recognising “the relativity, diversity and dynamism of heri-

13 14 15 16 17 18

McKechner & du Cros 2002 McKechner & du Cros 2002 Ndoro 2009 Eboreime 2009: 4 Ndoro & Pwiti 2005 See Müller Jansen chapter 2; Engels-Badenhorst 2004

Chaper 7: Biesje Poort as a rock art resource

tage�.16 Heritage thus acts as a reflection or symbol of national unity, telling the story of the aspirations of the nation. According to the NHRA, local communities are tasked with the responsibility to protect heritage sites, along with heritage authorities. If, however, the public is not made aware of its power, the legislation is of little value. Communities should, therefore, be informed of

the benefits of protecting their heritage as well as their power in terms of heritage legislation.17 The Biesje Poort site is on a farm with its own proud history of family ownership.18 The stories of the farm owners and that of the rock engravers may have been violently discordant in history. Ideally, each of these histories should be incorporated into the narra-

Figure 7.4 The rocky landscape at Biesje Poort (Barnabas 2011)


Chaper 7: Biesje Poort as a rock art resource

Figure 7.5 Participants in search of rock engravings on the site (Barnabas 2011)

tive of Biesje Poort; however, it is not an easy narrative to put together. Over the past two thousand years at least three identifiable groups, namely San, Korana and Khoi, may have sojourned at the site.19 This fact, as well as the discernible differences in form and subject matter of the engravings has made it difficult to ascertain which engravings belong to which group. The Kalahari craftspeople involved in the Biesje Poort project offered interpretations of the engravings filtered through the effects of their dislocation, violent marginalisation, loss of tradition and disavowal of group histories necessitated by their need for survival. The loss of heritage sites through displacement and marginalisation constitutes not just material but also spiritual damage to a people.20 From this it could be argued that including local peoples in the interpretations of a heritage site such as Biesje Poort works to heal some


of that damage. In truth, heritage tourism appeals to a niche market and as such local communities will rarely reap major monetary benefits; however, the cultural values accrued may work to re-build once broken traditions and communal memories. The ambiguities and mixed heritage of the site may be seen not to problematise the narrative of the site but rather to offer a robust cultural landscape in which Biesje Poort presents another layer of richness to the offerings of cultural heritage by the Northern Cape. Its success, however, is largely dependent on political will and the overall workings of tourism development in the province.


While interpretation remains a difficult terrain in which to navigate, this chapter affirms the need for negotiated interpretations in heritage tourism (see

19 Lange 2011; Penn 1995 20 Ndoro & Pwiti 2005

Chaper 7: Biesje Poort as a rock art resource

Engels-Badenhorst, 2004; Fisher in this volume). While Biesje Poort itself may not be a viable tourist venue, its interpretations should include the voices of communities linked to the site. The importance of rock art as a non-renewable heritage resource should be conveyed in this as well as on-site representations. The balance that needs to be struck is one of a good mix of conservation and tourism. Indeed, many balances must be struck, between conservation and tourism, and inter-

pretations that are entertaining and informative as well as respectful and true to the communities involved. Sometimes there is no equal give and take and it may be that the cultural heritage values accrued by participating communities and groups surpass the possible monetary value generated by cultural heritage tourism. Whatever the case may be, both the cultural tourism and cultural heritage management sectors must work together to achieve common goals.




Biesje Poort: Site Visit April 2013, Day 1 Recorder Transcript A

Transcribed by Lizet Verwoerd Translated by Carinè Muller Afrikaans indicated in italics

Izak: Nou die omstandighede wat jy sal vra geld aan vir befondsing aan, maar dit kom nie direk by ons nie, so dis ook ’n probleem. Ons kry ’n stukkie en die ander word gehou. So die NGO wat met die gemeenskapwerk gestig is, hou baie meer terug, wat vir die gemeenskap is, om die gemeenskap op te help en verder te gaan. Daar’s baie projekte wat op tou staan. Lizet: Daar is seker allerhande organisasie kostes en allerhande... Izak: Dis hoekom ons nog bietjie sukkel en nie vinnig kan voortgaan nie, maar ons gaan maar stadig aan. Izak: In 1971 het ek skool verlaat, om rede van omstandighede, dat my mense was te swak, hulle kon my nie in die skool banke gehou het nie. Daar was nie ’n goeie finansiële inkomste nie. Toe moes ek maar die skool los om te gaan werk. So ek het van 13 jaar af het ek gewerk. In hierdie tydperk het ek maar geleer. Gesels met baie mense om te kan verstaan om te luister en so het ek my opgewerk, sodat ek vandag, het ek die kundigheid, is ek ’n tradisionele medisyne dokter, ek werk met medisyne, ek is ’n ‘healer’, ek genees mense, ek maak gesond. En ek ken die wêreld hier buite, ek sien en ek weet. So ek het myself opgewerk met navorsing, met plante, diere: leeus, ‘hyenas’, jakkalse, gemsbok, elande, het ek myself geleer. Deur die Parke Raad het ek baie geleer. Dis hoekom ek vandag weet, kom ek by die rotskuns, weet ek hoe om die rotskuns te lees, ek voel hom aan. Wie is hy, wat is hy? Wat bedoel hy nou, en watter boodskap is hier gelos? Lizet: Dis ’n wonderlike gawe wat jy geoefen het en beoefen. Izak: Maar wat, ek leer elke dag nog. Ek praat nie Engels nie, maar as die tyd kom, dan moet ek daar deur. Dan praat ek hom. En die persoon verstaan my. En so gaan ek voort. Lizet: Ja, daar’s baie maniere om te kommunikeer. En as jy net so klein bietjie taal kan praat, jou lyf praat en jou gesig praat, en daar’s baie meer dinge wat praat as net ’n taal. Izak: Dankie, want laas week het ek gewerk met veertien Amerikaners, van verskillende lande, ‘oversees’, Engeland, New York, België, Holland, klomp wit vroumense, ek het toe baie goed gekommunikeer met die Hollandse. Dis die eerste keer in ’n leeftyd dat hulle saam met ’n Boesman kan kamp, en uit te slaap. Hulle het dit nog nooit gedoen nie. Ek het my bes probeer om vir hulle ’n goeie tyd te gee. Lizet: Was hulle toeriste? Izak: Ja, hulle is toeriste. Ek het my beste gegee, dat hulle die vrywilligheid voel om weer terug te kom. Dis hoe die gemeenskap werk. Ek werk al van 1994 vir die gemeenskap, as ’n gemeenskapleier. Lizet: En werk jy dan in die park? Izak: Nee ek is plaaslik, in die plaaslike gemeenskap. Lizet: En hoe vêr is dit van die park af? Izak: Van die park is dit so segtig kilometer. Maar binne in die park het ons ook ’n gesamentlike ‘lodge’ waar ons twee gemeenskappe, die [Mier en ‡Khomani-San] gemeenskappe. So die ‘lodge’ is vir byde gemeenskappe. En dan buitekant die lodge is daar dan ’n bedeling vir die veldskool, waarmee ons nou besig is om hom op been te bring. En aan byde kant doen ek dan die ‘Healing Project’ om vir hom weer aan die gang te kry, vir die gemeenskap. Maar dis gratis, daars geen betaling nie. Maar ’n mens moet maar net aangaan. Lizet: Partykeer moet mens net met geloof aangaan. Izak: Ja, partykeer voel ek so gelukkig vir wat ek doen dat ek niks vra nie. Want ek word geseën vir die werk wat ek doen. So ek is daar, en dan kry ek iets, maar nie dat ek gevra het nie, maar hy kom. Ek gaan net aan met die werk en doen dit. Lizet: Is daar iemand wie jy weer kan leer? Om die kennis weer aan te gee? Izak: Ja, ek het nou twee jong seuns daar en ’n meisiekind, dat die dag wanneer ek nie meer daar is nie, sal hulle die werk vorentoe kan vat. Want dit baat nie, ek gaan alleenig voor en dan ewe skielik dan sterwe ek en daar is niks nie. So ek leer hulle, ek ‘train’ hulle van hoe ek werk hoe ek doen, so die dag as ek nie daar is nie, gaan hulle dan oorvat. So dit moet bly vir nageslag tot nageslag. So die rotskuns is ’n erfdeel van ons nageslag. Dis baie mooi betekenis, baie mooi boodskap wat ’n mens moet oordra vir die nageslag.

Izak: Now the circumstances are that you will ask money for the funding but it does not come directly to us. So it’s also a problem. We get a portion and the rest is kept. So the NGO that that was founded with the community holds back far more than that which is for the community, to help the community to go further. There are many projects lined up. Lizet: There are probably all kinds of organisational costs and all kinds of …. Izak: That’s why we struggle and can’t go ahead quickly, but we carry on slowly. Izak: In 1971 I left school, because of circumstances, because my people were too weak, they could not keep me in the school. There wasn’t a good financial income. So I had to leave the school to go and work. So I worked from the age of 13. In this time I learned. Talked to many people to understand to listen and so I worked myself up, so that today, I have a lot of knowledge. I am a traditional medicine doctor, I work with medicine, I am a healer, I heal people, and I make them better. And I know the world outside here, I see and I know. So I improved myself through research - with plants, animals: lions, hyenas, jackals, oryx, eland – I taught myself. Through the Parks Board I learned a lot. That is why I know everything about it, when it comes to the rock art, I know how to read it, and I can feel it. What it is, what is it? What does it mean, what message is left here? Lizet: It is a wonderful gift that you have practised and that you practise. Izak: But I still learn every day. I don’t speak English, but when the time comes, then I have to use it. Then I will speak it. And the person will understand me. And so I go on. Lizet: Yes, there are many ways to communicate. And if you can speak [a] language just a little, your body speaks and your face speaks, there are many more things that ‘talk’ than just a language. Izak: Thank you, because last week I worked with fourteen Americans, from different countries, overseas – England, New York, Belgium, Holland. A lot of white women. I communicated so many things with the Dutch. It’s the first chance that they have had to camp with a Bushman, and sleep outside. They have never done that. I tried my best to give them a good time. Lizet: Were they tourists? Izak: Yes, they are tourists. I gave my best, so that they feel the freedom to come back. That is how the community works. I’ve been working for the community since 1994, as a community leader. Lizet: And do you work in the park then? Izak: No just locally, in the local community. Lizet: And how far is it from the park? Izak: From the park it is about sixty kilometres. But inside the park we also have a communal lodge where our two communities, the [Mier and ‡Khomani-San] communities. So the lodge is for both of these communities. And then outside the lodge there is a section for the veld school, that we are busy setting up now. And on either side I do the Healing Project to get it going again, for the community. But it’s free, there is no pay. But one must just go on. Lizet: Sometimes one must just carry on by faith. Izak: Yes, sometimes I feel so happy that I don’t ask anything for what I do. Because I am blessed for the work that I do. So I am there, and I get something, but not that I asked, but it appears. I just go on with the work and do it. Lizet: Is there someone that you again can teach? To pass on the knowledge? Izak: Yes, I have two young boys there and a girl, so that the day when I am not there anymore, then they can take the work forward. Because it doesn’t help if I go on by myself and then all of a sudden I die and then there is nothing. So I teach them, I train them about how I do the work, so the day that I’m not there, then they can take over. So the rock art is an inheritance for our descendants. It’s a very beautiful meaning, very beautiful message that one leaves for the descendants.




Biesje Poort: Site Visit April 2013, Day 1 Transcribed by Lizet Verwoerd Translated by Carinè Muller Afrikaans indicated in italics

Jan Oeliset: Nou kyk ons, geslag op geslag, hier staan ons nou op hulle spore. Ons het nie ander spore nie, dis al spoor. Want ons is asseblief in ’n bewaring hou, dat hulle nie in ’n verlore gaan. Want as hulle in ’n verlore gaan dan is ons verlore. Laterhand het ons geen geskiedenis wat ons kan vertel nie. Geen ding wat ons kan bewys. Ons praat van dit nie. Liana: Hoe sou jy sê is die beste manier om dit te bewaar? …So ’n manier hoe om die grafure te bewaar is om die tekeninge te vat, of af te neem, en te dokumenteer en vir ander te wys. Dis deel daarvan. Jan Oeliset: Want kyk wat het gebeur by Witdraai. Daar was ’n Boom, die ‘Kaptein Boom’ wat ons op die GPS gesit het. Daai boom is mos gekap. Liana: Hoekom? Jan Oeliset: Ek weet nie. As jy nou daar kom, David sal jy nie glo nie! Dis die stamnasie wat eintlik ’n boom is. Maar hy het ’n penwortel, maar as daai penwortel tot onder dood, dan sal die hele boom val. Jy’t geen saad van die boom. Ook dit is hoekom ons moet hierdie goed in bewaring sit. Want kyk nou as ons na vandag kyk, uit die boom uit. Ons maak papier uit die boom uit, ons maak enige ding uit die boom uit, maar ons hou nie rekening nie, dis ons nie. My saadjie is mos ’n mensetjie wat ek maak. Daai boom hoeveel saad versprei hy nie, hoeveel bome kom op. Nou as daai boom wegval, daar is nie weer klein boompies uitkom nie. Nou jy’t geen ding van die boom nie. Maar kyk nou die polisie is daar, maar die mense doen die goed onder die polisie. Hulle kap mos die hout nou. Arm, alles kan mos nou nie so verlore gaan nie. Maar as ons nie nou opstaan nie, sal ons niks oorhou...En net soos hierdie goed, verwaarloos gaan ons ook. Maar verwaarloos en daar’s geen gedagtenis in ons lewens wat ons bewaar het. Want die bewaring wat ons vandag moet hier doen is in ons harte en werk… Maar toe, julle moet weer Kalahari toe kom, julle moet kyk. Sorg vir dit wat julle regtig omgee, dat julle met julle eie oë kan sien. David: Watter boom, is dit daai groot boom in die ‘valley’? Jan Oeliset: Ja, daai een wat so lank groot droë hout daarlangs gelê het. Als van hom is verniele, hy is verby, lê hang... Dis die een, van die grens af, waar die polisie stasie hierso sit, staan die ‘Kaptein Boom’ mos hier. Daai boom, daai droë hout wat af moes gewees het, hulle het hom gekap. Dis die houtmakers wat hout verkoop. Want daars geen ding wat meer onder bewaring is nie, alles gaan maar so. Dit gaan nie so lekker met ons Boesmans nie, maar ons moet maar die vuur deursleep. Wat moet ons dan nou doen? Want ons het geen ander mense wat ons bystaan nie. En praat oor die goeters wat hul sien wat verkeerd gaan. Julle is darem die enigste wat nog na ons kom, dat ons kan met mekaar kom en dan vir ons harte een toe en seerder raak as dinge nie reg gaan nie. Maar verder, die res traak nie. Dis nou ’n uitroeisel, die aarde word uitgeroei. David: Dis goeie goed wat jy sê oor hierdie saak… Jan Oeliset: Daar sal koppe bymekaar moet sit... Izak: McGregor het die bewaringsomstandighede so laat die byl daaroor gaan.

Jan Oeliset: Now as we look, from generation to generation, here we are standing on their tracks. We do not have different tracks, they are our only tracks. Please, we want to preserve them, so as not to lose them. Because, if they are lost then we too are lost. Then eventually we will not have any history to speak of. Nothing that we can demonstrate. Nothing to speak of. Liana: What would you say is the best way to conserve it? ...So a way to conserve the engravings is to trace the drawings, or take pictures of them, and to document and to show others. It is part of that. Jan Oeliset: Because, look at what happened at Witdraai. There was a Tree, the ‘Captain Tree’ that we documented on GPS. That tree is chopped down. Liana: Why? Jan Oeliset: I do not know. If you now visit David you will not believe it! It is the original nation that is actually a tree. But it has a primary root. If that root dies all the way down, then the entire tree will fall. You also do not have any seed of the tree. That is why we must conserve these things. Because if we consider the tree today - We make paper from the tree, we make any kind of thing out of the tree, but we do not keep reckoning, that is not our way. My seed is of course a little child that I make. That tree, how many seeds does it spread? How many trees sprout? Now if that tree falls away, then there will not be any small trees that sprout. Now you have nothing left of the tree. But see here, the police are there, but the people do it under the noses of the police. They are now chopping the wood. Poverty, everything cannot go unnoticed like this. But if we do not stand up now, then we will have nothing left... And, just as these things are neglected, we will also be forgotten, and then there is no remembrance of our lives and what we might have conserved. Because the conservation that we must do here today is in our hearts and work… But you must come to Kalahari again, you must come and see. Look after what you really care about, so that you can see with your own eyes. David: Which tree, is it that big tree in the valley? Jan Oeliset: Yes that one that for such a long time had dry wood lying next to it. All of it is ruined, it is over... It is the one, from the border, where the police station is situated. The ‘Captain Tree’ is situated there. That tree, that should have provided dry wood, they chopped it down. It is the woodcutters that sell the wood. Because there is not one thing that is conserved anymore, everything goes just like this. It is not going so well with us Bushmen, but we must brave the baptism of fire. What else can we do then? Because we have no other people that support us and talk about the things that they see are going wrong. You are at least the only ones that still come to us. But the rest can’t be bothered. Now it is devastation, the earth is being devastated. David: They are good points that you mention about this issue… Jan Oeliset: Heads will have to be put together… Izak: McGregor has the conservation means so let us hand over to them.




An engagement with the land:

Translating the intangible into the spatial TESSA TOERIEN AND LIZET VERWOERD UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN


s a Masters degree student of landscape architecture at the University of Cape Town, coming from a background in architecture, my interest lies in seeking to understand the way people have been shaped by, and the way they themselves shape, the landscapes they inhabit. The Biesje Poort project has been an interesting exploration into understanding a landscape that was in all respects completely new to me. There has been great value in learning to read and see the messages of this landscape through the eyes of the other researchers and disciplines, as well as my own. TESSA TOERIEN


he study of landscape architecture has given me the tools to enquire about the natural processes and human activities that shape our physical environments. I am interested in the social and environmental impacts of transient habitation and gathering on sensitive landscapes. My interest in the Biesje Poort site is sparked by the traces of continual nomadic habitation on this landscape. This project has deepened my understanding of the intentional and unintentional definition of the landscape and how messages, meaning and memory are continuously being told and remade by the various inhabitants and visitors to the landscape. I am currently continuing this investigation into the Biesje Poort site to propose an appropriate design response for my thesis project in order to complete a Masters degree in landscape architecture at the University of Cape Town. LIZET VERWOERD

During the 2013 site documentation and fieldwork we were introduced to the Biesje Poort landscape; one laden with a powerful heritage and history. This heritage is one that has been engraved on the rock surfaces and into the minds of those who inhabit the site, however transiently that may be. The site was explored by a group of researchers coming from a spectrum of disciplines. As landscape architecture students, we sought to gain a spatial understanding of the current landscape through the natural systems and cultural heritage. This enquiry was specifically guided by questioning what the role of a Landscape Architect could be in negotiating the potential future for this heritage-rich site. Perhaps the question is: what does the land, in relation to the people who encounter it, need from us now? This publication is a compilation and translation of various people’s experiences and memories of the site; it is an attempt to turn the intangi-

ble into the tangible. This functions as an initial way of preserving the site through documentation. To continue the site conversation, should there be a designed intervention at Biesje Poort in order for a greater audience to engage with the wealth of history, landscape and artistry that occurs here? Or should it rather be an exercise in stewardship and protection of the land as a sacred site and living archive? By looking at various ways of engaging with and characterising the site we have tried to imagine a way forward. Ultimately the question of what the land needs from us now remains open ended within the realm of possibility. Biesje Poort forms part of a larger landscape system shaped by geological and hydrological processes. These natural processes created protected, life- sustaining valleys as ‘gateways’ into the Poort where water collects and flows, and directs the movement of indigenous people living there. As a result, the


Chaper 8: An engagement with the land

engravings that we see today enrich the natural landscape, and allow us to infer cultural meaning through these remnants. In the arid surroundings, the poort is a catchment area for water, holding it, after rains, in temporary rock pools (Figure 8.1), and allowing ephemeral streams to form down the valley. The physical form has been carved out of the rocks by water over the millennia, creating sheltered linear spaces, wrapped around the koppies1 which may act as prominent look-out points (Figure 8.2). It is a landscape that has been consistently, though transiently, inhabited by the artists2 whose engravings are to be found today on the rocks. People have, like the water, carved routes and resting places through the landscape where they inscribed their presence onto the rocks, communicating messages to those who were to follow. Yet these messages appear encrypted to us today. The engravings depict the animals that probably used to be found on the site, as well as their spoor and humanoid figures. There are also depictions of shapes and patterns which are not so easily identifiable, but because of various star-like shapes these were interpreted, during the field work, as being cosmological symbols. The rocks on which the engravings appear

Figure 8.1 Jan Oeliset Org, during the 2013 field trip, discussing the manner in which the water is collected in the rocks (Toerien 2013) Figure 8.2 Map showing the topography of the area and how the hydrological processes have shaped the land. Our route through the landscape is shown in red with the engraving sites and bivouac site highlighted in purple (Verwoerd 2013).

1 Small rocky hill 2 It must be noted that we perceive them today as artists but perhaps by their own people they were regarded differently. Note also that when the word is used hereafter this proviso holds.


Chaper 8: An engagement with the land

Figure 8.3 Sketch of the engravings in relation to the weathering of the rocks, and the layers of natural impact and human editing that have occurred, such as the stacked rocks which mark the engraving site (Verwoerd 2013)

3 Moore 2010: 12 4 Moore 2010: 206

are in a state of slow but definite decay. The impact of natural weathering is erasing and altering these traces of a past time (Figure 8.3). The identity of the engravers is not known for certain (see Lange and Morris chapters 1 and 3 respectively). However, these remnants are part of humanity’s history, not simply limited to the heritage of the huntergatherers, or herders, or farmers, whose traces have all been found imprinted on the land. There is a resounding call shared by multiple parties that the site needs to be protected and honoured for the fragile layered landscape which it is, and for what it means today. Throughout this publication the authors have responded to Biesje Poort, and the fieldwork experience, from their different personal and professional

perspectives. Our approach to Biesje Poort has been to perceive it through the lens of landscape architecture, though this approach is intrinsically influenced by our own personal backgrounds. In relation to this approach and to the design process itself “...what we see cannot be separated in any way from what we know.”3 What we know informs our perceptions and reactions, it is made up of all the elements of our experiences; be they through academic learning or life-learning. “Our relationship with nature...we can only ever see, perceive or interpret through cultural lenses.”4 Biesje Poort is an important example of this, for it has existed through many different time periods and many different lenses. The profession of landscape architecture fundamentally aims to integrate and mediate natural systems


Chaper 8: An engagement with the land

with manmade environments through spatial planning and design at multiple scales. “Landscape architecture has always stood in the privileged position in society, creating symbolic settings for cultural ritual and discourse. As the mediator between nature and culture, landscape architecture has a profound role to play in reconstitution of meaning and value in our relations with the earth.”5 The Biesje Poort site evokes an emotional response; where we seek to understand the meaning of the intangible aspects of the landscape, through storytelling (see Dyll-Myklebust chapter 5) and an interpretation of its history. The challenge here for the Landscape Architect is to integrate the tangible, physical, elements of the site with those intangible qualities, in order to create a spatial response that will enhance the experience of the site. Through constructing a spatial intervention, landscape architecture aims to imbue a heritage or memorial landscape with value. “Landscape Architects are uniquely poised to influence the design of memorial landscapes. In so doing, they can transform space into a place of significance, place of storytelling, a place of lessons.”6 In this instance some important elements under-


pin the understanding of the Biesje Poort landscape: collecting and collating the different perceptions and stories of the landscape and responding in the most holistic manner possible. In envisioning the site’s potential through our own responses we must take into account the existing heritage and value that has been added to the site through the perceptions and experiences of others, both long past and present. There is a layered narrative of the site’s history, and a multivocal nature to the messages it describes. “Landscape, tangible or intangible provides the setting for narration. Whether it’s the story of the self, the story of a place or the story of people.”7 There are many voices that echo through the site, these are evident in the messages encoded in the landscape – the engravings on the rocks, and the artefacts found along the riverbeds and scattered around the sheltering caves. They are layered and hidden, yet visible if one takes the time to discover, discuss and interpret. The messages speak of the people who have moved through the landscape across epochs. More recent layers from the past century to be found on the site include the evidence of farming activity and

Figure 8.4 Panoramic view of the Bivouac site which would have been sheltered at the foot of the koppie (Toerien 2013)

5 Corner 1991: 20 6 Wasserman cited in Müller 2012: 8 7 Müller 2012:8

Chaper 8: An engagement with the land

8 Temporary tenants who live and work on the farm property 9 Müller 2012 10 Breedlove 2012 11 Morris 2013

‘bywoner’8 habitation, as was noted in the shelter of the koppie seen in Figure 8.4, and the mark of a previous farm owner’s son whose initials EB are also to be found engraved on the rocks. Thus, there is a continuous interaction and dialogue occurring over many years on the site – through the natural processes, but also the traces of human intervention. The landforms are not only created and destroyed by vegetative growth, climatic-, geological- and hydrological processes, but by continual human and animal habitation and migration through the hills and valleys. In exploring the natural and cultural processes that have formed the site, we identify three key characteristics: the site as a palimpsest (see Morris chapter 3), the landscape as a living archive, and the landscape as a route and narrative. Firstly, through overlaying, scratching out, or adding messages to the previous engravings, this site has been continually inscribed by anonymous users. The site can thus be viewed as a palimpsest: layered in its history and use. The palimpsest is thus a living document from which we can learn to read the intangible layers of memory that have existed on the site.9 Its many voices are anonymous, but their significant traces remain. The more recent versions of these cryptic messages are relatively new in relation to the age of the site, such as the mimicked contemporary animal engravings and the ‘EB’ initials found inscribed on the rock from last century. Going back further, to historically undocumented times, there is evidence of layering amongst the engravings, with newer ones engraved over the more ancient engravings. “Because South Africa has a history of human occupation as long as the time of humankind itself, a single place may represent an overlay of many landscapes containing residual features of different pasts, which create a palimpsest of these.”10 This dynamic process can obscure the meaning of these messages, yet it reflects the consistent human interaction with the site over centuries. The site thus exemplifies the cultural and physical formation of southern African landscapes. If the rock engraving sites at Biesje Poort are viewed as anonymous message boards, as living documents which people engage with and edit at will, it is the unknown contributors, the artists and editors of the rock engravings that give the site such a fragile yet living quality. The editing process is ongoing, as is evident in piles of stacked stones found on the site. Some of these piles have been purposefully placed to obscure the more recent sites of engravings, such

Figure 8.5 Stones intentionally stacked by previous visitors to the site, to draw attention to significant rock engravings (Müller Jansen: 2011)

as the ‘EB’ inscription, whilst others have been used to bring attention to the older engravings (Figure 8.5). The visitor, researcher or other user of the site has the power to engage in this editing process when walking through the site. As the archaeologist David Morris noted on the 2013 site visit, in relation to the stone stacks covering the ‘EB’ engravings: “Graffiti tends to attract more graffiti. So someone is trying to prevent that from happening.”11 But, editing of the site by its occupants exemplifies its meaning as a living document and this will fall away if humans are no longer allowed to engage with the site physically. The second characteristic of the site extends from this concept of the living document into the idea of the landscape as a living archive. The meaning behind the rock engravings and the significance of the artefacts found on the Biesje Poort site might have been obscured by time. Nonetheless the remnants continue to exist. Landscapes can be approached as archives,


Chaper 8: An engagement with the land

image, the fragility of the rock, the aspect and direction of the surface. We found that deciphering the traced image promoted group dialogue, interpretations and storytelling around each artefact. Each image is left in place, but the tracing and the tracers show and share a glimpse into the hidden living archive. Archiving the landscape elements is intended as an act of preservation. The stories and interpretations given during the documentation of the landscape, speak of a common understanding that there is a need to protect this as an important South African heritage landscape. As one of the Kalahari co-researchers, Jan Oeliset Org, noted: “...if these artefacts get lost due to lack of care, documentation and some form of protection, we also get lost, and then there will be no history to tell.”13 The third characteristic of the site lies in viewing the landscape as a route and narrative. The rock engravings are strung along the valleys, following the water and the path of human and animal migration. As a visitor to the landscape, you are enticed to hunt for these hidden artefacts “...landscapes may become known through movement and journeying, rather than stasis.”14 The engravings encourage a treasure hunt

12 Scazzosi 2004 13 Org 2013

Figure 8.6 Lydia and Klein Dawid (//ankie) tracing rock engravings at site BP47 (Verwoerd 2013)

where the history of the place and the traces of past eras form the foundation and stepping stones for present activities on site. Landscape is thus a “reading of the world in its complexity; a means to contemplate our own history and to build our future, being fully aware of the past.”12 The varied observations and keen storytelling abilities of archaeologist, anthropologist, landscape architect, architect, communication specialists, and the Kalahari co-researchers have facilitated the new interpretations that bring the rock engravings to life. During our time at Biesje Poort, the act of documenting the rock engravings (Figure 8.6), through marking the GPS location, and carefully tracing the various engravings, linked us with the landscape and expanded our understanding of this living archive. The mysterious tracings became more accessible to the documenter, who deeply engaged with the art by truly looking at what was being redrawn. The act of tracing made us aware of the impact of day-time on sun angles shading the


Figure 8.7 Narrative map depicting the route through the symbolic landscape inspired by the interpretations of the rock engravings as discussed on site (Verwoerd 2013)

Chaper 8: An engagement with the land

Figure 8.8 Drawing depicting water collected in weathered rocks crevices at ‘Die Skeur’ (Toerien 2013)

of sorts, for the symbolic meaning of the landscape, as depicted in the stars, the human figures and the animals that are engraved along the route (Figure 8.7). There are multiple hidden sites located on specifically suitable rock surfaces, separated by ridges and valleys. The location and composition of the images on this piece of land speaks of a landscape possibly utilised as a migratory hunting route. Today, we still follow the water as those who have left the engravings did. The prevalence of pooled water after rain explains why it could have been a site for rest, engraving images and collecting rations along the path. The landscape as a route is defined by the physical constraints and opportunities of the harsh southern Kalahari environment. The contained and flowing fresh water has scoured and sculpted out these routes at Biesje Poort (Figure 8.8). The traces of human and animal movement are what give rise to the narrative in the landscape. The stories and messages left on the rocks, along the riverbeds allow for further stories to accrue. So, we attempt to make sense of the landscape, to read its narrative.

14 Arnason et al. 2012: 4 15 Potteiger & Purington 1998 16 David Morris, verbal communication during 2013 fieldwork

Narrative is a fundamental way people shape and make sense of experience and landscapes. Stories link the sense of time, event, experience, memory and other intangibles to the more tangible aspects of place. Because stories sequence and configure experience of place into meaningful relationships, narrative offers ways of knowing and shaping landscapes...15

The practical positioning and composition of the rocky outcrops supported various temporary settlements. The remnants of twentieth century farm activity include traces of transient ‘bywoner’ settlement that similarly needed the logistical shelter and fresh water (Figure 8.2). The remnants possibly of herder settlements along the edges of the valley, as pointed out by David Morris on site, is another layer of this site’s multi-layered history and narrative,16 and one can deduce that goat and sheep herding still occurs on the farm. We encountered footprints of both wild and domesticated animals on our site visits. The leopard prints spotted by Jan Oeliset Org near the western camp site on the 2013 field trip, show that these hills are still a landscape used as a migratory route for both human and animals. This multi-disciplinary research has been undertaken to understand this landscape, and the enquiry has been conducted through dialogues between researchers, Kalahari co-researchers, and also previous inhabitants of the site. These inter-personal dialogues voiced the multiple perceptions around Biesje Poort. The physical negotiation between land and people was experienced in the way we walked, documented and reflected on our experiences and observations (Figure 8.9).

Figure 8.9 Lydia’s drawing in the sand explaining the social structure of Bushmen women and men sitting around the fire (Verwoerd 2013)


Chaper 8: An engagement with the land

There are many possibilities for envisioning the future of Biesje Poort (Figure 8.10). Should it become a focus for tourism? An educational training site for archaeologists? Could it possibly be a field school to enhance and direct a dialogue with this landscape? A place to re-learn the language of the land? Perhaps it could be integrated into a large scale archaeological route; one which connects Biesje Poort as a transient place to form part of a broader conversation between important archaeological sites throughout the Northern Cape, extending into Southern Africa at large. Another possibility is that it should be a landscape protected – archived in its living form to ensure a limit on future damage that could occur. “Landscape is loud with dialogues, with story lines that connect a place and its dwellers...”17 Biesje Poort is a landscape of multiple ongoing dialogues. Design intervention is a possible way to enhance and direct these dialogues. This can be done through interpreting the recorded stories and heritage of the site to create a place that protects, honours and speaks to the landscape of Biesje Poort. Land ownership is a parameter which would inform a viable design response, and Biesje Poort is privately owned land. Therefore, the owner’s ideas and desires would ultimately need to be considered and incorporated before any proposal could come into fruition. The entry point into this initial investigation, however, is to gain an understanding of the natural and cultural layers of the landscape, rather than investigate the intricacies of land ownership. Lizet Verwoerd is currently (2013) undertaking a design thesis proposal based on Biesje Poort, as the culmination of her Masters in landscape architecture degree. In her preliminary investigation, she asserts that this site is an important archive of history to which the public should be given some form of access. One vision she has for the site is to continue the narrative of Biesje Poort as being part of a greater route – which is connected to an educational heritage trail in the Northern Cape. The design needs to broker between the need for environmental protection, the concerns of the owner of the land, and the possibility of providing managed visitor access, developing the three previously defined characteristics of the site, and its status as a living South African heritage. It is an immense challenge to design in a manner that manifests the intangible elements of the site, such as narrative, memory, heritage and cultural history. The location and design of the site interventions must be carefully considered. Is it appropriate to develop


Figure 8.10 Initial mindmap of possibilities for a design intervention (Verwoerd 2013)

at Biesje Poort, or should the intervention rather occur on a satellite site? The fragile and enchanting character of the rocks and the engravings are some of the main informants of the design (Figure 8.11). Similarly, the main spatial organisation questions could be informed by investigating how the foregone inhabitants traversed and settled on the site. This is evident in how they engraved markers of memory on the rock, as a testimony to their presence. “In order to narrate a story, you need to remember the details. You need anchoring points to guide you through the landscape of the story, anchoring points to bring to mind the memory of the story.”18 The sensitive way the researchers perceive and walk this ‘fragile’ site is juxtaposed with the arid harshness of the landscape context as well as the forceful chiselling in engravings on the rock. The act of engraving on the rock was a way of inscribing one’s self into the landscape in a way that is neither delicate nor transient – but rather long-lasting and powerful. It is proposed here that the rock engravings act as the anchors around which one creates a story of the landscape. As designers, can we ask what it is that the site

17 Whiston-Spirn 1998: 17 18 Müller 2012: 8

Chaper 8: An engagement with the land

Figure 8.11 The fragility of the rock surface is a constraint for any future intervention on the site (Toerien 2013)

‘needs’ in order to respond to it accordingly? The question arises whether designing and constructing something permanent on the site would detract from the differently etched permanence of the rock engravings. It would arguably be better to design something that facilitates the ephemeral processes and fragile nature of the site, and encourages visitors to leave no trace of themselves, and so do no harm (Figure 8.12). Ultimately, perhaps rather than a place, what the site needs is a design intervention that emphasises the landscape as a route, a route through history, memory and heritage. By translating the intangible metaphor of memory into an accessible design response, is a challenge for the landscape architect. In conclusion, what is presented here is an engagement with the landscape, investigating three of the landscape characteristics at Biesje Poort. These responses to the landscape allow for a deeper dimension of deciphering the significance of the site, through reading the narratives of place, and adding new layers of memory and experience. There are multiple ways to continue engaging with the site, and a considered landscape architectural intervention is one possible way to direct the cultural and natural processes that impact on the heritage of this landscape.

Figure 8.12 Lydia walking carefully along the fragile rock surface (Toerien 2013)


TOTSIENS AAN BIESIEPOORT EUODIA (ENGELS) BADENHORST Skemeroggend reeds het ek op die hoogste punt van die Rooilapkopduin my voete in die koel sand ingewoel, my lyf gesit-lê teen ’n skurwe rots en stil gewag op die rooskwartslug van ’n nuwe dag. My oë moes nog éénkeer weermiskien was dit die laaste keerdie grensdraad van my erfgrond volg: herinneringsbeelde een-een inryg soos die krale van die bidsnoer om my hals... My oë het die oorbekende silhoeëtte moeiteloos gevolg: van Stukkenddam na Uitsleepvlei, oor Lekkerboer, die Tierkloofberg, die Nounek oor, die Poort, die Skeur, die Nt’ammikloof tot vêr by Sabiputs en Rautenbach se kop verby... elke prentjie het ’n lêplek in my hart gekry. Toe het ek opgestaan, gebuk, gepluk ’n grysvaal verlange saamgebring om hier in die Kaap my onthousels te wees. My vriend, ruik jy ook nou in die voordagure hoe die terugverlang hang hier in die hoek van ons Kaapse tuin? Dis my grysgroen driedoringstok, ’n twagraspol, ’n perdebos en plakkieblom wat so treur oor westewind en sonverskroeide aarde waaroor die stilte draal. Dis dít wat nou saam met my in ’n grysgrou Kaapse nag sonder ophou terugverlang na ’n skawagterfluit en die blêrgeluid van ’n skaaplam op die wind.


FAREWELL TO BIESIE POORT ROGER C FISHER (TRANSLATOR) Already sunrise I on the crest of the Rooilapkop Dune burying my feet in the cool dunesand in semi-recline against the coarse rock in silent wait for the rose-quartz dawning of a new day. My eyes must one time more perhaps it was the last time follow the boundary-line of my inherited ground reel in the images of memory one by one like the beads of the rosary at my throat … My eyes followed effortlessly the over-familiar silouettes from Stukkenddam to Uitsleepvlei past Lekkerboer the Tierkloofberg, over the Nounek, the Poort, the Skeur, the Nt’ammikloof till far past Sabiputs and the head of Rautenbach beyond ... Each picture had a recline for my heart. Then I arose, bent and plucked these eminences, dun-grey longings brought along to be here in the Cape my remembrances. My friend, do you smell in the early hours how the hankering hangs here in the corner of the Cape garden? It’s my grey-green tri-thorned stick a ‘twa’ grass knoll, a perdebos, a crassula bloom which laments the west-wind and sun-parched earth on which hangs the silence . It is that for which in the hoary nights of Cape I pine interminably for the shepherd’s whistle And the bleat of a lamb on the wind.


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Index Symbols

‥Khomani iv, v, xiii, xiv, xvi, xvii, 48, 49, 50, 51, 57, 80, 82, 95, 101, 108, 109 |Xam 49, 50, 55, 95, 132, 135 |Xam-‥Khomani Heartland 48, 135


Afrikaans ii, 13, 17, 49, 50, 57, 58, 60, 67, 72, 73, 75, 76, 86, 89, 96, 108, 110 aggregation 5 allochronic time xv ancestor 3, 63 anchoring points 120 anthropologist xiii, 118 archaeology iv, xiv, xvii, 47, 52, 62, 67, 85, 87, 89, 100, 102 architect 2, 61, 118, 121 architecture xiv, xvi, xvii, 47, 61, 62, 63, 64, 113, 115, 116, 120 art iv, v, vii, xiv, xvii, xix, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 26, 27, 29, 31, 47, 48, 49, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 60, 62, 64, 65, 68, 70, 73, 82, 83, 87, 91, 92, 94, 95, 97, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 107, 109, 118, 130, 133, 135, 137 artefact 22, 48, 50, 54, 63, 65, 66, 118 artist 14, 76, 99, 135 Augrabies 8, 10, 104


Beaumont, Peter 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 22, 31, 47, 48, 50, 124, 131 bees 30 Beukes, Lukas Daniel 27, 28, 29, 31, 64, 124 biology 61 bodily perception 24, 37, 40 bow 70 Brink, Carel Frederik 68 Brisson, Mathurin Jacques 68 bushman 32, 100 Bushman xiii, 8, 9, 10, 32, 43, 48, 49, 50, 51, 69, 70, 75, 80, 99, 109, 124, 128, 129, 132


cairn 3, 4, 10, 32, 63 cairns 3, 10, 63 Cartesian xiv, xvi, 49, 52 community v, vii, xiii, xvii, 40, 48, 57, 69, 80, 82, 88, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 102, 108, 109 context iv, 1, 5, 6, 13, 14, 15, 22, 48, 50, 52, 55, 64, 70, 82, 94, 95, 97, 120 cosmological 35, 39, 114 cosmologies xiv, 53 cosmology xii, xvii critical indigenous methodologies xvi cultural vii, xii, xiii, xiv, xvi, xvii, 1, 7, 10, 11, 21, 31, 32, 36, 49, 50, 52, 53,

54, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 70, 71, 76, 79, 80, 81, 82, 93, 97, 98, 103, 104, 106, 107, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 120, 121 cultural evolution 63, 65 cultural frameworks 31 cultural heritage 1, 97, 98, 103, 104, 106, 107, 113 cultural landscape 52, 61, 82, 106 culture 6, 10, 11, 21, 23, 25, 50, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 70, 79, 83, 94, 95, 116


Damara 50, 57 Darwin, Charles 70 dating 6, 7, 8, 32, 54 de Saussure, Ferdinand 31 Developing countries 102 development v, vii, xi, 79, 80, 81, 85, 91, 92, 93, 95, 96, 97, 98, 102, 106 dialogue 81, 92, 95, 96, 98, 117, 118, 120 Die Skeur 24, 27, 29, 119 Doornfontein Industry 2, 6, 10 drawing xiv, 29, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 64, 70, 98, 119 Dutch East India Company 68


eidetic 40 empower 83 empowerment 91, 93, 94, 95, 97 engage xiii, xiv, 11, 23, 41, 47, 53, 64, 80, 93, 97, 113, 117, 137 engagement v, 22, 40, 41, 54, 84, 121, 133 engravers 1, 27, 31, 32, 37, 48, 69, 105, 115 engraving iv, v, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 24, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 47, 49, 54, 59, 60, 64, 67, 70, 71, 73, 81, 86, 89, 93, 98, 101, 114, 115, 117, 119, 120 engravings iv, vii, xiii, xiv, xv, xvi, xvii, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31, 32, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 61, 68, 69, 73, 74, 75, 82, 83, 85, 87, 93, 94, 101, 103, 106, 111, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 133, 135 entoptic 7, 70 entoptics 7 environmental layers 39 epistemology 80, 84, 93 Euodia iv, v, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, 36, 40, 42, 44, 122 evaluation xvii, 91, 96, 97 evaluations 48 evolution 63, 64, 65, 66 existential experientialism xiv


feline 1, 69 finelines 6 Firstness 31, 32 First People xiii, xiv, 62, 125 Fock, Dora, Gerhard 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 22, 48, 50, 124, 126 Freire, Paulo 83, 95, 126, 130



Gariep 8, 47, 52, 53, 70, 81 gene 40, 61, 102 genes 61 geo-locations 38 geometric 7, 8, 10, 21 giraffe iv, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 13, 21, 29, 51, 60, 61, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 73, 74, 75, 124, 133 Giraffe 5, 64, 68, 69, 70, 124 God xii, xiv, xviii, xix, 26, 67, 78, 99, 100 grave 3, 32, 45, 51, 62 graves 3, 4, 10, 31, 50, 54, 62, 63, 85


heirs 61 Heitsi Eibib 3, 4 herder 1, 2, 3, 4, 48, 119, 135 herders 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 27, 31, 100, 115 Herero 4, 57, 132 heritage iv, v, vii, xvii, 1, 21, 47, 48, 49, 50, 52, 61, 65, 73, 82, 83, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 110, 113, 115, 116, 118, 120, 121 heritage conservation 101, 102 heritage resources vii, 91, 102, 104 heritage tourism 48, 106, 107 histories 10, 47, 48, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 105, 106 history vii, xvii, 8, 9, 10, 15, 22, 27, 29, 32, 34, 49, 52, 61, 64, 85, 93, 99, 103, 104, 105, 111, 113, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 135 Hop, Hendrik 68 hunter 3, 4, 8, 10, 26, 48, 50, 62, 115 hunting 4, 7, 9, 28, 31, 37, 119


iconic 64 iconography 61, 64, 66 identity 9, 28, 48, 49, 54, 79, 80, 81, 82, 115 indigenous iv, v, xi, xvi, xvii, 47, 50, 55, 72, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 91, 92, 93, 97, 101, 102, 113, 136 Indigenous Knowledge Systems xvii Ingold, Tim 21, 22, 25, 29, 31, 32, 52, 53, 54, 127 intangible v, 22, 31, 39, 94, 97, 98, 113, 116, 117, 120, 121 intangible narratives 22 interpret 21, 22, 23, 26, 65, 66, 93, 115, 116 interpretant 31, 32, 37 interpretation xiv, 4, 22, 23, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 40, 41, 52, 54, 59, 64, 65, 66, 70, 104, 106, 116 interpreter 31, 65 interpreters xii, xiii, xiv, xvi, xvii, 31, 66


jackal 62, 63, 76 jackals 11, 62, 109



Kakamas 7, 18, 44, 45, 47, 125 Kalahari v, xii, xiii, xiv, xvii, 1, 2, 10, 22, 23, 24, 27, 29, 36, 38, 40, 47, 48, 49, 50, 54, 55, 61, 70, 82, 86, 89, 92, 93, 95, 96, 99, 106, 111, 118, 119, 124, 125, 128, 130, 131, 132, 135 Kalahari crafters 92, 93, 96 Kalahari participants v, xiv, xvii, 10, 22, 23, 24, 29, 36, 38, 40, 48, 49, 50, 54, 82, 86, 99 Karabo 48, 129 Karoo 6, 7, 10, 47, 48, 49, 50, 125, 129, 130, 135 Kgalagadi vii, 11, 81, 87, 135 Khamkirri v, xi, 77, 89, 92, 100 Khoekhoe 6, 27, 48, 50 Khoekhoen 4, 7, 8, 10, 131 KhoeSan 2, 3, 9, 49, 50 Khoisan 10, 29, 44, 45, 48, 70, 124, 126, 130, 131, 132 Klein, Jacob Theodore v, xiv, 15, 37, 49, 54, 68, 76, 78, 83, 86, 87, 88, 89, 94, 99, 100, 118, 135 knowledge iv, v, xiv, 1, 2, 10, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, 36, 40, 47, 49, 54, 61, 65, 72, 79, 80, 82, 83, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 99, 100, 109 knowledge sharing 91, 92, 93, 95 Knowledge sharing 92, 93 Kokerboom 24, 25 Korana 8, 9, 10, 50, 106


landscape iv, xi, xiv, xv, xvi, xvii, 1, 11, 13, 14, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 47, 48, 49, 50, 52, 61, 82, 92, 97, 100, 104, 105, 106, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 133 landscape architecture xiv, xvi, xvii, 47, 113, 115, 116, 120 Later Stone Age 10, 48, 50, 51, 124, 130 leopard 1, 7, 50, 67, 69, 100, 119 leopards 1, 29 Lewis-Williams, David xiv, 8, 55, 70, 128, 132 living vii, xiv, xv, xvi, 8, 9, 10, 49, 64, 65, 67, 68, 80, 83, 98, 100, 113, 117, 118, 120, 135 living archive 113, 117, 118 living document 117 living heritage vii, 83


map 9, 10, 24, 26, 30, 31, 33, 34, 36, 38, 39, 40, 54, 69, 118 mapping 8, 24, 31, 37, 39, 40, 82 meaning 5, 11, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 30, 31, 32, 35, 40, 53, 54, 61, 64, 66, 67, 69, 70, 71, 80, 84, 93, 109, 113, 114, 116, 117, 119 meaning-making 80 memetic 61, 66 memorial 116 Middle Stone Age 51 multicultural 1, 79, 96, 97, 98 multivocality 35, 54, 55 museum 15, 18, 54, 93

myth 32, 49, 67 mythical 3, 6, 70 myths xiii, 82




Nama ii, iv, 8, 9, 10, 17, 18, 35, 36, 50, 57, 58, 59, 96 narrate 120 narrating 23, 27, 30, 40 narrative xiii, xv, 4, 5, 23, 29, 32, 40, 47, 105, 106, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 132 National Heritage Council ii, vii, xvi, 85, 91 National Khoe and San Heritage Route 48 National Khoisan Council Natives’ Land Act 49 natural 4, 13, 29, 50, 61, 65, 67, 68, 100, 103, 113, 114, 115, 117, 120, 121 natural processes 113, 117, 121 natural systems 113, 115 Newton, Isaac 67 Northern Cape vii, 6, 47, 53, 80, 82, 97, 101, 102, 106, 120, 124, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131 noumenal xiv


ontology xiii, xvii, 93 oral ii, 1, 8, 10, 29 Orange River xi, xii, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 27, 68, 124, 127, 130 ossicones 70 ostrich egg 29 ostrich eggshell v, 2, 73, 76 ostrich/scorpion


Padmaker, David 1, 3, 4, 10, 11 palimpsest(s) 50, 51, 53, 54, 117 participation 48, 83, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 97, 98 participation-as-a-means 83 participation-as-an-end 83, 91 participatory xiii, 48, 79, 80, 82, 91, 92, 93, 95, 96, 97, 98 participatory communication 91, 92, 93, 95, 96, 97, 98 patinated 5, 8, 51 Peirce, C.S. 31, 40, 130 perceptual engagement 22, 40 perspective xiv, 7, 49, 53, 79, 81, 82, 93, 102 Pofadder 10, 11 polysemic 21, 31 poort 27, 31, 88, 114 pottery xix, 2, 7, 31, 50 power relations 54, 96, 98 preservation 52, 79, 83, 96, 97, 102, 118

quartz 2, 3, 123 Queenstown Province 68 Ray, John 68 read xiii, 11, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 37, 39, 40, 41, 51, 53, 62, 81, 82, 83, 109, 113, 117, 119, 135 record 3, 5, 47, 52, 54, 55, 61, 66, 68, 72, 92, 94, 96, 102, 136 representamen 31, 32, 37 representation 8, 31, 32, 40, 49, 54, 61, 65, 67, 68, 69, 70, 81, 82, 83, 104 research v, vii, xi, xii, xiii, xiv, xvii, 1, 2, 3, 7, 10, 11, 21, 22, 23, 27, 31, 32, 34, 37, 40, 47, 61, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 87, 91, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 109, 119, 135 researched relations 80, 81, 82 researcher xvi, 31, 65, 66, 80, 81, 82, 117, 135 responsible tourism 102 Rethinking Indigeneity v, xi, 79, 80, 81, 126, 128 rhinoceros 7, 11, 21, 69 Riemvasmaak 29, 50 ritual 8, 64, 71, 102, 116 rock art iv, v, vii, xiv, xvii, xix, 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 26, 27, 29, 31, 47, 48, 49, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, 68, 70, 82, 83, 87, 91, 92, 94, 95, 97, 101, 102, 103, 107, 109, 134, 135 rock engraving(s) iv, xiv, 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 22, 29, 31, 38, 49, 40, 47, 51, 54, 59, 61, 67, 68, 69, 75, 82, 87, 89, 93, 94, 98, 106, 101, 117, 118, 120, 121, 134 135 rock painting(s) 8, 55, 62, 103 route and narrative 117, 118


San v, xvii, 6, 8, 9, 10, 27, 29, 32, 36, 48, 49, 50, 57, 69, 70, 76, 101, 106, 108, 109, 126, 128, 130, 131. See also Bushman scraped 6 Secondness 31, 32 seeing xvi, 13, 21, 32, 64, 67, 68, 82, 97 semiology(-sis) 31 sense-making 82 sensory experience 23 sentient ecology 24, 32, 37, 40 sign(s) 1, 4, 21, 22, 24, 31, 32, 62, 85 signified/ier 31 skills transference 93, 97 social change 79, 80, 81, 83, 91, 97 spirit 39, 48, 61, 75, 76, 84, 99, 135 spoor 1, 2, 4, 7, 30, 111, 114 star(s) 4, 21, 35, 36, 75, 114, 119 (S)storytelling xiii, 82, 83, 91, 93, 116, 118, 128 strategic essentialism 50 Summers, Roger 69 Sustainable cultural tourism 104 synaesthetic 23



tangible xvi, 31, 94, 100, 113, 116, 119 temporary settlements 119 Thirdness 31, 32 T’jammiekloof 3, 27, 32, 33, 34, 37, 50 top-down legislation toponymy 27, 34 tourism v, 48, 74, 79, 80, 81, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 107, 120, 131 transient place 120 tsammas 70, 72 Tswana 8, 10, 57


U/i 50 Upington xvi, 2, 8, 9, 10, 29, 30, 99, 125, 127


van Meerhoff, Pieter 68 vegetation 6, 7, 21, 31, 39 vicarious 27, 28, 30, 32 Vigiti Magna 68


Warmbaths 68 water xii, xvii, xix, 2, 4, 5, 10, 21, 27, 29, 30, 36, 37, 44, 45, 51, 57, 70, 72, 73, 76, 77, 81, 88, 93, 100, 113, 114, 118, 119 water snake xvii, xix, 70, 93, 100 weather xii, xiv, 53, 70 World Heritage 48, 125 worldview 54, 55


Zu/’hoasi 55 Zulu 80, 101, 126


KALAHARI PARTICIPANTS Belinda Org (née Matthee)

was born in District six, Cape Town. She grew up in the Carnarvon District of the Karoo. She is now a full-blooded Kalahari dweller and has committed her life to the conservation of the desert and its people. She is an on-the-ground researcher and networker and has always believed that the people of the area should participate in their own research as equals. For this reason she was attracted to the Biesje Poort Project since she saw it as an opportunity to be involved in, what she considers, a first of this type of research endeavours.

Jan Oeliset Org

was born in the Kgalagadi in the Twee Rivieren area, and after living there for twenty-five years was relocated with the setting of the borders. He moved to where his parents lived in Struizendam on the Botswana side of the border. He misses being friends with a variety of cultures. His intrigue in the Biesje Poort Project is its focus on the heritage of the area, one of his particular areas of expertise and passions.

Izak Kruiper

is a traditional medicine doctor who was born in the area now known as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. He is married to Lydia Lys Kruiper and has two sons. He has previously worked as: a Participants discuss final manuscript: from left Mary Lange, Lydia Lys Kruiper, Izak Kruiper sheep herder, a crafter and artist and a guide and and Klein Dawid Kruiper (Hendrik Kruiper 2013) tracker. Izak feels a responsibility to the ‘spirit’ of his ancestors and felt that the ancestors were ‘strong’ in the Biesje Poort project and in the rock art itself where a sense of peace emanated. The message of the ancestors was two-fold: mutual understanding and forgiveness – om “een pad saam te loop. Izak is grateful to the groups of people who left the engravings at Biesje Poort. He continued with the Biesje Poort project as he was impressed with the teamwork and communication between the project participants e.g. how the students worked with the Busmen: Hulle het saam met die Boesmanne in vrede gewerk.

Lydia Lys Kruiper

is the daughter of Izak and Lappies (Maria). She is very proud of her traditions e.g. the traditional dance she considers more than a performance. Lydia is an expert traditional crafter specifically in the creation of ostrich eggshell jewellery. She became involved in the Biesje Poort project to be able to contribute something to her children: Om vir my kinders iets terug te bring. The Biesje Poort engravings also touched her heart: Het my hart geraak.

Klein Dawid //ankie Kruiper

lives on the farm Witdraai in the Kalahari. He is a junior field ranger at the Kalahari game farm Erin. Klein Dawid became involved in the Biesje Poort project because it is about history and he believes that history much not die out: uitsterf. The project also gave him the opportunity to gain new skills and experience. The GPS used in the project was a new model that he had not used before and the project was specifically significant to him because he gained first-hand experience in rock art which he previously had read about but had not seen. He was particularly interested in the rock engraving animal depictions.


Lizet Verwoerd with Pedro Dausab

Pedro Dâusab

Pedro Dâusab is an acclaimed language activist. He was born and completed his schooling in Namibia but now resides in Cape Town, South Africa. He started teaching in Namibia at both elementary and high schools and then enrolled at the University of the Western Cape for a BA and B Ed degrees and studied part time while he was working at motor corporations. He then did his H.E.D. through the University of South Africa and subsequently also completed his Executive Education Diploma in Business Management. As a teacher he has gone full circle as he taught at both primary and high schools in the Cape until his retirement in 2009. He has contributed greatly to the promotion, teaching, record and publication of South Africa’s indigenous languages specifically the Nama language. Pedro Dâusab was immediately interested in the Biesje Poort project as he grew up most of his childhood life in the rural parts of Namibia and once he moved to towns such as Keetmanshoop, he missed his childhood upbringing, where he was exposed to the veld, birds and wild animals. He really enjoyed the project and the challenges that it offered. “‡Gom !gâ tara “okays” a tita tai !khaesa tsî tara |khati kaise !nubu ‡hôaros !nâ ra mî ‡gao. Namibiab !nâ ta ge !nae tsî ti |gôa kuriga !garo- !hūb ai kai. |Khî ta ge kai !ādi |gā (Keetmanshoop = ‡Nū‡goa-es) |gā |khī ‡gui xūna ta ge ti |gôasisa xu xū, anin, !garob |gurun tsîna. Tsî ta go sa sīsena mû nē |uin |khā |guina tsî nēs ge !aromasa sas |khā ta ra sisen ‡gaosa.”



Petrus C. Jansen

Petrus is a passionate multidisciplinary entrepreneur, natural farmer, poet & art-photographer. He is passionate about a holistic approach to all spheres of life. Photography is about sharing the beauty of life for him. He also has a BBA degree in Business Management & Psychology. Petrus resides on his guest farm in Montagu and enjoys the quality of life in this picturesque village.

Alexa Anthonie

Alexa Anthonie considers herself a word nerd with a love for people. She has been fortunate to engage both these passions throughout her career: as Linguistics Researcher in her hometown of Beaufort West, as International Exchange Coordinator at her alma mater, as Lexicographer for renowned dictionary publisher, Pharos, and now as Freelance Editor where she lives vicariously through the words of others. Alexa holds BA and MA degrees from Stellenbosch University.

Carinè Müller

With an Information Science degree in Publishing and a BA Honours degree in Visual Studies, Carinè is uniquely suited to work with both language and design. Currently working as a translator, typesetter and production assistant in the magazine industry, she has over 9 years experience working with books and enjoys her free time painting and illustrating. (Photo: Frank Ellis)


This book and the research on which it reports was largely funded by the African National Heritagewas Council This book and theSouth research on which it reports largely funded by the The authors acknowledge the following peopleitfor their contribution: This book and theSouth research on which reports was largely funded by the African National Heritage Council African National Council • Koos Meyer, present South owner of the farm Biesje Poort, and previous owner The authors acknowledge the following people forHeritage their contribution: A.K. Engelbrecht for allowing accesspeople to his farm. TheKoos authors acknowledge the following forPoort, their contribution: • Meyer, present owner of the farm Biesje and previous owner • Colin Fortune (Director), and staff of the McGregor Museum Kimberley, A.K. Engelbrecht for allowing access toBiesje his farm. • Koos Meyer, present owner of the farm Poort, and previous owner for institutional support and archiving facilities. • Colin Fortune (Director), and staff of the McGregor Kimberley, A.K. Engelbrecht for allowing access to particularly his farm. Museum • Upington and McGregor Museum staff, Pieter Goussard and institutional support and archiving facilities. • for Colin Fortune (Director), and staff of the McGregor Museum Kimberley, Peter Beaumont for their advice and support during initial Biesje Poort research. • Upington and McGregor Museum staff,facilities. particularly Pieter Goussard and institutional support and archiving • for Michael and Roger Fisher and David Morris (Dr), McGregor Museum, Beaumont for their Museum advice and support during Pieter initial Goussard Biesje Poort research. • Peter Upington and McGregor staff, particularly for providing transport to, and additional insight at extra fieldtrips. and • Michael and Roger and David Morris (Dr), McGregor Museum, Beaumont for Fisher their advice and support during initial Biesje Poort research. • Peter Koot Msawula, Izak Kruiper, Lydia Kruiper, Klein Dawid Kruiper, Belinda Org providing transport to, and additional insight atMcGregor extra fieldtrips. • for Michael and Roger David Morris (Dr), Museum, and Jan Oeliset OrgFisher who took part in fieldwork at Biesjie Poort. • Koot Msawula, Izak Kruiper, Lydia Kruiper, Klein Dawid Kruiper, Belinda Org for providing and additional insight extra fieldtrips. • Kathy Burger transport and Willieto,Burger of River City Inn, at Upington, and the late Bill Jan OelisetIzak Org Kruiper, who tookLydia part Kruiper, in fieldwork atDawid BiesjieKruiper, Poort. Belinda Org • and Koot Msawula, Klein and Kathy Fisher for their sponsorship of accommodation, food and conference • Kathy Burger and Willie Burger of River City Inn,at Upington, and the late Bill and Jan Oeliset took part in Poort. fieldwork Biesjie Poort. facilities en routeOrg to who and from Biesje and Kathy Fisher for theirBurger sponsorship accommodation, food the andlate conference • and(Professor Willie RiverofCity Inn, Upington, Bill • Kathy Keyan Burger Tomasell and of Director of), Varona Sathiyahand and Zuleika Sheik facilities route for to and from Biesje Poort. and KathyenFisher their sponsorship of accommodation, food and conference (Research assistants), Santie Strong (guidance and assistance), Lauren Dyll• Keyan Tomasell (Professor and Director of), Varona Sathiyah and Zuleika Sheik facilities en(Dr) route from for Biesje Poort. Myklebust at to Theand Centre Communication, Media & Society, University assistants), Santie Strong (guidance and Sathiyah assistance), Lauren Dyll• (Research Keyan Tomasell (Professor and Director of), Varona and Zuleika Sheik of KwaZulu-Natal). Myklebust assistants), (Dr) at The Centre for Communication, & Society, University Santie Strong (guidance andMedia Lauren • (Research Frik Lange, Osmond Lange Architects & Planners, forassistance), the sponsorship ofDyllmany of KwaZulu-Natal). Myklebust at The Centre for Communication, Media & Society, University photostats (Dr) and prints. • Frik Lange, Osmond Lange Architects & Planners, for the sponsorship of many of KwaZulu-Natal). • The University of Cape Town, in particular Alta Steenkamp (Professor & Head and prints.Lange Architects & Planners, for the sponsorship of many • photostats Frik Osmond of theLange, School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics) for academic support and • The University of Cape Town, in particular Alta Steenkamp (Professor & Head photostats prints. granting theand research team leave for the duration of the fieldwork. of theUniversity School of Architecture, Planning andAlta Geomatics) for(Professor academic support • Town, particular Steenkamp & photographs Head and • The Petrus Jansen, of forCape support andinthe time spent capturing and editing the granting the research team leave for the duration of the fieldwork. of of the this School book. of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics) for academic support and • Petrus for support capturing and editing the photographs grantingJansen, the research team and leavethefortime the spent duration of the fieldwork. this Jansen, book. for support and the time spent capturing and editing the photographs • of Petrus Additional funding was provided by: of this book. The McGregor Museum Rock Art Fund supported aspects of the fieldwork. Additional funding was provided by: ARROWSA: Art, Culture & Heritage for Peace (Reg 088-058 NPO) supported The McGregor Museum Rock Art Fundwas supported aspects Additional provided by: of the fieldwork. aspectsfunding of the administration. ARROWSA: Art, Museum Culture &Rock Heritage for Peace (Reg 088-058 supported The McGregor Art Fund supported aspects ofNPO) the fieldwork. of the ARROWSA: Art, Cultureaspects & Heritage foradministration. Peace (Reg 088-058 NPO) supported The following persons acknowledge the on-going financial aspects of the administration. support of the National Research Foundation (NRF) for Biesje Poort researchers The following persons acknowledge the on-going financial as well as their research assistants and post-graduate students: support of The the National Research Foundation (NRF) for Biesjefinancial Poort researchers following persons acknowledge the on-going Professor Keyan Tomaselli (Centre for Communication, Media & Society, wellNational as their Research research assistants and post-graduate students: support as of the Foundation (NRF) for Biesje Poort researchers University of KwaZulu-Natal); Professor Keyan Tomaselli (Centre for Communication, Media & Society, well asRoger their research post-graduate students: Professor as Emeritus C. Fisherassistants (School ofand Architecture, University of Pretoria). University of for KwaZulu-Natal); Professor Keyan Tomaselli (Centre Communication, Media & Society, Professor Emeritus Roger C. Fisher (School of Architecture, University of Pretoria). University of KwaZulu-Natal); However, any opinion, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed here Professor Emeritus Roger C. Fisher (School of Architecture, University of Pretoria). are those of the author for which the National Research Foundation does However, any opinion, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed here not accept any liability are any those of the author which the National Research Foundation does here However, opinion, findingsforand conclusions or recommendations expressed accept liability are those of the author fornot which theany National Research Foundation does not accept any liability

Mary Elizabeth Lange Mary chairs ARROWSA: Art, Culture Mary Lange Elizabeth Lange & Heritage for Peace and is an affiliate of the Mary Elizabeth Lange Mary Lange chairs ARROWSA: Art, Culture Centre for Communication, Media & Society, Mary Langefor chairs ARROWSA: Art, Culture & Heritage Peace and is an affiliate of the UKZN. She facilitates cultural and & Heritage for Peace and is Media aneducational affiliate of the Centre for Communication, & Society, community development programmes. Her Centre She for Communication, Media & Society, UKZN. facilitates cultural educational and research, that ofprogrammes. Biesje Poort,Her often UKZN. Sheincluding facilitates cultural educational and community development takes its influence from ties toPoort, Kalahari community development Her research, including that her ofprogrammes. Biesje often research, includingfrom that her of Biesje often takes its influence ties toPoort, Kalahari takes its influence from her ties to Kalahari family and friends. Liana Jansen family Müller and friends. Liana Jansen familyMüller and friends. Liana Müller Jansenis a lecturer in the Master of Landscape Liana Müller Müller Jansen JansenisArchitecture Liana a lecturer inprogramme the at the Müller University of Cape Town. Her research Liana Jansen isArchitecture a lecturer inprogramme the Master of Landscape focus concept of landscape, the Master ofthe Landscape Architecture at the is University of Cape Town. Herprogramme research meeting point of of people and theHer environment. at the is University Cape Town. research focus the concept of landscape, the Projects include work on cultural landscapes focus is the concept of landscape, the meeting point of people and the environment. and historic sites. meeting point of work people the environment. Projects include onand cultural landscapes Projects include and historic on cultural landscapes and historic sites. Roger C Fisher Roger Fisher is emeritus professor at the Roger C Fisher Department ofisArchitecture, University of Roger Fisher C Fisher Roger emeritus professor at the Pretoria. His researches and expertise are Roger FisherofisArchitecture, emeritus professor at the Department University of directed at shared heritage and living Department ofresearches Architecture, of Pretoria. Histhe and University expertise are legacy the South African environment Pretoria.ofat His andbuilt expertise are directed theresearches shared heritage and living and cultural landscapes. Roger isenvironment the recipient directed the shared heritage living legacy ofatthe South African builtand of the Heritage SA Gold Medal 2013. legacy of thelandscapes. South African builtisenvironment and cultural Roger the recipient andthecultural landscapes. Roger 2013. is the recipient of Heritage SA Gold Medal of the Heritage SA Gold Medal 2013. Keyan G Thomaselli Keyan is Director of The Centre Keyan GGTomaselli Thomaselli for Communication, & Society, UniKeyan Thomaselli Keyan GGTomaselli isMedia Director of The Centre versity of Kwazulu-Natal. He has been studyKeyan G Tomaselli isMedia Director of The Centre for Communication, & Society, Uniing howofthe indigenous are represented, and for Communication, Media Society, University Kwazulu-Natal. He& has been studyhow they represent themselves, in relation to versity Kwazulu-Natal. Herepresented, has been studying howofthe indigenous are and media depictions and methodologies of the ing how the indigenous are represented, and how they represent themselves, in relation to researcher-researched relation how they representand themselves, media depictions methodologies of theto media depictions and methodologies of the researcher-researched encounter. researcher-researched encounter. David Morris David David Morris, Morris archaeologist at Kimberley’s McGregor Museum, is a graduate of the David Morris, Morris David archaeologist at Kimberley’s Universities of Cape Town and of the Western David Morris, archaeologist at Kimberley’s McGregor Museum, is a graduate of the Cape. He combines McGregor Museum, is aresearch graduate of the Universities of Cape his Town and of interests, the Western particularly inof rock with developing Universities Capeart, Town and of interests, the Western Cape. He combines his research public archaeology, and channels effort into Cape. He combines hiswith research interests, particularly in rock art, developing conserving the traces of the past. particularly in rock art, developing public archaeology, andwith channels effort into public archaeology, channels conserving the tracesand of the past. effort into conserving the traces of the past.

Engraved Landscape Biesje Poort: Many Voices tells two stories. It provides a valuable record of important pre-historic and historic artifacts that would ordinarily be inaccessible to many South Africans. But more significantly it showcases new ways of doing research in a contested and fractured environment. Using a series of historic rock engravings as a springboard, the various contributors to the book – academics, communications experts, historians, architects, local ‡Khomani residents – probe questions about the nature of heritage, about our differing cosmologies, and about our links to the land. These are inevitably subject to multiple interpretations and meanings, hence the multi-disciplinary team invited to participate in this important investigation of our heritage. – Melinda Silverman, Department of Architecture, FADA, University of Johannesburg. Like most brilliant and eye-catching coffee table books, this compilation straddles the tantalisingly academic and the pop(ular) in anthropology... Its scholarly sections are well researched and tightly articulated. They retain this quality without being dry and overly pedagogical, and hence are accessible to a lay reader who just wants to glean useful information. I foresee this book, contributing to media anthropology, receiving critical appreciation. Descendants of the ‘First People’ participate as co-authors in the research – informants and people with their own experiential or ontological perspectives. As producers of new contemporary realities in a postcolonial South Africa, their voices include stories and myths surrounding the engravings, presented here in their own terms. As for the site, the researchers and informants are aware of the need to protect and preserve: the engravings that are the focus of this encounter are fragile. Research paradoxically may itself result in deterioration as people move over the rocks, but, here, awareness results in research actions and methods that try to ensure care and preservation. This is a heritage that requires informed interventions and use so that posterity may continue to enjoy the benefits of a valuable archaeological wealth. – Dr Nhamo Mhiripiri, Department of Media & Society Studies, Midlands State University.

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Engraved Landscape - Biesje Poort: Many Voices  

These writings are about the experience of recording the rock engravings at Biesje Poort farm, north of the Orange (Gariep) River, Northern...

Engraved Landscape - Biesje Poort: Many Voices  

These writings are about the experience of recording the rock engravings at Biesje Poort farm, north of the Orange (Gariep) River, Northern...